Digital Literacy skills are incredibly important in today’s society. They have become so in-demand and commonplace in our lives that they can no longer be considered optional; they’re a necessity. But where do you start when there’s too much information?
How To Develop Digital Literacy Skills?
Digital Literacy Skills can be developed by practicing digital skills and critical thinking to achieve greater proficiency with digital tools. Developing Digital Literacy Skills, much like learning a language, takes time, consistent effort, and repetition.
Here are 6 useful steps to develop digital literacy skills:
- Set Clear Goals
- Break It Down
- One Thing At A Time
- Find Reliable Learning Resources
- Just Do It
- Use Them In Real World Scenarios
Bonus: I’ve also included some links to helpful resources at the bottom of the page to help you get started and hopefully point you in the right direction.
Introduction – Ways To Develop Digital Literacy Skills
Growing up during a transition of traditional to digital classroom learning tools, I’ve seen firsthand the incremental advantages and possibilities of digital devices. I’ve realized that we are living in an incredible time to have all these resources available to us in split-seconds and how useful digital literacy skills can be to improve our lives.
The whole digital world can seem overwhelming. New possibilities are being developed and sometimes it’s hard just to keep up with new features on our phone. Below I discuss efficient ways in which you can approach developing digital literacy skills. These will hopefully be useful to you or others looking to increase their proficiency in digital language.
1. Set Clear Goals
We live in an age of fast and more. Many successful products and services are aimed at fulfilling this need. Netflix allows us to watch movies instantly. Food delivery services save us time by doing the cooking and delivery for us. Google provides us with answers instantly.
We have come to expect this fast and more quality of learning as well. We’re surrounded by promises of learning everything about anything online. This is where we get to the overwhelming part. With our valuable time, and carefully choosing how to spend it, how do we know what we should be learning? Answer: Set clear goals.
What Interests You?
Looking to “develop digital literacy skills” is a great place to start, but this is far too broad. Start with your interests. Learning a new skill is great, but learning something you’re actually interested in will ensure stickability when it comes devoting your time to something new.
If you’re a creative person, then your interest could be to “learn Adobe Photoshop or similar creative software.”
If you’re more logical and have an interest in numbers, you could learn “data science.”
You may be a teacher and you want to learn “how to become a better online teacher.”
Set Your Goal
Now that you’ve pinpointed the area of interest, then we create goals around that. We need to set a destination in our digital literacy skills journey. A tangible, achievable goal we can aim for.
If your interest is learning Photoshop, then a clear goal could be “create a poster for an upcoming event” or “create an engaging Instagram post for your business.” Think about the bigger picture rather than the skill itself. What is my goal here? In what situation would this be useful? What will learning this help me achieve? For example, by learning this new digital skill it will help me communicate my ideas and messages more effectively through digital channels. Remember, Digital Literacy Skills are ‘Digital Skills + Critical thinking.’
Once you have a goal, you’ll find that the process of learning will become easier because you know which direction you’re heading. Being too broad will result in uncertainty. Without a focussed goal, you may succumb to shiny object syndrome where something else will grab your attention and set you off on another path. Goals will help you stay focused.
There is no right or wrong. You are simply pinpointing a problem and figuring out how to solve it. Learning Digital Literacy Skills should not sequential, it is a progressive path. And you get to set the goals. Set them around what excites you and you will learn faster.
2. Break It Down Even Further
This is where we get to break your goal into manageable chunks of learning. Again, going straight out of the gate and trying to complete your goal might work, but you might not be learning the best way or you might end up overwhelmed with the information presented to you. It’s like trying to learn a new language without learning the grammar and syntax. You might survive with limited phrases for one day, but when problems of new needs arise, you won’t know how to address them.
If your goal is to make a poster in photoshop, then write a list of things you’ll need:
- Proper dimensions for a poster canvas
- Header and Body Text
- Engaging fonts
- Edit Photo
- Download and insert social media icons
The list might be this shorter or longer depending on the end goal.
If you have a really broad interest and goal, it’s even more important that you break it down. For example, you might be interested in building websites. Your goal would be to build a professional website for a business.
Well, first you’ll need to research different ways to build a website. You would find a variety of resources telling you different ways. You could start from scratch and build one using a web page builder that requires little to no coding skills, or you could learn how to build a website using code. Then you will need to research which languages you need to learn and which ones you need to reach your goal. There are fantastic resources out there waiting to help you learn.
