It is nearly 15 years now since the term 'digital literacy' entered use
, and in that time theconditions for describing a cluster of ICT-related capabilities as a
have clearly been fulfilled.Governments around Europe, including the UK Government, have recognised a
to some levelof functional access to digital media and networks as constitutive of citizenship. The implications ofthis entitlement agenda for further and higher education are explored further in the followingsection.The question remains what ICT-related capabilities should be considered central to the definition ofdigital literacy, bearing in mind that attempts at defining critical capabilities in this area are liable tochange as technologies and related social/economic practices change. Martin and Grudziecki intheir 2006 paper for the European Commission 'DigEuLit: Concepts and Tools for Digital LiteracyDevelopment'
, note that:1. Literacies of the digital encompass (at least):
ICT or computer literacy; information literacy; media literacy
including for example visual literacy;
communication and collaboration
usingdigital means.2. Since it was first coined by Paul Glister (1997),use of the term has implied a
approach to digital information and media: in his words, digital literacy is about mastering'ideas, not keystrokes'.3. Literacy needs to be understood developmentally. Martin and Grudziecki suggest threedevelopmental stages: competence, use and transformation. Awareness, attitude andability are all developed in the individual initially through structured experiences whichproduce
, but subsequently through practice ('
') in a variety of contexts ('lifesituations'), lead to (self)-
.This definition includes information literacy
the use of digital resources
but adds to this theconstruction of new knowledge, creation of new expressions, and communication with others. It isalso significant that a variety of media is taken as the norm for communicating ideas.Since this definition was first published, the widespread use of web 2.0 technologies andaccompanying social practices have shifted the focus away from a consume-create, or a research-publish model, and towards a model of knowledge in constant circulation (produce-circulate-enrich-reproduce). This means that any definition of digital literacy needs to include participation in socialnetworks as a central element of knowledge production and reproduction.We would also want to make more explicit the relevance of
academic or 'learning'
literacies. As thepace of change in knowledge and practice is accelerated by digital technologies, lifelong learningbecomes an ever more necessary skillset. Academic practices and values such as reviewing,commenting, referencing, arguing, presenting information and making data openly available forscrutiny are all newly relevant in an age of democratic access to knowledge. ICT is now integral tothe development of early literacy and numeracy (see for example the National Literacy Trust studyon Young People's Writing
), suggesting that far from being one among a multitude of capabilities,digital literacy is at the heart of what it means to learn, study and know. Indeed, David Buckinghamhas argued, based on many years' research into children and young people's digital practices, that'
we need a much broader reconceptualization of what we mean by literacy in a world that is increasingly dominated by electronic media'
Glister, P. (1997)
, New York: John Wiley
Martin, A. and Grudziecki, (2006) DigEuLit: Concepts and Tools for Digital Literacy Development, in
ITALICS,Innovation in Teaching And Learning in Information and Computer Sciences
Vol 5 Issue 4, Dec 2006: available athttp://www.ics.heacademy.ac.uk/italics/vol5iss4/martin-grudziecki.pdf
Clark, C. and Dugdale, G. (2008)
Young People’s Writing: Attitud
es, behaviour and the role of technology.
NationalLiteracy Trust. Available online at:http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/research/nlt_research/261_young_peoples_writing_attitudes_behaviour_and_the_role _of_technology
Buckingham, D. 'Defining Digital Literacy: what do young people need to know about digital media?' in Lankshear, C.& Knobel, M. (2008)
Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices:
this quote available online at
]] (with thanks to Doug Belshaw)