Thu 15th December 2005 - 23:00

Digital literacy needed in an "e-permeated" world - progress report of DigEuLit project

DigEuLit project started in January 2005 and was proposed as a response to a call for actions on “digital literacy” in the context of the eLearning Programme of the European Commission. This report presents some of project's first outcomes, such as their definition for "Digital Literacy" term.

The DigEuLit project was proposed as a response to a call for actions on “digital literacy” in the context of the eLearning Programme of the European Commission.

The goal of DigEuLit is to develop a European Framework for Digital Literacy (EFDL): a definition, generic structure, and set of tools which will enable educators, trainers and learners to share an understanding of what constitutes digital literacy and how it can be mapped into European educational practice.

In this article are being presented the progress of the project this far (December 2005). More information of the project's background and its objectives can be found at the project description of DigEuLit.

Phase I. Mapping the Landscape

The project commenced at the beginning of January 2005. The kickoff meeting took place at the University of Glasgow on the 26-28 January 2005 to co-ordinate the project actions, and work proceeded apace on Phase I. Two overview papers have been prepared: “The Landscape of Digital Literacy” prepared by Allan Martin and “Digital Literacy: Challenges for Education” prepared by Bob Byiers (both at the University of Glasgow) and developed with ongoing online comment from partners. These papers will be available on the website in the New Year in late draft form, and final versions will be prepared for the Phase I publication. A third paper, on existing frameworks relevant to digital literacy, is in preparation at CNRS-LIRE (Lyon) and will be completed early in the New Year. Work is under way on a catalogue of relevant projects, which will be mounted on the website when ready. A publication representing the results of this Phase I activity will be launched in January or February when the work is complete. This will represent a valuable map of the field with pointers to main developments and sources.

Phase II. Building the Framework

The second project meeting took place at Sandbjerg’s Estate, near Sønderborg, South Jutland, Denmark, on the 10-12 August 2005 to discuss the framework structure and the implementation of Phase II, the construction of the framework. Discussion on the nature of the framework was long and intense and consumed many flipchart pages, and we were able to map out the direction for further development. A paper presenting the definition of digital literacy and the structure of the digital literacy framework was prepared and has undergone three major revisions in the course of continuing online discussion; it is now undergoing final revision, and will be mounted on the website as soon as it is ready. Completion of this work will allow the toolkit specification to be speedily achieved, and work to proceed on sample tools.

Phase III. Testing the Framework

Phase III actions will get under way as soon as the framework document is finalised. This will involve partners taking courses they currently deliver and mapping them onto the framework structure, using the sample tools as soon as these are available. This activity will begin early in the New Year. Later, in March 2006, a third partners’ meeting will be held at the Technical University of Łodz, Poland, in March 2006 to discuss progress of Phase III and Phase IV. The experiences of Phase III will be written up into a set of case studies and published on the website. As soon as robust enough online versions of the tools are available, they will be mounted on the website, and institutions outwith the project partners’ group will be welcome to try them.

Phase IV. Dissemination

  • The project website has been set up at www.digeulit.ec The .ec domain was chosen as the .eu domain was not yet available.
  • A leaflet has been prepared which gives an outline of the project proposal. This will be available for download from the website.
  • A presentation was given to the eLit2005 conference, Strathclyde University, Glasgow, Scotland, 15-17 June 2005 by Allan Martin and Jan Grudziecki. The Powerpoint slides will be available on the website in the New Year.
  • Dr Conor Galvin, University College, Dublin, has been appointed project evaluator.
  • This report will also be available on the EC eLearning Programme website at www.elearningeuropa.info and on the project website.

Defining Digital Literacy

On the basis of the work in Phase I of the project, we proposed that the concept digital literacy would include several key elements:

  1. Digital literacy involves being able to carry out successful digital actions embedded within life situations, which may include work, learning, leisure, and other aspects of everyday life;
  2. Digital literacy, for the individual, will therefore vary according to his/her particular life situation, and also be an ongoing lifelong process developing as the individual’s life situation evolves;
  3. Digital literacy is broader than ICT literacy and will include elements drawn from several related “literacies”, such as information literacy, media literacy and visual literacy;
  4. Digital literacy will involve acquiring and using knowledge, techniques, attitudes and personal qualities, and will include the ability to plan, execute and evaluate digital actions in the solution of life tasks, and the ability to reflect on one’s own digital literacy development.

On the basis of this we have formulated the following brief definition:

Digital Literacy is the awareness, attitude and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital tools and facilities to identify, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, analyse and synthesize digital resources, construct new knowledge, create media expressions, and communicate with others, in the context of specific life situations, in order to enable constructive social action; and to reflect upon this process.

This definition is elaborated in a paper “A Framework for Digital Literacy” which will shortly be published on the project website.

Feedback

Once the project products begin to appear of the website, we would welcome constructive comment and positive suggestions on any aspect of our work, including the position papers, the framework elements, and the tools.

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