As someone who has worked in the IT industry for many years, my initial reaction to the term “Digitally Fluent’ was that it is just an updated version of the phrase “IT literate”. However, on thinking back to my own introduction to IT, me being someone who could be described as a “digital immigrant” (Prensky, 2001), I recall my excitement in learning to use a green text screen PC (pre-DOS) at my father’s office when I was a child. When comparing this time with my recent attempts to learn another language, the difference between literacy and fluency became quite clear.
Clark Barnett describes it very well in his blog post.
The ability for people to be able to learn new skills, and then be able to apply and combine them in new situations is essential for being able to thrive in a digital world, where new technology and applications are being developed and used at an ever increasing pace. Being digitally fluent is being able to adjust to these new aspects of the digital world with ease, in an almost unthinking manner –building on past experience with confidence and with a degree of comfort in trying new things.
So when do we know that we are digitally fluent? There is no clear point of arrival because technology is changing so frequently, but the checklist below (Howell, 2012, p. 139) is a good place to start
With the digital world being such an integral component of the ‘real’ world, it is essential that we develop digital fluency within our students throughout their education journey. It is important that we do not just aim to achieve a basic degree of digital ‘literacy’ in knowing how to use specific tools or applications; digital fluency will come about as a result of regular exposure to digital technology and using this as part of everyday learning, in conjunction with broader topics and not just as a ‘subject’ in itself.