“Why bother?” Learner perceptions of digital literacy skills development - learning design implications

Nix, Ingrid; Hall, Marion and Baker, Kirsty (2012). “Why bother?” Learner perceptions of digital literacy skills development - learning design implications. In: 11th European Conference on e-Learning ECEL- 2012, 26-27 Oct 2012, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

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


Digital literacy skills are essential for today’s citizens. These skills are expected for everyday personal use, learning and effective performance at work. The UK’s Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (HE) and employers therefore require graduates to be able to demonstrate these skills. However, the cost of UK university education is rising substantially and cash- and time-poor learners must decide what to prioritise. In this context they may favour subject-specific learning rather than skills development. How therefore can we engage learners in developing their digital literacy? The UK’s Open University is a distance learning institution. Its Faculty of Health & Social Care (FH&SC) has evolved different approaches for digital literacy skills development using technology-enhanced learning, based on skills resources that are either generic (usable by any FH&SC module) or are context-dependent and module-specific. Our Evaluating Approaches to Developing Digital Literacy Skills (EADDLS) project is exploring learner experiences of digital literacy skills development to identify their needs and preferences, to inform how we can optimise learning designs to better engage and support learners. Furthermore, since skills activities are widely required across different programmes, there is keen interest in the pedagogical and resourcing implications of using generic activities, as opposed to module-specific activities that are more challenging to share and maintain. We therefore also explore the influence of design features such as generic or module-specific contexts. We gathered data from online questionnaires (n=298) and interviews (n=18) involving learners from three modules. Focusing on the qualitative interview data, we explore what learners value and why, including links between attitude, motivation, and preferred learning designs. We identify reasons for certain findings from our quantitative data, e.g. a preference for integrated, module-specific activities over separate, generic activities and suggest a framework for managing activity complexity based on familiarity with the skill and the context.

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