Exploring Digital Literacies

Siemens, George. Wordle Of George Siemens’s Introduction To PLENK2010 Week 6 ‘Using PLE/Ns Effectively: Skills, Mindsets, And Critical Literacies’. 2019, https://www.flickr.com/photos/cpjobling/5111708008. Accessed 20 Feb 2019.

Digital literacy: a term I have probably heard several times over my years in the education system but have never really delved deep into what it truly means. The first time I come across this term this year is when I registered this course. Entering this course I thought, digital literacy? I would like to know more about that, but what does this term really mean or at least what does it mean to me? Reflecting on this term, I believe it means being aware of your digital self and the dangers of exposing yourself online whether to family/friends or to the public. Whenever I post anything on social media I know that it can be used against me somehow somewhere whether in job interviews or between acquaintances or even by strangers. I am also particularly conscious when it comes to photos. When you post something on any social media platform, you know it will be there forever, no matter how matter many times you tried to delete it from the internet. My precautions are not as bad when it comes to sharing a piece of text as when it is when I am sharing photos because photos are so personal. Text may also be personal but they are just words but with photos its you, out there in the world waiting to be judged. But let’s take a step back. Before entering this course, I had a totally different understanding of the term. I just thought it is being able to navigate through technology whether being able to use your phone or surf the internet for information but I never associated credibility, privacy or authenticity with it which by now, I know my definition was not necessarily that of digital literacy but somewhat of digital skills.

“Knowing the Difference Between Digital Skills and Digital Literacies, and Teaching Both”, an article by Maha Bali (2016)

Bali, Maha. “Knowing The Difference Between Digital Skills And Digital Literacies, And Teaching Both”. Literacyworldwide.Org, 2016, https://www.literacyworldwide.org/blog/literacy-daily/2016/02/03/knowing-the-difference-between-digital-skills-and-digital-literacies-and-teaching-both. Accessed 20 Feb 2019.

Modern “Data” Literacies. 2019, https://www.flickr.com/photos/notbrucelee/7161141748
Accessed 20 Feb 2019.

This article sheds light on the difference between two crucial terms: digital literacy vs digital skills. Bali exemplifies the difference between both terms using adequate examples that we encounter in our daily lives. Digital skills is the “what and how” but digital literacy is the “why, when, who and for whom”. I never really knew the difference between the two and if you have just read above. After having a discussion in class on what the term meant and how we should choose images that are for fair use, recognizing the copyright laws attached to them, we did not mention an essential part of the term which is: “to use alternative text for images to support those with visual disabilities”. I always try to think of others before I proceed with any decision and growing up with a father who works in the community development field, it was an integral part of my development as an adolescent. Since this is the time when bullying really comes into play and if you are able to recognize that this is right and this is wrong then you are definitely on the right track. Going back to the definition of digital skills and literacies, reading Bali’s definition of both reminded me of many situations between my grandmother and I. It is not news when I say that the older generation has a difficult time coping with technology nowadays since the advancement has been one that is quite astonishing. A few weeks ago, my paternal grandmother asked me how to download apps on her new phone and to teach her how she can add her friends on Facebook and I thought: “she has never been taught to do this but more importantly she was not a child when this application was introduced so she is unable to just “get it” instead she has to learn how to navigate her way on the social web. I taught her how to do it and reading this article, I realized that the process of acquiring digital skills differs greatly from one person to another or more specifically from one generation to the other. But the one that is even more apparent is digital literacy. Creating her Facebook page and adding images, she was so hesitant to upload anything, believing someone was out to get her. I realized that privacy and security is much more embedded in earlier generations than in my generation. Myself and my friends blast the internet with our pictures, the places we go out to, who we associate ourselves with, the music we listen to and so on, you get where I am going with this. Here is this woman who is so scared to even upload a photo of herself as her profile picture. I immediately thought of this encounterment and it hit me: I am so oblivious to the issue of privacy because it was never really something that was taught to me or mentioned in any of the classes that I took over the years. It is just not a topic that is discussed as much as it should be.

“The Digital Literacy Universe: Episode 1”, a podcast by Monita Bell

Bell, Monita. “The Digital Literacy Universe”. Tolerance.Org, 2018, https://www.tolerance.org/podcasts/the-mind-online/the-digital-literacy-universe.Accessed 20 Feb 2019.

