When asked to host a live twitter chat for the Texas Educators Chat @txeduchat on Dec. 1, 2013 from 8-9pm Central Time, I immediately thought of “Information Literacy in Participatory Digital Culture with a Focus on Youth and 21st Century Learning”. Of course, that topic was way too long for a tweet, so it was shortened to digital literacy (hashtag #digilit). Condensing our thoughts and words may appear easy (140 characters can be read fast) but it actually can be challenging. One of the most powerful online tools I have found for developing a professional learning network is twitter- once you get the hang of it.
The word most difficult to cut from my initial long topic phrase was “participatory”. Social media, live online interaction, user-generated content, and content curation tools have revolutionized our information intake. Students are now expected to be both consumers and producers of information (prosumers- a term coined by Alvin Toffler). In order to participate actively in the construction of learning in digital culture, students are required to develop digital literacy skills which are strongly focused on technology tools.
Condensing terms to hold the most meaning in the smallest space (think poetry) is not the only challenge of tweeting. We also have to consider nomenclature. Academics are sometimes criticized for using jargon that is difficult for people to understand. Natural language, tagging, and folksonomies have risen in popularity over formal classification subject headings in digital culture. Understandably, it is important to agree on correct terms that best describe broad categories and specific things.
In the days before the close of the Gutenberg Parenthesis (when the book was king of the information hierarchy), literacy meant reading and writing. Information Literacy, a term coined by Paul Zurkowski, is recognized by numerous experts in the fields of information science and education, such as Mike Eisenberg, as the umbrella under which other literacies are categorized. As much of life is spent online, digital literacy has risen to the top of the list of multiple literacies which have numerous related terms.
Useful Resources for Digital Literacy