Why digital and information literacy are so important to education?

18th January 2021

Author: Erica Sunarjo, a professional writer, translator, and editor with a Master's degree in Marketing and Social Media.

It’s commonly believed that the younger generation is more digitally literate because they are usually more tech-savvy. Unfortunately, this is not true. Moreover, digital and information literacy varies from country to country.

For instance, research that took place in a high school in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and involved 193 students from grades X and XI, showed that the majority of students had very low digital and information literacy. The most difficult point for the participants was online information assembly, meaning that students don’t often know which online resources are trustworthy and which are not.

The results of this research indicate that digital and information literacy is a serious problem often overlooked by schools. And, even in the developed countries, like the United States, where the level of digital literacy might be higher, it will still be uneven because it also depends on the social stratum from which the student comes and how often they interact with technology.

Currently, digital and information literacy is a burning problem, and there are many reasons why schools around the world should pay more attention to it.

Let’s take a closer look at these reasons.

1. Assessing the Quality of Information

We live in an age when the majority of resources are being moved online. And it comes in handy, helping students study from anywhere in the world, especially during the times of the pandemic, when all that students can do is online learning.

However, the recent shift to remote education has revealed significant gaps in digital and information literacy among students.

According to the study by Bridgewater State University, showed that digital skills among students were not where they needed to be. For instance, both students and their parents had a hard time working on shared documents in Google Docs and even didn’t know how to join Zoom calls.

The authors of the study also confirmed that students couldn’t differentiate a high-quality source of information from those that cannot be trusted. And, their parents couldn’t assist them with doing homework or help write papers for students because they are not digitally literate themselves.

All this shows the utter necessity for the school curriculum to include special courses on digital literacy, which would also teach students how to protect themselves online from different cyber threats.

2. Contributing to a Successful Future Career

The level of digital and information literacy also has a significant impact on becoming successful at one’s job. More and more workplaces around the world rely on technology, and students need to be prepared that technology will be an inalienable part of their future careers.

The study by EdWeek proves this point. In it, the researchers took a deeper look at the role of digital literacy for different job positions at the Christiana Care Health System. The researchers investigated the position of a janitor, a cook, a registered nurse, and a health information technician.

The results of EdWeek’s study showed that the workers needed some form of digital and information literacy to perform their tasks properly regardless of their position. Of course, a registered nurse should be more digitally literate than a janitor, but both occupations are required to know how to use technology right.

This study proves that digital and information literacy goes far beyond doing homework, finding a research paper writing service and other studying tools online, connecting to a Zoom call, or working in Google Docs.

Digital literacy also plays an important part in how you treat information. For instance, messing up patient data and or the information on medical treatment could be the reason for firing a medical worker. So, this is another vital point for digital and information literacy to become an inalienable part of national education.

3. Facilitating Lifelong Learning

Once a student graduates from high school or college, they enter professional life, but learning will never stop, as it will help them advance in their careers and simply become more well-rounded and knowledgeable.

The research by PWC proved this point. When asked about the impact of lifelong learning, the participants shared that:

  • 65% improved their professional network thanks to lifelong learning
  • 47% were able to get a promotion
  • 29% said they god a new job opportunity

Of course, lifelong learning does not just bring benefits in terms of career. This is a phenomenon that helps us remain informed and aware of how the world around us is changing.

However, lifelong learning is impossible without information literacy and the knowledge of how to behave with technology. This is one of those skills that are essential at any point of our lives and is not exclusive only to a high-school or college experience.

For lifelong learning to bring the expected benefits, it is important for a person to know how to operate online resources and use technology to their advantage.

At this point, it’s also important to highlight that digital and information literacy is a skill that should be practiced regularly. That’s why, when students are taught digital literacy at school, they should also possess the techniques on how to maintain this skill at any point in their lives.

Concluding Thoughts

Digital and information literacy is an important feature of the global citizen, who knows how to treat technology and take the most out of it. Yet, currently, the majority of people lack this literacy, and students, who are generally considered more tech-savvy, are among them.

But, there’s no denying that digital and information literacy impacts the students’ future success. Digitally literate students can assess the quality of information, benefit from lifelong learning, and, as a result, advance in their future careers and stand out from the competition.

With that in mind, digital and information literacy should become a part of every education system in both developed and developing countries. This is the guarantee of the continuous growth of every society, and, considering the rapid growth of technology and its impact on all existing jobs, it’s absolutely vital that digital and information literacy becomes a priority as soon as possible.