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What is Digital Literacy in the 21st Century?

Started by Tessa Gray 28 Jun 2013 11:54am () Replies (14)

In the Inquiry into 21st century learning environments and digital literacy, there is call for investigating the impact of increased digital literacy on learning and defines this as,

 A person needs to achieve competency in three areas: Information, Media, and Technology Skills. Students will be able to have “…an ability to navigate new technologies, and have the skills that are required of them in the modern world.”

In Media literacy and the Communications Act, What has been achieved and what should be done? A 2013 update by Sonia Livingstone and Yinhan Wang it reads,

Progress in digital skills has stalled. Despite growing broadband adoption and a range of media literacy initiatives, the evidence shows little improvement in adult or children’s levels of knowledge over the past few years. This is especially the case for the crucial dimensions of critical and participatory literacy.

Digital literacy is recognised as an important component of Digital Citizenship, so what critical dimensions of literacy are we suppose to be developing?

  Netsafe's digital citizenship diagram

Taken from Digital Citizenship in New Zealand schools. PDF (NetSafe)

Is it knowing how to...

  • use key words and search the Internet?
  • research appropriate content?
  • source, sort, sift and cull material?
  • recognise valid information sources?
  • use and acknowledge material while avoiding plagiarism?
  • respect intellectual property?
  • create content and build knowledge?
  • think critically, reason and problem solve? 
  • more?

In this EdTalks (2010) Derek Wenmoth talks about Digital Literacy and leaves us with some questions to ask ourselves…such as what is a school's vision for developing 21st century literacy? How is this catered for?


What exactly are the technical and social skills needed to be digitally literate?  How are you tackling this in your school?  Do you teach 'key word' search strategies? Do you have note-making, note-taking templates? I’d love to see/hear more.

Maybe we could build a set of resources to help each other teach digital literacy? These could be later added to the collaborative Digital Citizenship project – Module 5 Digital literacy – online research.



Related links


Rules For Thinking In A Digital World Annie Murphy Paul blog post

Literacy in the Digital age NCREL This paper defines many literacies for 21st Century learners

What does it mean to be literate in the 21st century? VLN thread started by Jill Hammonds

Respecting intellectual property ICT PD digital citizenship at home wiki

Digital citizenship and copyright ICT PD wiki


  • Esther Casey (View all users posts) 19 Jul 2013 11:35am ()

    I agree, research skills are more important than ever!  I think the key to digital literacy is making sure that students understand the wider digital environment.  So they (we) know about the kinds of digital spaces and how they work, the process of getting content into these various spaces and the motivations of the creators of different types of content.  As this understanding develops, in context of course, all these skills make much more sense and the students can become confident, independent creators and contributors.

    In a school, it can often be the librarian who is well placed to provide a specific focus and consistency across the different levels of the school, and can work closely with the other teachers to bring in their expertise in a planned and contextualised way.  

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Digital Citizenship

Digital Citizenship

A group to support schools help their students, staff and whānau become digital citizens