BY Leah Watson
AS TECHNOLOGY continues to charge forward, some Australians are getting left behind.
PhD student at QUT and digital comics creator and facilitator, Milan Ilich, is hoping to minimize the digital divide amongst Indigenous adults by using digital comics to create an educational model teaching digital literacy.
“The aim of my PhD project is to create an educational model that teaches digital literacy in a fun way,” Mr Ilich said.
“If you’re having fun while you’re learning, then it doesn’t really feel like you’re learning, because you’re distracted, and everything actually sinks in.”
According to Milan Ilich, the digital gap amongst groups in Australia is a problem.
“Through my research preparing for my PhD, I’ve found that there are a lot of Indigenous
adults between 20 and 29 years old who are moving into major cities, but are significantly behind in their digital fluency,” Mr Ilich said.
“Nowadays, especially with the rise of smartphones and tablets, online communication is central to everyday life.
“If you can’t keep up with technology and how to use each program or platform to its best, then it becomes increasingly difficult to operate in society, especially on a professional level.”
Social worker with Micah Projects, a not-for-profit organisation committed to providing services to create justice and respond to injustice in the community, Ricco Schroer, believes digital literacy is imperative to employment opportunities.
“Most jobs demand a level of digital knowledge,” Mr Schroer said.
“It’s no longer about just participating either, but actually engaging in the digital environment.
“For example, finding a job is all online now so having an online profile is becoming crucial when looking for employment.
“And most information and resources are digitalized too, so learning how to access them is a necessary skill.”
Milan Ilich has run multiple workshops on creating digital comics.
It was during his work with Micah Projects that he realized the potential such workshops had for teaching digital literacy and facilitating education.
“I was running digital comic workshops for first-time fathers and it was amazing how making a comic about their experiences led to really open discussion,” Mr Ilich said.
“It was like the comics acted as a distraction – so everyone could talk freely but not feel like they were over sharing.”
It is clear from Milan Ilich’s experiences that Indigenous Australians are not the only ones who can benefit from digital literacy workshops.
According to Ricco Schroer, many groups could be eventually targeted.
“LOTE communities, early school leavers, elderly Australians, children with learning difficulties and those who live in remote areas can all benefit,” Mr Schroer said.
Milan Ilich has recently had his PhD proposal approved and is aiming to run the digital literacy workshops across Queensland in 2017.