Exploring a Digital Literacy Model

I still find myself wondering what digital literacy really means in higher education. Despite presenting a concise explanation of what digital literacy means in my last post, I am still pondering its true meaning! Although unsure, I think the reason for my continued inquiry is associated with the continuing transformation of technology.  As technology evolves so too does digital literacy and thus its relationship to higher education. Additionally, technological transformation is not linear, but rather a multidimensional concept that relies heavily on current global technological progress.

My investigation into digital literacy yielded some excellent resources that have helped me, and perhaps you too, gain a better understanding of the various components of digital literacy. 

MediaSmarts, a non-profitable organization identifies as Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy is a highly recommended site for information on the key concepts of digital literacy or current media and digital issues. Although their target audience is school aged and teenagers, they have developed several resources that shed light on what it means to be digitally literate applicable to all ages.

Many of the current resources on digital literacy have only been available to elementary and secondary schools in the last 10 years. This means the students that we have sitting in our post-secondary classrooms may not yet have had the opportunity to learn about digital literacy. The idea that there may be knowledge variances among our post-secondary students related to digital literacy which I will need to attend to, convinces me that understanding the main principles of digital literacy myself should be a priority in my own classroom.  One way that I am working towards making digital literacy more of a priority in my classroom is taking time to understand different perspectives on digital literacy in education. I have found that the MediaSmarts Digital Literacy Model (pictured below) provides an informative, yet concise way to portray some of the main ideas of digital literacy. The model incorporates three main principles of Use, Understand and Create. 

Use refers to the technical side of understanding how to access, navigate and operate the tools of technology. The Understand principle is a crucial aspect of digital literacy which is when someone can “comprehend, contextualize, and critically evaluate digital media [to be able to] make informed decisions about what we do and encounter online” (MediaSmarts, 2018). Finally, Create focuses on the “ability to produce content and effectively communicate through a variety of digital media tools” (MediaSmarts, 2018).  

MediaSmarts also provides a variety of resources available for both students and teachers. Some resources include tips for fostering digital literacy in the classroom, information on digital citizenship as well as interactive games to help participants gauge their understanding of authenticating information they find online! I have posted some of the resources I have referred to at the bottom of this post. 

If you would have more questions on digital literacy or have found beneficial resources that you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate to post a comment below!


MediaSmarts (2016). On The Loose: A Guide to Life Online For Post-Secondary Students. Retrieved from  

MediaSmarts (n.d.). Digital Literacy 101. Retrieved from https://mediasmarts.ca/teacher-resources/digital-literacy-101  

MediaSmarts (n.d.) Reality Check: The Game. Retrieved from https://mediasmarts.ca/digital-media-literacy/educational-games/reality-check-game  

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