In Quebec, we use the expression “digital literacy”. In France, we talk more about digital inclusion. Different words to address the importance of mastering the codes of the digital universe in order to reduce social divides while technologies are omnipresent in our lives.
François Guité, consultant in educational sciences in Quebec, and André Tricot, professor of cognitive psychology at the University Paul Valéry Montpellier 3 and researcher in the Epsylon laboratory, were invited to discuss the subject during the France-Quebec conference, Digital inclusion.
While the expression “digital inclusion” can refer to anything related to access to technologies (the availability of devices and connection to the Internet, mainly), digital literacy refers more specifically to the skills in the use of technologies. technological tools (technical knowledge), the ability to understand them critically (ethical skills) and the expertise necessary to create digital content and become an agent of change in one's environment (innovation and sharing).
The first expression would therefore be more encompassing, although almost unused in Quebec, as Mr. Guité pointed out. And this is probably because the notion of inclusion is already used for other purposes in the educational environment in Quebec.
“Inclusive education aims to develop feelings of belonging and acceptance among students with special needs, as well as the implementation of support measures to promote the learning of these students within regular programs. Inclusive pedagogy is reflected in particular by adapting approaches in order to support these young people in their class. "Inclusive education in Quebec (source: RIRE)
The role of the school
Despite this distinction in terms of the vocabulary used, the two speakers agreed on several points, starting with the fact that the school has a role to play in contributing to the mastery of the knowledge and skills necessary in the era. digital. Considering that digital inequalities are linked to socio-economic backgrounds, the school could reduce the social divide by participating in literacy.
Moreover, Mr. Tricot cited as an example the 2018 PISA study which assessed, among other things, the ability of adolescents to browse the Web. The results showed a correlation with knowledge of reading strategies and reading comprehension strategies, which are skills that could be described as classic and which are traditionally learned in school.
For his part, François Guité pointed out that “the need for digital inclusion raises several issues that the education community cannot escape and to which it will have to contribute, starting with access to technologies, the ethics of uses. personal data and the growing need for reflexivity on change ”.
According to him, the school has "a role of social guardian and educator of ethical uses" to play to counterbalance the possible abuses in the digital world. Education players must therefore be vigilant and have good knowledge of the deployment of digital technology and its evolution, in order to eventually be able to shape it.
Digital inclusion is giving rise to new educational strategies, but we are seriously behind schedule, believes Mr. Guité. In particular, he adds, because the school environment has difficulty in taking an enlightened and reflective look at the possible uses. Technologies change very quickly. Reflections are still too often turned on the tools themselves rather than on the practices.
Mr. Tricot added by specifying that the school has new content and new knowledge to build, that it will have to set new objectives. In conclusion, he nevertheless wanted to add that practices outside of school can also have an effect on digital inclusion. For example, students who spend more time reading at home (regardless of whether it is on paper or digital media) generally do better afterwards.
Finally, Mr. Guité wondered whether we should not adopt a national digital literacy education strategy to reduce the gaps between uses and facilitate the appropriation of digital technology in a more uniform way in the society.
It is possible to listen the entire exchange between Mr. Guité and Mr. Tricot here, on YouTube.