A Maturity Model for Digital Literacies and Sustainable Development

A Maturity Model for Digital Literacies and Sustainable Development

Ravi S. Sharma (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore), Lin G. Malone (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore), Chong Guan (SIM University, Singapore) and Ambica Dattakumar (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2255-3.ch198
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Abstract

As the world becomes increasingly digitised, a key aspect of digitisation is the notion of “digital inclusion”; the empowerment of individuals through digital participation, as enabled through the functional, socio-economic and transformational dimensions of digital literacies. This chapter recounts the role of digital literacies in supporting participative, and therefore sustainable, development. Taking a historical, development perspective, this article describes a Digital Literacies Maturity Model (DLMM) to examine the relationship between knowledge societies, digital inclusion and digital literacies. This model combines the World Bank's four knowledge policy pillars with the four stages of digital development, to link digital policies with socio-economic wellbeing, and serves as a framework for the creation of sustainable knowledge societies.
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Introduction

It is a given that the world is now becoming increasingly digitialised. However the speed at which this digitisation has occurred, has led to unequal progression amongst societies. A key aspect of digitisation is the notion of “digital inclusion”; the empowerment of individuals through digital participation. Successful initiatives, supported by digital literacy, have enabled those that are isolated to gain on a social and economic front (Sharma & Mokhtar, 2006). This paper recounts the role of digital literacies in supporting participative, and therefore sustainable, development. Taking a historical development perspective, the paper concludes with a maturity model that links digital policies with socio-economic well-being.

Building on the pioneering work of Gilster (1997), Belshaw (2012) offers a comprehensive definition of modern literacies in digital society:

Literacies involve the mastery of simple cognitive and practical skills. To be 'literate' is only meaningful within a social context and involves having access to the cultural, economic and political structures of a society. In addition to providing the means and skills to deal with written texts, literacies bring about a transformation in human thinking capacities. This intellectual empowerment happens as a result of new cognitive tools (e.g. writing) or technical instruments (e.g. digital technologies). (p.90)

It has been suggested that digital inclusion and participation enables the grassroots to be engaged, bridging some of the prevailing socio-economic disadvantages (SEDs) that exist within societies, as well as across countries (Armenta et al., 2012). This is the fundamental premise of digital literacies – the set of skills and tools that will empower individuals and groups to participate fully in the increasingly digital future and hence bridge the disparities in socio-economic opportunities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Development: The various levels of the digital divide which must be bridged to promote wide spread digital usage within a society.

Socio-Economic Digital Literacy: the ability of digital users to engage in the social and economic structures of the digital society.

Digital Literacy: Digital literacy consists of competence in the basic skills to utilize digital technologies, an understanding of how these competences may be utilised to create context to practices and subsequently to participate socially, culturally and economically, and it allows for the intellectual empowerment of individuals to transform society.

Functional Digital Literacy: The basic competences or skills necessary to engage in the digital society.

Digital Literacy Maturity Model: A consistent set of measurements for researchers to study digital literacy in accordance to the level of digital development within knowledge societies.

Transformational Digital Literacy: The empowerment of digital users, to be transformed intellectually, which ultimately changes society.

Sustainable Development: The process of developing while ensuring that the development does not promote existing inequalities, nor does it hinder the resources and abilities for future generations to continue to develop and progress.

Knowledge societies: Societies which possess the necessary and sufficient conditions for growth in the knowledge economy, have high knowledge absorptive capacity and complex chains of creation, production and distribution, and consist of sustainable learning communities which emphasise innovation.

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