Income generation has become the new job criteria and on the line between Desirable and Essential it feels closer to the latter. The JISC Digital Literacies Call4 was my first experience of seeing through a bid application from start to end – or should that be ‘start to send’ – when the final process is an irretrievable click. Pressing the send button on an email is the digital equivalent to dropping the letter into the post box – something else from the analogue world to tell our children about! A colleague said the other day there’s no excitement about the post arriving any more and they’re right. Another human activity has been replaced by a virtual one. Communication defines us as human yet we are using more and more inhuman ways of interaction.
But back to JISC World and the business of ensuring we engage effectively with increasingly digital ways of working. JISC use the definition of digital literacies as the capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society. We added ‘constantly changing social practices’ to this because digital literacies are more than digital activities. They’re about who we are and we are work in progress. We never quite finish being who we could be. Instead, we’re continually evolving, living mostly in a state of getting there rather than arriving. After two weeks of living with a JISC Bid I still see digital literacies more as unique individual characteristics than sets of skills or abilities (although of course these are component parts). What has become clearer is the enormity of a whole institution approach to what our bid describes as ‘enabling enhancing and embedding digital literacies’ at Lincoln. A strategy for digital inclusion will be a challenge but I’m confident it can be done. Defining digital literacies as social practices brings in the key higher education attributes of critical thinking and reflective practice. To be critically digitally literate is to be socially responsible. I see this as a real opportunity for an integrative approach across the university, not just computer science and social science coming together but for all disciplines to find common digital grounds supporting genuine cross-departmental partnerships.