Thursday, 1 February 2018

Learning about my digital capabilities

Evolved have the days from just qualifying with word processing, ECDL and CLAiT.  There is much discussion, debate and initiatives around digital skills and how they are more important than ever for everyday life and in the workplace - now referred to as digital capabilities.  Digital capabilities are about how confident and competent you are in using digital tools and systems, to enable you to live and work in a digital world. In this post I review my own digital capabilities after participating in the Jisc Digital Discovery Tool pilot.  This tool assesses your digital capabilities across 15 elements and determines you as developing, capable or proficient based on your responses.  You are then given next steps and resources to support your development.

Digital ignorance?

Obviously I am a learning technologist, therefore my role heavily relies on digital skills.  However, I've not really assessed my own digital skills for quite some time.  Terrible isn't it!  Because I work with a lot of digital tools, systems and educate others on them, I must subconsciously assume I am some sort of supreme digital leader. 😜  Joking aside, just because I am a learning technologist it does not mean that I have all the digital skills anyone can have.  We may feel confident and competent and are highly creative and critical of digital tools and systems.  But to what degree is this true?  What are my opinions and views of my own digital capabilities?  It's really important to me and in my role as Digital Practice Adviser at NTU that I visibly recognise my strengths and weaknesses in order to continually develop to current digital practices.  There are areas in which I need to examine a bit closer to ensure appropriate plans and support are put in place to develop my digital skills.  Below is a graphic that illustrates my skills on the digital capabilities spectrum and following is an overview of what I feel about the outcomes.

Overview of outcomes

No particular surprise, but it appears I am digitally enabled and empowered.  However, it does not mean that I am at the top and there is no further progression and development.  There is always more and it never really ends!  New digital technologies emerge frequently and new techniques and practices emerge from these new tools.  At some point these digital skills I possess will either evolve or become redundant - scary thought!

I received proficient in most of the capability elements; Digital Innovation, Digital Identity Management, Digital Participation, Media Literacy, Digital Wellbeing, Digital Proficiency, Digital Collaboration, Digital Communication, Problem Solving, Digital Teaching and Digital Learning.  This is most likely because I am open and willing to try new digital technologies, proactive/self-supporting, data and online safety conscious and I collaborate digitally both in work and outside of work.  Whether that be working synchronously online on a work project or organising an outing with friends or family.  However, professionally on Twitter I do need to join more live conversations.  I do dip in and out of Twitter but I could be more socially engaged with it in speaking to my network.  I am very meticulous in refining and maintaining my digital identity, which is my blog (Google Blogger) and the subsequent channels; Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Scholar Citations and YouTube.  Digital Teaching is my expertise area; Technology Enhanced Learning and eLearning, so I would be concerned if I was lower than that.  Moreover, I am a highly competent digital learner which began with my Open University studying in 2009, that then transferred to my first learning technologist role that included developing and supporting blended and online programmes.

I was assessed as capable for Digital Productivity.  I obviously have strong digital skills but perhaps I am not exploiting the tools fullest potential when working on different tasks.  I received capable for Data Literacy and my understanding of this is that I am confident in analysing and interpreting data and representing it appropriately with graphics.  However, when finding and organising data I find this a more tricky task.  I usually work in Microsoft Excel and learn new formulas and functions to make it an easier process to organise data.  This is not a frequent task I carry out, but when I do I find that I have to remind myself of what to use and how - which requires internet searching and speaking to colleagues.  On the other hand I came out proficient for Information Literacy.  This is concerned with data management techniques and deciding how information is stored and where it is retrieved from.

Whilst labelled as proficient in Media Literacy, surprisingly I am capable for Digital Creation.  I am a very visual person and would like to represent explanations and descriptions with an image or graphic of some kind.  However, if I was assessed on the skills in creating graphics, perhaps this is a reason why it is visibly low.  I can create basic graphics and videos, however, it’s clear I need to invest some professional development in upskilling using creative software and perhaps stretch this to animations.  Whilst I am a learning technologist, I am less technical and more emphasised on the learning and creative aspects.  I could also perhaps explore mind mapping and sketching my notes.  Furthermore, these skills are highly desirable for any digitally creative role.

Where do I go from here?

As well as making my digital capabilities more visible to me, which I am going to take some time out to fully analyse.  Following my digital capability report, I have been provided with a bulk of resources and advice for each element which are helpful signposts to support.  However, to me all of this contributes to the broader and wider development of a modern professional learner/worker, as introduced by Jane Hart (C4LPT) - which is something I am highly interested in.  A modern professional learner/worker could be summarised by the following with digital tools and systems weaved alongside.  Perhaps I could apply/align my digital capabilities development to this and to further develop and expand on these areas.

  • Communicate and work efficiently, collaboratively and productively by using a range of digital apps and tools, to increase interaction and sharing amongst peers (Office 365, Google Docs, Skype, Whatsapp, Slack, Asana)
  • Use adaptable, compatible and reliable devices (laptop, tablet, mobile) to access digital content through apps and the internet
  • Exploit the potential of web browser features to enable the best experience of the internet (Google Chrome, Firefox)
  • Access internet resources to help solve a problem or find inspiration (YouTube, Wikipedia, TED, blogs)
  • Build a professional network through social media to discuss, share and collaborate (Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Instagram)
  • Stay informed of news and trends and curation tools to store and share (Pinterest, Pearltrees, Padlet,, Diigo, Delicious)
  • Capture notes, ideas and personal learning experiences and to possibly share openly (Google Keep, Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, PebblePad, blogs)
  • Maintain your digital content and organise in appropriate and meaningful ways using data management techniques (tagging, metadata)
  • Join and participate online courses to obtain new knowledge and skills on the job (FutureLearn,, Coursera, Khan Academy, Udemy, edX, Alison)

Since starting my Digital Practice Adviser role, I don't just support and develop academics, but research, leadership and management and administration roles.  I am now starting to critically think about the broader digital skills and attitudes of these type of roles.  As online collaboration amongst teams is becoming more of an essential expectation of workplace performance, this appears to have altered the way people access, store and retrieve their files.  As digital content and storage grows larger and larger and space smaller and smaller.  There is now emphasis on appropriately and meaningfully tagging files and objects to increase searchability and discoverability.  Therefore, this falls under the Information Literacy element.  I am heavily involved in a project the moment that is centered around this.  The project is about ensuring that the Virtual Learning Environment is being used for learning opportunities only.  Any other files and resources can be stored on other platforms, i.e SharePoint - all with the aim of informing decision making and improving efficiency and effectiveness of storing and accessing digital content.  Through this project I am able to explore further how I can develop new techniques and even transform my previous practices.

In my dissertation I stated that digital capabilities should not be approached as a checklist of specific things you can do, but to be treated as critical thinking and reflection on how digital tools and systems can be used in various contexts and situations.  So from this narrative I should practice what I am preaching and start to consciously be mindful of my own digital capabilities.