Digital literacy is the ability to use computer systems confidently and effectively, including:
‘Office’ applications such as word processing, presentations and spreadsheets
The use of the Internet, including browsing, searching and creating content for the Web and communication and collaboration via e-mail, social networks, collaborative workspace and discussion forums
Creative applications such as digital photography, video editing, audio editing
We intend “digital literacy” to connote those skills that (say) a history teacher can assume his / her students have, just as s/he assumes they can spell (literacy) and do simple mental arithmetic (numeracy). Higher level information handling skills are part of Information Technology.
Digital literacy does need to be taught: young people have usually acquired some knowledge of computer systems, but their knowledge is patchy. The idea that teaching this is unnecessary because of the sheer ubiquity of technology that surrounds young people as they are growing up – the ‘digital native’ – should be treated with great caution.
In terms of delivery, digital literacy can be treated much like literacy and numeracy are dealt with at school:
Discrete lessons and teaching embedded within the broader curriculum throughout primary education and in the early part of secondary education.
Opportunities for pupils to apply and develop these skills through authentic, purposeful and collaborative projects in most or all subject areas throughout primary and secondary education.
Whilst digital literacy skills can be taught and assessed using online systems, at the pupil’s own pace, teacher- led lessons and project work allow the teacher to focus on developing pupils’ knowledge and understanding of the systems pupils use, and provide opportunity for collaborative work.