A Maturity Model for Digital Literacies and Sustainable Development

A Maturity Model for Digital Literacies and Sustainable Development

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7659-4.ch006
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As the world becomes increasingly digitized, a key aspect of digitization 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 chapter 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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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.

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