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TitleDigital Skills: Unlocking the Information Society
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size1.7 MB
Total Pages198
Table of Contents
                            Cover
Title
Copyright
Contents
List of Illustrations
Series Foreword
Overview of the Book
Chapter 1 Introduction
Chapter 2 Defining Internet Skills
Chapter 3 Impact: Why Digital Skills Are the Key to the Information Society
Chapter 4 Current Levels of Internet Skills
Chapter 5 Solutions: Better Design
Chapter 6 Solutions: Learning Digital Skills
Chapter 7 Conclusions and Policy Perspectives
References
Index
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Palgrave Macmillan’s Digital Education and Learning

Much has been written during the first decade of the new millennium about the
potential of digital technologies to produce a transformation of education. Digital
technologies are portrayed as tools that will enhance learner collaboration and moti-
vation and develop new multimodal literacy skills. Accompanying this has been
the move from understanding literacy on the cognitive level to an appreciation of
the sociocultural forces shaping learner development. Responding to these claims,
the Digital Education and Learning Series explores the pedagogical potential and
realities of digital technologies in a wide range of disciplinary contexts across the
educational spectrum both in and outside of class. Focusing on local and global
perspectives, the series responds to the shifting landscape of education, the way
digital technologies are being used in different educational and cultural contexts,
and examines the differences that lie behind the generalizations of the digital age.
Incorporating cutting-edge volumes with theoretical perspectives and case stud-
ies (single-authored and edited collections), the series provides an accessible and
valuable resource for academic researchers, teacher trainers, administrators and stu-
dents interested in interdisciplinary studies of education and new and emerging
technologies.

Series Editors:

Michael Thomas is Senior Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, UK,
and Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning
Environments.

James Paul Gee is Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor at Arizona State
University, USA. His most recent book is Policy Brief: Getting over the Slump:
Innovation Strategies to Promote Children’s Learning (2008).

John Palfrey is Head of School at Phillips Academy, Andover, USA, and Senior
Research Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard. He is co-
author of Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives (2008).

Digital Education: Opportunities for Social Collaboration
Edited by Michael Thomas
Digital Media and Learner Identity: �e New Curatorship
By John Potter
Rhetoric/Composition/Play through Video Games: Reshaping �eory and
Practice of Writing
Edited by Richard Colby, Matthew S. S. Johnson, and
Rebekah Shultz Colby
Computer Games and Language Learning
By Mark Peterson
�e Politics of Education and Technology: Conflicts, Controversies,
and Connections
Edited by Neil Selwyn and Keri Facer

Page 99

Current Levels of Internet Skills 85

tasks, even when a better website is available (Zauberman, 2003). Especially
for strategic questions, it is important to compare information from differ-
ent sources to ensure that the potential benefits are optimal (e.g., in compar-
ing holiday trips offered on different websites). In our tests, we found that
as age increased, people were less likely to limit their activity to only one
website. Finally, we found that over 70 percent of the subjects experienced
the problem of working in an unstructured way. Often they tended to surf
rather randomly rather than systematically gathering and comparing infor-
mation piece by piece.

The third step of the decision-making process involves making the right
decision to reach the desired goal. This occurs when the required pieces of
information are gathered. These pieces of information must be combined
and compared so that a decision can be made. Remarkably, we found that
even when people collected the right pieces of information, they still expe-
rienced problems combining and comparing these pieces to make the best
decision. Over 40 percent of the subjects appeared to be making misguided
decisions based on the information found. This suggests that even with full
information, many people lack the skills to interpret and process the col-
lected pieces correctly, even when the collected information is rather simple.
Furthermore, 63 percent of the subjects based their decisions on incomplete
information. Of note, some of these decisions were correct, but this was the
result of a lucky choice, which subjects did not notice.

Overall, 29 percent of the subjects made the correct decision and con-
sequently would have benefitted from Internet use by achieving the goal.
The level of educational attainment appeared to be a decisive factor in
the level of strategic Internet skills. Higher educated subjects had a better
idea of how to begin the assignment, collect and combine information
from multiple sources to reach an optimal decision, and work in a more
structured manner. Consequently, they were able to make more correct
decisions.

The strategic skill assignments in the performance tests followed logi-
cally upon the information skill assignments. We argue that to benefit from
online communication or content creation, additional strategic skills are
required that are not measured in performance tests yet. In future studies,
we will make strategic skills assignments that specifically follow communi-
cation and content creation skills. For example, concerning communication
skills, we might give subjects assignments to reach as many positive replies
as possible to invitations in social networking sites. In measuring content
creation skills, we might focus on a given purpose or goal of the created
content, such as writing a Twitter message that receives attention.

Page 100

86 Digital Skills

Internet Skill Inequalities, among Who?

Before conducting the performance tests, we asked respondents for several
key demographic and socioeconomic indicators that might affect their levels
of Internet skills. The relationship between several indicators and Internet
skills were investigated with causal analyses (see Van Deursen et al., 2011).
The investigation indicated that age and educational attainment level are the
two key indicators that explain differences in Internet skills. Furthermore,
the conditional nature of the skills framework was confirmed; the level
of the medium-related skills had a large significant effect on the level of
content-related Internet skills. This is an important finding, as this strong
dependence has major implications concerning the effect of age on Internet
skills, as will be explained below.

