"Why should I?" Engaging learners in digital literacy skills development

Hall, Marion; Nix, Ingrid and Baker, Kirsty (2012). "Why should I?" Engaging learners in digital literacy skills development. In: Proceedings of the 11th European Conference on e-Learning, University of Groningen, The Netherlands, 26-27 October 2012 (ed. by H. Belduis), 26-27 Oct 2012, Groningen, The Netherlands.

URL: http://academic-conferences.org/ecel/ecel2012/ecel...


In the current digital environment, it is becoming increasingly vital for learners to develop digital literacy skills. The UK’s Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (HE) requires graduates to be able to demonstrate digital literacy. Employers consider these skills to be essential in the workplace. Recent changes to the funding of HE by the UK Government mean that the personal cost to the learner is rising dramatically and, as a result, learners themselves increasingly expect UK university courses to demonstrate relevance to the workplace. But despite all this, some learners may not fully engage in digital literacy skills development, instead concentrating on the subject-specific content of their modules. We explore learner experiences of digital literacy skills development in an attempt to understand why learners fail to perceive the relevance of the skills content of their module, or at least give it low priority. The UK’s Open University (OU) is a distance-learning institution. Its Faculty of Health & Social Care (FH&SC) has evolved different approaches to digital literacy skills development using technology-enhanced learning, based on skills resources that are either ‘generic’ (usable within any FH&SC module) or context-dependent and module-specific. Our Evaluating Approaches to Developing Digital Literacy Skills (EADDLS) project is exploring learner perceptions of skills activities and our overall skills development strategy, with data collected from online questionnaires (N=298) and interviews (N=18) involving learners from three modules. This paper presents findings from an analysis of the quantitative questionnaire data, comparing types of skills resources, and approaches to digital skills development in terms of learner perceptions and degree of engagement. We also look at learner perceptions and engagement in relation to the demographic factors gender, age and previous education and explore whether demographic factors influence individual learner preferences for the type of learning design, such as use of generic resources versus contextualisation of skills activities that emphasises the relevance of skills to the subject and/or working practice. Our aims are to identify good practice in learning design and what demographic factors, if any, need to be considered in learning design to support individual learners appropriately, and so optimise engagement.

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