Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is vastly becoming a very important aspect in people’s lives today. The everyday activities such as answering telephone messages and automatic teller machines, for example, has been transformed by ICT. It is now vital for every child, adolescent and adult to have general notion of their technological surroundings.
For the future workers of tomorrow, where more and more industrial, professional, and business occupations call for knowledge workers with the ability to use ICT fluently, the skill to be ICT literate is now a necessity as well as a right.
To be ICT literate means to use “digital technology, communications tools, and/or networks to access, manage, integrate, evaluate, and create information in order to function in a knowledge society” (International ICT Literacy Panel, 2002).
Individuals in a knowledge society require knowledge and skills to search for information, to analyse, synthesize, evaluate, channel, and present it to others, and to exercise judgement in order to predict, plan and control fast changing events (Semenov, 2005).
ICT literacy is a critical skill that cannot be defined primarily as the mastery of technical skills. It is important to understand that it must be combined with critical cognitive skills as well. The effect of being ICT literate not only impacts the individual that has acquired these skills, but also society as a whole.
With the latest NAPLAN ICT literacy results indicating a decline in our students’ skills, this blog should stand as a reminder to those in doubt of using technology in the classroom how important it is help your students become ICT literate. They are, after all, the knowledge workers of tomorrow.
In 2010, a report was written by the Kennesaw State University on the ICT literacy skills that business desire today. It emphasises the significance of not only being competitive but having the right skills for students to have in order to thrive and survive in a digital economy.
Skills such as navigating information effectively and using technology efficiently were mentioned in addition to understanding issues such as information security, confidentiality and ethical concerns.
Businesses are searching for people with high level thinking skills such as decision-making and questioning as these have become the norm today. An intern’s ability to be able to use technology to solve an organisation’s problem is vital for the prosperity of its business. This also comes along with being able to use technology in a socially responsible manner. Other skills included:
- Professionalism/work ethic;
- Oral and written communication;
- Critical thinking/problem solving skills.
To add further emphasis in relation to the significance of these skills for businesses today, two online surveys were conducted. One to human resources consultants where they were asked “do employers believe that ICT literacy skills are important qualities for new hire”.
Of all the emails that were sent out 88% submitted a fully completed survey. Results indicated that more than 50% of respondents rated all the elements of the ICT Literacy Framework as either Important or Essential. It clearly demonstrates that ICT literacy skills are of strategic importance to businesses.
ICT Literacy for the Economy
1- The benefits of business technology literacy.
Communication is within a process that is interactive through which different messages are being transmitted between various people.
A person who is dedicated to communicating must be very effective to have the ultimate goal of transmitting the message so that it is received as clearly as possible by other people. The communication is very good and is judged due to the understanding of the recipient himself so that it can match the sender's intention.
The digital age allows us to speak, learn or share in a very efficient way and provides us with all kinds of means to do so. All business, government or academic institutions and others will depend on new digital technologies to be able to manage all the data, along with the information available.
Therefore, business technology literacy has become much more than a luxury for all those who will have enough means to be able to acquire a computer or any device with Internet access and pay the corresponding fees; All this has become a very important part of the population throughout the world. We usually use our smartphones to do everything, such as buying movie tickets or reading, going through the possibility of calling a taxi or paying for any item or service.
2- How to understand this digital literacy.
Digital literacy has to do with the ability to use certain information and communication technologies to create, find, evaluate and, of course, communicate all that information and it will require all kinds of cognitive and technical skills.
All of this is accepted as a tool that is very valuable as can be the growing importance of new technologies around the world. So if you are a very efficient communicator, it goes much further than transmitting and you can try to summarize, or even repeat. All this has to be based on the use of technological tools and pieces to improve the efficiency in the delivery of the information and greater productivity.
Many of the companies improve these promises thanks to digital technology. So understanding all of this will help us be more productive
3- How to use digital technologies to benefit the business?
We are going to name some ways to use business technology literacy and to achieve the best versatility and business efficiency.
- While we market: here you can use video marketing, to promote the business through your website, with the choice of a program that will help share, edit and update the plan, use email, promote products and services using different social networks such as Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, creating a content blog.
- Productivity: using a tool to keep track of the time and money you are up to. With this analysis, we will have productivity at hand and the possibility of improving processes if necessary. For this, it is possible to create all kinds of digital files to have all the documents quickly and easily. With digital dictation, all work processes will be streamlined. You can even develop a good management process with an email to follow up and respond to messages accordingly. Also, we can use the administration of tasks and projects to help us with daily activities.
- Customer service: we can install programs to schedule online appointments that are always necessary. The use of social networks for these customer services. It is possible to use surveys or questionnaires to obtain all kinds of customer feedback. It is possible to set up an online ticketing system or a service for technical assistance that will address all customer concerns. It is possible to put online support in chat for those clients.
- Money: there is a program to follow the budgets on the Internet to know and reduce expenses. You can file taxes online, which is very efficient. It is possible to share all types of digital files with the account or accountant to make this process better. Besides, there is a billing service that will reduce the amount that is spent on collecting payments from customers. When we sell the products and services, it will be possible to create a source of income. You can even replace certain alternatives to explore open source applications.
- Telecommuting and mobile work: you can use your smartphone to select all kinds of applications in the cloud to be able to stay connected. It is possible to create a mobile office that will allow you to work productively. It is even possible to save capital spent on paper and storage. It is possible to use a remote desktop application that will allow access to the files on the computer. It is possible to use an email address and a specific phone number.
- Learning and collaboration: it is possible to empower the team and expand knowledge thanks to business training. Data and files can be shared from the cloud. Scheduling and making video calls and making sure all those very different teams are on one page. It is possible to use the different messaging application to be able to communicate in the fastest way. It is impossible to have a face-to-face meeting if you are not travelling, but it is possible to keep everyone informed by web conferences.