The first variable under consideration was gender. Women have been
slower to begin using the Internet than men; therefore, it is expected that
men possess more knowledge about the Internet, resulting in more skillful
use (Goulding & Spacey, 2003). Wasserman and Richmond-Abbott (2005)
found that the level of Internet use was related to web-knowledge, which
was higher among men than among women. Recent studies, however, show
little variation by gender in access to the Internet in the developed countries
(Eurostat Statistics, 2013; Ono & Zavodny, 2003). One might argue that in
most Western countries, educational differences between men and women
have largely disappeared. Consequently, Hargittai and Shafer (2006) found
that men and women do not differ much in their online abilities; however,
women’s self-assessed skill levels are significantly lower than those of men.
This is consistent with our findings. We did not find gender-related differ-
ences in the performances of operational, formal, information, and strategic
Internet skills. However, when asked to rate their skill levels prior to the
tests in a self-assessment, men rated themselves significantly higher than
did women.

Our performance tests did not include the measurement of communica-
tion and content creation Internet skills. Thus, the identification of seg-
ments that are most in need of these skill improvements is difficult. It is not
known how communication and content creation skills are related to more
pragmatic informational uses of the Internet. Van Deursen, Courtois, and
Van Dijk (2014) suggest that some people turn to communication skills to
compensate for shortcomings in information skills. For example, rather than
learning how to compose elaborate search queries, one could ask another
individual how to find something or how to assess the information avail-
able on a website. This could occur by either consulting a support source
or employing specific communication Internet skills (e.g., mobilizing a
social contact to use effective messages for support questions). The opposite

Page 197

186 Index

searching—Continued
search engine, 5, 15, 16, 23, 24,

27–30, 47, 64, 66, 70–3, 99, 102,
103, 122–4, 142, 156

search operation, 68, 72, 99
search process, 25, 28, 70, 101, 102,

105, 122
search query, 24, 28, 66, 69, 72, 73,

86, 99, 102, 103, 122
search result, 26, 29, 64, 67, 68, 69,

73, 103, 122, 124
search selection (of results), 14, 15, 28,

29, 73, 76, 102, 103, 108, 109, 124
search strategy, 15, 29, 70
search system, 28, 29, 71, 73, 102, 110

self-assessments, 46, 86, 158, 160, 64,
89, 91, 130, 135, 141, 142, 143,
154, 155

seniors, 2, 6, 33, 35, 51, 52, 54, 56, 57,
61, 65–9, 71, 88, 91, 94–6, 98,
99, 115, 119, 124, 126, 129, 130,
133–5, 137, 144, 148, 150, 155,
158, 159, 161

sex. See gender
skill premium, 46
smartphones, 22, 23, 69, 99, 142,

153, 155
social capital, 46, 48
social class, 50
social contacts, 26, 31, 32, 49, 58,

74–6, 105, 146
social context of skills, 43–5
social environment, 44, 113, 114,

124, 147
social exclusion, 61, 144
social inequality, 44, 45, 53, 57–60, 61.

See also inequality
social isolation, 130, 133
social media, 6, 17, 30, 48, 49, 82,

90, 120
social networking, 5, 7, 13, 16, 17,

21–3, 25, 26, 32–4, 38, 44, 48,
49, 54, 56, 57, 74, 75, 76, 78, 79,
82, 85, 100, 105, 106, 109, 110,
118, 120, 122, 145

social networking sites, 75, 76, 78, 166
solutions (for exclusion), 145–8

better design, 93–101
improving online content, 101–9
learning digital skills, 113–37

software, 3, 5, 7, 10–15, 18, 22, 23, 30,
37, 44, 109, 115, 119, 122, 129,
141, 149, 151–6, 159–62

stakeholders, 109, 152, 153, 160
support (for digital skill insufficiencies),

69, 84, 86, 91, 95, 102, 108, 113,
117, 118, 127, 133, 136, 137, 151,
153, 156, 158, 178

support groups, 51, 148, 151
support networks, 5

tablets, 10, 22, 23, 44, 59, 69, 99, 100,
101, 153

tagging, 78, 106
teachers, 117, 120–3, 134–6, 149, 151,

152, 154, 156, 161–3
teaching, 23, 107, 123, 124, 126, 132,

134, 137, 156
technical

ability, 13, 44
access, 5
assistance, 119, 136
competency, 6, 18, 23
design, 59, 147, 163
knowledge, 107, 147
proficiency, 23
skills, 5, 37

technology provision, 161, 162
technophobia, 2
Telecenters, 127
telecommunication, 9, 10, 171
telephony, 1, 7, 21, 23, 24, 27, 30, 37,

51, 53, 54, 75, 76, 109, 177
television, 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 13, 55, 142
texts (reading and writing), 4, 8, 9,

11–15, 26, 29, 33, 37, 38, 69, 77,
82, 87, 89, 101, 103, 107, 132, 140

toolbars, 11, 24, 46, 65
touchscreens, 10, 32, 68, 69, 91,

131, 132

Page 198

Index 187

training (of digital skills),
17, 27, 43, 46, 59, 60, 73,
113–16, 118, 119, 121, 123,
127–9, 132, 134–7, 145,
147, 148, 150–9, 162, 163.
See also courses

typing, 66, 84, 100, 131

unemployed, 56, 59
universal access, 1, 128
usability, 25, 59, 67, 96, 97, 104, 146,

159, 160
usage (of media), 1–5, 13, 44, 49, 50,

53, 55, 64, 82, 90, 94, 101, 114,
139, 142, 143, 161

usage gap, 55, 56, 62, 83, 100, 101,
110, 153

User Centered Design, 96, 103, 110, 146
user support services, 158–63
user-friendliness, 94, 97, 110, 113, 115,

136, 146, 153

wages, 46, 58, 145
Wiki(pedia), 17, 38, 80, 84
workers, 32, 46, 63, 119, 136, 150, 151,

154, 155, 160
writing, 1, 2, 4, 7–11, 13, 14, 16, 18,

32, 33, 45, 53, 54, 71, 77, 82, 85,
87, 89, 103, 129, 131, 132, 135,
140, 141, 156, 160

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