Digitally ready for the future?

I had the opportunity yesterday to participate in the HeLF (heads of e-learning forum) meeting “Driving Internal Change – institutional approaches to digital literacies”. A substantial chunk of the meeting focused on an overview of projects currently being undertaken in the context of the JISC Digital literacies programme and this alone made it worthwhile to go all the way to Bath (if there was a rail miles scheme, I would have clocked up quite a few of these already in the first month of the DeFT project!).

There are some obvious synergies between our project and the JISC Digital literacies programme, starting with the fact that they explore different meanings of the term and its applications. There is even an OER theme running through the projects, as quite a lot of them are planning to release resources openly; makes me quite hopeful for a future where OERs are pretty much the default option. Speaking of future, this was an issue that featured even more prominently as a number of the projects are trying to come up with strategies and solutions to prepare the students for a largely unknown future, with one of the projects explicitly aimed at helping students become Digitally Ready.

The theme of the future kept cropping up both during the official part of the meeting and the more informal conversations as we refuelled our depleted caffeine stores. These conversations focused mostly on future students, touching upon the level of skills of current school pupils and even toddlers. The Digitally Ready project invites its audience to imagine a university where all students and all staff are able to access all the digital resources they need now and for the future, but how will that vision be realised? And is it only about tools and resources? As part of the DeFT project, we are working with primary and secondary schools on Sheffield area, aiming to explore the implications of digital literacies for learning and teaching and hoping to tease out more nuanced understandings of issues at hand rather than the simplified vision of techno-toddlers on their ipads which have started to colonise our collective imaginations.


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One thought on “Digitally ready for the future?

  1. The Digitally Ready project is about helping people to evaluate and use appropriate digital tools in learning, teaching and through life. An element of that awareness is that sometimes the choice is to realise digital media do not provide the right tools. However we now use digital technology to manage our homes (bank accounts, utility bills, the electoral roll, TV licencing etc.) to manage our daily lives (bus and train timetables, traffic flow maps, telephones…) to socialise (e.g. events booking, social media, gaming) and even to make choices about death (a Google search of “Green burial” generated over 40 million hits).
    Is digital literacy driving out conventional literacy? On fieldwork with a student this summer I provided OS maps to navigate some of the remoter areas of Scotland. The student, I discovered could not read a map – but did have a smart phone with GPS. That worked fine for him until he ran out of signal, and then battery! The map continued to function:-)
    Just as conventional literacy spread throughout Europe in the 18th century bringing education and understanding to a broad element of the public, so digital literacy is providing tools that make it trivial to visit the world from your armchair. Something that both educates and homogenises society. Personally I would not be without digital tools, in their proper place.

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