In the third instalment of the Digital Pedagogy Toolbox Series, Taruna Goel explores how educators and learners can develop digital competencies and skills by using the B.C. Post-Secondary Digital Literacy Framework as a roadmap.
Post by Taruna Goel, learning and performance strategist, North Pacific
Digital Literacy Then and Now
In the not-so-distant past, the term digital literacy conjured images of connecting to the internet with the iconic screeching and beeping of a dial-up modem, or mastering the basics of word processing and spreadsheet software. My digital exploration began with using MS-DOS commands to access files and folders on my computer and evolved to browsing websites, filling online forms, sending emails, and creating Word documents, PowerPoint slides, and Excel sheets!
That was digital literacy then. It included skills such as operating a computer or navigating the internet and was often seen as a means to simply access information or perform basic tasks online. However, as the digital landscape has evolved, so has the definition of digital literacy. Fast forward to today, and the concept of digital literacy has undergone a profound transformation. In our modern, hyper-connected world, it’s no longer sufficient to merely know how to send an email or operate a computer; digital literacy has evolved into a complex and multifaceted skill set that encompasses a vast array of competencies.
Today, as learners, educators, and digital citizens, we are not just consumers of digital content, we are also creators, curators, and contributors and along the way, we are all leaving our digital footprints behind. Digital literacy today involves a deeper understanding of how to use digital tools and technologies in various contexts, adapt to new digital environments, and critically evaluate digital information. The B.C. Post-Secondary Digital Literacy Framework (Digital Literacy Framework) provides a valuable roadmap for developing these digital competencies that underline digital literacy.
Introducing the Digital Literacy Framework
The Digital Literacy Framework is a part of the overall B.C. Digital Learning Strategy developed by the Digital Learning Advisory Committee, a collaboration between the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills and the post-secondary system. The Digital Literacy Framework has been developed to enhance digital literacy knowledge, skills, and abilities across post-secondary communities. The framework includes eight thematic competencies within digital literacy: ethical and legal; technology; information literacy; digital scholarship; communication and collaboration; creation and curation; digital well-being; and community-based learning.
As post-secondary instructors, trainers, and teachers, our role extends beyond the dissemination of knowledge; we must equip our students with the skills they need to thrive in this digitally driven world. Additionally, as digital citizens, our responsibilities include preparing learners for a world where misinformation and digital threats overflow. Now, more than ever, we need critical thinking, AI literacy, and cybersecurity skills that can empower learners to discern fact from fiction and navigate the digital landscape safely.
Scenario: Strategies for Implementing the Digital Literacy Framework
In this section, ChatGPT, an AI-powered language model, was used to assist in building on the key ideas by the author and generating some of the digital literacy application scenarios. Specific and targeted prompts were crafted to elicit initial scenario drafts. Various options were generated, which were then edited, curated, and refined to create the final scenarios. Throughout the process, human judgment and expertise guided in ideating, prompting, writing, editing, curating, selecting, and shaping the scenarios to ensure they were appropriate and aligned with the goals of the article. The author was mindful of the limitations and potential biases of AI systems and approached the use of ChatGPT critically and ethically.
So, let’s explore the key facets of digital literacy in the context of the Digital Literacy Framework with a scenario that highlights practical strategies for how digital literacy can be implemented into every aspect of the learning journey by educators and learners. Imagine an undergraduate program of study at a university, where digital literacy is not just a supplement but a cornerstone of education. In this scenario, we’ll follow Professor Emily, an educator, and her student, Alex. (OpenAI, 2023).
Professor Emily teaches an undergraduate science course and is passionate about leveraging technology to enhance her teaching and engage her students. She is starting to become more comfortable with the Digital Literacy Framework and recognizes the importance of incorporating digital competencies into her curriculum.
Alex is an undergraduate student with a thirst for knowledge. He has enrolled in Professor Emily’s course, eager to gain subject-specific expertise.
Together, they will demonstrate how educators and learners can use the Digital Literacy Framework’s eight thematic digital literacy competencies as a guide to enhance academic experiences, foster critical thinking, and prepare for the challenges of the modern world.
Digital Literacy Competency Themes
1. Ethical and Legal Competency
- Professor Emily includes the institution’s academic integrity policies and guidelines in the course materials and creates an opportunity for a discussion early on in the course schedule.
- She ensures that digital content used in her course adheres to copyright laws and that proper citations are included in the course materials.
- She uses OER and public domain resources, where available.
- If an assignment requires the class to publish information in the public domain, she offers alternative options to respect privacy concerns and ethical considerations.
- Through early discussions, Alex understands the implications of ethical and legal aspects of digital information.
- He notices how Professor Emily follows the academic integrity policies and he learns to respect copyright and avoid plagiarism in his work.
- Alex isn’t comfortable creating a public blog as an assignment, but in a conversation with his professor, he realizes that he can submit his work privately to the professor.
- He feels empowered to make more informed choices about his participation in the course.
2. Technology Competency
- Before the course launch, Professor Emily collaborates with the teaching and learning centre at the institution to ensure the course materials, assessments, and activities are accessible.
- When teaching the course, she incorporates a range of digital tools and platforms into her teaching, from learning management systems to collaborative software.
- She shares information about how to access technology support services or help desks and where to seek training and resources to navigate these technologies effectively.
- Alex gains hands-on experience with a variety of digital tools, becoming proficient in using them for research, assignments, and collaboration.
- He learns to adapt to new technologies and troubleshoot digital challenges independently.
- When he notices that a particular study material has broken links and other navigation and accessibility challenges, he brings it to the attention of the professor.
