Digital Communication Defined
Effective digital communication is the ability to create persuasive
communications in different media, be it websites, video, audio, text, or
animated multimedia. Digital communication is a foundation skill for most
careers today, as most people will be involved in some form of conceptualizing,
producing, delivering, and receiving such communications in their jobs and
lives. Starting in elementary school and extending to higher education, students
can learn a variety of digital communication skills across all their courses,
whether they build multimedia presentations to demonstrate their knowledge of
academic subjects, create e-portfolios of coursework, or present ideas in a
In the past year, several reports on digital literacy have been published. They
describe digital literacy, what it is, and its importance as a 21st century skill for
this generation of learners. The Metiri Group and NCREL published, “enGauge
21st Century Skills, Literacy in the Digital Age,” in which they showcase the
skills with which students will be ready to thrive in a technological, global
environment. Based on two years of research, they’ve developed a collection of
skill clusters to be included right next to rigorous academic standards: digitalage
literacy, inventive thinking, high productivity, and effective communication.
Effective communication presumes that students select and use multiple
technology tools to create persuasive messages.
Supporting Teachers, Engaging Students
At Macromedia, I lead a team of former educators who design and build teaching
and learning resources for faculty and students. We work with faculty around
the world to identify projects and test classroom content. For example, we have
created K-12 projects that help teachers start integrating web and multimedia
projects into academic subject such as English, history, and science. Our goal
was to make the projects small enough to not be technically overwhelming, yet
academically substantial enough to show how digital communication enhances
subject learning. We designed them so that teachers could understand the
principles and then easily customize the materials for their classroom needs.
We worked for 18 months with teachers and staff from the Office of the
Superintendent of Public Instruction in the state of Washington to develop and
classroom-test career and technology education curriculum for their Interactive
Media career pathway. Washington teachers gave their students a broad
foundation in communication tools for the web, but often sought ideas and
resources for teaching professional design principles and development practices.
Effective web communication requires solid technical implementation as well as
design focused on audience needs. We found that students were most successful
communicators when they followed a professional design process and applied
career skills like interviewing, peer review, and team collaboration. When they
designed a site for a client, such as a school club, a local business, or a nonprofit,
the lessons about audience goals and user experience truly resonated.
When students can express themselves through a variety of media, they are
motivated and engaged. For many, multimedia communication is a first step in
owning their schoolwork and sharing it with a wider audience beyond the
teacher. Students are particularly intrigued with the multimedia they see on the
web and want to learn how to build their own Flash movies. While they might
think Flash is just a cool toy, there’s an opportunity to explore what makes
outstanding digital communication powerful. The class can analyze their
favorite media examples—dissecting how it grabs attention, persuades, and even
teaches. As they learn how professionals design, students are inspired to make
their own communication better.
In universities and schools around the world, more and more faculty assign
students to build electronic portfolios. E-portfolios let students demonstrate
their understanding of course content and communicate reflections on their
progress. E-portfolios can be simple when based on web page templates, or
elegant, complex designs when created by visual arts students. All are relevant
Reaching All Students
Students start communicating digitally at an early age and will continue
through rest of their lives. How technically advanced they become will depend
on the level of skill they need for their work or their personal lives. In school, it’s
important for all students to communicate what they know. Digital
communication levels the playing field. Some students may struggle with
writing, and find their stronger voice in images, video, and audio. Special
education students may find it easier to express themselves verbally or through
images, rather than in writing. Multimedia not only motivates students, it taps
into their different strengths and allows them to tell a story more richly.
Demonstrating understanding of a science process, for example, can be difficult
to do with words alone. When a student shows the process using animated
images with narration, then the explanation can be more complete. And as they
build knowledge of science, students learn digital communication skills.
We don’t know what types of communication tools will be available when
primary school students graduate from college. We do know that students need
substantive opportunities to learn how to approach a communication problem,
select appropriate media and express themselves effectively across different
scenarios. If we give them real exposure to a lot of communication media they
can become adept users of the next generation of tools.
Digital Literacy: Both Information Technology and
ISTE National Educational Technology Standards note that technical expertise is
just one component of a range of skills that will help prepare students to live,
learn, and work in an information-rich society. The organization emphasizes
that effective technology integration into schools can enable students of all ages
to learn collaborative, problem-solving, and creativity skills.
When students learn to communicate effectively in web media, they’re not just
learning how to use tools such as Dreamweaver. They’re learning how to
approach a project, to understand their audience, message, and purpose. They
learn to think critically as they decide on an effective way to present their
College students especially should develop a wide range of digital and cognitive
skills to prepare them for jobs. For instance, journalism majors learn to write
and build web content since TV and newspapers all have web presence.
According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses represent
one-half of the U.S. economy output and employ one-half of the private sector
workforce. And they’ve generated 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually
over the last decade. In a small company, no matter what kind of business, it’s
now necessary to be able to communicate digitally with clients and customers.
At the very least, the company needs a website and someone has to be able to
build and maintain it. When an organization is very small, people share
responsibilities, so more and more prospective employers will be looking for
strong digital communicators who can collaborate as team players.
Digital Communication Skills for All
Students have the technology. They experience the world through multimedia
and want to communicate in the same way. We can prepare them to
communicate effectively by teaching them the whole communication process
from planning the message all the way to testing for usability.
enGauge 21st Century Skills, Literacy in the Digital Age; North Central Regional
Educational Laboratory (NCREL)
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), National Educational
Technology Standards (NETS)
The New Digital Landscape, Understanding Digital Kids; Ian Jukes and Anita
Dosaj, The InfoSavvy Group, June 2004
United States Small Business Administration, FAQs, Advocacy Small Business
Statistics and Research
Voices and Views from Today's Tech-Savvy Students: NetDay National Report on
Speak Up Day for Students.
Answered by: siva85