What is Digital Literacy?
Although the meaning of digital literacy can vary greatly by source, digital literacy encompasses 21st Century skills related to the effective and appropriate use of technology.
To keep things simple, let’s narrow the field to one definition. The American Library Association (ALA) defines digital literacy as “the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.”
Looking at Uganda with this digital literacy definition as a guiding light, its important to understand that even digital natives who know how to send a text and post to social media are not considered “digitally literate” by any means.
Why does it matter to a country like Uganda?
With various calls from different people and organizations and the Ministry of ICT and National Guidance encouraging the youth to take advantage of Information and communication technologies aiming at leveraging the power of ICT and Technology to build solutions small and big that can support and improve lives of people.
It can easily be seen how women are much encouraged to join the local tech communities with such programs like Andela Women in Tech, PyLadies so as to promote inclusiveness as there is a need to bridge the digital divide irrespective of gender.
There is a growing recognition especially in cities Kampala, Entebbe, Mukono, Jinja, Mbale, Mbarara, Fort Portal to mention but a few of the importance of digital literacy for students, workers and different individuals in various sectors in an increasingly digital economy.
Focusing on digital literacy as it pertains to the changing nature of work, drawing upon Uganda and research within and the best practices in order to define digital literacy, the skills it comprises and its importance. I have pulled insights mainly from educational and pedagogical research and work on technology.
My Tips for developing Digital Literacy.
- Encourage Individuals to study and learn effectively in technology-rich environments, formal and informal.
- Organizations should avoid digital literacies being “yet another thing” for staff, it is useful if they can be linked with other initiatives and woven in to existing processes.
- Get people talking, encourage discussions about supporting individuals with digital skills and practices and the associated impact on staff roles which will help to widen awareness of digital literacies across the country.
I am certain that with increase in expertise in ICT, the youth will have the tools they need to distinguish themselves in the competitive global economy