I met Doug Belshaw briefly in London a few weeks ago, and then Mark re-introduced us.  Doug has been studying Digital Literacy (and in fact is defending his thesis in a few days — good luck Doug!) and works for JISC infoNet.

For a better understanding of what sorts of things Doug has been thinking about, check out this presentation:

I’m especially given lots of food for thought starting at slide 18 — “the 8 elements” of digital literacy.  Which of these apply to web literacy?  What’s missing?  Etc.

On three “ambiguity stages” of defining a “literacy”

  • Generative ambiguity.
    • “X” is like “Y”.  These things have some things in common, which is obvious to those who know X and Y, and not obvious to those who don’t.
  • Creative ambiguity. <– [web literacy seems to be mulling around here]
    • Can explain the concept to someone else.
  • Productive ambiguity.
    • Nail bits down.

On how to better define the edges of literacy

  • Idea: make up 3 people.  Are they web literate or not?  Make sure any definition sorts them properly.
  • Ambiguous case: someone who’s very very technical but doesn’t have any web-social knowhow.  Are they literate?
    • Perhaps some sort of radar chart would be a good visualization.
    • Minimal threshold to be “web literate” requires savviness in several areas.

On success metrics

  • Need two elements:
    • 1) Number of people in curriculum (+ completion)
    • 2) User studies.
      • “It unlocked the ability to do X for me.”
  • Imagine a perfect, web literate world.  How is it different from today?  Go backwards.

Also, lots of other useful information in Doug’s other presentations which I’ll have to go scour now. :)

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