Blog Post - Benefits of Digital Literacy Education
City of Burlington
Economic Development Department
March 1, 2022
Everybody Benefits from Digital Literacy Education
Education doesn’t end after you receive your diploma or your degree(s). To keep up with market demands, it is crucial to engage in continued learning. In an increasingly digital society, workforce participants must adapt to the needs of their employers. For business owners, this remains true and evident. To lead a team toward developing a scalable and sustainable business, everyone on the team should engage in continued learning pertaining to their prospective roles.
The time has come where basic digital skills are needed in virtually every company or organization. Digital skills, according to UNESCO’s definition, are related to the usage of digital devices, communication applications, and networks to access and manage information. The basic digital skills are listed below:
- Digital foundation skills include using a browser, connecting to internet, safekeeping passwords.
- Communicating can be sending emails, navigating social media platforms.
- Handling Information and content requires users to discern between credible and noncredible online content, using search engines.
- Transacting implies purchasing goods and services online, completing online forms, submitting secure payments.
- Problem-solving is using the Internet to find a solution.
- Being safe online necessitates user’s understanding of the different ways hackers try to invade personal data, protecting against viruses
These basic skills are foundational for all generations to navigate the online world. Nowadays everything can be completed virtually, whether it’s paying your bills, ordering groceries, watching the newest box office film, or going to school. Not only can you save time, but money, when you choose to go digital.
Advanced digital literacy skills are gradually moving to the forefront of employer's agendas. The technology industry’s rapid growth has increased the demand for multidimensional workforce participants. Many people without a college degree find themselves able to make six-figures simply using their ability to analyze and present data to wide audiences, develop programs, protect cyber data, and more! A few of the topics considered to be advanced digital skills are listed below:
- Social media management includes developing a brand presence, marketing, analyzing trends and performance.
- User experience is the method of ensuring that apps, websites, and other digital channels are easy to interact for all audiences with attention on neurodiversity.
- Data Visualization comprises of creating visually appealing graphs, charts, or diagrams to display complex data.
- Web Analytics involves measuring concepts like Search Engine Optimization, audience segmentation, profitability benchmarking.
- Artificial Intelligence encompasses teaching machines how to do work which would normally require human intelligence.
In today’s labor market, hard technical skills are being valued at a greater rate. To be more competitive, job seekers would benefit from strengthening their data fluency, which is a person’s ability to express ideas about data so audiences of various educational backgrounds can understand. Businesses that are looking to expand their scope of operations need to be able to examine and communicate their data to make well informed decisions, cement customer relationships, and influence investor decisions.
A consulting firm reveals employers desire the following skills across virtually any industry in 2022:
- Communication across hybrid mediums (in-person, Zoom, Webex, Slack, Microsoft Teams).
- Innovative thinking to approach complex business problems.
- Tech savviness to drive growth in our digital-centric world.
- Project management to handle various responsibilities.
- Decision making to demonstrate your ability to make well calculated decisions.
- Emotional intelligence is needed to be self-aware of your own emotions to examine how you influence others, while being perceptive and responsive to the emotions of your colleagues
Technology is fundamental to all the skillsets named above, further illustrating the need for the workforce participants to engage in continued digital learning. Even if it is just thirty minutes a day, you can sharpen your skills to become at least a novice in a subject. You don’t have to be a computer programmer to be considered tech savvy, but you should be able to use the Internet to your advantage to solve the issue.
Business owners benefit from training employees to specialize in subjects to pivot to meet the growing demands of their customer base. You don’t have to pay thousands of dollars to provide your employees the resources to further the education and strengthen their craft. Simply sharing resources, like the ones attached below, can reciprocally benefit the individual engaging in free digital skill workshops and your business.
Teachers benefit from continued digital skill training, as they can offer more effective educational services. Salespersons can increase their marketing knowledge through social media classes. Nurses gain an advantage in understanding the tech industry from a medical perspective, like using AI to expose health disparities. Lawyers can design appealing data visuals to share with juries to illuminate data supporting their client's innocence. Digital skills are required to elevate to the next level in business and all other industries!
So where do you begin to develop your skill set? First, you need to assess your inventory. What skills do you possess? Then, you should identify the ones you could improve. Lastly, access the free resources available to you at your fingertips. We’ve developed a free and low-cost resource list to begin your digital literacy education.
The digital divide, the gap between those who have access to the Internet and computers and those who do not, presents a challenge to equity, especially in rural communities. This divide causes education to be unequally distributed, and further disadvantages rural, older, and minoritized communities. The Alamance Digital Inclusion developed a plan to expand broadband access and education to Alamance County. To learn more about their efforts, read here.
Chandler Vaughan, Project Manager, EYOS Fellow
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