Digital Literacy Is A Process Of Development

When you learn a new language you need to learn all the components of that language. With practice you will be able to read, write, and speak in that language. After more hard work and practice you may begin to think in that language. Just as learning a new language is a process of development, so too is digital literacy.

That process of development looks like this (JISC, 2014).
Process of Development Email

At the bottom of the pyramid is Access – “opportunities to experience and explore relevant digital technologies” (Guggi, 2012). This is the fundamental building block of digital literacy and can be associated with the words ‘I have..’, for example ‘I have access to email’.

I know many libraries (or the IT department) block staff access to certain tools, browsers, apps or websites for security purposes but I wonder how many realise that they are also denying staff the opportunity to learn and thrive in a digital economy.

Once Access has been achieved, the next level of the pyramid is Skills – “opportunities to develop expertise in using relevant digital technologies” (Guggi, 2012). This level can be associated with the words ‘I can…’, for example ‘I can use email’.

After Skills comes Practices – the “opportunities to practice digital skills in a ‘real world’ context” (Guggi, 2012). The Practices level can be associated with the words ‘I do…’, for example ‘I do use email’.

And the top most level is Identity – where using a tool or application is part of how you live and work in a digital society. This level can be associated with the words ‘I am…’, for example ‘I am a regular email user’.

When you first became aware of email, think about how long it took you to progress through each of these stages.

I have access to email.
I can use email.
I do use email.
I am a regular email user.

The pace of learning is different for everyone and just like learning a new language not everyone will want to, or need to, reach the top of the pyramid.

In my next post I’ll share my views on the importance of having the right mindset to successful digital literacy learning.

Guggi, N. (2012, October 12). Digital literacies for student employability: spotlight on work placements [Web log message]. Retrieved from

JISC. (2014, December 16). Developing digital literacies. Retrieved 2 June 2015, from