As society responds to the impact of Industry 4.0, the need to have sound digital literacy skills, and the confidence to grow them, has become an essential professional skill for all graduates.

Students need to develop a digital mind-set, regardless of what direction their careers take. This involves being flexible and adaptable, particularly in the context of using digital technologies to support their learning, – technologies which will continue to change and develop.

Digital literacy needs to grow and be nurtured. It needs to be scaffolded through learning. And, ultimately, it needs to be fit-for-purpose. Importantly, it is a mindset and an attitude, not just a skill set. Improving digital capabilities is enabled through ongoing, contextualised, digital literacy development activities that are integrated into discipline learning.

Essential elements of a modern understanding of digital literacy include

* an understanding of how digital technologies work;

* confidence in using these technologies;

* the agility and flexibility to engage with and negotiate a rapidly changing digital environment

* skills to understand the modern media world to enable critical engagement with the environment

* skills to recognise when information may not be reliable at best or fake at worst

* skills and capabilities to be a responsible digital global citizen;

* skills in ethical judgement about emerging dilemmas arising from digitally mediated interactions in the digital world; and

* skills and capabilities to harness the power of digital technology for the betterment of self, community, and the world we live in.

In other words:

Digital literacy is the ability to identify and use technology confidently, creatively, and critically to effectively meet the demands and challenges of living, learning, and working in a digital society.


Professor Jo Coldwell-Neilson is an ALT Fellow and Associate Dean, Teaching & Learning, Faculty of Science, Engineering & Built Environment, Deakin University [email protected]

Jo’s website, Decoding Digital Literacy, provides information about digital literacy and links to publications produced through the Fellowship work.

ALTF 2019 Legacy Report is here


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