International Journal of
Science and Technology Education Research

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sci. Technol. Educ. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6559
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSTER
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 79


Digital literacy: An analysis of the contemporary paradigms

Allah Nawaz and Ghulam Muhammad Kundi*
Department of Public Administration, Gomal University, Dera Ismail Khan, Khyber Pakhtoon Khwa, Pakistan.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 28 June 2008
  •  Published: 31 July 2010



Digital (computer) literacy is the new title for ‘educated’. Both teachers and students have no option but to acquire a level of computer-literacy to catch up with the growing digital societies. Governments and higher education institutions (mHEIs) are making all out efforts by providing e-Learning environments to gain some levels of digital literacy of the masses at large and the university-constituents. Both developed and developing states are trying to figure out a required digital literacy curriculum for the training of teachers and the students. However, given that there are several meanings of computer-literacy therefore; research is going on about the contents of the curriculum and the pedagogical requirements of ICT-education. Furthermore, the concepts of global-village, globalization, information or knowledge society, ePedagogy, eStudents and eCourses – all are casting increasing pressures on the academicians, HEIs and governments to take digital opportunity initiatives (DOI) for digital-literacy of the masses to generate workforce for the eGovernment, eCommerce and e-Learning. Research reveals that learners hold different perceptions about the nature and role of ICTs such as: instrumental and substantive. Some consider it just like any other technology with no value-implications for the learner and society. Substantive theorists however, believe in the determinist role of technologies for changing the society. Whatever the paradigm, learners are facing several hurdles in acquiring digital command like perceptual differences, demographic diversities, resistance to change, training issues and so on. However, most of the researchers are coming up with the findings that, perceptions, theories, teaching/learning styles of the teachers, students and other stakeholders play decisive and determinist role in determining the speed and quality of computer-literacy. It is well-documented that the contents and dynamics of computer-literacy in any state depend on the objectives to be realized through ICTs. Depending on the perceptions about e-Learning, technologies are either used to achieve immediate objectives for instant contributions (instrumental-view) or long-term and broader objectives (substantive or liberal-view). It is argued that none of the instrumental or substantive views are good or bad rather two stages or steps in the evolution of e-Learning from objectivist thinking to social constructivist digital platforms. Almost every country and HEI is first experimenting with the instrumental benefits of ICTs and this practice is more rampant in the developing countries. This paper is an effort to draw a picturesque (a scenario) of digital-literacy in the background of HEIs.


Key words: Digital/computer-literacy, educational technologies, paradigm, instrumental, substantive, objectivist, cognitive and social constructivist, ePedagogy, eStudent, eCourse, digital opportunity initiatives, higher education institutions.