Attending primary school in “my generation of learners” included the seventies and finishing both middle and high school in the eighties, literacy and numeracy discussions were summarized as The Three R’s: Reading, (w)Riting, and (a)Rithmetic; however as an educator in the 21st century literacy includes education in media literacy, and having digital literacy skills is essential for learners to participate in a classroom. The education system has completely changed throughout the world, thus literacy has evolved with discussions necessary to make sure that all learners acquire the digital competencies needed to survive in a world evermore connected to this phenomena, not to mention changes required for workplace competency.
Digital literacy is the set of competencies required for full participation in a knowledge society. It includes knowledge, skills, and behaviors involving the effective use of digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, and desktop personal computers for purposes of communication, expression, collaboration and advocacy.
Moreover, learners cannot simply acquire a checklist of technical skills, such as learning how to type or basic Microsoft software, but they must learn about the social practices that surround the use of new media. For example, knowledge of how to create a blog entry, and using the blog to connect with a wider community of readers, thus encapsulating an online persona projected through the initial posting. In addition, knowledge of how to upload photos to Flickr, a photo sharing website, expands to the next step of understanding whether to publish those photos under a Creative Commons license, and one step further as to the need to understand the implications of how the license relate to digital rights and usage.
Another essential point, Digital Literacies, written by Dudeney, Hockly and Pegrum, focus on the dramatic shifts in the communication landscape from the generation of the seventies, eighties, and nineties to literacies that include the facets such as: personal, social, educational, and professional. Consequently, this desk reference provides both educators and students alike with the background and furtherance in understanding of 21st century skills. Written in 2014, Digital Literacies offers a taxonomy chart dividing into four main areas: language; connections; information and (re)design.
Complementary to this, Multimodal Learning for the 21st Century Adolescent, authored by Thomas Bean, provides “… new ways to reach your 21st century adolescent learners…” Bean adds “…a level of accessibility and authenticity to the research-based and classroom-tested strategies and instructional practices.”
In summary, the acquisition of digital competencies is critical in developing learners into fully functional citizens in the 21st century.
Educators continue to integrate digital literacy in the classroom, which translates to relevancy once outside the school environment.