The best digital literacy experience right now

5 questions to ask when you want to create the best digital literacy experience.
Mar 27
Title: The best digital literacy experience right now

There are over 100 pizzas to choose from on Dominos’ website. The pizzeria down the road has another 50. I could get restaurant-quality pizza delivered by Uber Eats. I could make a pizza from scratch. Or I could heat a frozen pizza in the microwave. How do I choose?

I could read reviews, ask friends, toss a coin, choose the healthiest, the cheapest or the closest or the quickest or the one with the best side dishes. I am overwhelmed with choice.

How do you decide which pizza is best?

what is best?

The best pizza to feed a dozen 10-year-olds may be different to the best pizza to share with friends over a movie. The best pizza, is the pizza that is best for you at that time. You decide based on factors that are important to you, right now.

And it’s the same thing when helping staff improve their digital capabilities.

There are an unlimited number of options. There is no best practice. And there is no single approach that is better than another. What’s best, is whatever is best for you at the time.

Yes, digital literacy is complex. There isn’t one digital literacy definition or framework to rule them all. And it might be years before there is.

There is even less research available on how to develop a successful staff digital literacy training programme. A lack of evidence is not a position many libraries are comfortable with. But it is a good position to be in. Because there’s no need for analysis paralysis. There’s no ‘best practice’ to angst over. You get to create a digital literacy programme that’s best for you.

creating the best digital literacy experience

Because the world is unpredictable and kinda crazy out there, the choices you make today will probably change in 6 months. So there’s no point trying to create a perfect programme that will suit everyone. Instead start with the smallest viable solution, test it to see what works, and then adjust your solution based on what you learned.

The idea is to be nimble. To get something out there and test your plan against reality. Of course, you’ll have dreams and ideals you’ll want to aspire to - things in your digital literacy strategy that need to be done. Your smallest viable solution can still align with these.

Whatever the solution is, whether it is a programme of work or a single digital literacy experience you still need to know how to make it the best digital literacy experience possible.

Like any other good training programme, there are 5 questions to ask yourself when you want to create the best digital literacy experience.

5 questions to ask yourself when you want to create the best digital literacy experience. #TheLibraryBoss

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How to create the best digital literacy experience [Image]

1. What problem does it solve?

A great learning experience should be fun and enjoyable. But it should also have a clear purpose. And the best way to get clear on what the purpose is, is to consider the following questions:

  • What problem does it solve?
  • What will you observe staff doing?
  • How will staff performance improve?
  • What will staff be able to do that they couldn’t do before?

When staff [encounter this problem] they will be able to [solve it in this way].

Sometimes instead of solving a problem, the purpose of a digital literacy experience is to change an existing practice. Like using keyboard shortcuts instead of menu options. Or using a video instead of a written document to show a step-by-step process.

In these situations the sentence would be:

When staff [encounter this situation] do [this practice] instead.

2. What will the staff member achieve?

When you are clear about the problem your digital literacy experience will solve or the practice you will improve, the next question helps you to determine the value of that learning to staff.

What will the staff member achieve? What outcome will the staff member value?

Being able to perform a task well is not an outcome that staff will value. The value is in what the task means, what it can lead to, and how it can make a person feel. For example being able to create a positive digital presence isn't an especially valuable outcome. But using your digital presence to connect with others in the profession is. So is being confident of your online reputation when you apply for a new job.

 A successful digital literacy initiative will fulfil a deeper, more fundamental need than the ability to perform a task well. It will connect to a person’s subconscious desires:

  • Greater confidence or clarity
  • Increased status or recognition
  • A greater sense of identity or connection
  • Increased independence or self-reliance

Which of these desires does your digital literacy experience tap into?

3. Is the process clear?

Asking whether the process is clear may seem obvious.

But I know how easy it is to get so caught up in creating content, that you forget to clarify whether the content is necessary, makes sense and leads to the desired outcome.

Use this opportunity to pause, and consider the learning experience from the staff member’s perspective.

4. how well does it fit?

There are many different ways to create the best digital literacy experience but there is one thing that will always remain constant - you’re asking staff to change their behaviour.

You’re asking staff to take a risk, to try something they don’t usually do, and embrace the unfamiliar.

We all have a tendency to stick with what we know. But a successful digital literacy programme must find a way to overcome this tendency for it to be effective.

It is easier to put new skills or knowledge into practice when it fits into what the staff member already does. How will these new skills become part of the staff members’ existing practice, or is a new practice required? How achievable will the staff member consider this practice to be?

5. How can you make it easier?

The learning experience itself only lasts a short time. But stuff still needs to happen afterwards to make the learning stick. So what can you do to make it stick? 

The most effective way is to ask staff. Involve staff in the development of the programme and take the time to listen to their objections. These objections will reveal ways in which you can make it easier to integrate new behaviours into existing practice. 

  • Can you incorporate the learning into existing performance measures?
  • Can you integrate it into existing programmes of work?
  • Would it be easier to share experiences with a community of practice?
  • Can you provide followup sessions or evaluate individual progress?

The best digital literacy experience right now, is nimble and adaptable. It isn't perfect but solves a problem that staff value and fits into the work that they already do.

There’s no need for analysis paralysis. There’s no ‘best practice’ to angst over. Because you have the opportunity to create a digital literacy programme that’s best for you.

So go make it happen! I'd love to know how you get on. 🙂

The best digital literacy experience is nimble and adaptable. It isn't perfect but solves a problem that staff value and fits into the work that they already do. #TheLibraryBoss

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