Young businesswoman using digital tablet indoors

What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘digital literacy’? If you said technology and writing, you’re on the right track. According to Education Week, “Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” So what does this mean exactly? Essentially, being digitally literate is having the knowledge and skills to work and communicate using technology.

Today it’s important for those in the workforce to understand how to communicate effectively using technology. Increasing your digital literacy skills makes you more adaptable to the ever-changing workforce. Digital literacy is also important as it can:

  • Improve efficiency and productivity
  • Give the ability to optimize processes based on real data
  • Help you understand the bigger picture and how one’s role contributes
  • Enable you to communicate difficult concepts in intelligible ways

Becoming digitally literate takes time, so it’s important to start with the basics.

4 basic digital literacy skills

No matter what your job is, knowing the basic tools of digital technology is key. Think about it, whether in your professional or personal life, most likely you’ve had to write an email or create a PowerPoint presentation. Learning these skills below is the first step in becoming digitally literate. Check out our rules for each skill.

1. Microsoft Excel

Using Microsoft Excel is a great tool from basic charts or tables to storing data. Below are the key topics you should learn to use in Excel.

  • Navigate cells with CTRL+Arrow Keys (+SHIFT for quick selecting)
  • Filtering Columns
  • Text-to-Columns – splitting data into multiple cells
  • Insert Graph and Pivot Tables

2. Microsoft PowerPoint

This presentation platform is something you’ve probably used before, or at least heard of. While creating a presentation, remember these suggestions.

  • Don’t overload presentations with animations, instead use them sparingly.
  • Make sure to choose colors and fonts that are readable.
  • Keep content in slides short and to the point. Rather you want the presenter to provide more in-depth information, instead of writing it all on the screen.
  • When showing data, use visuals as much as possible. Visuals are much easier for your audience to comprehend and more engaging to look at.

3. Computer Short Cuts

To make typing and carrying out tasks simpler, learn basic computer shortcuts to help.

  • CTRL + Z: Undo
  • CTRL Tab: Switch through web page tabs
  • F5: Refresh Page
  • CTRL + C: Copy text
  • CTRL + X: Cut text
  • CTRL + V: Paste text

4. Email Etiquette

A task that most of us do each day, whether working professionally or not, is sending emails. Remember these guidelines when creating an email.

  • Keep subject lines descriptive and short.
  • Practice good grammar.
  • Triple-check the recipient’s name.
  • Use standard font and formatting.
  • Perfect your email signature.

How to increase your digital literacy skills

Practice daily

The best way to increase your skills is to practice. Increasing your digital literacy doesn’t have to take a lot of time. You can try just putting some basic skills into your daily routine. It can be as simple as creating and learning about different social media accounts. Or trying new ways of creating things with digital tools. This way you get exposure to various technologies and naturally learn how to use them.

Read blogs and watch videos about specific tools

Another way to learn more about digital literacy is to read blogs and watch videos. When finding resources to read or watch, try searching for certain topics you are interested in learning. For example, videos on how to use excel. Try taking time once a day during your lunch break to learn, so it’s not as daunting and you have more time to process.

If you’re looking for current and quick information, blogs (like this one) are a great resource. If you’d rather take in information audibly, podcasts and audiobooks are also great ways to learn the basic skills you need to increase your digital literacy.

Take free online courses

After learning the basics, if you’re ready to advance your skills more, online courses are a great next step. There are many free courses you can take, in your own time, to enhance your skills. Many courses online, allow you to learn from experts through videos and readings and test yourself to see what you learned. Not only can you advance your basic skills, but also learn new more specialized skills. Some great sites for courses are:

  • Coursera– offers free courses in many different subjects and skills. Also has a paid option to earn certificates.
  • Hubspot Academy– offers free lessons in topics such as marketing and sales.
  • Codeacademy– if you’re looking to learn basic or advanced coding, this is a great resource.

What’s next?

Evidently, becoming digitally literate can help you in the workplace and in your personal life. Besides learning on your own, make sure to reach out to those around you with more expertise. By learning more and practicing each day, you’ll be able to master these skills. Soon you’ll be able to confidently use digital tools to communicate and perform your daily professional and personal tasks.