What is digital literacy?
Digital Literacy is not a skill set, it’s a mindset. It’s a person’s ability, confidence, and motivation to successfully navigate and use digital environments to achieve their desired outcome. That outcome may include interacting with systems to access resources, synthesizing information to create new insight, and communicating with others. When rolling out a new system, be it a resource or a digital tool, everyone will start out with zero experience. The difference will be between those who are able to adopt it quickly and those who struggle.
The cost of digital illiteracy
Managers spend up to 2 hours a day looking for information.
Lower digital literacy can significantly limit a person’s ability to achieve these objectives, causing them to feel not only less confident in their efforts but also less motivated to try. This comes at a significant cost, in the time and energy lost through not using digital tools efficiently, and the opportunity cost of a person choosing not to engage with them at all. This is why it’s important to help ensure your people are ready, willing, and able to interact with your new digital tool or resource.
How to improve digital literacy when rolling out a new system
Are you introducing a new tool, platform, or resource into your organization (e.g., HR software)?
To ensure learners are prepared to interact with it, there are a number of strategies that should be used together.
- Start with motivation: adult learners must want (or at least need) to improve their abilities when it comes to using a specific tool or resource. Highlight the benefits of being able to get the most out of the system from their perspective. E.g. does it make it easier to perform their regular tasks or faster to find information?
- Know where they are currently at: understand whether they have used similar systems before and identify any gaps in their knowledge. This information could be obtained through a pulse survey or group listening meetings.
- Provide help to get them up to speed: most online tools have their own “getting started” online content resources, specifically designed for new users (intelliHR is no exception; you’re in it right now!). You can recommend they visit the page, or share direct links to relevant how-to articles.
- Get peers involved: allow new users to see another person using the tool or resource well. This could be a live walkthrough with an experienced user, or a recording, as long as it makes the process seem easy and highlights the benefits of effective use.
- Encourage practice: where possible, give learners early access so they don’t have to juggle completing the task and learning the mechanics of doing so simultaneously. In some cases, a sandbox or demo is a good option if possible. It allows the person to practice privately and without being worried about breaking anything important.
- Set clear expectations for engagement: coming back to the first point on the list, the user must be motivated to engage. Communicate that using the resource is not optional (emphasize this is because of the benefits of using it) and that they are expected to use it to the best of their ability.
Action relies on a combination of adequate motivation, confidence and ability. Some of these strategies will be ones you can apply as the person rolling the tool or resource out, while others will rely on the support of the organization. If your target group has low digital literacy, the work to help them be ready to interact with system may be significant, but so is the ultimate benefit, when they get the most from the experience.
It might also be worthwhile to conduct a training needs analysis to identify broader areas or cohorts where digital literacy skills are lacking, and then you can assign relevant goals and invest in training as professional development.