As students make their way through elementary, middle, and high school, they are learning skills to help them operate within, and to understand, our modern world. These skills should give the student an upper hand to hopefully thrive and be successful in whatever field or career they end up in. If this is the goal of an education, then a big part of preparing the student should be preparing them for the software dependent times we have found ourselves in.
The humanities prepare a student to take in information and interpret it in the light of history and literature so that they can have a clear perspective. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math at a base level can give a student this same advantage, only focused on the complex digital world. A student may find themselves lost in a sea of ‘magical’ screens with no real background to help them interpret and make decisions. This is where a digital literate student will find their advantage.
People are easily persuaded by concepts they do not understand. For example, there are always new health food trends that you may hear about and want to try as an average person. You may just assume that it is good for you because other people are saying that it is. On the other hand, someone who is well versed and has a background in nutrition will easily be able to spot whether that new food is good for them or not. In the same way someone who is digitally literate will be able to better operate in the digital space. They will be able to take in new fads or trends and apply their knowledge and perspective to make good decisions. They will have the ability to see how these tech trends will impact their personal lives and the world around them.
If a student understands how software works, they will be confident operating and using the tools it provides. A curriculum that teaches a student how these systems work could give the student the confidence to meet a new technology head on. This will help them not only in their personal lives, which have become so technologically intwined, but also in their professional lives. Most jobs today rely totally on computers and the internet. How valuable would it be to not only know how to use a computer but to also know why the computer does what it does. Digital literacy goes well beyond knowing how to turn a computer on and load an application.
Digital literacy does not stop in just the software world. It also will help with student’s abilities to build arguments or explain and understand complex processes. As a Student learns the basics of how software is built, they will be exposed to many logical processes that make up the digital world we live in. As the student is exposed to these, their cognitive abilities and problem-solving skills will be exercised and improved. The skills exercised and learned in a digital context will easily translate to real world problem solving outside of the computer lab.
In conclusion, digital literacy is the ability to understand, control, and extort the abundant amount of technology that we encounter every day. A digitally literate student will have the ability to interpret the modern, software dependent world in a way that will give them the confidence and skill they need to thrive.