Developing Digital Literacies
In today’s society people read as much online as they do from books. This increasing online activity highlights the need for those using it to develop and improve their digital literacies. Digital literacy has been described as “the ability to find, evaluate, utilize, share and create content using information technologies and the internet” (Cornell, 2009). There are five topics under the umbrella of digital literacy and these are: decoding, mean making, using, analysing and persona. This blog post will provide an overview of some aspects of the decoding topic and explain why is important to understand this element in the current society.
Decoding online information can be described as being able to both understand and produce texts (Hinrichsen & Coombs, 2014). This is especially important in terms of ‘learning’ in the current society as people need to become accustomed to the formats and conventions of technology (teach thought, 2014). For example, it is important that students can understand the texts that they are reading in order to be able to learn from them and develop their knowledge in general. However, in term of students producing texts themselves, there are various characteristics of decoding that could prove to be useful. Three of these are navigation (being able to scroll, use menus and buttons), operations (such as saving, printing and organising) and stylistics (colour, layout and illustration styles). The majority of older students (including myself) will be able to do most of these functions with ease as we have used technology all of our lives. Hence, it is important that children are taught, from a young age, the simple tasks of using a computer mouse, what buttons to use, and how to print as it will be vital for them to know this when they begin high school or University. For example, in primary school, my projects were handwritten with coloured pencils and drawings all over, however, since starting University all of my assignments have been online meaning I had to know how to correctly structure my essays with appropriate fonts and colours. Therefore, this highlights the importance of being able to decode online from an early age, meaning these skills can then be developed and help with preparation for future education.
In addition to using decoding in schools, it is also important to be aware of this element for work purposes. Due to most jobs being technology-related in the current society, staff need to be aware of these simple functions mentioned in the previous paragraph. This could be a problem for slightly older staff who have not grown up around digital media and who are rather new to these concepts, meaning they may not pick it up as easily. These staff may not even be aware how to print things or how to save things and may need coaching on these aspects, as well as others. This can cause a barrier for older people getting a job as they may be less-educated in the technology world, like the digital immigrants discussed in my previous blog post (Boyle, n.d.). One example of using decoding is in my job where we use spreadsheets to keep up-to-date with market trends. My manager – who is slightly older – has to know how to save and print these documents as well as understand them. This again emphasises the importance of children being taught these things from a young age so when they begin future education or jobs, they are prepared and don’t have to be taught from scratch.
Overall, it is very important for digital literacies to be developed in the current society in order to aid people’s learning as well as to improve their performance in their job or to help them to get a job. Decoding is just one of the five resources of digital literacy and I have just touched on the elements within the topic in this blog. There is more to learn about decoding and the other four resources in this article – http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/21334
Boyle, L. (n.d.). Digital Literacy: Global Standards in the Workforce. Retrieved from http://www.coabe.org/html/pdf/Digital%20Literacy%20Presentation.pdf
Cornell University. (2009). Digital Literacy Is. Retrieved from http://digitalliteracy.cornell.edu/
Hinrichsen, J., & Coombs, A. (2014). The five resources of critical digital literacy: a framework for curriculum integration. Research in Learning Technology, 21(0).
Surran, M. (2001). Joey and April working on their keyboarding skills. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/extraketchup/749317332/
Teach Thought. (2014). 5 Dimensions of Critical Digital Literacy: A Framework. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/literacy-2/5-dimensions-of-critical-digital-literacy/