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An introduction to digital literacy & digital skills

Ana Nastase
27 Oct, 2022
3 m read

What’s digital literacy?

The rhythm of digital transformation is escalating steadily and explosively, turning digital literacy into a must these days. But what’s digital literacy? “It refers to an individual's ability to find, evaluate, and communicate information through typing and other media on various digital platforms” (source).

Basically, it focuses on the choice of a specific platform over another, with a focus on the opportunities and risks that derive from that specific platform. This calls for a series of digital literacy skills, which relates to the tools one needs to use, when to use them and how. 

So, let’s say we are using a digital platform like Facebook. The digital skills focus on the way one should use Facebook, how to create a profile, how to add comments, how to start a conversation and so on. Digital literacy, on the other hand, focuses on why you’d use Facebook over other platforms to share posts and stay in touch with other people, for example. However, this is just an example, and according to Aviram & Eshet-Alkalai, the umbrella term of digital literacy consists of five types of literacy, as it follows: 

  • Photo-visual literacy, which is the ability to infer information from visuals;
  • Reproduction literacy, which is the capacity of using digital technology to create new pieces of work;
  • Branching literacy, which is the capability to form knowledge by a nonlinear navigation through;
  • Information literacy, which is the capacity to search, assess and evaluate knowledge found on the internet;
  • Socio-emotional literacy, which is the ability of maintaining a presence online, that involves social interaction, collaboration or simply using content. 

Digital skills and their impact

So, why are these digital skills important? The Gen Y, Gen Z and now the Gen Alpha have grown up in a digital world and have naturally inferred digital skills, haven’t they? Yes, that’s true. However, the digital world is not static, but on the contrary, it is very dynamic, always on the move, always evolving, and it is impacting every industry, which accelerates the needs for professionals with a robust digital skillset.

Think of all the industries who have not required digital skills until a while now, such as the food industry, and now everything is online, all the food delivery apps, the digital menus in restaurants, the usage of QR codes for ordering food and even paying for it.

Moreover, most people use basic digital skills every day while performing their tasks at work, such as communicating via emails and other social media channels, researching information on the internet, screen sharing during video conferences, managing spreadsheets, using Cloud-based collaboration tools such as Google Drive and so on. 

Which digital skills do you need

This depends on the industry you are working in, your role in the company, and what areas of development you want to focus on. Also, there are some digital skills that are applicable to most of us, such as navigating e-commerce websites, managing and working with social media channels and platforms, using data analytics, doing research, etc. You can strengthen your digital skills through a series of methods, from self-learning to getting involved in training programs focused on digital literacy and digital skills. 

A training program on this field should focus on objectives such as introducing you to the concept of digital literacy and digital skills, analyzing  your digital skills competencies, generating ways to develop your digital skills, and more practical aspects, such as using devices and handling information, being safe in an online environment, communicating socially and professionally using technology, and even using digital resources to facilitate your career progression. 

Make sure that you choose the appropriate training program for your needs and learning styles, make the most of the free options available online, register to webinars and conferences available on the web, and practice the digital skills you are working on in your day to day activities, incorporating some digital skills into your daily routine at the job, for example. 

Some (final) thoughts

What are the digital skills you want to develop in the near future?

This article is part of a bigger topic called: 

Employee Engagement

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