Digital Competence Framework

Which digital skills should people possess nowadays Digital Literacy, Media Literacy, Information Literacy, New Media Literacies, 21st Century Skills are just a few of the “labels” being used in recent years to try to define the digital skills that people nowadays should possess in order to learn, work and – why not – play in a society in which digitalisation is everywhere and is not only changing the way we do things, but also inventing new ways to do them: at school, at university and at work. We increasingly attempt to organise these skills within what we call the “Digital Competence Framework”, i.e. a conceptual reference framework that captures in one picture each of the abilities that digital competencies should consist of. The reference framework at European level is called DIGCOMP and it is based on the assumption that digital competence is one of the eight key skills for lifelong learning identified in 2006 by the European Council and Parliament in the Recommendation on “Key Competences for Lifelong Learning“. This document defines digital competence as “the ability to know how to use the technology of the information society in a comfortable and critical manner“. In terms of principles, on the one hand, the DIGCOMP framework seeks to reconcile the increase in productivity and efficiency in corporations thanks to ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) on the other hand, the possible impact of ICT on social inclusion and active citizenship, thus also turning its attention to the third sector. The five areas of digital skills identified by DIGCOMP, in its 2.0 version, are: 1. INFORMATION: identify, locate, retrieve, preserve, organise and analyse digital information, assess their importance and purpose 2. COMMUNICATION: communicate in digital environments, share resources through online tools, connect with others and work together using digital tools, interact and participate in communities and networks 3. CONTENT CREATION: create and modify new content (from word processing to pictures and video), integrate and redefine knowledge and content, produce creative expressions, media content and program, know and apply intellectual property rights and licences 4. SECURITY: protect personal data, personal digital identity, have knowledge of online security measures, use digital devices securely and sustainably 5. PROBLEM SOLVING: identify digital needs and resources, creatively utilise technologies, resolve technical and conceptual problems using digital media, upgrade personal (and that of others) expertise, make informed decisions regarding which are the most appropriate digital tools that should be used depending on purpose and needs. As can be seen, unlike initial attempts at defining digital competence frameworks, many skills are transversal and have nothing to do with the mere use of technologies, but concern responsible and pro-active approaches to problem solving (increasingly linked to digitalisation, nowadays) that can occur at the workplace, as well as in life outside the workplace. Other interesting digital competence frameworks are those proposed in 2012 by JISC, an English agency for the promotion of technology in education, and the one by Mozilla, which specifically addresses Web Literacy, i.e. internet literacy. In both cases, as with DIGCOMP, the social and collaborative aspect is very much to the fore proof of the fact that being fluent in ICT today means being able to collaborate efficiently and productively in online communities (increasingly often) via decentralised and open dynamics. Undoubtedly, one of the plusses of these conceptual frameworks is that of defining what it means to be literate in the use of ICT today and, at the same time, they promote a concept of ICT that goes beyond the mere instrumental use of computers and tablets. However, at the same time they are limited by being overly “normative”, particularly in the case of skills that are difficult to measure. For example, it is extremely difficult to define which skills a social media manager needs to have, since, in this case – as in many others -, soft skills (reputation, empathy, curiosity) make the difference between a successful media manager and others. Therefore, it is useful to know about these ICT competence frameworks, since they give a comprehensive overview of what it means to be a digital person or worker, while, at the same time, it is also important to remember that they are attempts at defining and standardising not just quantifiable skills, but also attitudes and approaches to technology that are by definition very difficult – if not impossible – to quantify and compare. Fabio Nascimbeni

written by: Fabio Nascimbeni , 28 September 2017

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