DQ 101: Digital Literacy

girl on laptop video call

In the same way you need basic knowledge to read and write — you need foundational skills to use digital tools and platforms to take part in our increasingly tech-driven society.

In the Digital Intelligence 101 introduction, we shared that people experience eight critical areas of digital life — Identity, Use, Safety, Security, Emotional Intelligence, Communication, Literacy and Rights. These areas make up a framework mapping one’s Digital Intelligence (DQ).

This article explores how Digital Security manifests at each maturity level — Citizen, Creator and Competitor (if you need a refresher on these levels, check out our Intro to DQ article).

Area #7: Digital LiteracyDigital Literacy

Digital Literacy: there’s a good chance you’ve heard this term a lot lately. For many, Digital Literacy has become a sort of catch-all phrase for the ability to understand and use digital tools. However, we know that our digital world is more nuanced — and too fast-paced — for someone to only rely on being digitally literate. Literacy is foundational and, therefore, one of the key pillars of DQ. That’s why we believe a multi-faceted digital intelligence framework is the most effective tool for SAIT, our students — and the community (and industry) at large.

As a pillar of DQ, what does literacy mean? In general, it is used to describe one’s ability to read and write. On a global scale, literacy rates are often used to measure the progress of a country because it evaluates people’s ability to live, learn, work, earn a wage, and contribute to society.

In the same way, people need a basic level of Digital Literacy to use technology to gather, understand, create and share information to take part in digital society. With technology becoming such an integrated part of our daily lives, this digital understanding is essential to live, work and play in an increasingly tech-dominated world.

From word processing and internet browsing to advanced skills like coding and programming, there are many levels of Digital Literacy. Knowing how to use social media to talk to friends might not mean understand the backend Artificial Intelligence (AI) that is curating your newsfeed. Digital literacy is on a spectrum.

For most of us – media literacy is the baseline. We no longer have to wait until 6 pm to watch the local news each day. We don’t need to drive to the library to research a topic. Information spreads like wildfire online, and we often hear about the latest news as it happens. This comes with a heightened level of responsibility — for both individuals and organizations — as data can now be created and shared at incredible speeds. Most people rely on technology to source the latest news and information.

From there one can progress to computational literacy, and even further into data (and artificial intelligence) literacy.

As we reflect on our own Digital Literacy, how does it apply to each maturity level? Below is a list of three competencies areas (knowledge, skills, attitudes) that evolve as one’s Digital Literacy matures.

Level 1 (Citizen) = Media and Information Literacy

This is an individual’s ability to find, organize, analyze and evaluate media information with critical reasoning.

  • Knowledge:
    • Understands the basic structure of digital media
    • Knows how using digital media influences knowledge, and the way information is gathered and managed
    • Aware of the reasons behind campaigns of disinformation and misinformation online
    • Understands why media messages are crafted in a specific way
  • Skills:
    • Has proficient computer operations skills and can use productivity software and apps to help gather and organize digital content
    • Can articulate their information and content needs
    • Able to navigate online content and information with a critical eye
  • Attitudes:
    • Careful and critical when reading online information
    • Can discern if an information source is credible and reliable

Level 2 (Creator) = Content Creation and Computer Literacy

This is a Digital Creator’s ability to synthesize, create and produce information, media and technology in an innovative and creative way.

  • Knowledge:
    • Understands the theory of digital content creation and computational thinking
    • Has algorithmic literacy such as programming and digital modelling
  • Skills:
    • Can conceptualize, build on, organize, create, adapt, and share knowledge, digital content, and technology
    • Evaluates needs to synthesize knowledge and ideas across a variety of disciplines to make decisions and collaborate with others
    • Identifies and uses data digital media tools and technology to solve problems
    • Adjusts and customizes digital environments to suit personal, organizational, and community needs
    • Shares information and knowledge to create and execute plans for the design of digital products (e.g., content, software or hardware) based on needs and practicality, efficiency and functionality
    • Shows computational thinking by selecting and applying algorithms, interpreting data, and using advanced methods to achieve desired results and tasks, and to address specific issues or requirements
    • Develops applications in line with a specified design as well as existing development and security standards
    • Analyzes components to reuse, improve, reconfigure, add, or integrate applications as needed
    • Ensures seamless user experience of one’s digital creation by including visual, technical, and functional elements in the interface design that are compatible with different platforms and operating systems
  • Attitudes:
    • Shows an active and constant willingness to engage with evolving and advancing digital technology
    • Motivated to adopt technological advancements and learn the skills required for lifelong learning and personal developments

Level 3 (Competitor) = Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Literacy

This is a Digital Competitor’s ability to generate, process, analyze and present meaningful information from data. This includes developing, using and applying AI and related algorithmic tools and strategies to guide informed, optimized and relevant decision making.

  • Knowledge:
    • Understands the theory and application of data analysis, statistics and AI-related mathematical concepts in computer programming
    • Comprehends and considers how data is generated and processed based on statistical understanding
    • Creates and uses AI algorithms (e.g., machine learning, neural networks, deep learning) to recognize significant patterns and to improve decision-making processes
    • Recognizes concepts across multiple disciplines and can identify the benefits, limits, and risks brought about through big data, AI, and related technologies.
  • Skills:
    • Develops efficient and stable processes to collect, store, extract, transform, load and integrate data at various stages of the data pipeline
    • Reads, manages, analyzes and processes data from a variety of sources
    • Prepares data in a structure that is easily accessible
    • Creates and builds knowledge by analyzing data and communicating its meaning to others using visualization tools (e.g., infographics and dynamic, illustrative, or interactive graphics)
    • Presents patterns, trends, and analytical insights from data or new concepts in a strategic manner for the intended audience
    • Communicates the limitations of data by telling when data is being manipulated to support a limited or false narrative
    • Develops, selects and applies relevant algorithms and advanced computational methods to enable systems or software agents to learn, improve and adapt
    • Develops strategies to optimize personal work performance (e.g., predictive behavior analytics, pattern recognition, and decision-making processes)
    • Understands how data and AI may affect one's beliefs and reasoning
    • Leverages AI to augment their own intelligence while still being aware of how human value judgments play a role in the applications of big data and AI in society
  • Attitudes:
    • Confident in pursuing innovative analytical careers
    • Proactive in applying knowledge of data and AI to evaluate whether broader systems are acting in ways aligned with community values promoting well-being

These three sub-competencies are a solid foundation to build on as individuals, experts and organizations continue to explore how human emotions and feelings are influenced, shaped and impacted as we navigate the digital world. What’s your Digital Emotional Intelligence maturity level, and what does it say about your DQ?

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