DIF Circle

DIF FAQ

1. What is Digital Information Fluency (DIF)?

2. How is DIF different from Print Information Literacy?

3. How is DIF different from Information Literacy?

4. Why is DIF important?

1. What is Digital Information Fluency (DIF)?

Digital Information Fluency is the ability to find, evaluate and ethically use digital information efficiently and effectively to solve an information problem. This ability involves specific knowledge, skills and dispositions such as knowing how digital information is different from print information; having the skills to use specialized tools for finding digital information; and developing the dispositions needed in the digital information environment.

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2. How is DIF different from Print Information Literacy?

Digital information fluency is like digital photography. Digital photography is similar in many ways to film-based photography. But anyone who has used a digital camera knows that you have to make adjustments, learn new methods, and think differently to use them efficiently and effectively. The same adjustments, new methods and different ways of thinking are necessary if we want to use digital information resources efficiently and effectively.

For example, knowing how to search using print reference tools is helpful for using data base search engines, but isn't sufficient to ensure efficient and effective use of those digital search tools. Knowing how to evaluate print information is preparation for evaluating digital information, but the tactics needed to locate author, publisher, and timeliness information in the digital information world are significantly different. Incorporating digital information ethically into print or electronic materials requires new skills.

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3. How is DIF different from Information Literacy?

There are many definitions of Information Literacy. Some of the broadest definitions include basic literacy skills such as reading and writing as well as advanced skills such as topic definition and communication skills associated with research models such as The Big 6.  Digital Information Fluency is not as broad a concept as Information Literacy. DIF focuses on the knowledge, skills and dispositions that people need to locate, evaluate and use digital information efficiently and effectively. It includes aspects of both Information Literacy and Technology Literacy. We call it "fluency" rather than "literacy" to emphasize that the abilities involved are more than basic abilities. But we know that there is a spectrum of abilities ranging from basic literacy to the more advanced levels we call fluency.

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4. Why is DIF important?

At home, at school and in the workplace, digital information is beginning to rival print as the primary format for information. Only 2 % of new information created today appears in print format. As a result, Digital Information Fluency -- the ability to locate, evaluate and ethically use that information -- is fast becoming a skill as essential as traditional print literacy has been. In the 21st century, information enriches our lives, personally, educationally, socially and economically. Those without the skills to use digital information will become increasingly disadvantaged at home, at school and in the workplace.

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