Digital literacy/fluency

I selected this Search & Research topic for a few reasons. The first is because I attended the Library 2.0 Conference on digital literacy and fake news, which sparked an interest in the subject matter. The second is because I feel like I need to understand the difference between digital literacy and digital fluency before I dive any deeper into this course. The following article defines both digital literacy and fluency and describes differences between the two.

Digital Literacy vs. Digital Fluency

After reading this article, I have three takeaways. Number one: Digital literacy and fluency are “our ability to use a technology to achieve the desired outcome in a situation using the technologies that are available to us.” Number two: digital literacy is knowing how to use technology tools and what to do with them, but only when a person reaches digital fluency do they feel comfortable with when to use the tools and why they are using them for the desired outcome. Number three: the original five-stage model, the Dreyfus model, and the four stages of competence are important concepts to understand.

Original Five-Stage Model

  1. Novice
  2. Advanced Beginner
  3. Competent
  4. Proficient
  5. Expert

Dreyfus model

  1. Recollection
  2. Recognition
  3. Decision
  4. Awareness

Four stages of competence

  1. Unconscious competence
  2. Conscious incompetence
  3. Conscious competence
  4. Unconscious competence

These models made more sense to me after watching this Tedx Talk by Dr. Doug Belshaw, a researcher/analyst of digital literacies who was a guest presenter at the Library 2.0 Conference. He argues that using these three frameworks to explain digital literacy oversimplifies the concept.

About five minutes into the presentation, Belshaw talks about the iPad and how easy it is to use. He quotes Mozilla chairperson Mitchell Baker, who calls the iPad “elegant consumption.” Belshaw believes we should move beyond elegant consumption. This blog post of his dives deeper into the concept:

Beyond Elegant Consumption.

Thanks to Belshaw’s work, I have moved beyond using digital literacy and a singular term. He argues it should be pluralized to digital literacies. These literacies, according to Belshaw, “need to be socially negotiated. They depend heavily on context.” In other words, the three linear frameworks above are not the most effective way to teach literacies. The way Belshaw sees it, educators should use a more progressive approach and focus on people’s interests in order to achieve intrinsic motivation so people want to develop those digital stills themselves.

Hmm … This concept should sound familiar to the students of Chris Lott, who gives choice assignments that allow students to discover, digest, apply and share digital literacies throughout the digital citizenship course.

The more I read Belshaw’s Open Educational Thinkering blog, the more I found myself clicking on hyperlinks that dive deeper into digital literacies. Read about his concept of Less Shiny, which explores the appropriate usage of technology. Or how about his experience with Google Apps. I connected to this post because I find myself using Google Apps as a platform throughout the school year to teach digital literacies to my middle schoolers.

And finally, my final resource for exploring digital literacies is an article by Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, a professor/coordinator for Information Literacy Services and Instruction in the University Library at the University of Illinois. In this article, Hinchliffe’s objective can be summarized by this quote:

“For me, the learning vision that motivates and inspires is best summed up in the phrase ‘Information Literacy as a Way of Life.’ That is what I want for my students—for them to become habitual askers of questions, seekers of new knowledge, critical thinkers, and informed decision makers.”


Digital Literacy/Fluency, by kklott

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