The Importance of Global Digital Literacy

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With the world economy becoming more connected via networks and business environments becoming more computer-intensive in day-to-day job tasks, the issue of digital literacy stands out as a key differentiator of success at the individual, regional and national levels. Right now, too many people in too many places are lagging behind in these critical competencies. According to David Saedi, CEO of Certiport, which operates the foundational computer skills certification IC3, this gap in digital literacy needs to be addressed by educators and IT pros with a strong sense of social responsibility.

Certiport held its annual PATHWAYS Conference at the beginning of this month in Orlando, Fla. The event brought together technical pedagogues from around the world, who shared their insights on bringing IT education to a global workforce through certification and other means. “We understand that they need a forum to come face-to-face to exchange data, programs and best practices from various areas of the world,” Saedi said of the conference. “They realize that they have a lot more in common than their separate geographies allow them to share. Once they connect, they find they have a number of topics to share information on. They’re focused more on the society around them – that’s one of the benefits of this gathering – so they see the direct effect of what they do through the measurable outcome of certification.”

Expanding digital literacy is more than just a nice-sounding concept, he added. It serves the global economy by bringing more skilled professionals into the international workforce, whether they end up going into a technical field or not. “What we have done is to identify how digital literacy benefits everybody in the community, especially the ones who are at the lowest end and being least served by their communities,” Saedi explained. “The most recent analyses show that IT needs to be diffused across core curriculums, and virtually everybody needs to know the components of IT that enable them to participate in the digital economy. At Certiport, we don’t look at IT as a specific elitist niche. We look at it as diffusing these communications and technology components that need to be taught to everyone.

“Every one of the participants here carries that torch,” he added. “They want to make sure their communities are better equipped and that they’re getting the best value out of the infrastructure investments they’ve made. There’s something very important that we’ve stumbled across in the past two years and have now grabbed onto: the value of the individual as a change agent that allows IT diffusion to happen. It’s not just policies and funding. It’s the individual who says, ‘I will make an impact on my environment.'”

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