Universities must rethink their approach to student digital literacy in the Guardian Higher Education Network puts digital literacy training and critical reflection together in the same sentence. The word ‘training’ is a bit Pavlovian but applying critical thinking to Internet content and behaviours is an increasingly essential requirement. I’ve worked in higher education since 2000 and witnessed a growing need to be more proactive in addressing the digital literacies of students and staff, for example in the development of both graduate attributes and teacher education programmes.
When the first virtual learning environments arrived, the sector focused primarily on embedding technology rather than investing in the management of the cultural shift to virtual pedagogic practices. Today, the user-generated content and file-sharing nature of Web 2.0 style technologies, has increased the broader social impact of the Internet, while higher education is currently subject to market forces creating increased interest in online learning, for example the Collaborate to Compete Report to HEFCE. Research findings have raised concerns about levels of digital competence as in the JISC/British Library CIBER Report into the Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future at and the NUS report to HEFCE Student perspectives on Technology. Key areas are still missing like enhanced quality assurance with regard to digital learning (covered in this blog post) and the means of ensuring the appropriate digital literacies, including awareness of the parameters of inclusion, are embedded into both the student and the staff experience.