Thematic Working Group Digital Literacy

Thematic Working Group Digital Literacy

NewsResearchGood PracticesPosition paper


Chairs: Fabio Nascimbeni (email, Expert Page), Jeroen Clemens (email, Expert Page)

The centrality and ubiquity of digital devices in contemporary life has led to profound changes in literacy practices at home, school, work and play. Literacy now includes the use of a range of meaning-making resources, and manipulation of multiple modalities in diverse media devices. 

Based on the body of research that has emerged in recent years around Digital Literacy, which encompasses concepts such as Information Literacies, 21st Century Literacy, Multimodal Literacies, Multiliteracies and New Media Literacy ELINET proposes the following definition of Digital Literacy:
Digital Literacy is a broad term used to describe three interrelated dimensions of literate practice in the
contemporary age:

  1. the operational dimension includes the skills and competences that enable individuals to read and
write in diverse digital media (including making meaning with and from diverse modes such as spoken
and written language, static and moving images, sounds, screen design etc.);

  2. the cultural dimension refers to developing a repertoire of digital literacy practices in specific social
and cultural contexts (such as constructing and/or maintaining effective social, educational and/or
professional relationships online);

  3. the critical dimension recognises that meaning-making resources are selective and operate as a means
of social control (e.g. knowing what Facebook is up to when it reminds you that your profile is not
complete). Becoming critically literate with digital media therefore includes not simply participating
competently in digital literacy practices but also developing the ability to transform them actively and

This definition of the dynamic processes involved in developing digital literacy is enriched by the following

— Digital Literacy is transversal to many different activities: it is about making confident, critical and
creative use of diverse digital devices to achieve goals related to work, employability, learning, leisure,
inclusion and/or participation in society

— Digital Literacy is part of everyday literacy: that is to say, it can be viewed as both similar to and
different from traditional literacy. To read and write digitally, students and teachers must learn to create
and interpret texts in diverse modes (such as static and moving images and icons, spoken and written
language, screen layout etc.), and to navigate texts across diverse digital platforms which offer a variety
of learning opportunities, formats for creation, and spaces for expression that were not previously

— Digital Literacy is a complex and socio-culturally sensitive issue: it is much more than the capacity to
use ICT tools, but should be regarded as a set of social and sense-making competences associated with
interacting with a range of digital devices, where the central issue is about the diverse literacies needed
to communicate and collaborate with others and to find and make sense of the available information


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