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Digital literacy is "the ability to effectively and critically navigate, evaluate and create information using a range of digital technologies." The training and assistance that libraries are uniquely positioned to provide help build the skills that Americans need in the 21st century. This work will also cement your library's reputation as community anchor that strengthens the local network of learning. If your library is your communities' only free resource for the Internet, technology, and information, digital literacy means more than you may think.
Definitions of Digital Literacy
- "The ability to locate, evaluate and use digital information."
- "The ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills" (ALA).
- More definitions from Wikipedia.
- Pew Internet: Library Services in the Digital Age. In a new survey of Americans' attitudes and expectations for public libraries, the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project finds that many library patrons are eager to see libraries' digital services expand, yet also feel that print books remain important in the digital age. Find here an excellent summary plus links to the complete report and the instrument and methodology.
- ALA's Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP)'s Digital Literacy, Libraries, and Public Policy provides an overview of the role of libraries in digital literacy and examines current relevant public policies, specifically digital inclusion, education and lifelong learning, and workforce development in public, school, and academic libraries.
- Policy paper from the Knight Commission: Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action, by Renee Hobbs (Temple). A detailed plan that positions digital and media literacy as an essential life skill and outlines steps that policymakers, educators, and community advocates can take to help Americans thrive in the digital age.
- The Institute of Museum and Library Services' (IMLS) 2009 Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills report outlines a vision for the role of libraries and museums in the national dialogue around learning and 21st century skills and includes case studies from across the country. There is also a Self-Assessment Tool included in the report that enables museums and libraries to determine where they fit on the continuum of 21st century skills operations and programming.
- Information Policy and Access Center's Digital Literacy and Public Libraries, a statistical survey of how public libraries are providing services for digital literacy.
ALA and Digital Literacy
Other Digital Literacy Resources for Librarians
- The EDGE benchmarks are designed to help libraries evaluate and continually improve their public technology services.
- Project Outcome offers free, pre-made surveys to assess a library's digital learning programs, such as Computer & Technology Usage Skills.
- DigitalLiteracy.gov is an online portal designed to help Americans find jobs and obtain the 21st century skills being sought by today's employers. It also serves as a hub for librarians, educators, and other digital literacy practitioners to share content and best practices.
- WebJunction's Digital Literacy Pathway
- The Edutopia portal for K-12 educators has a robust digital learning resource list
- Digital Literacy in New York - Funded through BTOP, this project is a partnership between the New York State Office of Cyber Security and the New York Library Association to "convene, support, coordinate and enhance programs that provide digital literacy training."
- Creating Data Literate Students, a guide to integrate the “reading” and “writing” of data into high school curriculum. These tips, rules of thumb, and guidelines offer the greatest impact in the limited time available.
Archived Webinars and Presentations
Free, Self-paced Courses
- DigitalLearn.org is PLA's hub for digital literacy, with two main sections: one for learners and the other for trainers. Offerings include self-directed, interactive trainings, which can be used independently by learners or can complement in-person classes. Sessions ranging from 6 to 15 minutes long include topics like Getting started on a computer, Using a PC, Using a Mac, Internet searching, Navigating a Website, and Intro to Email. A place to direct those who are new to computers and want to learn more. A separate community discussion board provides a virtual space for trainers to share resources and best practices, work collaboratively, seek input from others in the field, and ask questions.
- The Microsoft Digital Literacy curriculum "will help you develop a fundamental understanding of computers. The courses help you learn the essential skills to begin computing with confidence, be more productive at home and at work, stay safe online, use technology to complement your lifestyle, and consider careers where you can put your skills to work."
- The Northstar Digital Literacy Project provides a set of online, self-guided modules on basic computer digital literacy standards. When individuals pass the assessments at approved sites, they can obtain the Northstar Digital Literacy Certificate.
- TechBoomers offers free online training especially for older adults and other inexperienced Internet users so they can "learn how to use popular and trusted websites and Internet-based applications." The site also has courses on internet safety and privacy.
- Goodwill Community Foundation International provides GCFLearnFree.org which provides quality online learning opportunities to anyone who wants to improve the technology, literacy, and math skills needed to be successful in both work and life.
- DigitalLiteracy.gov is an online portal designed to help Americans find jobs and obtain the 21st century skills being sought by today's employers.
- EveryoneOn is a national outreach campaign focused on the importance of technology to develop digital skills and find new opportunities. EveryoneOn helps Americans access technology in three ways: digital literacy training, discounted high-speed Internet, and low-cost computers.
- For library staff members, the Colorado State Library developed online tech training for staff and a staff tech training curriculum.
- researchIT CT training for librarians
Don't forget to check the Connecticut State Library's Continuing Education Calendar for more learning opportunities.
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Digital Literacy - Items from Service Centers
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