Digital Literacy vs. Digital Fluency and their Importance to Educators

Prior to beginning a class titled Literacy in the Digital Age, I had never heard the term digital literacy, or perhaps I had and it just never stuck. As it turns out, digital literacy has been a pivotal part of my learning experience and I just hadn’t known it. The definition of digital literacy, as according to US Digital literacy, is one, being able to find information, evaluate it, and/or if needed create information using digital technology. As a digital learner, you must search for the information needed and be able to evaluate the information’s usefulness to you. College has made me much more apt when it comes to evaluating the usefulness and integrity of information. The second part of the definition of digital literacy is using information from many different places in the digital world and being able to understand it. For nearly every writing assignment I have been assigned throughout high school and college I have been required to go out and find sources of information to use in my writing. I have had to search different websites of news stations, online libraries, as well as online journals. The third and final aspect of digital literacy is being able to do these tasks in the digital world effectively. This part of the definition is definitely key; if you don’t understand how to go out and find useful information, data, media, and so on and so forth in an effective manner, the point of digital literacy is completely lost.

In my research to find out the meaning of digital literacy, I found something very interesting in the definition of digital fluency. Digital literacy is being able to do things in the digital world, but might not always mean you reach you full intentions. Digital fluency on the other hand is always meeting your intentions or perhaps even going beyond your intentions when working digitally. In analogical terms, digital literacy is to digital fluency as proficient is to advanced. In essence, to be a leader as a digital learner you must have digital fluency. Personally speaking, I am not digitally fluent yet, I still have a lot to learn, especially when it comes to the aspect of digital literacy in creating things digitally. I hope that I can become digitally fluent as a learner before I become a teacher so that I can help my students become digitally fluent in a world that is becoming increasingly digital.

Here is a link to the United States Digital Literacy website.

This is a source that better explains the difference between digital literacy and digital fluency.

Photo CC-By: Michael Coghlan Slide Credit: Ruth Geer
Photo CC-By: Michael Coghlan
Slide Credit: Ruth Geer

2 thoughts on “Digital Literacy vs. Digital Fluency and their Importance to Educators

  1. Ali Meyer

    I definitely agree that people who don’t know how to effectively use technology, have lost digital literacy as a whole. With the huge technology boom, a lot of people have used it harmfully instead of effectively. That’s why I think it’s important for students to be taught digital literacy at a young age, so that they understand how to effectively use technology for good.


  2. Just like you I had no idea what digital literacy even was. People don’t understand how to fully make use of the technology that they have such easy access too. I completely agree with you in the fact that I as well need to increase my digital fluency. We need to learn how to use technology for good and even educational purposes.


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