The first time to encounter the term “Digital Literacies” was when I took the course itself in spring 2019. What I had in mind about the term was just a conclusion I came up with. As I am majoring in Computer Engineering, the word “Digital” in my major refers to the a more machine-level approach of the digital circuits and digital world. However, the digital that I deal with closely is related to the basic materialistic components forming it, that’s why I went with the assumption that the term “Digital Literacies” refer to a more intellectual and humanistic way when it comes to deal with the digital world. After reading the Knowing the Difference Between Digital Skills and Digital Literacies, and Teaching Bothe by Maha Bali, an associate professor of practice at the Center for Learning and Teaching at the American University in Cairo, I learned that digital literacies tackle a different point that I was considering it negligibly (what I believe most of us do).
Digital Literacies and Digital Skills both are not targeting a specific group of people; Rather, they address all people accessing and using the digital world in their daily lives. The main difference between digital literacies and digital skills is that digital skills focus on a more technical level of using and accessing the digital media with the available functionalities, while for digital literacies is concerned more with the active involvement of one’s conscious and self-awareness when interacting with the digital content. Snapchat is a common social media platform that I use on a daily basis, so when I learn how to use a new feature that they recently added, I now enriched my digital skills. But when I am now posting a story on it and I get to think who can see this one or will it cause a problem. That intellectual participation is considered a form of digital literacy.
The great expansion of the digital technologies in recent years have made it possible for our digital skills to be developed exponentially as well as the exponential increase in the problems that could result to our communities and personalities if not handled with a delicate process, thus highlighting that there should be an increase in the digital literacy sophistication that one need to maintain. False news and privacy are the main drawbacks of the digital technological advancements’ rapid growth. Younger generations are now roaming the digital arena while their identities and ideologies are being formed while that was not the case for their predecessors. This raised the alarm that the if the young generations do not have the required digital literacy, they might get affected negatively with hate speech and the hidden messages in some entities’ agendas. That is why the experts Mathew Johnson and Shana White in their Podcast emphasized on the importance of integrating the digital literacy in the learning process form its beginning. They underlined that educators will be the main driving forces for the emerging of digital literacy as they should try to focus on making more platforms to enhance the students’ digital skills because digital literacies and digital skills complement each other. That the increase in digital literacy of one person means the effective the values of his digital skill will be of. (For more information, please watch this video.)
Unfortunately, in Egypt, digital literacy is a non-existential topic as it is never addressed or thought of in aspect of the Egyptian society’s interaction with different digital tools and social platforms; affecting the society with the spread of tons of fake news and hate speech, especially after the 25th of January Revolution. Furthermore, the term “digital literacies” was not introduced to me as I mentioned but the only reason I am aware of it now is because I joined the American University in Cairo and as far as I know this is the only educational institute in the country that is acknowledging such a topic.
If you have any ideas on how we can introduce the digital literacy in the Egyptian culture, please feel free to share it with me.