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Digital Literacy Skills – Your Weekend Long Reads

By Steve Vosloo on November 11, 2017

digital literacy skills

Starting today, we’re experimenting with a roundup of the best links for your long-form reading pleasure over the weekend. Please let us know what you think about this idea in the post comments.

Digital literacy skills, or the lack thereof, still represents a major barrier to digital inclusion for billions of people. If you want to create usable and scalable ICT4D solutions, you still cannot ignore this issue as we all work to bring the next 50% of the world online.

Click through these links to find ways to include and build digital literacy skills in your next project.

Inclusive Digital Solutions for Low-skilled and Low-literate People

Released as part of the UNESCO-Pearson Initiative for Literacy: Improved Livelihoods in a Digital World, these five case studies explore how inclusive digital solutions can help people with low skills and low literacy use technology in a way that supports skills development and, ultimately, improves their livelihoods.

Bonus: Meet the people behind the solutions and what inspired them.

Digital Literacy Skills for Work

The recently released UNESCO Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report tracks progress towards achieving SDG4 on education, including indicator 4.4.1: Percentage of youth/adults with ICT skills.

The key messages: it’s really hard to globally track digital skills, and from the existing data the results are bad: most adults in low and middle income countries did not perform even the most basic ICT functions.

  • Only 4% of adults in Sudan and Zimbabwe could copy and paste files;
  • Only 2% to 4% in Egypt and Jamaica could use basic arithmetic formulas in a spreadsheet.

The question is: how relevant is copy and pasting in Sudan? Perhaps there is a need for differentiated skills based on local contexts.

Mobile Internet Skills Training Toolkit

There are many excellent initiatives aimed at developing digital skills and literacy. One resource for everyone is the GSMA Toolkit, which is a guide for training people in basic mobile internet skills in India. What is useful is the accompanying ‘How To Guide’, designed to support replication of the Toolkit in different markets — in other words, for training of your users.

Digital Literacy Barrier for Digital Financial Services

Policies to transform India into a digital economy have resulted in a range of new products aimed at achieving digital financial services (DFS) for all. But, argues IFMR LEAD, a number of barriers remain for India’s poor to enjoy DFS, including low levels of consumer capabilities.

A 2016 FII survey found that 49 percent of Indians had low levels of digital literacy. This was even more acute for vulnerable groups: the elderly were 18 percent more likely than the youth to be digitally illiterate, and both women and those with lower levels of education were also less digitally literate than average.

Designing for the “Oral” Segment

Clearly work is needed to up skill and develop suitable products for vulnerable groups. But how does one design a user interface for non- or neo-literate users, or those in the “oral” population, who may not be able to read or write, but are highly adept in handling cash and making financial calculations?

In an insightful report, MicroSave and My Oral Village share the research, user definitions, design principles and first prototype for a mobile wallet phone app for illiterates. (Microsave).

What Else?

What other links should we be highlighting around digital literacy skills? Who should we be following that is leading in this area? Please let us know in the comments!

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Written by
Steve Vosloo is passionate about using technology in education. He's worked at UNESCO, Pearson South Africa, Stanford University, and the Shuttleworth Foundation on the use of mobile phones for literacy development, how technology can better serve low-skilled users, and the role of digital media for youth. All opinions expressed in this post are his own.
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