As technology becomes an integral part of so many industries, it is even more important for colleges to prepare students to properly use digital tools in workplace settings.
In an expansive brief released this summer, titled “Digital Literacy in Higher Education, Part II,” the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Project detailed some best practices for instilling digital literacy in college students. NMC separates digital literacy education into three models:
- Universal literacy, or a familiarity with basic office productivity software, cloud-based apps and blogging tools
- Creative literacy, or technical skills that lead to the creation of richer content, an understanding of programming and solid digital citizenship
- Literacy across disciplines, the above literacies used in different classes in ways that are unique to the context
“The prioritization of digital literacy in higher education is being substantially influenced by the workforce,” reads the brief. “For example, the World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts that by 2020, 35% of the skills considered vital for workplace success will have changed.”
The report shares a variety of frameworks that can help schools standardize digital literacy skills, Campus Technology reports. The majority of the frameworks focus on embedded digital literacy standards with communication, critical thinking, technical skills, content creation, civics and citizenship and copyright law.
Creativity Lets Students Express Digital Literacy
Though knowing how to use devices is an important aspect of digital literacy, the report finds that educating students on the role tech plays in the world is key.
It is not sufficient for college students to simple know how to use the range of mobile devices, software and media-creation tools that exist at a given time in higher education. Given how quickly technology evolves, they must also be able to intuitively acclimate to new digital environments, developing habits that cultivate lifelong learning and the ability to continuously learn new skills.
The new NMC report, which was sponsored by Adobe, puts a focus on teaching students to be creators as a means to foster their digital literacy. But the first step of creating solid digital content is knowing how to evaluate it.
University of North Texas educator Laura Pasquini finds that to create good work, students need to have information fluency, or the ability to analyze a source’s credibility and understand if it’s a primary or secondary source or totally irrelevant.
Another aspect of literacy is an understanding of copyright laws. Pasquini writes that as she encourages students to develop projects, she also makes sure they know how to cite and attribute the resources they use.
All in all, experts have found that students who can think critically about digital content and tools will be able to take an active role in solving future problems that arise using these tools.