The concept of discussing privacy or safety just like you read above is not embedded in our educational system. I don’t remember the first time I found out what privacy is but I do know the basics. I believe I acquired this knowledge by just growing up and being exposed to articles, knowing people who had their pictures stolen, etc. Bell highlighted a crucial point when it comes to the digital world: “how can we take control of what we put out into the world, and how to respond when we encounter hate online. How are we empowering students to use the Internet and other digital tools to make change?” (1) I always try to voice my opinion online, calling out people who need to be called out for the absurd content they post. But when it comes to hate, it is different. People fear judgement, arguments and debates that they would rather stay silent than be put on display to the entire world. There is some taboo especially in Egypt that people insert themselves in other people’s lives when it comes to the personal aspect but never anything else. You would hear people say “did you see what she posted, look what she wrote” but addressing the issue is never part of the talk. We are just good at talking and then doing nothing about it. But what really fascinates me is the amount of fake news and websites that spread like the plague in Egypt. You’ll always find grandmothers and other senior citizens share posts of kidnapped children, chemicals in Pepsi cans or poison in medicine that are not backed up by any evidence and do not come from credible sources. Personally, I do not believe a single thing shared by any publication house even if it is credible on the internet in Egypt. I believe it once I found other international news platforms reporting on the issue. I just do not understand why people just believe everything they see. They just never stop and think is this true or not and it seems absurd to me. I am not saying I’m an expert but I can differentiate between obvious fake news and real. Connecting this to class, the video of Trump was one that I fell for deeply. This was a trap because it was so well made that it was something that could come from such an ignorant and unpredictable man. You can never tell just by looking at it because there are experts who try to manipulate and convince you otherwise. I could kind of relate that to my major: Marketing but it is kind of more ethical than this. Mediums of marketing such as TV and print are dying and online marketing is booming. The reason for that is that you can reach so many more with more filters that you reach the people you want exactly. Marketing plays with your mind and makes you think you need something you don’t actually need. But I don’t believe it gives fake news by any means. What really is fake to me is Wikipedia which I was surprised to hear Matthew Johnson of Canada’s MediaSmarts talk about. You are always taught in school that Wikipedia is the fakest of all on the internet. He believes it is more reliable now but to me this website will always be unreliable because I can go in and add any hoax information and it will probably get approved which gives a platform for all scammers to voice their opinion. Voice is a really important concept because it serves as a representation of who you are and what you stand for. I think people try to shut each other’s voice so often to assume power that it has become part of their daily routine. Certainly, everyone has a voice and could use it to be the change but Shana White with the Constellations Center for Equity in Computing at Georgia Tech said something that really resonated with me. She said: ““No, we don’t need to give them something they have. We need to get out of their way and provide opportunities for them to share that voice.” (13) It reminded me of Taiye Selasi’s Ted Talk “Don’t ask where I’m from, ask where I’m local” where she said, “how could I come from a nation? How could a human being come from a concept?” and it stuck a cord in my body because we have been so accustomed to being put in boxes, borders and having our own things taken away from us whether it is voices or places. Why should someone control my voice or place me in a race, country with barriers all man-made and controlled by a larger force, bigger than all of us. Voices should not be shut down and people should not be limited to speaking out or living because of where they come from because when we put barriers and constraints on topics, it limits our creativity and critical thinking which could ultimately change the world.

“What is Digital Literacy” Article

Post, Guest. “What Is Digital Literacy? – Blog”. Teach.Com, 2017, https://teach.com/blog/what-is-digital-literacy/. Accessed 20 Feb 2019.

Mader, Ron. Buzzword Bingo: Digital Literacy = Ability To Organize, Understand And Analyze Information Using Digital Technology. 2011, https://www.flickr.com/photos/planeta/5931587916. Accessed 21 Feb 2019.

This articles gives a deep understanding of the definition of digital literacies as well as its importance. It stresses on the importance in that it has become an integral part of our daily lives that if you are digitally illiterate you might as well be illiterate. The digital world is now apart of everything from work to socializing to consuming information. We sometimes go online to destress but it can also be a very stressful world. I believe learning technological skills is an essential part of being up to date with the world and even though there seems to be extreme backlash for how technology is becoming a huge part in children’s lives. I believe it will benefit them in the future because we do not know what the future holds for the world of technology. If they do not learn everything now, they will have to learn everything then which will be much harder. Just look at our parents and grandparents and how they are suffering daily trying to keep up with the changing technological world.


1 thought on “Exploring Digital Literacies”

  1. This is a great post, Malak, thanks for your thoughtful reflections. You gave me an idea – about Wikipedia. It is actually *not* very easy to put false information on Wikipedia, and I’d like to try an experiment with you guys in class where we try to add information on Wikipedia and check what happens to it over time… what do you think? I’ve edited Wikipedia several times, usually small edits. It is also quite hard to get a new post up about a person – it might get deleted by editors who think you’re not doing something credible or about a significant person.

    Liked by 1 person

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