Digital Literacy and Adult Learners

Digital literacy is an essential skill for adult learners in today’s technology-driven society.According to Digital Promise an estimated 36 million adults in the U.S. lack the basic math, language, and digital literacy skills necessary to find well-paying jobs and navigate public and social systems.

Digital literacy is defined as the ability to find, evaluate, utilize, share, and create content using information technologies (including but not limited to smartphones, tablets, laptops and traditional desktop PCs) and the Internet.

Adult learners without digital literacy skills are more likely to have difficulty looking for employment, taking classes, performing job-related duties and completing daily personal tasks.

In 2014, the GED test program introduced a new computer format to replace paper and pencil. This change has helped streamline the registration process for testers with the ability to schedule a test 24/7, test at their own pace, type their essays and receive unofficial results instantly. While all of these enhancements have created an improved testing experience, what’s most important is how the GED test is leveraging skills testers are already using or will be expected to use moving forward in postsecondary education and the workforce.

Adult education programs are increasingly adding computer classes to their curriculums, and many others are emphasizing the use of computers, smartphones and other mobile devices in the classroom as a study aid.

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) specifically names digital literacy among the list of programs, activities or services that comprise workforce preparation. This connection relates strongly to the vast amount of employment resources available online. A survey done by the Pew Research Center found that 54% of U.S. adults have gone online to look for job information and 45% have applied for a job online. This same survey found that roughly one-in-five adults with a high school diploma or less indicated that it would not be easy to contact a potential employer via email, find programs online that help job seekers, fill out an online job application, or find lists online of available jobs in their local area.

We do understand the challenge acquiring computer skills may present for adult learners with little to no background knowledge or experience. When we launched the new GED test program we made a commitment to offer mobile-friendly and technology-based study tools to help students become familiar with the computer skills they need for the official GED test. The test preparation journey is fully-integrated with technology from start to finish. Students begin with the creation of a GED.com account and often reach the final steps in their journey with the GED Ready practice test which mimics the official test experience.  

The importance of digital literacy expands beyond an adult learner’s ability to successfully navigate the GED test. It is our goal and that of adult education programs to equip GED graduates with the skills they need to thrive and a pathway to pursue postsecondary education, their career goals and beyond.

If you’re looking for more information about integrating technology in the classroom and digital literacy, this professional development archive from LINCS offers resources for students, instructors and programs.

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