Posted by Jill Bowdon on December 21, 2016
What is digital literacy? The term might bring coding or software to mind, but digital literacy is much more than knowing or understanding any specific computer program. In fact, digital literacy is the ability to use technology as a tool to create, explore, innovate, and communicate. According to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), digitally literate students can perform the following tasks, among others:
Across the country, educators are recognizing that digital literacy skills are increasingly essential when it comes to participating in society and finding employment. And the view in the US Virgin Islands (USVI) is no different. This past year, REL Northeast & Islands researchers were invited to work with the Virgin Islands Department of Education (VIDE) and the US Virgin Island College and Career Readiness Research Alliance (USVI Alliance) to explore what digital literacy skills are needed in the USVI and how they can be taught in schools.
This work began in February 2016, when my REL colleague, Jill Walston, and I held a meeting with the Career and Technical Education (CTE) Directors from VIDE, who explained that learning about digital literacy needs in Virgin Islands workplaces was a high priority for them. They said they needed this information to inform curriculum and programming decisions aimed at ensuring that students become ready for careers within the island jurisdiction.
To gauge digital literacy needs, we interviewed representatives of prominent USVI employers, business professors at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), and other members of the USVI business community.
Jill and I, along with Cora Goldston and USVI Alliance Facilitator Sandra Espada-Santos, shared what we learned with the USVI Alliance and then conducted half-day meetings in St. Thomas (November 9, 2016) and St. Croix (November 10, 2016) to facilitate discussions about the digital literacy needs (as expressed by the interviewees) and strategies for improving digital literacy education. Participants included members of the USVI Alliance, CTE directors, key VIDE and USVI Board of Education staff, and selected community, business, and university representatives, including some study interviewees. Participants also talked about how they can work together to promote digital literacy skill development that aligns with local employer needs and future business opportunities.
The meetings resulted in several proposed action steps to promote digital literacy, including the following:
Looking ahead, the USVI leaders we worked with plan to use these action steps to inform future collaboration among K–12 education, university, and business. These stakeholders are excited to work together to expand digital literacy education and better prepare USVI students for meaningful careers.
Cora Goldston, Communications Associate at American Institutes for Research, also contributed to this post.