The Essential Elements of Digital Literacy for the 21st Century Workforce

Many experts tell us that modern workers must acquire these 21st-century skills. For example, Creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, information, media, and technology. However, today we know that these skills are not enough to survive in the digital era. Digital literacy is also required.

Individuals require a set of competencies for full participation in a knowledge society, which encompasses digital literacy. Including knowledge, and behaviors involving the effective use of digital devices for purposes of communication, expression, collaboration, and advocacy.

The Key to Success in Digital Literacy

One of the leading researchers in the area is Professor Yoram Eshet. He published a key paper Digital Literacy: A Conceptual Framework for Survival Skills in the Digital Era. In this paper, Eshet says:

“Digital literacy involves more than the mere ability to use software or operate a digital device; it includes a large variety of complex cognitive, motor, sociological, and emotional skills, which users need in order to function effectively in digital environments. The tasks required in this context include, for example, “reading” instructions from graphical displays in user interfaces; using digital reproduction to create new, meaningful materials from existing ones; constructing knowledge from a non-linear, hyper-textual navigation; evaluating the quality and validity of information; and have a mature and realistic understanding of the “rules” that prevail in the cyberspace.”

Some of the skills required are:

  1. PHOTO-VISUAL LITERACY: Working with graphic interfaces, users employ a unique form of visual literacy that helps them to “read” intuitively and freely, and understand the instructions or messages represented visually. People with photo-visual literacy have good visual memory and strong intuitive-associative thinking, which help them decode and understand visual messages easily.
  2. INFORMATION LITERACY: “The ability to know when there is a need for information, to be able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively use that information for the issue or problem at hand.” Eshet emphasizes the need for skepticism in order to develop this literacy.
  3. SOCIO-EMOTIONAL LITERACY: Socially-literate users of cyberspace know how to avoid “traps” as well as derive benefits from the advantages of digital communication. In the article, it refers to a relatively new type of digital literacy among these users as socio-emotional literacy, primarily focusing on the sociological and emotional aspects of work in cyberspace.
  4. REPRODUCTION LITERACY: The ability to create meaningful, authentic, and creative work, by integrating existing independent pieces of information (Gilster, 1997; Labbo, Reinking, & McKenna, 1998). Reproduction literate scholars usually possess good multi-dimensional synthetic thinking, which helps them create meaningful new combinations from existing information.
  5. BRANCHING LITERACY: Modern hypermedia technology has presented computer users with new challenges of digital literacy (Gilster, 1997).
    It empowered scholars to transition from relatively linear data searches in traditional digital libraries to constructing knowledge from information accessed in a non-linear manner.

How can a digital learning platform be effective in promoting digital literacy?

Active engagement on a digital platform is necessary to fully achieve digital literacy, just as swimming expertise requires actual swimming in a pool rather than solely reading a manual. This means that training and learning managers in organizations should lead a shift transition towards the usage of learning platforms.

This means that training and learning managers in organizations should be moving towards the usage of digital learning platforms that give employees the tools to improve their digital literacy.


To effectively promote digital literacy, a learning platform should ideally include:

  1. Capabilities to create meaningful learning interactions – so knowledge will not be spoon-fed but acquired by using Information LITERACY and REPRODUCTION LITERACY
  2. Significant social features – so the learners will have the chance to develop a better SOCIO-EMOTIONAL LITERACY
  3. Capabilities of creating rich content that includes hyperlinks of text, static visuals and animations – so learners will be able to practice their PHOTO-VISUAL LITERACY and BRANCHING LITERACY

Anyone who wants to survive in the new digital universe should find ways to improve their digital literacy, which plays a major role in work/life abilities. Our brain is not yet wired to function naturally in the digital era—that is why we need to train it. Try using solutions in your training like Enabley to enhance your employees’ skills.

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