What is Digital Literacy and Why is it Important?: Understanding the Impact of Digital Literacy
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The 21st Century world is digital. Technology touches every aspect of our lives and knowing how to use it is essential.
That's why digital literacy is such an important skill. In your life and career, you need to both know how to effectively use technology you're already familiar with and quickly adapt to new innovations. Let's define digital literacy and look at how it can change your career.
What is Digital Literacy?
Digital literacy encompasses two key aspects. First and foremost is one’s ability to learn new technology. While it requires existing technological knowledge, digital literacy itself is much more about how quickly and easily you can adapt to tech and platforms you’ve never used before.
Crucially, this is not the same thing as your ability to read and understand instructions. While that helps, a truly digitally literate person should be very familiar with the digital landscape overall, from terminology to basic, essential skills, like researching on the internet or sending emails. These skills help a digitally literate person learn new tech faster, because they don't need line-by-line instructions or a significant amount of help. Essentially, you need to be able to both find digital information and understand it.
Secondly, digital literacy covers the ability to actually use technology. This part of the puzzle is not about one specific technology, but more about general technological skills. You should be able to do things like send emails and browse the internet, and those skills should transfer to other platforms you haven't used without much issue. You should also be able to teach or explain the technology you use to other people.
What are Some Key Digital Literacy Skills?
Many skills fall under the category of digital literacy. Here are a few of the most important.
- Internet research
- Basic, essential software skills (Microsoft Office, email, Google web products)
- Adapting to and learning new technology
- Familiarity with digital terminology
- Collaboration, especially on digital platforms
- Basic internet safety and security
- Digital communication
- Teaching technology skills to others
How Can Digital Literacy Help My Career?
Yes. Basic digital literacy is fundamental to success in any office job, especially in the hybrid and remote world of 2022. Employers will expect you to use the internet, email, workplace collaboration apps, and more when you start a job. They won’t expect to teach you exactly how to use them. These are skills you absolutely need to have in the workplace.
The ability to research, understand, and learn new technologies can also be beneficial to your career. Being able to test and evaluate new platforms and tech is an incredibly useful skill in any world, but it’s particularly valuable to employers. Showing yourself as someone who can help your employer implement and evaluate technology will make you that much more attractive as an employee.
Finally, being able to explain and teach the fundamentals of technology you already know is a very important skill, especially if you have aspirations to manage a team. Good training is essential, and being able to provide it is invaluable.
All of these points pertain to students as well. As a future member of the workforce, digital literacy is going to be very valuable, especially at the start of a job hunt. College and high school are perfect for mastering the basics of digital literacy and diving into technology and platforms you find interesting.
Digital technology is woven into the fabric of our lives, and it’s only going to get more important. Digital literacy will remain an essential skill for all workers for the foreseeable future. If you need to train your digital literacy skills, consider investing in classes and courses to enhance your understanding and aptitude. The necessity of digital literacy is not going away, now is the time to learn.
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