Editors’ Choice: Yes, Digital Literacy. But Which One?

One of the problems I’ve had for a while with traditional digital literacy programs is that they tend to see digital literacy as a separable skill from domain knowledge. In the metaphor of most educators, there’s a set of digital or information literacy skills, which is sort of like the factory process. And there’s data, which is like raw material. You put the data through the critical literacy process and out comes useful information on the other side. You set up the infolit processes over a few days of instruction, and then you start running the raw material through the factory, for everything from newspaper articles on the deficit to studies on sickle cell anemia. Useful information, correctly weighted, comes out the other end. Hooray!

…But let me tell you what is about to happen. We are faced with massive information literacy problems, as shown by the complete inability of students and adults to identify fake stories, misinformation, disinformation, and other forms of spin.  And what I predict is that if you are in higher education every conference you go to for the next year will have panel members making passionate Churchillian speeches on how we need more information literacy, to much applause and the occassional whoop. But which information literacy do we need?

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