What Is Digital Literacy?

Digital literacy is a slippery concept. Mostly I think we subconsciously know what digital literacy means but when we try to explain it, it sounds big and scary and hard.

According to Blanchett (2013) digital literacy is the “capabilities, aptitudes and attitudes an individual needs to thrive in a digital economy and society.” But what does that mean exactly? How can we make digital literacy meaningful for those of us who work in libraries?

To make sense of digital literacy I think it is useful to consider its relationship to two concepts we are already familiar with – literacy and information literacy. The diagram below shows how I think they are connected to each other.

Digital Literacy and Information Literacy

You can see that Literacy includes both Information Literacy and Digital Literacy. Literacy also includes many other literacies that aren’t shown in the diagram such as media literacy and financial literacy.

An information literate person is able to “recognise when information is needed and have the capacity to locate, evaluate and use effectively the information needed” (Bundy, 2004).

A digitally literate person has the “capabilities, aptitudes and attitudes an individual needs to thrive in a digital economy and society” (Blanchett, 2013).

The overlap between information literacy and digital literacy refers to information literacy using digital resources and tools. But as the diagram indicates, digital literacy is more than this because there are aspects of digital literacy that aren’t strictly considered information literacy such as online identities, privacy and communication norms.

What do you think? Do you agree with the relationship between digital literacy, literacy and information literacy? Do you have a different view of digital literacy?Let me know by adding your thoughts as a comment below.

In my next post I’ll share my thoughts on digital literacy as a process of development.

Blanchett, H. (2013, March 12). Current issues and approaches in developing digital literacy – JISC webinar, 12 Feb 2013 [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://hblanchett.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/current-issues-approaches-in-developing-digital-literacy-jisc-webinar-12th-feb-2013/

Bundy, A. (Ed.) (2004). Australian and New Zealand information literacy framework: principles, standards and practice (2nd ed., p. 3) Adelaide: Australian and New Zealand Institute for Information Literacy. Retrieved from http://archive.caul.edu.au/info-literacy/InfoLiteracyFramework.pdf