3. Information Literacy Competency
- Professor Emily teaches the class how to evaluate online sources, discerning credible information from misinformation.
- She emphasizes the importance of evidence-based research in academic work and designs experiential lessons and assignments that require learners to critically evaluate different types of online information.
- When choosing online resources, she tries to make them diverse and includes academic articles, news reports, and opinion pieces, to help the class gain a well-rounded understanding of the topic.
- Alex develops skills in conducting online research, identifying reliable sources, and referencing them correctly in the assignments.
- He learns to differentiate between scholarly sources, news articles, social media posts, and advertisements while assessing the purpose, credibility, and bias of each.
- Alex realizes how the search engine can influence his understanding and perspective through algorithms that create filter bubbles. So, he actively seeks out and engages with the online resources shared by his professor to gain multiple perspectives on the topic.
4. Digital Scholarship Competency
- Professor Emily directs the class toward resources to navigate the complexities of academic integrity in digital spaces.
- She chooses a range of digital media for teaching and assessment making sure that her selection aligns with the learning objectives and the tools enhance the educational experience.
- She is keen to explore pedagogical and technological practices that promote equity and diversity and foster accessible and supportive online learning environments. So, she collaborates with other instructors and engages in continuous professional development.
- Alex begins to proactively seek out both online and on-campus resources that facilitate learning.
- Over time, he learns to confidently engage with the online components of the course and knows how best to use different digital platforms and tools for research, assignments, and collaboration.
- He begins to understand how to organize, interpret, analyze, and ethically use information in digital spaces.
5. Communication and Collaboration Competency
- Professor Emily includes accessible and institutionally supported digital platforms for discussions, group projects, and peer assessments such as shared document editors, virtual meeting platforms, and project tracking apps.
- She offers guidance on how to use these tools effectively for group work.
- Throughout the course, she assesses students on the content of their projects and their ability to communicate and collaborate online.
- Alex actively participates in online discussions by respectfully engaging with his peers.
- He values diverse perspectives and is open to feedback.
- He observes how the professor uses specific language in her responses on the discussion forums and assignments that encourage diversity of thought and nurture a supportive online learning environment.
- As part of group projects, Alex communicates clearly, ensuring everyone understands their responsibilities and deadlines.
6. Creation and Curation Competency
- Professor Emily likes to use a wide array of technologies to enrich digital learning experiences. She uses idea clouds, virtual whiteboards, online polls, and other interactive tools.
- She also likes to foster creative expression in digital learning spaces and assignments.
- She provides opportunities for the class to not only consume digital content but also actively engage with it by creating their own digital projects, collaborating on multimedia presentations, or curating digital resources.
- In this course, Alex gets to work on projects that require him to create multimedia presentations, infographics, and interactive digital content. He learns to create digital content and how to manage and curate all these digital assets.
- He continues to build his knowledge about how to attribute and cite digital assets appropriately, respecting copyright and intellectual property rights.
- He is beginning to recognize that different contexts call for different tools and approaches for digital creation, curation, and communication.
7. Digital Well-being Competency
- Professor Emily sets clear expectations for online engagement and communication etiquette and provides guidance on creating and managing online identities.
- She stresses the importance of safeguarding personal information and educates the class about the permanence of digital information and the importance of consent when sharing information.
- She advocates for a healthy balance between online and offline activities and encourages regular breaks from screens.
- Alex recognizes the importance of digital well-being as he navigates the digital learning environment.
- He becomes more aware of his digital footprint and recognizes that the information he shares online may persist.
- He exercises caution when sharing personal information as a part of assignments and discussion forums and seeks consent before sharing information about others.
- He strives for a healthy balance between his online and offline life.
8. Community-Based Learning Competency
- Professor Emily is slowly trying to adopt a co-creational model by involving community members as collaborators in the learning process. She invites local experts into the class for guest lectures. When possible, she collaborates with community organizations to identify any needs or opportunities.
- She integrates these projects into the course curriculum, allowing learners to apply their digital skills in practical, community-based contexts.
- Throughout the course, she emphasizes the importance of ethical and culturally sensitive engagement with the community.
- Alex recognizes the value of applying his digital skills to real-world situations and actively participates in community-oriented projects introduced by his professor.
- He understands the importance of ethical and culturally sensitive engagement.
- He communicates respectfully with community members, ensuring that their perspectives are valued throughout the project.
- He recognizes the potential of digital literacy to make a positive impact on the community and is motivated to continue engaging in such initiatives.
Digital Literacy Ensures Learners Thrive in an Increasingly Digital World
As evident in this scenario, digital literacy is not an isolated skill but an integrated part of the educational journey for both Professor Emily and Alex. As they progress through the undergraduate program, they both develop digital competencies. Professor Emily builds on her digital literacy skills as an educator and Alex develops his academic knowledge and becomes a responsible and empowered digital citizen, well-prepared for a digital future.
As post-secondary educators, we need to remember that integrating digital literacy into every aspect of the learning journey is not just a pedagogical choice; it’s an ethical imperative. It ensures that learners are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed academically, professionally, and personally in an increasingly digital world.
OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT Default (GPT-3.5) [Large language model]. https://chat.openai.com/chat
About the Author
Taruna is a learning and performance strategist with over 20 years of experience in adult education, workplace training, competency assessment, and performance improvement. She has designed custom learning experiences (F2F/online/blended) for Fortune 500 companies, government organizations, and industry associations in Canada and abroad. She currently works with North Pacific in Vancouver, where she designs competency-based occupational standards, certification and assessment frameworks, and recognition of prior learning programs for various occupations. Taruna is also a FLO facilitator at BCcampus and an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria.
She can be contacted at: