A Seat at the Digital Table

As I sat down to craft this last weekly blog and final blog, I’ve been battling to decide what to talk about. Our syllabus has touched on so many aspects and outcomes of digital transformation. I’ve personally taken two approaches throughout this course. Some posts were about DX experiences that I’ve personally experienced and that I feel might differ from the DX experiences of my classmates (passion posts), while other posts have been about places or things I never considered ‘digitally advancing’ like the ski industry (outside my ‘swim lane’). Now, looking far forward, I’d like sort of a blur to the two avenues of thought. This post will be about steps taken to foster digital literacy across the U.S. and the planet – something that I’m *now* passionate about and relatively new to

The ability to succeed in the ‘land of opportunity’ often hinges on access to education. I’m not going on the record to claim that even one must/should aspire to complete post-secondary, graduate, or doctoral studies. I will, however, much in part to our class experience, agree that it is imperative that people – at all levels – have access to means of developing digital/technical literacy. Right on the heels of Apple’s research triangle announcement, a lesser-known bit of news hit the press. The State of South Carolina announced that It had entered into a 6 million dollar partnership with Apple to build computer labs for K-12 students and adult learners.

SC Gov. McMaster sends $6 million to establish free computer labs in internet deserts (msn.com)

“By providing access to Apple’s coding curriculum and emphasizing creative learning, this partnership is a game changer for our state. The educational programs and training at these learning centers will give South Carolinians relevant skills that are in high demand in today’s economy.” Bob Kaslen, President, University of South Carolina

Great news that I think dovetails nicely wiht the current U.S. administration’s broadband infrastructure goals. (Reaction To Biden’s Broadband Plan A Mix Of Praise, Caution, And Criticism: Broadband Breakfast) Major office moves and development by firms like Apple often speak louder than political aspirations. They’re commonly backed by business cases bought into by boards and thus help influence others to make similar decisions. I hope that large U.S. businesses will make similar investments that open the aperture up for those throughout the populous.

At a grander scale, the United Nations and many associated organizations have made some fascinating strides to broach the topic internationally. In 2015 the U.N. released the Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs are “A blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030”. The General Assembly ratified the goals shortly after their publishing. They’re relevant to this specific blog post because education is one of a few topics that cross-cut nearly all seventeen goals. In researching this blog post, I found a blog post on the United Nations Education, Science, and Culture (UNESCO) website that laid out a proposed digital literacy competency matrix for the developing world. The “ah-ha” moment here is that they could bin their work directly against SDG 4: Quality Education. The matrix provides a means for sovereign governments, non-governmental organizations, and inter-governmental organizations to help track and fund outlined goals.

 “digital literacy is considered an essential set of skills needed to find information and communicate in today’s world. This is why one of the monitoring indicators of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 4.4, which focuses on “relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship among youth and adults, look at digital literacy. In particular, it calls on countries to track the percentage of youth and adults who have achieved at least a minimum level of proficiency in digital literacy skills.” (Sustainable Development Goal 4 | UNESCO UIS)

Table 1. Proposed digital literacy competence areas and competences

Competence areaCompetences
0.   Fundamentals of hardware and software0.1 Basic knowledge of hardware such as turning on/off and charging, locking devices 0.2 Basic knowledge of software such as user account and password management, login, and how to do privacy settings, etc.
1.   Information and data literacy    1.1 Browsing, searching and filtering data, information and digital content 1.2 Evaluating data, information and digital content 1.3 Managing data, information and digital content
2. Communication and collaboration2.1 Interacting through digital technologies 2.2 Sharing through digital technologies 2.3 Engaging in citizenship through digital technologies 2.4 Collaborating through digital technologies 2.5 Netiquette 2.6 Managing digital identity
3. Digital content creation3.1 Developing digital content 3.2 Integrating and re-elaborating digital content 3.3 Copyright and licenses 3.4 Programming
4. Safety4.1 Protecting devices 4.2 Protecting personal data and privacy 4.3 Protecting health and well-being 4.4 Protecting the environment
5. Problem solving5.1 Solving technical problems 5.2 Identifying needs and technological responses 5.3 Creatively using digital technologies 5.4 Identifying digital competence gaps 5.5 Computational thinking
6. Career-related competences6.  Career-related competences refers to the knowledge and skills required to operate specialized hardware/software for a particular field, such as engineering design software and hardware tools, or the use of learning management systems to deliver fully online or blended courses.

Try out the active map to view progress against SDG4 uis.unesco.org/apps/visualisations/laci/

In closing, I hope this last blog added a “great” to the creepy – cool spectrum in summation. Several other posts this semester have provided a peek into ways that DX has helped lift up others and care for the greater good. One major takeaway for me has been that it’s not so much about the tech and the tools or a CEO saying “we’re digital”. Much like our creepy / cool / great term, it’s a spectrum, an ever-evolving process that hinges on people more so than digital twins, algorithms, and machine learning. I think that the work I detailed in the U.N.’s SDG4 and the U.S. infrastructure upgrades attacks that very shortcoming at an individual or societal level. To steal a moto from the Jesuits, , DX and education are heavily about “Cura Personalis” or carrying for the individual. To move onward and upward in aggregate at the end of the day, we must make sure that the masses have access, now how to play in the digital world.

Sustainable Development Goals – Wikipedia

A Global Framework to Measure Digital Literacy | UNESCO UIS

One comment

  1. ritellryan · ·

    I wholeheartedly agree the “creepy/cool line” is ever changing, which is why society is ever changing. I also support the notion that access to the Internet is a must have for everyone, and when the public libraries are currently closed in many parts of the country, it exacerbates the access problem that we currently have. While I am skeptical the Apple’s motives are completely pure in all of this, it is good to see private companies help close the gap a bit on this issue as we need to make sure everyone is digitally literate if they want to be able to succeed in the future of work

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