September 14, 2015 at 12:53 am #2012Shannon FranzwayParticipant
I’m feel I’m pretty lucky to have acquired my digital literacy skills over time – I remember the card catalogue in my primary school library and physically stamping the books, the appearance of OPACs at the public library during high school, the arrival of the internet – my skills have been growing as the technology has been evolving.
But how about those members of the community who haven’t had the same opportunity? There are those who, to date, have not been required to use computers and digital devices in their everyday lives. I can only imagine what it might feel like to those who are introduced to the digital world today, that they might find it incredibly overwhelming and confusing.
A recurring theme throughout the Twitter chat (Insert link) is how necessary digital literacy skills have become; you don’t have try very hard to discover literature which supports the idea that users must be online to maintain basic social and economic participation. The initial internet seemed like a fairly sophisticated toy that was accessed by those who could afford it but, as pointed out by Kathleen Smeaton, digital literacy has become a point of social justice, that information is a right, not a privilege. The inability to access the information you require, may cause people to miss out socially and economically. Which confirms the point made by Robynne Blake during the Twitter chat that digital skills are now necessary everyday life skills.
So, while everyone’s out there searching up a storm with their necessary, everyday-life digital skills (so-called by Robynne Blake), how is all this information being evaluated? Jenny Cotton’s comment sticks in my mind that knowing how to sort through all the crap on the internet is equally important as being able to find the information in the first place.
Before everyone gets too excited, it is important to remember that there is a fine line between teaching and empowering library users to seek out their own information . . . . . . and overwhelming them. I feel it is most important to teach basic digital literacy, but it’s not necessary to make a librarian out of each and every user.
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to attend the 2015 Digital Literacy Forum (insert link) at the State Library of Queensland and I took myself along without giving much previous thought to what I thought digital literacy to be. I learned so much from the presenters and the professionals I spoke with at the event about “where to from here?”.
Tim O’Leary was the keynote speaker at the SLQ event and I identified with his feelings of the future – digital literacy pushes the digital inclusion paradigm toward participation – people need to be able to read-write not just read-only. Building on the read-write theory, Sally Pewhairangi @sallyheroes provoked some thought for me regarding the flipside of information seeking – content generation (e.g. blogging, social media). Sally places importance on the understanding of privacy and digital footprints; this isn’t just for ourselves, all “digital citizens” should be mindful of how they represent and talk about others – individuals and organisations.
The final thought from The Librarian Idol@libridol – the key to information literacy and digital literacy is empathy, not just understanding user needs, but also their fears. I think there is a lot of value in unravelling what it is that users fear – this allows librarians the opportunity to inspire confidence and promote the understanding that technology can work for you (thanks for this thought from Luke Mysliwy).
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