The importance of digital literacy

In 2016, Australian research revealed that just 15 per cent of students were classified as advanced users of information technology, while a further 45 per cent were considered rudimentary. The Digital Literacy Skills and Learning Report found its way into the headlines when New South Wales Education Minister Rob Stokes voiced his opinion that universities in his state should be better preparing prospective teachers for the workforce.

The premise of his theory was that graduate teachers should be digitally literate beyond the point of being able to send an email, Google a question or operate a Facebook account.

"Parents need to be assured that teachers entering the classroom for the first time are up to the challenge of equipping 21st century students with the technological skills to succeed in an increasingly digital world," he said.

So, what are the specific reasons that teachers in Australia need to lift their digital literacy game?

Teachers must understand something before they transfer knowledge to students

Just as teachers face numeracy and English tests to ensure they are on top of the material they will be relaying to students, so must they be able to comprehend any digital skills they are teaching. This means actually understanding and being able to use the material in a practical manner, rather than just regurgitating content.

Students will need to be more than competent with digital literacy to compete in the future job market

There is plenty of research floating around that suggests a strong technological skillset will be crucial for future job seekers. With more people becoming university-educated, competition will be fierce and digitally-savvy students will find themselves more desirable than their less advanced peers. This is already the case, with a report released in 2016 revealing a 212 per cent increase in the demand for digital literacy skills over the last three years.

Boosting the career prospects of teachers

It is not only the career aspirations of students that are important. For teachers looking to swap schools, earn a promotion or even change career path entirely, advanced digital literacy skills are of great significance. Being able to demonstrate technological proficiency adds another string to the bow, and might just be the point of difference between an applicant and their competitors. 

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