The landscape of digital literacy is changing

Earlier this week, I hosted a session at the mEducation Alliance Symposium in Washington. This years topic was Digital Literacy and Skills for Education and Development, and in our session, we dived into the changing landscape of digital literacy. After a great session with many of our partners in the early grade reading space, I have written down some reflections.

So what is changing?

Digital literacy is more than digital skills. The cultural, cognitive, creative and analytic elements of digital literacy are crucial for anyone that is using digital tools for learning, at school or in their daily lives. Mastering an app, a device or a platform is just a small part of digital literacy.

new technologies are changing how we learn with tech and how we master tech to learn

The landscape of digital literacy is changing rapidly, not only because technology is evolving, but because new technologies are changing how we learn with tech and how we master tech to learn.

The traditional way of digitizing early grade reading has been to create digital versions of books. That is about to change dramatically.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and Natural language processing (NLP) are categories of technology that changes the way kids learn in a profound way. For a child learning to read this poses a great opportunity at the same time as it requires a different level of digital literacy. Just a few years ago, this was more of a theoretical field of research. Over the last two to three years, NLP has been added to the “smartphone” user experience, and we also see applications like Google Bolo being able to run these algorithms offline on the device, bringing this paradigm shift to a broader user group.

Platform agnostic content

For projects developing new material, this new landscape requires a different approach to content development. We actually need to develop content without knowing how it will be used in five years.

Content creation, re-use and adaptation are also vital parts of what we define as digital literacy for the future. For content developers, this requires them to develop content that is platform-agnostic, leaving it up to the consumer whether to use content “out of the box” or create their own derivative, tailored to their needs.   

When All Children Reading launched their new price competition Begin With Books earlier this week, it was amazing to see how they have developed the whole prize concept around this idea that content development of books should be platform-agnostic and born accessible.

In the Global Digital Library project, we have developed a prototype where we connect our own content API with the Google Assistant. During this project, we see very clearly how crucial platform-agnostic content development is.

we are moving into “unknown territory”, and we must navigate with caution

Navigate with caution

I am personally excited to explore these new opportunities that AI and NLP create, but we are moving into “unknown territory”, and we must navigate with caution. In some cases, AI will be a perfect fit to create a new learning experience; in other cases, we should keep it “human”.