Digital Fluency is defined by Boise State University as, “An evolving aptitude that empowers the individual to effectively and ethically interpret information, discover meaning, design content, construct knowledge, and communicate ideas in a digitally connected world.”
While today’s generation may be digital natives, having grown up surrounded by digital technologies (Prensky 2001), their familiarity and perceived fluency with digital technologies is often limited to their personal lives and does not always transcend to an educational or professional context (Howell, 2012). In their report, ‘Truth, Lies and the Internet: A report into young people’s digital fluency’, Bartlett & Miller (2011) note that many digital natives are confident internet users, but not competent internet users. Some of their findings are as follows:
- Too many digital natives do not apply checks on the information they access: around one in four 12-15 year olds make no checks at all when visiting a new website, and less than one in ten ask who made the site and why.
- Aesthetics over quality: decisions about information quality is based on site design, rather than more accurate checks – around one-third of 12-15 year olds believe that if a search engine lists information then it must be truthful; and 15 per cent don’t consider the veracity of results but just visit the sites they ‘like the look of’.
- Lack of teaching: only one-third of 9-19 year olds have been taught how to judge the reliability of online information. Fifty-five per cent of teachers surveyed in 2008 felt their students ‘did not have sufficient understanding of what plagiarism was and what counts as legitimate research’.
Although I consider myself a digitally literate person, often I will encounter a new piece of digital technology that appears completely foreign to me. For example, I;m sure learning how to use Scratch video was no problem for those accustomed to editing and programing, however, as I am unaccustomed to such technologies and would not consider myself digitally fluent, learning how to use it was no easy feat. In fact, it was extremely frustrating.
A digitally fluent person, however, would know where to access other digital technologies, like accurate online ‘How To’ videos and up-t0-date Scratch discussion forums and be able to understand the terminology being used in the instructions to make such learning experiences less troubling.
The video below discusses some of the ways in which digital fluency can be achieved.
Bartlett, J. & Miller, C. (2011). Truth, Lies and the Internet: A report into young people’s digital fluency. Retrieved from http://dml2011.dmlhub.net/sites/dmlcentral/files/resource_files/Truth_-_web.pdf
Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT. South Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press Australia Higher Education, VitalBook file.
Langwithces Blog. (2013). digital-fluency [Image]. Retrieved from http://langwitches.org/blog/2013/02/18/skilled-literate-fluent-in-the-digital-world/
Prensky. M, (2001). Digital Natives Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1. Retrieved from http://www.marcprensky.com
Teaching and Learning in South Australia. (2013, September 10). Ch 1: Digital Fluency | Ch 2: The Fear of Social Media in Learning – with Alec Couros [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xO3uOIH-3uk