So, Why Are Digital Literacy Skills Important?
Here Are 9 Reasons:
- Digital Literacy Skills Boost Online Learning
- Digital Literacy Skills Give You An Edge
- Digital Literacy Skills Support Effective Communication
- Digital Literacy Skills Increase Efficiency
- Digital Literacy Skills Help You Evaluate Information
- Digital Literacy Skills Are Crisis Proof/Future Proof
- Digital Literacy Skills Can Increase Your Income
- Digital Literacy Skills Enable Creativity
- Digital Literacy Skills Improve Security
Before we get started if you are still wondering what Digital Literacy Skills are here’s a quick recap: “Digital Literacy Skills are the ability and know-how of digital skills in conjunction with critical thinking across the varied digital platforms and devices. Having digital literacy skills means possessing a combination of digital skills, competence, knowledge, practical ability, research, digital learning, understanding, evaluation, interpretation, creation, and communication. The area between Digital Skills and Digital Literacies is where Digital Literacy Skills lie.“
1. Digital Literacy Skills Boost Online Learning
This is a huge area related to Digital Literacy Skills (DLS), and why I put this first. The ability to learn using DLS is often taken for granted as for many of us it comes naturally from having grown up around the internet and as digital natives. We live in a world where if we don’t know the answer to a question, we can simply search on Google and we’ll be given various answers from different sources. Fantastic learning opportunities today are a result of the democratization of education through digital platforms.
Anyone with access to a digital device and the internet can access rich resources of information to increase their knowledge base. Digital Literacy Skills are often linked to educational institutes and the teaching profession, but DLS learning goes way beyond that. Digital Literacy Skills allow us to take an even more active role in our own education and give us the ability to learn practically anything.
Online learning and the search for online courses have skyrocketed in recent months with the COVID pandemic and have really shown us the value of e-learning and online education.
Our mastery of basic digital literacy skills enables us to become lifelong learners. Our ability to search for information, evaluate the sources, and use our critical thinking skills to assess the information gives us the ability to become lifelong learners using digital tools. Having a wealth of information available to us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is incredibly powerful and will serve us through our lives as we take on different roles and pursuits.
2. Digital Literacy Skills Give You An Edge
In the LinkedIn 2020 Emerging Jobs Report, which shines a light on jobs experiencing tremendous growth, 10 of the 15 top emerging jobs in the US are directly related to the Digital and Technology fields. Almost certainly, all 15 jobs require at least a baseline knowledge of digital literacy skills. The top 15 top emerging jobs in the U.S are:
- Artificial Intelligence Specialist
- Robotics Engineer
- Data Scientist
- Full Stack Engineer
- Site Reliability Engineer
- Customer Success Specialist
- Sales Development Representative
- Data Engineer
- Behavioral Health Technician
- Cyber Security Specialist
- Back End Developer
- Chief Revenue Officer
- Cloud Engineer
- Product Owner
*8 out of 10 of the top emerging jobs in the Philippines also are directly Digital and Technology related.
This data in itself is enough to scream the importance of Digital Literacy Skills. These jobs are hugely in-demand and experience growth of up to 74% annually. But what does it mean for you? Simply by learning and developing these skills, you become an extremely valuable asset for any company. Not only will you find it easier to secure a job, but having sought-after skills means your income will increase too. Having such valuable skills allows you to demand higher salaries either as a freelancer or working for a company. There are many tech companies and non-tech companies hiring skilled individuals who possess these in-demand skills, and they are willing to pay you appropriately because of the value you can add to their company.
3. Digital Literacy Skills Support Effective Communication
Now it will come as no surprise that communication appears on the list. However, digital communication alone isn’t a digital literacy skill. Anyone with a smartphone and internet access can use messaging apps to communicate with others. Digital Literacy Skills allow us to take these communication channels and more effectively communicate to our audience. Through knowledge of different platforms, users, data analytics, and digital marketing principles you can more effectively communicate ideas to your audience. For example, people with digital literacy skills are able to increase awareness of a brand or business on platforms like YouTube to create content for specific audience demographics to increase their awareness, and their subscribers, and even help drive sales conversions for products. They can then, use analytics and data to analyze audience behavior and the effectiveness of their communication. They can then take appropriate action to reach their goals.
The same principles of DLS can be used in jobs like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Digital Marketing, Advertising, UX/UI, Digital Strategy, and so on. These require not only digital skills but critical thinking and research into what users want. By putting users first and understanding their needs and behaviors, we can integrate these into digital platforms to help reach our goals. We can, therefore, communicate more effectively with potential users about our product/service or message, and increase brand loyalty.