3. One Thing At A Time
Now that you have a clear goal and you’ve broken it down into sections, you can start learning these digital literacy skills. Again, it’s about tackling problems one step at a time. If you run into trouble, then focus on how to solve that problem. Once you do, then move on to the next thing. There’s always a solution and sometimes you’ll be presented with many resources. It’s up to you to figure out which is the most efficient through trial and error. Making mistakes is all part of the learning process.
4. Find Reliable Learning Resources
The internet is jam-packed with information to help you develop digital literacy skills. Shortage of information is not the problem, in fact, we have the opposite problem. There’s just too much information sometimes and we have to find the best answers. The irony is, filtering useful information is both a digital literacy skill, and one you’ll need to learn more efficiently.
But HOW do you actually find reliable learning and not waste time while learning?
Ask the right questions
This seems obvious but many people overlook this especially when learning new things. Quite often we don’t know the correct terms or words to describe what we want to do and so our questions can be misinterpreted by internet search engines like Google. That’s ok though since search engines have become more intuitive they can help us. The more specific we are about a question, the more likely we are to find the best resource available to help us with a particular problem.
One of the best free sources of learning resources is YouTube. It is full of useful (and not so useful) content which can help you in you digital learning journey. The great thing about YouTube is that it is a visual medium and full of visual solutions to your problems.
For example, a simple search of “how to cut out a person in Photoshop” will reveal pages worth of videos related to your search.
*Tip: Be sure to check out how many views as this will give an indication of how many people have watched the video and thus likely to be a more useful resource. Also in some cases, a more recent video may be better to watch as software regularly updates and you don’t want to be watching a digital software tutorial from 10 years ago when the user interface was completely different from your version now.
Google has become extremely intuitive in helping us find what we want. It actively wants to help us find the best search results whenever we type anything into the search bar. Take note of Google’s auto-suggest as it will likely be what you’re looking for as others are also looking for the same answers.
If you can, then a mentor/teacher can be extremely useful. If someone has more experience in with a particular skill, then likely they know how to guide you in your learning. Another great thing is that they’ve likely made mistakes along the way and can help you avoid the pitfalls and thus you can utilize your time more effectively.
5. Just Do It
Now that you know how to find what you’re looking for, the best way to learn is to put it into practice. Following tutorials, solving problems, making mistakes, and learning to fix things, and repetition is a key part of learning, and digital literacy skills are no different. This is where the magic happens. Step by step you solve problems and tick off goals and if you consistently set goals and practice these skills, your skillset increases. The practical aspect of learning will ensure knowledge retention and if you’re learning skills based on your interests, then learning will likely be faster and of course, more rewarding.
6. Use Them In Real World Scenarios
Now that you’ve mastered another skill in your digital literacy journey, it’s just the beginning. Like any skill, it can be improved and enhanced with other skills. You can continue to practice your skill on your own, use it for your personal or business, you can also practice by creating for other people. The key is consistency and repetition.
If you learned new Photoshop techniques, then apply them to your own social media feed. If you learn great new color-grading techniques for video editing, then edit your own or other videos for YouTube or social media posting.
Below are some incredibly useful resources that can teach you not just the skills, but the critical thinking and the WHY behind learning and using these skills in you personal or professional lives. Good luck!
University of Derby – Digital Literacy and Why It Matters
Introduction outlining Digital Literacy.
Mike Dane – Giraffe Academy
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8butISFwT-Wl7EV0hUK0BQ
Ideal for: Beginners who want to learn the basics of coding; Understand the language behind websites and apps; Those who are looking to build their own website from scratch.
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCytOqtKYpACcWMD14UjhSeQ
Ideal for: People who want a solid grasp of SEO; How to write effectively for online platforms; Those who are looking to create a website.
Bring Your Own Laptop
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHZ-NWzcaa4lFT9NjP4T4pg
Ideal for: People who want to learn the Adobe Suite of creative software (Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, XD) from an Adobe certified instructor. Those who want to create their own original content. Also, those who want to create basic websites.
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheSkoolRocks
Ideal for: Those who want to learn to design better. Understand the business of design. Learn useful brand strategies to implement on their own or other brands/businesses.
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsvqVGtbbyHaMoevxPAq9Fg
Ideal for: People who want to learn overviews of digital skills. Social Media, Digital Marketing, Data Science, Programming Languages. Those looking for crash courses and have a few hours to spare (sometimes these courses are up to 6 hours but explore lots of aspects of these subjects).
If you want to understand Digital Literacy Skills more, check out What Are Digital Literacy Skills? And Why You Should Take Note and 9 Reasons Why Digital Literacy Skills Are Important