What is “Digital Fluency”? Bartlett and Miller (2011. pp19.) believe that it is “the ability to find and critically evaluate online information.” Basically it’s a combination of book smarts and knowhow with computer and Internet competence.

That is not necessarily the “Digital Native”.

“Digital Natives” are the upcoming generation; “’Gen C’, ‘Gen I’, ‘Net Gen’, ‘Gen Y’, ‘Gen Z’ or ‘Internet Generation’.” [Howell, J. (2012. pp. 6)]

These are the children now in school, who do not know a world without the Internet. Many people, including myself, thought these would be the digital fluent; however, just because someone is a digital native it does not mean that they are digitally fluent.

…”being digitally fluent involves not only knowing how to use technological tools, but also knowing how to construct things of significance with those tools [Papert and Resnick (1995), cited by Resnick].”


Many digital natives do not fact check anything they find on the Internet, believing that if they found it on Google or Yahoo! it must be true. They are making decisions about the authenticity and trustworthiness of online information just by a sites appearance.

Digital Fluency is something that must be taught, a skill that is mastered, learning to fact check and recognise what is truth or legitimate and what is propaganda.

Without it there are risks, you could get caught up in conspiracy theories and misinformation on historical events, for example some radical groups have been known to use the ruse they are legitimate historical websites to disguise their agenda or you could miss out on that job because you don’t know about new technology.

How are we going to create digital natives that are digitally fluent?

It seems the answer is education;

White, G. (2013. pp.10) “Mounting a subject such as digital fluency in K-12 education will help to address the issues of professional learning, teaching pedagogy as well as assist students to learn new skills in a structured way, so that these news skills can be applied, at random, whenever the Internet is being used”

Teachers and schools need digital pedagogies to tackle this new tool for information and learning. At home, parents need to supervise kids online and pass on their digital knowledge. Teaching how to negotiate search engines and find legitimate websites and information. The Internet is not going away, in fact it is getting bigger and faster. Teaching Digital Fluency is essential.

Some interesting reads:

Clark Barnett is teaching kids to be Digitally Fluent

Global Digital Citizen Article and some great TED Talks

My Storify about teaching pre-primary children (5-6yrs) to read on-line

Evaluation Matrix Digital Fluency

References Digital Fluency