A decade or two ago, digital literacy skills such as knowing how to work on a computer were nice-to-have. They were the icing on the cake that could give one’s resume a leg up on the competition. Fast forward to the society we live in now, those digital literacy skills make up the bare minimum. Students today must possess e-learning skills, if they are to survive in a world that’s becoming more digitall. But why is that exactly? Our article sets out to find out as we dig into the importance of digital skills for students.
Access to an ocean of academic support
Before the age of the internet, students had to do their research the old fashion way: by rummaging through books in the school library. However, some challenges can arise here as follows:
- There may be a limited supply of reading material for the students
- The information in books may be obsolete
- These sources of information can be difficult to comb through, and so on
While school libraries are irreplaceable, supporting digital literacy in schools can arm students with the knowledge to fetch information from one of the largest repositories ever: the world wide web.
The vast digital library that is on the internet can help students with access to large pools of information from credible sources. There are a ton of well-researched websites that prove super useful should students require academic assistance. From free e-books and past question papers to online educational platforms such as Udemy, there’s a large ecosystem of support to lean on.
Learners can also get to visualize concepts – e.g. by watching YouTube videos – which can also lead to better comprehension. Numerous studies today have found that videos lead not just to improve conceptualization but also enhanced engagement. All these make the case for leveraging digital literacy for academic success.
Digital literacy defines modern jobs
Today, you need to have basic computer skills to pursue most career options. Teachers might require digital literacy skills to manage students records and activities electronically. Doctors, meanwhile, need to be tech-savvy to handle EHR systems. Engineers, on the other hand, might need even more advanced skills such as programming to get into the job market. And the list goes on and on.
With the lion’s share of modern workflows undergoing digital transformation to improve efficiency and productivity, almost every sphere of work- even low-level positions- requires one to have some form of technological know-how.
This further proves the importance of digital skills for students, as these skills are becoming the bare minimum expectation for today’s job market. Job descriptions require fundamental knowledge of some digital technologies.
Therefore, imparting digital literacy in students is also a matter of employability. Students with these skills increase their chances of getting employed. Moreover, these types of learners gain impeccable digital research skills that they can use to make informed and evidence-backed decisions about their careers.
Furthermore, some digital literacy skills can also give students an edge over their competitors. They can learn skills that make them stand out in the job application process, increasing the likelihood of landing the job of their dreams.
Students can keep safe from online threats
The digital world has largely been a good thing. However, as with any innovation, there have been challenges. Cybercrime and other online threats such as phishing have been born from it. These and many other types of online malice continue to compromise the safety and dignity of students online.
Digital literacy programs can help students to learn the safety practices and techniques for staying safe online such as:
- Using password protection
- Not giving out personal information
- How to ask for help or support
- Choosing safe screen names and so on
Students can learn all the dos and don’ts of staying safe online, so they can use computer resources without putting themselves at risk. However, schools and parents also need to take more responsibility to ensure learners don’t get access to inappropriate content on the internet.
On the flip side, this knowledge also helps students to comprehend their role as well in their digital responsibility. They master how to assess information online, and discerning the good from the bad to avoid spreading panic or misinformation. Overall, these programs teach learners how to behave ethically online as they grow into responsible digital citizens of tomorrow.
More social opportunities
Let’s face it. We live in a world where a lot more social interactions happen online than they do offline. The sooner we can accept this new reality, the faster students can begin honing their skills for the digital world. Networking today for instance occurs heavenly across social media sites and professional platforms such as LinkedIn.
Therefore, students need to have the skills necessary to also thrive, socially, in a world where most human interactions are digital. These skills will come in handy as they build their social and professional circles, which will help them to get ahead in life.
But online social interactions can be a double-edged sword. While they do tear down geographical and time barriers, they may also mean that in-person social skills take a hit. However, proper digital literacy programs teach students how to strike the perfect balance so that they can have the best of both worlds.
Digital literacy is a massive concern
A survey across India has revealed that we have a long way to go. Over 60% of respondents said that they didn’t have elementary digital literacy skills such as handling files on a computer. Schools should take the first initiative to change that by creating a supportive learning environment that engrains the latest technologies into the system. Here at Sitalakshmi Girls School, we have invested in infrastructure such as state-of-the-art computer laboratories that equip students with the skills needed to thrive in the 21st century. But, if we’re to catch up with the rest of the world., we believe that true digital literacy is a battle that will be won with both infrastructural changes and policy reforms.