Week 1 – Digital Literacies


This week we will explore the importance of digital literacies and the practices and attitudes related to it.

On the 2nd of May 2017 at 2pm (UK Time) we will host an online interactive session via Youtube. Direct link is available here.

Digital literacies are those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society. Digital literacy looks beyond functional IT skills to describe a richer set of digital behaviours, practices and identities. (JISC, 2014)

Different understandings of digital literacies co-exist (see for example, JISC, Future Lab’s Digital Literacies Across the Curriculum,  or Canada’s Centre for Digital and media Literacy).  An emphasis is placed on digital practices and attitudes towards communicating, collaborating and creating content online. The web as a space of interaction thus becomes a social environment with its own (hidden) rules, norms and traditions which we hope to explore this week via an online, interactive session and discussions both here and on Twitter #UPTakeICT.

Discussion:

Following on from our video discussion, which type of digital literacies do you think you already have? And which ones do you think you need to develop?

How important do you think digital literacies are for employability?

Use the comment box below to share your ideas/experiences/questions.

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15 Responses to Week 1 – Digital Literacies

  1. Briggs et al define Digital Fluency as — An ability to reliably achieve desired outcomes through use of digital technology. This ability is helped or hindered by the situational forces
    and the digital fluency of others. A digitally fluent person knows not just what to
    do with a technology and how to do it, but also when and why to use it at all.

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    • Cristina Costa says:

      That is an interesting definition. It would be interesting to learn how they define fluency. I have been drawing also on the work of Barton and Hamilton (1999) who understand literacies as social and cultural practices which are associated with different domains of life and historically situated. I think these are important aspects to take into consideration given the times we live in. They go on to note that literacies are patterned by social institutions and power relations which some literacies becoming more dominant than others. I think this resonates well with what we discussed about some people (and students) placing more value on their own digital literacies than others. It all depends on what the social fields – as Bourdieu would call them – their practice takes place and what is therein acknowledged and recognised. I guess this all touches on what you are saying about ‘situational forces’

      On reflections the definitions are not very different, just a choice of wording between fluency and literacy. As a former linguist, fluency takes me back to language learning … 🙂

      Barton, D., & Hamilton, M. (2000). Situated Literacies: Reading and Writing in Context. Psychology Press.

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  2. I think digital literacies are essential for employability – to be able to filter and critically evaluate information, to develop confidence to discuss and share ideas; to learn about the culture of organisations you may go and work for; and more!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. scottbw says:

    I’d like to place this in the context of a more general employability skills model; if we define personal qualities (empathy, resilience, versatility) as being the most generic aspects of employability, then capabilities (communication skills, customer awareness, problem solving), then specific job expertise, where do these digital literacies live? Are they just applying general qualities and capabilities using a more narrow range of media?

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    • Cristina Costa says:

      That is an interesting question. I would say they are embedded and soon enough – if not now already in some jobs – will be taken as a given, juts like empathy many times is. These are not descriptor you commonly find in job adverts, but there is somehow an expectation that people share such traits, especially empathy. Do you have a particular job or sector in mind?
      I think like computer skills were once an important part of a CV and have now been relegated to the expected, and therefore not worth mentioning category, the same applies to digital literacies. However, I don’t think will ‘advertise’ in their CVs that they have digital literacies, because the concept encompasses a wider range of (digital) practices.I believe that it is people’s awareness of what these practices and how they in turn practise them online that makes a different. I like the CommonCraft video about digital literacies because of this. The last few minutes are actually quite enlightening, I think 🙂 https://www.commoncraft.com/video/digital-literacy

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      • scottbw says:

        I guess I’m just curious as to how they fit into the wider picture of employability skills – the framework I alluded to above is one I worked with on a project with large employers, but is also very similar to one in use by NGOs. One general finding is that employers often ask for particular skills, but actually want candidates with particular qualities – they ask for customer awareness and teamwork, but what they really want is empathy (which underpins both). They ask for self-management, but are really wanting resilience and versatility (etc.)

        I suspect a lot of DL would fall under “communication” in a more typical employability skills structure.

        Liked by 1 person

    • francesbell says:

      I think that Ron Barnett’s work on ‘dispositions’ is relevant https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/conditions-flexibility-securing-more-responsive-higher-education-system and goes beyond employability. The only certainty is the uncertainty of the future and one of my fears about the narrow focus of digital literacy is that it can exclude digital itself from critique, as students are encouraged to connect, adopt, participate – a lot about how? without much emphasis on why? and why not?

