What Is Digital Literacy? (With Definition and Importance)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 10, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

As technology integrates into more aspects of daily life, digital literacy is becoming more important. Being digitally literate means having the appropriate knowledge to use and navigate digital technology. Learning more about digital knowledge and literacy can help you understand its implications and better teach students how to develop skills in this area. In this article, we discuss what digital literacy is, discover its importance and its role, and explore why it's essential to teach about it in a classroom.

What is digital literacy?

Digital literacy is a technological skill set that enables you to understand digital environments and use technology to execute tasks. These competencies allow you to participate in internet communities and learn new tech trends that can ease manual activities. Schools now generally consider their students as digital natives, a generation that has grown with this knowledge, which means they intuitively know how to use technology. This is possible because since their early years, most children have been using technology, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, or voice recognition tech.

Today, companies may request or demand a certain level of digital literacy from their employees, because most activities in the workforce require this knowledge. For example, if you're pursuing a job position as an office clerk, it's essential for you to know how to use computer programs, such as a word processor, spreadsheets, digital slides, and e-mails. Being digitally literate might require knowing how to analyze data, create content, use applications, interact within online environments, and protect your private information and identity. Here are some abilities involved in being digitally literate:

Critical thinking skills

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze data, opinions, and facts to produce a judgement or an idea. Students within a classroom may use these skills to process digital information, methods, and computer programs to understand ideas, review demonstrations, or verify methods. Technology usually makes education easier, as educators can use online learning platforms to help students improve their digital and critical thinking skills. For example, a computer program that shows a student how to draw a certain letter can motivate them if they fail, while also teaching them how to use a touch screen and the proper skills for the technique.

Read more: Computer Literacy in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

Communication skills

Communication is the ability to convey messages and ideas clearly and effectively. Students within a classroom may use these skills to interact with their classmates, teachers, students from other institutions, or scholars from other countries. Within technological environments, this is possible with e-mail accounts, social media platforms, text messages, voice notes, video calls, tablets, or smartphones. An educator can use all these different platforms to teach students, so it's crucial for participants to know how to operate this technology and how it enables them to communicate what they've learned.

Teamwork skills

Teamwork is the ability to collaborate with peers, classmates, or colleagues to complete a task or achieve a goal. Students within a classroom may use digital platforms to create collaborative environments where they can use these skills. Through these platforms, they can create groups, share objectives and activities, evaluate a scope of work, or assess their resources. Digital technology enables them to create and assign roles within the group, monitor progress in real-time, and ask for assistance.

Read more: 8 Collaboration Interview Questions (and How to Answer Them)

Innovation skills

Innovation refers to the ability to create new ideas or improve existing concepts. Students within a classroom may combine their creativity with the available technology to complete an assignment quicker, create new ways to collaborate with their peers, or propose new theories. Digital technology may offer multiple tools that enable students to materialize their ideas. For example, an art student can use colour combinations to produce a painting, create a 3D figure, animate a cartoon, or add their voice to a character. Students may learn while also enjoying an environment that allows more creativity.

Read more: Improve Your Creativity Skills to Highlight on Your Resume

Why is digital knowledge important?

Most public and private organizations employ digital technology to perform their operations, which means it's essential for people to know how they can benefit from it. For example, a 16-year-old student may require digital knowledge to get a driver's license, as their province may require them to book an appointment online. The province may also provide them with free books and mock tests they can use before writing the real exam.

People often use technology to perform many daily activities, such as calling a friend or paying a utility bill. Countries use technology to identify their citizens, process their requirements, and evaluate their economic indicators. The internet has become crucial to read news, download documents, research information, record and edit videos, watch movies, interact with relatives and friends, transfer money, or order food. Understanding how to use a single application often implies knowing how the internet operates.

Why is digital knowledge important in the classroom?

Here's a list of reasons that digital knowledge is important in the classroom:

Obtain a job in the future

By teaching students how to use online platforms, word processors, web research techniques, and social media, teachers can help them improve their chances of obtaining a job in the future. Companies often use digital platforms to recruit employees , so it's essential for students to know how to build an online professional profile, send an e-mail, research an employer's website, or gain a digital badge. Employers may use a video call during a job interview, so students can benefit from learning how to handle different computer programs.

Learn by teaching others

Teachers can improve their own learning process by teaching students how to use digital tools. Students can also better their literacy by helping friends use computer programs. A teaching process requires a good understanding of the topic, so educators and students may benefit from it and enhance their own knowledge. Answering students' questions can also provide an opportunity for researching more information about a subject.

Develop network skills

E-mail addresses and social media accounts represent the ways a student may receive messages from their classmates, friends, family, teachers, and employers. They also represent a good opportunity to teach students how to use them as a tool for networking. Making connections while they're in school can teach a student how they can do the same in the future for professional purposes. It can also help a student obtain an internship or an entry-level position within a company.

Read more: 11 Types of Networking Events to Attend for Professional Growth

Access to current information

Staying current in an industry is essential for professionals if they want to succeed or advance their careers. Educators can help their students learn how to analyze data, assess information, and select the best sources to get new or current information and verify facts. Teachers may also help them use different computer programs as data sources or follow relevant news that can affect a particular industry.

Save resources

Educators can teach students how to save time and resources by using certain computer programs and online platforms. As companies protect their resources and aim to improve their productivity, this knowledge can be extremely important. With this information, a student may better understand how they can help an employer perform their activities and use their resources wisely . For example, by learning the steps involved in ordering a product from an online marketplace, students can understand how to compare products.

Read more: What Is Resource Management and Why Is It Important?

Generate an online profile

Students can learn what an online profile is and determine how to generate one that can help them obtain a job in the future. For example, a teacher can explain to them what an online portfolio is and how to create one. They can also teach them what platforms they can use to upload this portfolio and how they can use their social media accounts to enhance their effect. This can prepare students from an early age to generate a professional online presence.

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