Digital literacy is providing the same possibilities as reading and writing in the 21st century. There is an infinite range of resources for the student who can build online. Students who can collaborate with peers on the Internet will bring new, fresh perspectives to their research. And there will always be an advantage for the student who can distinguish between reliable information and unreliable information.
There are three main aspects of internet literacy:
1. Reading: Understanding basic web mechanisms used to search and find resources and information, including the ability to judge such sources ‘ credibility.
2. Writing: constructing and producing useful web content, including how to add data or links to a website, how to update existing content and basic coding/programming skills.
3. Participating: Connecting and contributing to groups that exchange, build and preserve meaningful online content, including learning how to safeguard data, identity, and systems.
Internet use is expanding, with the vast majority of people around the world expected to be online by 2020–60 percent. The internet’s integration into the daily lives of people is helped by easy-to-use hardware and software that requires little technical understanding. It reduces the entry barrier and allows the internet more accessible.
When students learn how to use the web, information becomes more accessible and learning becomes more dynamic. The online alphabetic is inspiring. And it can’t be ignored for that reason. But too often, students come across a “read-only” internet— one where the material is consumed, but not produced.
So how are we going to fix this? First of all, by teaching students how to read, write and participate in the best possible way online: through practical, experiential learning. The Web does not lend itself to teaching in the form of textbooks and blackboards. Students are best equipped to achieve internet literacy by regularly clicking, hyperlinking, and sharing as they go.
By nature, the Web is also collaborative, and so web literacy education should be. Students will remix each other’s projects and recycle them, adding their own flair. This style of teaching often concerns open practices: the Internet functions better when everyone can provide their expertise. Recall the first slogan of the World Wide Web?
Teachers should also be mindful that online literacy training is also taking place outside the classroom. Some of the most important training takes place in coffee shops, libraries and living rooms as students meet after class. Luckily, there is no shortage of smart educators already in their curricula integrating internet literacy. We see it every day at Mozilla: Toronto, New York City, India, and China educators teach their students how to create web pages, write HTML, and protect their privacy.
Web literacy is necessary for people to understand everything the internet has to offer and to be able to take full advantage of it.
Using the internet without developing core online literacy skills is like learning the alphabet, but not the vowels–something basic is lacking, making it difficult to fully understand or use it effectively, if not impossible.
Internet literacy is a skill as well as an operation. You’re not just learning to read about it: you’re learning to read and understand. You’re not only doing arithmetic’ about’: you’re learning to count and measure. Likewise, you’re not just learning about the web: you’re learning how to search and broaden your knowledge’s limits, for instance. Or you are learning a new skill. Or how online you can share your own job.
Universal internet literacy does not mean that complex web pages need to be coded by everyone. It can be very meaningful to have less technical awareness and empowerment. Understanding how to configure the applications on their computers or how to find reliable online data more efficiently creates a powerful and useful sense of agency for many.