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      • Cristina Costa says:

        I think that is an important aspect to tackle Frances. The emphasis on the why is important. I also think people become more aware of why when they are actually in practice than when they are doing their studies as the why sometimes becomes more evident through the needs that arrive from practice itself. This would also lend itself to an interpretation of the logic of practice(s) and how some trades/activities place more emphasis on the digital than others. Having said that though, even some trades that originally had no connection with the media are starting to find in it a need to connect to their (future) customers. I found my mechanic (a local garage) online and the builder that will be doing our kitchen too… I am however not getting any luck with finding a new GP as they ones next to me don’t have a web presence nor are the reviews about their services enough for me to make a decision about my joining their practice. … just thought I would share my latest experiences with these type of ‘traditional’ services.

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      • francesbell says:

        @cristina I guess that the service providers you mention are having to become digitally literate and that can be a good thing. But as you stock up your kitchen with accessories, you might be using (as I did 6 years ago when my kitchen was new) Amazon and other online retailers. But now I worry about the working conditions of the warehouse employees and the delivery drivers, and wonder what the death of the High St will mean for all of us. Can we look at the bigger picture? That’s why i think that digital has to be something whose effective use we promote whilst we critique the way it is used and the impact it has on all of us – good and bad.

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  4. Ian Crawford says:

    In the FY we teach a module called the Employment Life Cycle. There is a significant emphasis placed on our digital skills, digital profile and of course e-safety. In particular we look at the role of social media and the extent it is used by employers to make decisions about potential employees.
    Digital literacy is further tested when students in an additional module create and evaluate a social media platform and website for a potential business (not published).
    Students are keen to demonstrate and participate in these type of tasks without considering the wider issues and implications of their digital footprint.
    In addition we encourage the students to consider the 9 protected characteristics within the Equality Act – this enables students to consider that the law applies in their digital world as well as elsewhere.
    I am really looking forward to this course and the issues it promotes – apologies that I missed yesterday’s session but am catching up now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cristina Costa says:

      These are really interesting practices Ian. How do the students work to develop their digital skills and how do they construct their digital profile?

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      • Ian Crawford says:

        We don’t really look at their own personal profiles but in constructing their work we encourage them to consider the Equality Acr and its 9 PC.
        We try to encourage students to see the wider picture and to not think of social media as a vacuum. Social media in a very short time has become part of the wider fabric ou our lives.

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  5. I think digital literacies are generally important for employability because employers expect staff to have at least a basic level. Even someone who does not work with computers/technology (e.g. a cleaner) is expected to apply for their holidays online or to have an email for their employer to contact them. This may be problematic for someone who lacks the technology or digital skills while their employer assumes they will be able to perform tasks that require digital literacies. It’s like expecting someone to read or write without ever teaching them or giving them the tools to do so.

    It is also important to consider digital literacies to achieve employment. I have noticed that very few jobs are even advertised in print media these days. If someone wants a job they have to search online, apply through the site or by email, have an electronic CV, sign up for job sites, fill in online forms, upload documents, prepare powerpoint presentations, and so on. It seems that you must have digital literacies to be employable in the first place. I wonder what support is available for people who lack the digital skills to perform such tasks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cristina Costa says:

      I think that is an important issue to raise too Jennifer. The fact that a lot of jobs and jobs applications have moved online can, and often do, create barriers for people that for one reason or another have lagged behind with regards to digital skills. I am reminded of a particular example I saw in a documentary about caregivers where a son had closed his shop to become a full carer to his mother. Five years on, after she improved he wanted to get back to work but was ‘stuck’ because most jobs required an online application and he was not digital literate. That is an extreme case but not being able to do the basics online is really a set back these days.
      I think that is a good question and a good one to ask career advisers from example…

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  6. Danilo says:

    I’ve thought that the benefits like work, studies, leisure could be very usefull if we aply them together with Digital Technologies resources and also they provide to you a chance to live better.

    How it works, FOR EXaMPLe IN MY CASE, I am a brasilian math teacher, I try to use the digital tools and research them so after that I aply them as a better way into my math class.

    To me something very unconfortable about the use of new technologies is that people usually don’t know how it works and they get a resilient point of view in this area. On the other hand, the use of digital technologies its real in the society even in our employbillity. We need a to get the digital resources and use them for improvement of the daily routines. In my view I’ve thougtht that the school space is the place where knowledge of the students are pushing to build a better formation as  actived people in our society and use the digital Tecnologies is a good way to do this

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