Supporting the development of individual digital capabilities for staff and students has been a recurring message throughout this guide and has featured in several sections.
There are multiple aspects to consider.
- The ability to use the systems and resources available to them to function effectively and engage in business and learning management processes
- The ability to use technology effectively within inclusive teaching, learning and assessment practices, to engage and motivate students and to use technology to enhance the overall learning experience
- The need for staff and organisations to maintain professional currency in terms of digital practices relevant to industry and employers
- Promoting and protecting the professional reputation of staff as well as the organisations’ reputation
- Supporting students to develop the skills and attributes necessary for their digital professionalism and employment
In our report deepening digital know-how: building digital talent (August 2015) author, Helen Beetham, makes the distinction between generic and specialised digital capabilities, describing the features and differences between the two and explains why organisations need both.
The same report also identifies key issues in relation to digital capability and how organisations "recruit, retain, reward and recognise digital talent" (Beetham/Jisc 2015). Human resource professionals and staff development teams are well-placed to ensure that any initiative to develop organisational digital capability, and the digital capabilities of staff or students includes consideration of approaches that will help the organisation to recruit people with the right skills sets, inform staff development initiatives and to share organisational knowledge effectively.
“We set up e-learning awards for our digital champions to recognise good practice with technology. This is partly to encourage staff and build their confidence but also to raise the profile of e-learning as a whole.
There are two types of award – one for teams and one for individuals. The criteria between the two awards differs slightly but the overall focus is on enhancing learning and inspiring students and staff to develop their digital practices. It’s about how they share and empower others to use technology.”
Ross Anderson, e-learning ambassador, North Lindsey College
There are many opportunities for reward and recognition for both staff and students ranging from accredited qualifications, awards, professional development and advancement and badges. There are also opportunities to cross-reference continuous professional development activities to other professional frameworks and to use professional development review and appraisal processes to formally recognise achievements.
The role of digital capability frameworks
Several of the organisations that have contributed case studies on their journeys towards digital capability have commented on the value of our digital capabilities framework (pdf) as a means of getting the conversation started, establishing common understanding and the development of a shared language.
On an individual level, frameworks can facilitate self-assessment and signpost routes for personal development. At an organisational level, frameworks can also provide a baseline for auditing the current situation, reviewing strategic direction, operationalising and targeting resources and measuring progress, as well as a means of promoting organisational and personal reputations.
“As soon as you prompt people with a model, a way of looking at things, they will run with it. Some may criticise the model but it’s getting the thinking going that matters most. It’s very easy to design courses based on content; we are adding to that by asking people to think about things in a new way.”
Steve Rowett, digital education development team leader, University College London
Examples of digital competency, skills and information literacy frameworks
Some frameworks such as the European Commission’s DigiComp Digital Competence Framework for Citizens and Go ON UK's basic digital skills framework set out competencies aimed at helping their citizens engage fully in the digital world.
Others, such as the Open University's digital and information literacy framework and SCONUL’s seven pillars of information literacy (and their associated employability toolkit), have been developed for specific audiences and include study and work-related goals in addition to personal or citizenship goals.
In Ireland, the All Aboard project is rising to the challenge identified in the national digital roadmap of building 'digital capacity,' not just in terms of infrastructure, but also in terms of people, their skills, their levels of confidence and their ability to critique and challenge pre-conceptions. A visual representation of their framework is presented as a digital skills interactive metro map.
Organisational perspectives and good practice points
Digital capability and teaching excellence: an integrative review exploring what infrastructure and strategies are necessary to support effective use of technology enabled learning (TEL) (Quality Assurance Agency for UK Higher Education, 2016) looks at the relationship between digital capability and the Teaching Excellence Framework. The report includes a set of good practice guidelines and a set of overarching principles to help shape relevant approaches between institutions, staff and students. In addition to the report, the project has produced two videos outlining their findings: a short video (2:27 min) and a slightly longer video (4:09 min) for use in workshops.
The Digitization of Higher Education: Charting the Course (EDUCAUSE Review, December 2016) presents an organisational perspective, describing eight digital capability areas for American HE institutions with advice on how these can be attained.