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Do I need an iPad? Introductory thoughts from a new team member

When I tell people that my new job is on a digital literacy research project their initial reaction is one of two things: iPads or Kindles. This might have something to do with my digital background – I am known to be a quick adopter of technologies and knowledgeable of new and upcoming advances. I don’t have an iPad though (hint hint). Then again, it may simply be the common misconceptions of digital literacy coming through: iPads for everybody = digitally literate.

Clearly this isn’t right, surely I’m not the only person who gets frustrated when they see people with “all the gear but no idea”? A problem (a very first-world problem) faced by Apple retail employees is that their marketing is just too good! People flood to their stores saying “I want an iPad”, when actually it is very clear they would make much better use of a notebook. So, what’s the solution? Fittingly enough for a university, the solution is education.

Digital literacy is not always using the latest technology, just as literacy itself does not mean always reading the latest books. Instead, it is having the ability to do so if you wanted – being equipped to pick up a new technology (or book) and get to grips with it quickly. This enables us to use the technologies that are right for us, to make our work more efficient, to achieve our targets in the best possible way. Some people will always prefer cracking the spine of a physical book, but they can get to this stage much quicker if they use the libraries online catalogue to find where to look.

That’s my brief view on digital literacy as I join this project. Making sure that our students and staff are comfortable using new technological methods of teaching and researching so that they can weigh the pros and cons for themselves. My interest in technology, the importance I place on innovation (not just my own, but the company I work for and the environment that it is in) and my experience in education at this university as an undergraduate and as Vice President Academic Affairs of the Students’ Guild all contribute to my excitement to be on this project, and will I hope contribute to its successful conclusion.

1 comment to Do I need an iPad? Introductory thoughts from a new team member

  • Hi Robert, and welcome to the JISC Digital Literacies programme! 🙂

    I like the phrase ‘all the gear and no idea’ and think that the approach that it’s the external factors, rather than the internal thought processes, that are important is an difficult barrier.

    One way to approach it is to consider different digital ‘literacies’ (plural). The gear involved is different in different situations – and therefore so are the literacies.

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