10 November 2008

What makes one a Digital literate?

Digital Literacy is making news these days across the globe. People use it in the context of digital divide, digital society, etc. There are talks about teens being digital literates and government employees requiring digital literacy in the Omani media. This week let us understand what exactly digital literacy is and also check if you are a digital literate.

Literacy can be generally described as one’s ability to read and write. This definition is certainly very broad and several experts have expanded this capability to the following version:
basic reading and writing skills in English
the ability to read and comprehend a newspaper article
basic reading and writing skills as well as a sense of empowerment
reading and writing skills (about 1500 characters) and at a level of functional literacy skills linked to employment
This generic concept, when placed in the context of a Digital society means that a person is able to process electronic information and communicate using electronic means. Let us explain this further. To be a digital literate, fundamentally one needs to know how to process text, numbers and images using electronic media.

With modern means of networking with people, a digital literate must also be able send, receive & process information in electronic media like emails, Internet, CDs, disks, etc. For this one should know how to operate a computer, manage files and folders, surf the internet, seek using search engines, use email software, word-process documents, include numbers, charts and images and create both soft and printed copies of documents.

So if you answer YES to the following questions then you are considered digital literate:

- Can you create electronic documents and communicate with your peers and colleagues electronically?
- Can you manage your electronic files effectively in electronic media and create clear printed copies if required?
- Can you manage and operate your computer safely and use other input, output devices appropriately?
- Are you able to read and evaluate information from electronic sources?
- Can you operate ethically in handling electronic information and their communications?
- Do you give due regard to copyright materials found freely on the Internet
- Do you have netiquette (or Net + Etiquette) in online communications like for e.g. emails, chats, forums, and blogs?

Quoting Pim Dale, Vice President and General Manager of Dell’s Emerging Markets, in his keynote address at the recent 2008 Gitex Technology Week Global Conference, ‘…..there’s a lack of skills in terms of knowing technology ……. Today, there’s a real issue of digital illiteracy that has to be addressed over the next five to ten years’.

In Oman, an agreement was recently signed to build ICT capacity within the public sector, in order to expedite the process of e-government implementation and create a pool of ICT skilled civil staff. This agreement was signed with Certiport Inc, US for an internationally accredited digital literacy program called ‘IC3’.

Certiport is a leading authority in developing global digital literacy standards and programs and is actively involved with government leaders, businesses and educational administrators to create solutions that promote digital literacy among all populations.

Certiport’s Internet and Computing Core Certification (IC³®) is a leading global standard for digital literacy. It plays a significant role in the global community’s program to become digitally connected and help bridge the digital divide. Digital divide is a division or gap between the have’s and the have-not’s – a divide between those with in-demand skill sets and those without the skills they need to provide for themselves or a clear pathway to get them.

Through the recent agreement Certiport will train the public servants of Oman and enable to get certified in digital literacy skills. Certiport’s IC3 is recognised worldwide and more formally by the following institutions (Source: http://www.certiport.com/portal/desktopdefault.aspx?flash=false):

•National Skill Standards Board (NSSB), USA
•Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA)
• American Council on Education (ACE) (IC3 certification is eligible for credits from more than 1,800 accredited, degree-granting colleges, universities, and other education-related organizations that are members of ACE)
•Manpower Inc., USA
•International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
•National Infocomm Competency Center (NICC), Singapore operating under the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA)
•Reliance Webstores Ltd, India

Digital Oman will bring more details on the content of the IC3 program and its relevance to workforce enhancement and society empowerment in the next week. In the meanwhile readers can have their digital literacy profile done free online at http://www.certiport.com/Portal/desktopdefault.aspx?tabid=183&roleid=102 to see how proficient they are in Certiport’s IC3 digital literacy skills.

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