I really liked the definition and diagram that I found in JISC Guide to Developing Digital Literacies .
“Digital literacies are those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society.”
I liked how they broke digital literacy into 7 elements.
If you look both the diagram and the definition, we are still looking for some of the same skills that we always have, only now we focus on the utilization of technology to achieve the task. For example, one element: “Communications and collaboration. Participate in digital networks for learning and research”. Just because we have technology available to better communicate/collaborate, doesn’t mean we didn’t expect students to be able to communicate before technology was around. Technology has changed the way we communicate and hence, students need to be able to communicate this way. Collaboration once meant that students would have to get together physically in order to collaborate on projects. Now they can do it all virtually and don’t even have to be in the same time zone.
As teachers, we can help our students to become more digitally literate by demonstrating effective technology use and/or incorporating it into our assignments. E.g. Utilizing a simulation to enhance understanding and application of subject material. The All Aboard: Digital Skills in Higher Education resource listed some specific examples of what can be utilized. For example, under “Teach and Learn”, things like simulations, digital badges, lecture capture etc. are listed.
Quite often, when we hear the words “digital literacy”, we think of knowing how to use a computer. Too often we assume that because students are “digital natives” that it also means they know how to utilize digital tools effectively. I have found that most of the times this is not the case.