The need of the hour is to create an awareness module informing students about the characteristic online world of myths and facts.
Digital literacy shouldn’t be confused with computer knowledge, the former involves understanding the benefits, issues and side-effects of the digital world. This branch of education is a combination of critical thinking, social interaction and familiarity with numerous digital tools.
While COVID -19 pandemic has caused and forced many changes, one such shift was seen in the education and working system, everything went from offline to online. To go digital, was once was a choice, but is now the only option, hence the digital tools have become indispensable for the teachers as well as for the students.
In UNESCO’s Information for All program, digital literacy is documented as a crucial life skill. Being digitally literate suggests that the person is capable of using digital technologies available for knowledge and creativity.
Why does digital literacy matter?
In a world where everything is web-based, a student or a teacher should know:
- how to manage a technological device
- how to search for specific information on the web
- online social norms and dangers
- to communicate and collaborate through digital platforms
These digital platforms include social media applications, video conferencing platforms, web-based editors, etc. While digital literacy matters, there is also a downside to it. The problems associated with the know-how of the digital world fall into two broad categories:
- Some teachers and students know very little about this world and aren’t aware of the cons
- Some others are too well acquainted to a level where they trust everything online
Both the categories of teachers and students should be informed about the legitimate use of technology and e-safety. While the digital world offers a highly resourceful and highly targeted method of learning, it also is full of harmful netizens who drift away from ethics, spread fake information and misrepresent facts.
An educational curriculum on digital literacy
Introducing a program to educate both the students and teachers about the ethics concerning digital literacy is the way forward. A brief session with the teachers carried out by all educational institutions, followed by a lesson plan initiated by teachers for the students to caution them against sharing personal information on or to unwarranted sites or people.
- The 7 criteria for lesson-plan can include:
- Practical and functional skills
- Critical thinking and evaluation
- Cultural and social understanding
- Communication and Collaboration
- Ability to find, select and use web information
- Creativity and Application of information in new situations
The present classroom, the future job market
The whole purpose of being in an online world is to use the tools to our advantage and separate the ones that seem like a threat. For a digitally untrained person, the online strata may seem fearful and lost in the forest, but with digital literacy and learning, the distress can be changed to curiosity.
Learning online is fast-paced, it is a great medium for both the teachers and students, it is indeed the future. The future of traditional classrooms, the future of the job market. The following points reiterate the importance of digital literacy:
- To maintain internet safety – A person who is well aware of digital literacy will always prioritize his/her safety in the digital world and will be smart enough to handle cyber-attacks like malware etc.
- To learn digital ethics – Digital ethics are very important in every aspect. If a person is digitally literate, he/she will never go against digital ethics. For example, plagiarism (using content of others without their prior permission) which is a common practice won’t take place if a person is digitally literate.
- To learn various facilities on the internet: Facilities like e-commerce, e-wallets, e-learning and e-practice platforms are easily understood
- It helps in effective communication – Through emails and other similar services which were an integral part of the corporate world, and now are a fundamental part of the education system. A digitally literate person finds these services very easy to use and it also improves his/her chance of getting selected for various jobs.
- Other factors – It helps to be aware of and hence prevent cyberbullying, fraud-attacks, spam, etc.
Can everyone become digital literate?
Age no bar. The network should have one bar (pun intended).
A person should not feel ashamed of learning digital literacy at any age. We should consider these challenging times as an opportunity to upgrade ourselves through digital literacy so that we can be a better version of ourselves. The only disadvantage related to digital literacy is that it requires a constant internet connection and a device that can run that connection – something unavailable, especially in rural areas.
Technology has spread its wings in every domain of human life, especially in the lives of young students; their daily routine revolves around gadgets and devices. The more inclination the students show towards the digital world to learn, the more protection they need from the challenges posed by technological developments. Digital literacy can come to the rescue, can make this possible and can make a difference.
Also published on Medium.