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What Is Digital Literacy and Why It Needs to Be Your Big Concern

Today, terms like remote work, videoconference, remote access, or tools like Zoom, Trello, or Slack are known by more people than ever. The current situation with the Covid-19 forced people to learn about many digital subjects.

@beatriceong via Twenty20

Recently, I did an exercise called Look Back to Look Forward. This technique was developed by the Institute For The Future and allows us to deconstruct the beliefs and visions that make us have a limited view of the future.

When we try to think about the future or answer the question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”, the visions we have and answers we give are based on things that happened to us. After all, there is no data about the future; we use the data from our past and the present.

I had already applied this technique in other exercises during my study of Futures Thinking. But during this Covid-19 phase, I found it very interesting to do it again.

A month ago, the references we had about the past were drastically different from those we have today. Few events in the modern era have shaped us as much as this pandemic. As many says, there will be a world before and a world after Covid-19. I think it will be an “I” before and an “I” after Covid-19.

The working population had to act fast and adapt quickly

Today, terms like remote work, videoconference, remote access, or tools like Zoom, Trello, or Slack are known by more people than ever. The current situation with the Covid-19 forced people to learn about many digital subjects.

When I started studying Futures Thinking, I focused my work on the topics of Adaptability and the Future of Work. As a remote worker since 2015, remote work is something that I know well.

But I do not try to evangelize all people and companies. I am focusing on trying to show how important it is for all businesses to have remote policies. They do not need to be 100% remote, but I think all companies must be prepared and open to remote work.

However, the implementation of remote work needs to be prepared to be successful. The businesses need to have internal processes that make it possible to have workers that want to work remotely. It is essential to have all the workforce prepared to understand this dynamic.

If people do not understand the digital tools and the technology involved in remote work, it will be challenging to work like this and achieve the results and goals fixed. The companies need to work on an increasing and development of the digital literacy of their workers.

What is digital literacy?

By digital literacy, we are not just talking about “knowing how to open Slack and being able to access the office network remotely by VPN”. It is not (only) that.

Digital literacy skills include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Responsible digital communication (netiquette)
  • Safe use of technology
  • Agility in searching, investigating and check information and data
  • Understanding of digital culture
  • Collaborative behavior and creative thinking

We can organize these skills in five major areas:

  • Information
  • Communication
  • Content Creation
  • Safety
  • Problem-solving

The lack of digital literacy is an indicator of social exclusion¹. Who doesn’t know how to use, behave, understand, and adapt to digital it will be left behind.

To have a better society with people that can quickly adapt to all scenarios, we need to develop a stronger digital literacy.

The schools and the education system need to focus on teaching these skills. And the companies and businesses need to invest in training, so they can have professionals adapted to the future — whatever it is.

The coronavirus forced professionals, companies, schools, teachers, and students to use digital tools overnight. Today we should try to do what works, as best as we can, with the resources that we have. But we can think about the future and what we are learning from this pandemic.

We can have an active role not only in increasing our digital literacy but also help others to learn and spread their technological knowledge.

Technology is what allows us today to adapt to a pandemic or urgent situation. But if we want to make it an even bigger and better ally in future circumstances, it is essential to understand it more broadly.

. . .

[1] Digital exclusion & social exclusion “(…) many people face a complex mix of barriers to accessing the Internet, and are likely to be facing a range of other challenges in their social and economic lives.” https://report.digitaldivides.nz/digital-exclusion-social-exclusion

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