4. Digital Literacy Skills Increase Efficiency
More Work With Less Energy
We’ve all heard of the old adage “Time is Money” and what better way to demonstrate that than through the development of technology. Digital technology and platforms allow us to access information in seconds saving us time and resources in the process. The nature of the online world allows us to connect to people on the other side of the world instantly. From the invention of morse code, the telephone, radio waves, television, and movies, man has created inventions to help us communicate and stay more connected, always pushing the boundaries and innovating better, more efficient solutions. From ordering a taxi from anywhere with internet access to saving lives through fast communication and response. Digital Literacy Skills allow us to take control of the steering wheel and drive our digital devices to help us reach our goals. The implications for businesses allow us to grow faster and connect to users all over the world.
“Digital businesses have demonstrated much faster growth than non-digital businesses, with one study estimating the growth rate for digital businesses in the UK to be more than twice that of their non-digital counterparts.”
Burning Glass Technologies, “No Longer Optional: Employer Demand For Digital Skills” (UK, June 2019), p.17
Reach A Wider Audience
Social media platforms allow us to reach a wider audience because of their popularity and engagement. We measure our photos and videos in terms of how many views and likes they receive. It is one way to measure how we reach our audience. Again, having digital literacy skills allows us to examine the vast array of digital platforms to efficiently use them to reach audience demographics. From social media to advertisements, SEO, SEM, YouTube, and more.
5. Digital Literacy Skills Help You Evaluate Information
The ability to access huge amounts of information online is very useful in our everyday lives. However, not all information is created equal. This is where our Digital Literacy Skills come into play.
DLS allows us to use our critical thinking or digital literacies to evaluate and assess information, helping us to become more aware and responsible digital citizens. We can use our critical thinking and reason skills to assess sources of information, compare different information, and come up with our own answers based on sound reasoning and judgment. A lack of Digital Literacy Skills combined with limitless information can lead to misinformation, uncertainty, and knowledge-based on untrustworthy and weak sources.
6. Digital Literacy Skills Are Crisis Proof/Future Proof
The importance and relevance of Digital Literacy Skills have become even more apparent in 2020. With the Covid-19 pandemic, we were forced into quarantine and many of us had to learn to work from home. Even those who weren’t overly “techie” suddenly found themselves on video calls figuring out the correct settings for audio and video, and how to share information.
But this shouldn’t have come as a shock. There are many instances where people have faced disruption due to technology. Aside from crisis, disruption always occurs as innovations are created. Our ability to adapt quickly can help us thrive during change. Think about all the factory workers who lose their jobs when suddenly a machine can do a better job. Think about, in recent times, businesses like Blockbuster that go bankrupt because they see change and refuse to adapt to consumer needs, and find themselves overtaken by streaming services.
Digital Literacy Skills allow us as individuals and corporations to stay ahead of the game and to essentially Future Proof ourselves. They allow us to use technology to advance our cause and provide solutions when old business models no longer work in a digital world.
7. Digital Literacy Skills Can Increase Your Income
Research conducted by Burning Glass analyzed millions of online job advertisements and found that having baseline digital skills would likely bring in more income than non-digital jobs. And having specific digital skills would pay even higher. They also found that data analysis, digital marketing, and CRM were experiencing an increase in demand.
That’s not to say that non-digital skills are less important. In fact, it shows us the potential to reach even higher when we arm ourselves with both non-digital and digital skills. That is the true importance of Digital Literacy skills in combining both areas. Where critical thinking meets the potential power of digital. Digital Literacy Skills empower us to reach our goals.
“Job seekers need a complete package of skills for success in the economy, both digital and non-digital. Many of the specific digital skills described in this report serve to enable non-digital expertise. For example, software programs such as Adobe Photoshop serve to enable design work, and CRM software tools can make sales and marketing professionals more effective in communicating the messages they craft.”
Burning Glass Technologies, “No Longer Optional: Employer Demand For Digital Skills” (UK, June 2019), p.10
8. Digital Literacy Skills Enable Creativity
Following on from that last comment, Digital Literacy Skills enable us to take our creativity and imagination and channel it through digital devices and software designed to make our work better and more efficient.
Digital Literacy Skills allow us to bring our creations to life. From logo designs to Pixar films, to fully interactive Virtual Reality Experiences, our creativity can be further enhanced with digital skills. All the technology you use, the apps you download, and the websites you visit were all “created” in the mind of people, and realized through digital platforms.
9. Digital Literacy Skills Improve Security
With information so readily available and so much of our lives being documented on social media, security is a very real issue. Digital Literacy Skills allow us to traverse the internet with caution by allowing us to assess the information presented and to be wary of how and what we communicate online. While many of us know that we shouldn’t give personal information away to people or websites we’re not familiar with, there are other ways that our information can do us harm.
With every action online, especially on social media, we leave behind a digital footprint. This information can be readily accessed with a simple search and could be used to our detriment. This could be a potential employer doing a background check or, as we’ve seen a lot in the media, videos from years ago that can affect our lives immensely.
Digital Literacy Skills give us the ability to use digital devices and the internet safely and responsibly so that we don’t run into security risks, fall prey to online scams, and we can manage our digital footprint.
Credit to: Building Digital Space