Some questions about digital literacy

This semester I’m teaching Digital literacy and exclusion here at the Open University of Catalonia.

My colleague and responsible for the subject, professor Jordi Planella, told me he’d rather entitle the subject as Digital literacy and inclusion. Well, now that I’m fully into it, I guess the original title is better: in fact, it first deals with digital exclusion issues and how digital literacy projects must be designed to pursue an inclusion.

Besides this digression, the aim of the post was to share some questions that arose when correcting my students’ “homework”. They are invited to write three essays/analyses of a real digital literacy project. Last week they gave to me their first one.

Here come the questions or comments I made on them. Please consider them more rethorical/pedagogycal questions than real doubts (though there might be some ;). There are also some points the students made that I found also interesting to add here:

  • In a project to provide technologycal capacitation for women, these women found (68%) it interesting to because they had learned this or that, but just because they had passed the “challenge”
  • Why are there few digital literacy projects focused to immigrants? Them being illegal in the host country might be a good answer. If you don’t “exist”, I cannot adress any program to you. Same happens in the private sector?
  • The government has the means to start ambitious programs and has a wider/macro point of view. The civil society has the knowledge of the “real reality”. Who should run these programs? Where’s the correct balance on the design? 50-50? 30-70? 70-30? Who should ask for a project to be run and who should accept it be run?
  • In programas for young people with high risk of exclusion, where’s the priority: empower them to find (better) jobs (and maybe don’t succeed in the final goal) or just be successful in keeping them away from crime (by giving leisure alternatives) even if it is a very short run point of view?
  • Foundations… do they act as public actors or private actors? civil society???
  • The mere diffusion of the advantages and benefits of ICTs… is digital literacy? digital advocacy???
  • There are digital literacy programs for elder people, there are digital literacy programs for women… why not digital literacy programs for elder women? Aren’t they in a more serious risk of exclusion as they belong, at the same time, to two groups in risk of digital exclusion?
  • Some digital inclusion projects focus risk of digital exclusion in the labor market (skills updating and so) but… do they have in mind access to the labor market?


If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2005) “Some questions about digital literacy” In ICTlogy, #19, April 2005. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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