The necessity for a universal digital literacy is becoming more apparent as we enter a digitally dominated world. Many landscapes that form our professional and social lives are now easily accessible through devices such as our mobile phones and laptops and it’s imperative that all users or “digital natives” (Ng 2012 pp.1066) are adequately educated.
Wan Ng’s text ‘Can we teach digital natives digital literacy?’, illustrates digital literacy as a 3-sectored Venn Diagram with each sector representing a “dimension of digital literacy” (Ng 2012 pp. 1068). The dimensions are; technical, cognitive and social-emotional and they all are essential when combining to create a coherent digital literacy. The technical dimension, regards the ability to operate necessary programs across numerous devices, while the cognitive dimension deals with critically approaching, creating and consuming online content.
The dimension that is significant to this blog entry is the social-emotional dimension, which refers to an individual’s ability to apply the same level of respect online as one would in a real-life engagement as well as maintain ‘netiquette’ (Ng 2012 pp. 1068). The social-emotional aspect is important as the media we consume transforms from “read-only” to “read and write” (Hartley 2009 pp.17).
But what happens when there is a majority that are unable to engage with material as they don’t have the skills to do so? Unfortunately, this is a grim truth and as John Hartley articulates in ‘The Uses of Digital Literacy’, “not enough critical attention has been paid toward what the ordinary people need to learn.” (Hartley 2009, pg.12). One focal point of Hartley’s text is the discriminatory nature of culture and literature as in many cases mediums have excluded certain groups from engaging because they don’t have the ‘intellectual capacity’ to do so (Hartley 2009 pp. 6-8).
This idea is reinforced by Stuart Hall in two of his texts, ‘Richard Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy and the cultural turn’ and ‘Notes on Deconstructing ‘the Popular’. Hall echoes a question first asked by Hoggart, regarding the relationship between ‘popular papers and magazines’ and the working-class readers (Hall 2007 pp. 40).
The exclusion of the ‘working-class’ resounds with Hartley’s concerns earlier and Hall responds through his analysis of the definition of popular culture where he says that popular is commonly defined as ‘what the masses consume’ (Hall, 1998 pp. 446). Media predominantly produce for ‘pop-culture’ and classing and labelling the working class as ‘popular’ removes their ability to develop and articulate their own culture which is rich and complex in its unique way (Hall 2007 pp. 42).
Henceforth, a digital literacy is crucial for all digital natives and as discussed earlier, there are certain groups that are excluded and digitally illiterate to some extent, which is dangerous for more than just the working class.
Hall, S. 1981, ‘Notes on deconstructing ‘the popular”, People’s history and socialist theory, pp. 227-240
Hall, S. 2007, ‘Richard Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy and the cultural turn’, INTERNATIONAL journal of CULTURAL studies, vol. 10(1), pp. 39-49
Hartley, J. 2009, The Uses of Digital Literacy, Queensland University Press, pp. 1-38
Ng, W. 2012, ‘Can we teach digital natives digital literacy?’, Computers and Education, pp. 1066-1078
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