Taking a Closer Look at Information Technology Fluency

I came across this article that I wanted to share with all of you. In LS560 we’ve learned skills relating to Information Technology and have then blogged about how our IT fluency has changed. An important aspect of IT fluency that has been communicated in this class is how the designers of Information Technology need to take into account the perspectives of those who are meant to use the final product.  The premise of  this article is that true “digital literacy” comes about only when you are taking into account the potential repercussions of using your digital skills. When I read this article I found that in many areas I could replace “Digital Literacy” with “Information Technology Fluency” and “Digital Skills” with “Information Technology Skills”.

This semester I have certainly acquired a lot of new IT Skills but Bali’s article has given me a new way to look at how I’ve become fluent. Some of my new fluency can be attributed to ideas Dr. Bonnici has instilled in the course work: design elements, website usability, thinking about how to make our Information Technologies more accessible by those with disabilities, and in the same vein giving thought to who your audience is. But there are some tertiary skills that I have learned along the way that have contributed to becoming fluent.

When creating my website the idea was that it would be something of a career portfolio. I then had to think about what social media platforms I wanted connected to my website, how I wanted to move forward with representing myself on social media platforms and how I’ve represented myself in the past. How many potential employers look at social media when deciding to hire and if they do look at social media what am I showing them about myself that I may not want them to know or what does my social media presence look like outside of the context one has when they know me personally?  I have given this some thought in the past and ultimately chose to be transparent about my personal interests and social activities. But when social networking becomes intertwined with my career I’ve discovered that I’m not keen to have just anything associated with my name.

I’ve also learned a lot during this course through trial and error. For instance, when working on my website I discovered that I don’t really have any software for editing photos or creating design elements. My husband’s laptop has Photoshop but I certainly didn’t have time to learn a program that is so complex and involved, and then also come up with a plan for my website’s visual elements. This led me to download a photo editing program which also downloaded a virus to my computer. Then I had to figure out how to get the virus off of my computer! This experience increased my fluency by helping me understand better how to avoid situations like that in the future. After all that I decided to stick with a simple design for my website and I am pleased with how it came out.

What I’ve learned is that being fluent isn’t just about acquiring IT skills. It’s about being aware of your role in the technology landscape. It’s about knowing the implications of being an active participant in technology: how you’re communicating but also what you’re communicating and how it can effect you and others. Since diving into my graduate studies I have discovered that, at least for me, learning in a course continues well after the course is over. Our professors teach us concepts but true understanding comes once we’ve discovered how they apply to our lives. I am grateful for the changes in my Information Technology Fluency, or Digital Fluency as the Bali article puts it, and I’m excited to see how my IT Fluency develops as I apply the new concepts and skills I’ve learned in this class to my life and career.