University of Southampton

What is digital literacy?

A student working on a laptop

Are you digitally literate?

Until recent times 'literacy' has usually been defined in terms of the ability to read and write. This is because until the late twentieth century, the written word was the main 'technology' in use, and being literate meant being a competent user and interpreter of the written word. Computers and the internet have brought about a shift in practice and a new form of literacy has emerged - that of 'digital literacy'.

In these activities you can explore the meaning of digital literacy and the kind of skills that the term suggests You can listen to some students' ideas about the meaning of the term and decide what your own view is. You can also reflect on some specific digital literacy skills for study and consider whether or not they belong to your own skill set.

Activity 1: Student views on the meaning of digital literacy

What do you understand the term 'digital literacy' to mean? What kind of skills or abilities are involved?



Write your own definition of the term in the text area provided. Next, watch the video and listen to students giving their views of what digital literacy means. Then read the feedback.

Activity 2: How can we categorise different types of digital literacy?

Digital literacy is often talked about in the plural form, as 'digital literacies'. In this activity you are going to explore what different kinds of digital literacy there might be, especially in the context of study.



Consider these skill areas in relation to the term, digital literacy. Select the tick symbol next to any which you think are included in its meaning and the cross symbol next to those which are not. Then read the feedback. Open the help section first if you would like to review some formal interpretations of digital literacy.

 Being technically competent in using a computer.
 Communicating efficiently with others through the use of online technologies.
 Performing tasks effectively in a variety of digital environments.
 Using digital technologies, tools or networks to find, evaluate, apply or create information.
 The ability to operate a range of digital mobile devices.
 Being good at locating, evaluating and synthesising information from the internet.
 Being able to select the right online tool to accomplish a task.
 Understanding how copyright may apply in an online environment.

Activity 3: Your own digital literacy practices and study

In this activity you are going to consider how digitally literate you are in relation to some typical study related tasks.



Think about your own digital practices. Decide which of these you already do and drag them into the 'I do' box. Drag those that you do not do into the 'I don't' box. Then read the feedback.

I do
I don't
Bookmark useful sites with Diigo/Delicious
Customise phone with apps for study
Share project files with Dropbox
Use Google Docs to write group reports
Use Powerpoint or Prezi for presentations
Use reference organising tools like Zotero
Use social networks to contact classmates

© Modern Languages, University of Southampton, 2013. All rights reserved.