miércoles, 8 de abril de 2015

Digital Literacy should be measured better and is not enough

Increasing the level of digital literacy is seen as an important objective for policy makers. The rationale behind the relevance for digital literacy is that we are living a growing digitisation of society and economy and any citizen should have a set of basic skills for living, communication and working in the digital world. Certainly, having confidence in your digital skills could be important in your job nowadays and they open you a whole world of knowledge. Nevertheless, the promotion of digital skills should be handled with care.

To begin with, we should have a measurement framework that allow us to identify the progress in the dissemination and acquisition of digital skills. As "Enhancing digital literacy" is on of the pillars of "The Digital Agenda for Europe", I have explored the indicators associated with the fulfilment of this high-level objective. The impression I have is the unsuitability of the measurement framework for the current state of the art. The official set of indicators for e-skills included in the Eurostat database has the focus in the number of specific tasks related to computer use and internet use that a user is capable to carry out. The more number of tasks and individual is capable to fulfill, he is closer to full digital literacy. The approach lacks of the practical side of how these capabilities give you better opportunities to live, communicate and work in the digital age. 

The renewal of the indicators for measuring digital literacy is on the way. Looking again among the information published regarding "The Digital Agenda for Europe", I have found an interesting new approach based on the measurement of digital competencies, "Measuring Digital Skills across the EU: EU wide indicators of Digital Competence". Based on existing indicators of the Eurostat database, including the indicators for e-skills mentioned above, and few more indicators, the objective is build up five composed indicators for measuring the digital competences for gathering information, communicating with other individuals, creating content, using internet in a safety manner and solving problems using digital means. It is clearly better oriented to the measuring the achievement of the final purpose of digital literacy.

But the promotion of digital literacy is not enough for ensuring that the citizens will be able to live, communicate and working on the digital world. What is more, it could give a false sense of satisfaction to policy makers of having done anything possible. Although I have not found any research on the impact of digital literacy actions I suspect that it would be similar to similar actions in other field, as the promotion of financial literacy. Regarding financial literacy, there are studies that show "that within 20 months almost everyone who has taken a financial literacy class has forgotten what they learned". The consequence of this conclusion is a lack of protection to the citizen when he consume financial services. In a similar manner, we can conclude that something more than promoting digital literacy could be done to protect the citizen when he use digital services for living, communicate and work.

From the article mentioned before regarding financial literacy we can extract another interesting conclusion for digital literacy. In the article it is said that "The organizations most interested in promoting financial literacy are the ones that benefit the most from laws that assume consumers can be educated—and don’t need legal protection from corporate financial predators." Nothing more true for the digital world. It is not difficult to find in the news references for actions for the promotion of digital literacy conducted by internet giants and at the same time their resistance to establish clear conditions for the protection of consumer

Digital literacy should be promoted, in the same manner as the adoption of other basic skills for living in a connected world such as languages. However, regulations for protecting the citizens from the incorrect usage or from the abuse of companies who provided services will be still needed.

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palyginti kainas