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Skills for the digital age: a framework for digital literacies

Summary

La Trobe University’s Digital Literacies Framework (DLF) outlines the digital skills, capabilities and attitudes which will allow students and staff to operate confidently, proficiently and successfully in a changing digital environment. The DLF has been developed collaboratively across the university, based on evidence gathered from La Trobe staff and students, and informed by international best practice. The DLF promotes a shared understanding of digital literacies at La Trobe; it positions digital literacies as central to our increasingly digital world and explicitly connects these literacies to other university initiatives and strategies related to employability and digital learning and research.

Abstract

The release of the La Trobe University Digital Learning and Digital Research Strategies signalled a major shift in the university to effectively leverage technology in teaching, learning and research for the benefit of students and staff. The introduction of these Strategies demands a certain level of digital proficiency among students and staff, and anecdotally it appeared that there were great variations in ability and understanding of digital skills.  A shared understanding of digital literacies within the university and a clear articulation of digital skills and attitudes was seen as an essential element in developing collective confidence to operate in a digitally-enabled environment. The University undertook to develop a Digital Literacies Framework (DLF) to clearly articulate the digital skills, capabilities and attitudes that should underpin a scaffolded approach to the development of digital literacies.

The process of developing a DLF was a highly collaborative project, led by a cross-university reference group with representatives from learning and teaching, ICT, library and research, as well as faculty staff. This paper outlines the development process, evidence gathering to determine existing digital skills and attitudes, and the outcomes of the project. A staff digital practices survey was used to inform framework development and the Jisc Student Digital Experience Tracker for students was subsequently used to enable us to benchmark with other universities. A key feature of the development process was the engagement of university staff in conversations and consultation about digital literacies through workshops and focus groups.

The Framework which resulted from this consultation provides clear alignment between embedding digital literacies into the curriculum and the student experience, and the benefits of providing opportunities for staff development, potentially enabling staff and students to develop digital expertise collaboratively. The Framework links closely to the University’s Employability Strategy and staff development strategies, and provides a practical basis for building the critical skills students and staff need to  live, learn and work in a digital world.