Equipping students with Skills for the 21st century workforce
In an ever-increasing online and digital world, where the use of Information and Communication Technology continues to permeate our lives, being ICT literate is of great importance to the 21st century learner. Students need to learn ICT literacy skills that will set them up for a future dominated with technology.
Another term for this is also ‘technology literacy’ or being ‘technology literate’, however, technology covers a very broad area technological devices. Yet it can be a more user-friendly term for many.
For the sake of this blog though, you will need to gain knowledge in relation to the importance of ICT literacy and the types of ICT literacy skills. So let’s begin by understanding the foundations of what this all means.
So what is ICT literacy? To fully understand the ICT literacy definition, it is important for you to comprehend the significance of not defining it by just looking at the technical skills, but encompassing the critical cognitive skills that accompany these technical skills.
For example, examine the following ICT literacy definition:
ICT literacy is using digital technology, communications tools, and/or networks to access, manage, integrate, evaluate, and create information in order to function in a knowledge society.
(International ICT Literacy Panel, 2002, p. 2)
The above example lists the cognitive processes involved in ICT literacy such as creating, accessing, managing, evaluating, and integrating ICT. This is an important feature of this type of meaning. The statement by the International ICT Literacy Panel (2002) has since been the foundation of others over the years.
When this meaning is broken down it becomes easier to understand what it means to be ICT literate.
- Access - knowing about and knowing how to collect and/or retrieve information.
- Manage - applying an existing organisational or classification scheme.
- Integrate - interpreting and representing information. It involves summarizing, comparing, and contrasting.
- Evaluate - making judgements about the quality, relevance, usefulness, or efficiency of information.
- Create - generating information by adapting, applying, designing, inventing, or authoring information.
Within the classroom, these types of ICT literacy skills can inform the teaching of ICT literacy in the following ways:
Level 1: The NAP-ICT report says students at Level 1 can complete basic file and computer management functions (for instance, open, drag and drop files). They should also be able to click on a hyperlink, use the ‘save as’ and ‘paste’ functions and identify the main parts of a computer, such how to safely turn off a computer.
Level 2: Identifying and selecting relevant files by using metadata (for example, the file’s date) is a skill likely to be evident for students working at Level 2, the report notes, as well as understanding suffixes on a website URL (such as ‘.edu’). They could also explain why ICT and social media use at schools require a policy.
Level 3: The report observes that at this level, students are likely to make recommendations to improve the navigability of a website; understand a paid and non-paid search engine generated result; create an information product which follows an explicit, prescribed structure and recognise potential instances of ICT misuse (for example, computer viruses and plagiarism).
Level 4: Students working at Level 4 likely exhibit the ability to filter search engine parameters in order to improve search results; can edit features such as font, colour and image placement in a consistent manner; and can apply file management functions (for example, sorting files by type and date).
Level 5: Among other tasks such as using font and colour editing to suit a specified audience, the report says students identified to be at Level 5 are usually able to use the history function on a web browser or return to a previously visited site. They can also explain the pros and cons of saving documents as PDFs.
Level 6: At Level 6, students can employ the use of relevant tables and charts to enrich an information product, and explain their purpose and contents. They’re also likely to able to create an information product which flows and has carefully chosen font formats, colour and page transitions.
(Summary by TeacherMagazine, 2019)
ICT Capability or ICT Literacy?
With just over 50% of students reaching proficiency standards in the NAP-ICTL tests (2017), it is crucial that you as a teacher do understand what is ICT literacy is and the best practices to teach it. The Educational Technology Plan for Virginia outlined some key points to consider.
In this plan, there were similarities between what is ICT literacy for students and ICT capability. Highly capable students in ICT use were considered to possess and share the following attributes with what the plan discussed what students need to know about ICT literacy.
For example, high level ICT capability with students meant that they:
- Use ICT tools to support their learning in all subjects.
- Use common ICT tools.
- Take responsibility for their own learning, developing strategies to help them learn how to use unfamiliar ICT tools.
- Use current hardware and software and understand its potential and limitations.
- Understand that using ICT affects social processes.
The following is from Educational Technology Plan for Virginia.
Choose appropriate technologies to complete particular tasks and learn new technologies when needed:
- Become familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of various technologies for supporting different tasks (e.g., writing, research, presentations, creating artwork).
- Have a working knowledge of locally available technologies.
- When completing educational tasks, consider which technologies may help and use those that are available.
- Incorporate appropriate new technologies as they become available.
Use technologies to develop strong thinking skills and extend capabilities:
- Use built-in assessments, or self-assessment tools, to increase skills and understanding of their learning processes (metacognition).
- Effectively and rapidly evaluate information to make decisions.
- Approach authentic tasks with flexibility and persistence; adapt technologies to make them useful.
- Use technology to seek out diverse perspectives and develop multiple solutions.
Use technologies ethically and safely:
- Comply with current copyright laws.
- Use borrowed technology with respect and care.
- Never use technology to bully, coerce, or harass any other person; be accountable for conduct when using technology.
- Be aware of safety issues related to all technologies, but specifically communication technologies.
- Follow the division’s current guidelines for ethics and safety (identified in each division’s acceptable use policy).
Understand the nature of information in a global world and the characteristics of various media:
- Become informed about other cultures so all global communication can be made respectfully.
- Recognise when information is needed and determine where to locate the appropriate information.
- Evaluate information based on accuracy, relevance to a task or question, and appropriateness.
I hope this has helped you to understand what is ICT literacy and also to determine what it means to be ICT literate today. Acquiring ICT literacy skills is essential for students today and vital for the workforce tomorrow as we continue face more uncertain prospects in our lives and become more reliant on the use of information and communication technology literacy to survive and thrive in an ICT-dominated society.