Fellowship to unlock the code to digital literacy

29 June 2016

Deakin University’s Associate Professor Jo Coldwell-Neilson has been awarded an Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) National Teaching Fellowship to support the development of a digital literacy benchmark for students.

"I have been concerned about the digital literacy capabilities – or rather lack thereof – of students for a long time," Associate Professor Coldwell-Neilson explained.

"My interest started when Deakin first moved to using a learning management system (LMS). In those days, around 2003, digital literacy was about being able to connect to the Internet, access the LMS, being able to upload assignments, send email etc.," she added. 

"These days there is lots being said about digital natives and assumptions about students’ digital literacy skills. We expect them to be digitally literate because they use the technologies extensively, but there is evidence to suggest the opposite is true!".

Associate Professor Coldwell-Neilson’s project aims to "develop a digital literacy benchmark for students entering and graduating from Australian Higher Education (HE) institutions, bridging the gap between school skills (as defined by the Australian National Curriculum) and workplace skills (as demanded by employers)". This understanding will provide grounding and insight for disciplines to interpret digital literacy, graduate learning outcomes in their context and thus, improve graduate employability.

"This Fellowship is sanctioning my concerns and providing me with the means to do something about them," Associate Professor Coldwell-Neilson said.

"I’m not alone in this endeavour. There are a number of projects around the world, particularly in the UK and Europe, which are also exploring the whole issue of digital literacy, what it means and what it entails". 

Associate Professor Coldwell-Neilson said that developing a benchmark for students coming into universities is important to ensure academics have realistic expectations of students’ digital literacy skills and that students are aware of what those expectations are.

"This provides the foundation to build students’ digital literacy capabilities, which are aligned with employer expectations. This is particularly important in an employment environment that is being disrupted by technology, as we are currently experiencing," she added. 

You can read more about Associate Professor Coldwell-Neilson’s project on the OLT website.

Associate Professor Jo Coldwell-Neilson has been awarded an Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) National Teaching Fellowship to support the development of a digital literacy benchmark for students.

Key Fact

Associate Professor Jo Coldwell-Neilson has been awarded an Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) National Teaching Fellowship to support the development of a digital literacy benchmark for students.

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