UOSM2008: Digital literacy and self-evaluation

This is the first in a series of posts to be published over the coming months as part of the University of Southampton’s Living and Working on the Web module. To find out more, including links to all of this year’s student blogs, check out the UOSM2008 website.

I have long regarded my digital literacy as strong, having used computers regularly from a young age and gone on to study for a Web Science degree. With sites like WordPress and Twitter, I have maintained online profiles and networks for many years both for personal use and institutionally, including this site, which is mainly used as a writing portfolio. This is reflected in the scores for my initial self-test, where the key elements I hope to improve upon are participation and collaboration.

Criterion Level (1-5)
Accessing, managing and evaluating online information 4
Participating in online communities 3
Building online networks around an area of interest 3
Collaborating with others on shared projects 3
Creating online materials (text, audio, images, video) 4
Managing your online identity 4
Managing your online privacy and security 3

My personal experiences of digital literacy and skill divides would previously have aligned my thinking with Marc Prensky’s concepts of digital immigrants and natives, whereby younger generations are immersed into digital concepts from birth, rather than adapting experiences to them. However, as I discovered in researching this topic, David White’s conceptualisation of a spectrum between using digital platforms for active creation (residency) as opposed to passive consumption or utility (visiting) offers a more nuanced approach to assorted use cases.

Applying White’s mapping approach to my own Web usage made me closely analyse how and why I use what I use. For instance, for work I administer a number of Facebook groups and monitor incoming email closely, however my outgoing email is comparably infrequent and my personal use of Facebook is based around consumption rather than creation. Spotify and YouTube are services I use almost strictly in personal capacities, unlike SoundCloud, where I upload podcasts for work purposes.

Digital Identity Graph
10 of my most frequently-used online services, mapped on White’s grid structure

Historically, however, this picture would look very different. Today, most of my public posts on Twitter relate to work, however my account was far more active in previous years when used more for personal reasons. Nevertheless, I visit the service multiple times every day, keeping up with my curated feed of friends, journalists, artists, and so forth.


Word count: 299