in Everything Else

Definitions of digital literacy’ from the book of the same name by Paul Gilster

Digital literacy?

More quotations from this book are on my wiki here. As of 25 July 2007, this book is cited by 162 publications according to Google Scholar.

Whilst searching for an image to go with this post, I came across another post on Eduspaces entitled: Why call it digital literacy… when literacy is often left to the subjective interpretation of teachers?

Emphasis in the following is mine, unless stated:?

In a sense, we’re all experimenting when we used the Internet, because there has never been anything like it before… Content on the Internet is not a static thing. Instead, it is fully interactive. The Internet requires that we understand it as a combination of all the traditional forms of media, and several other forms that change the way we seek out information.

P. Gilster, Digital Literacy (New York, 1997), p.x

So we needn’t see the Net as a single thing; it’s unique nature is shown by the manifold changes it rings on old themes… Misinformation – and disinformation – breeds as easily as creativity in the fever-swamp of personal publishing… It will take all the critical skills users can muster to separate truth from fiction.

P. Gilster, Digital Literacy (New York, 1997), p.xii

The great physicist Ernest Rutherford, frustrated by the self-important airs of his peers, once told a colleague that a scientist who couldn’t explain his theories to a barmaid didn’t really understand them. An idea, in other words, should correspond to a recognizable reality, explainable to an audience larger than a handful of specialists. Digital literacy – the ability to access networked computer resources and use them – is such a concept. It is necessary knowledge because the Internet has grown from a scientist’s tool to a worldwide publishing and research medium open to anyone with a computer and modem.

P. Gilster, Digital Literacy (New York, 1997), p.1

Digital literacy is the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers. The concept of literacy goes beyond simply being able to read; it has always meant the ability to read with meaning, and to understand. It is the fundamental act of cognition. Digital literacy likewise extends the boundaries of definition. It is cognition of what you see on teh computer screen when you use the networked medium. It places demands upon you that were always present, though less visible, in the analog media of newspaper and TV. At the same time, it conjures up a new set of challenges that require you to approach networked computers without preconceptions. Not only must you acquire the skill of finding things, you must also acquire the ability to use these things in your life.

P. Gilster, Digital Literacy (New York, 1997), p.1-2

Acquiring digital literacy for Internet use involves mastering a set of core competencies. The most essential of these is the ability to make informed judgments about what you find on-line, for unlike conventional media, much of the Net is unfiltered by editors and open to the contributions of all.

P. Gilster, Digital Literacy (New York, 1997), p.2

But what exactly is the digital literacy envelope that encompasses these competencies? We know what literacy means; it stands for the ability to use language it its written form… In contrast, although computers work their own languages… digital literacy doesn’t mean we have to become programmers or learn to puzzle out long lines of computer code. It refers to a way of reading and understanding information that differs from what we do when we sit down to read a book or a newspaper. The differences are inherent in the medium itself, and digital literacy involves mastering them.

P. Gilster, Digital Literacy (New York, 1997), p.28-9

So literacy in the digital age – digital literacy – is partly about awareness of other people and our expanded ability to contact them to discuss issues and get help.

P. Gilster, Digital Literacy (New York, 1997), p.31

A digital read on literacy also involves being able to understand a problem and develop a set of questions that will solve that information need. The problem will be solved using search methods that allow you to access information sources on the Internet and evaluate them.

P. Gilster, Digital Literacy (New York, 1997), p.33

Digital literacy is emphatically twin-edged. The Internet provides us with new capabilities for using older media, but it also creates content, and that content is interactive and demanding.

P. Gilster, Digital Literacy (New York, 1997), p.34

Digital literacy… is about learning how to back up traditional forms of content with networked, problem-solving tools. But literacy goes beyond developing the skills necessary to use them. Digital literacy is likewise about context. The Internet is, among other things, a publishing medium… The sense of geographical limitation rapidly disappears.

P. Gilster, Digital Literacy (New York, 1997), p.35

The Internet is not a gradual shift in the way we work. Instead, it is an analog-to-digital transformation that will alter the rules of communication.

P. Gilster, Digital Literacy (New York, 1997), p.38

A key component of digital literacy, then, is wariness. Sequential reading allows an author to build an argument, buttressing the case with examples and taking advantage of the arts of persuasion. Hypertextual reading puts the rhetorical arts into an odd tension; the reader, rather than the author, is the one who charts the course through the document. This being the case, the author of hypertext has to consider which routes the reader will be allowed to take.

P. Gilster, Digital Literacy (New York, 1997), p.130

But if we can’t always keep up with the specifics of Internet change, the core competencies of digital literacy remain viable. Technologies shift, but if you remember that knowledge assembly, Internet searching, hypertextual navigation, and content evaluation are all methods rather than specific hardware or software products, you will be able to apply them to the Net of tomorrow.

P. Gilster, Digital Literacy (New York, 1997), p.230

…digital literacy is the logical extension of literacy itself, just as hypertext is an extension of the traditional reading experience.

P. Gilster, Digital Literacy (New York, 1997), p.230

If you liked this post, you might want to subscribe to my newsletter and explore my ebooks!

Share a Comment

Comment