Lifelong Learning and Digital Literacy

I chose my own Infinite Learning adventure and explored the Learning Everywhere module. Libraries are essential to the cultural fabric of society and are the ideal place for lifelong learning. Through the lecture and readings, I was reminded of a program that I was introduced to when I worked at a YMCA teen center in San Diego in the early 2000s. We collaborated with the Youth & Family Services division of the association to bring their Independent Living Skills (ILS) program to our branch. I’m glad to see the program is still in existence and has grown. According to the YMCA of San Diego County website, ILS is “designed to prepare and assist current and former foster youth through their transition from the foster care system into independence.” I always felt the training these youth received would be beneficial for all to learn, not just those who were part of the system and starting their adult lives. I remember starting college right out of high school and thought I knew it all; however, a class like this would’ve better prepared me for life on my own. The program taught students how to write a check (is this even relevant anymore?) and budget, secure housing, perform a job search, and interview. I imagine now this life literacy (as mentioned in the lecture) program includes a digital literacy component.

People can use the internet to search and find information; libraries remain relevant because programs can be catered to the community’s needs and life skills now include digital skills, which have become practical knowledge. According to one of the sources I tend to gravitate towards, Pew Research, adults with more tech access translates to increased independent lifelong learning using the internet. Those with connectivity at home (smartphone and broadband connectivity) are more likely to learn independently. Two libraries tackling adult digital learning include Chicago Public Library (CPL) and Denmark’s Roskilde Libraries. From The Library as a Gateway to 21st Century Skills, CPL’s approach to adult education uses technology as a gateway to academic skills, which has been successful with low-skilled adults. This gateway provides access to technology these adults may not have and the skills to search for information online, for example, job or health information. Closing the tech gap (computer and internet access) fosters adult learning. CPL offers two digital literacy programs:

  • The CyberNavigator program, which aims to “demystify technology” by training community mentors to be “digital skills coaches” and help patrons to “incorporate technology into their daily lives.”
  • Chicago DigitalLearn, which consists of online modules with topics like using a computer, navigating a website, online searching, intro to email, online safety (accounts & passwords, internet privacy, online scams, and disinformation in social media), plus online job searching and how to create a resume.

The Roskilde Libraries strategy states that the library is for everyone and focuses on the following key areas:

  • Literature and the joy of reading
  • Lifelong learning
  • Music for everyone
  • Digital literacy and digital well-being
  • Democratic participation and dialogue

The library’s goal is “the safeguarding of every citizens’ access to knowledge and learning linked to skills, dissemination and credibility.”

I was impressed to learn of DigComp, the Digital Competence Framework for Citizens developed by the Joint Research Social Affairs & Inclusion Centre and DG Employment and includes 21 competencies with eight proficiency levels. The belief is that “being digitally competent means using digital technologies in a confident and safe way for various purposes such as working, getting a job, learning, shopping online, obtaining health information, being included and participating in society, entertainment, etc.”

As mentioned in the lecture, “the heart of libraries is supporting learning, and our users’ curiosity through every means possible,” which encompasses life literacy, or digital and information literacy, life skills, and lifelong learning which can be accomplished “anywhere and everywhere.”

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