Why Digital Fluency Is an Essential Skill to Develop in College

By John Koehler July 22, 2021

Developing Digital Fluency at UA Grantham

Being able to navigate a digital world is obviously an important skill to have in the 21st Century workforce. But is digital literacy enough, or should students be striving toward digital fluency?

Digital fluency is the capacity to go beyond using technology for prescribed tasks. With digital fluency you can use your digital know-how to uncover meaning, to communicate ideas, or create something brand new. It is an essential skill for today’s world.

In fact, digital fluency is at the top of the “Power Skills in 2021” list, according to a recent report from LinkedIn. Employers ranked digital fluency as the number one skill that is “most important to be successful in the new world of work” in Germany, Southeast Asia and India, and it was second on the list for the US, Canada, the UK and Australia.

There’s no doubt that building your digital fluency is critical as you complete your online degree program and what's next. Here’s what you need to know.

A Foundation in Digital Literacy

You may already be familiar with the phrase “digital literacy,” which typically refers to the basic ability to understand and use digital tools. This includes being able to operate the common commands of a computer, tablet or other device, as well as popular programs like those in the Microsoft Office Suite or Google Workspace.

Digital literacy is an important step toward digital fluency, but you shouldn’t stop there. While literacy will help you take online courses and participate in your schoolwork, for instance, improving your fluency is necessary to take skills out of the classroom and into the real world—and into the workforce.

If you’re thinking of enrolling in an online degree program, now is the perfect time. With our New Lenova Laptop Program, all new and returning students will get a new Lenovo laptop at no extra cost when they enroll in a degree program. Don’t miss this opportunity to develop your digital fluency with a new computer!

Transforming Literacy into Fluency

In language, literacy refers to the abilities to read, speak or understand someone. Being fluent allows you to go beyond comprehension in order to create something new or entirely different. The same is true for digital literacy.

If digital literacy is being able to use specific digital tools, digital fluency is understanding how they work—and being able to transfer that knowledge to other systems. For a simple example, think about switching between email clients, word processors, or web browsers: Knowing how to operate one is a sign of digital literacy. A sign of fluency is being able to get comfortable in a different one (or a different tool entirely) because you understand the principles of how they operate.

Why Digital Fluency Is Essential

Developing your digital fluency is important for a few different reasons. Firstly, and most practically, technology is constantly evolving. In keeping up with digital advancement, it often helps to already have a grasp on what came before it. When new features appear, knowing what the standard was before makes it easier to adapt. If you’re starting from square one or have missed several iterations in development, it can be harder to catch up.

As a digitally fluent student, being able to leverage your understanding of how digital tools work in one program or platform to use another means you spend less time figuring out the mechanics of how to get something done. That gives you more bandwidth to think more critically or more creatively about what you’re doing—and why.

Developing a Marketable Skill

With the vast array of digital tools available today, it’s harder to quantify your skill set by only listing the devices and programs you have experience with. In decades past, you might have told an employer that you have “computer skills,” but that’s no longer specific enough for your resume.

The prevalence of proprietary tools means that many employers today know their prospective employees don’t have experience with their systems because they’re unique to their business. What they’re looking for, instead, is your capacity to pick it up—hopefully quickly. Being digitally fluent shows employers that you can learn new systems and tools, whether it might be something new to you in your next role or something that won’t be developed for another ten years.

And as organizations take advantage of work-from-home and remote work opportunities more and more, being digitally savvy in the workplace is crucial for a variety of industries. Digital fluency may seem like an obvious benefit to computer programmers or information technology workers, but the truth is that it’s an important skill for today's world. Whether you’re a health professional or an accountant or a leader, being able to understand different technologies (and to pivot accordingly) is a highly coveted skill.

The ability to keep up with new tools, programs and best practices will be critical for anyone in the 21st Century workforce. Enrolling in an online degree program at Grantham can help you become familiar with digital tools—and how they work—to prepare you to be more digitally fluent.


To learn more about how you can develop digital fluency with a 100% online degree program, contact the UA Grantham admissions team today! Call (800) 955-2527 or email admissions@uagrantham.edu.

About the Author

John Koehler
John Koehler is a senior marketing specialist on University of Arkansas Grantham's marketing operations team. John is passionate about enabling education opportunities and a positive experience for prospective students. John holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with a concentration in Marketing from Rockhurst University.
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