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Digital Literacy

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Digital Literacy skills help adults access and navigate digital resources in both their personal and professional lives and can impact career and job trajectories. These include the basic skills needed to operate computers and other technology. Beyond these, navigation skills require an understanding of typical digital environments such as word processing software, email and social media, games, and search engines.

Main Ideas

Approximately 16% (30 million) of U.S. adults lack basic Digital Literacy skills. These skill requirements can become more complex as digital demands increase for particular jobs, careers, and everyday tasks. Higher-level Digital Literacy skills include digital creation, data representation, online communication, and source evaluation.

Digital Literacy is a broad term which includes several component skills:

  • Photovisual literacy and Reproduction literacy skills aid in understanding digital graphic design and interfaces and the ability to create multimedia works.
  • Branching literacy refers to the navigation skills one needs when exploring the Internet. These skills are particularly important when interacting with hyperlinked texts.
  • Real-time thinking skills, including Working Memory, aid users when processing large amounts of information at once, which is often required when using digital programs such as social networks and office software.

A key contributor to developing Digital Literacy skills is adults' experience and Background Knowledge with digital texts and programs. Accordingly, learners from lower socioeconomic households, who may have difficulty accessing digital media through the Internet, may have weaker Digital Literacy skills.

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