Category Archives: Seda Sig

Digital literacies and digital fluency – a process of development?

Definitions and difficulties

“Digital literacy defines those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society.” (JISC / Beetham 2010)

“I am digitally fluent when I confidently, critically, skilfully and appropriately select and use digital technologies to achieve my goals.” (Baume 2011-12)

These are of course both empty-shell definitions, needing to be filled before they can be used.

The wish to use empty shell definitions is understandable – they push the responsibility of populating the definition on to the particular users, and thus increase local ownership.

But such definitions can frustrate users who, in answer to a question about what digital capabilities (whether literacies or fluency) they need to learn or toteach, may be told (or hear) “It’s up to you.”

By analogy: “Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today.  Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.” (Presumably the same is also true for a woman). A good principle. Except for the danger of our hungry person starving to death during their fishing lesson.

How to proceed? With a judicious mixture of fish and fishing lesson. Back to our digital concerns. Fish; suggestions about likely elements of digital literacy or fluency, maybe including making rational choices of technology rather than being dazzled in the toyshop; devising a search strategy rather than leaping straight into Google and, yes, how to use Word and email and Twitter. Fishing lessons; structured and responsive help and support on producing a locally, personally and professionally appropriate account of digital literacies or fluency. This mixture may be more helpful and developmental than either element alone.

A process of development?

It may be tempting to see the progression from digital literacies to digital fluency as a developmental sequence. ‘Teach them the skills, and in due course the skills will add up to fluency.’

A more productive approach may be to concentrate on the final outcome. If the final outcome (for now) is something like digital fluency, as described above, then maybe fluency is the place to start. Learners, whether students or staff, could audit their current state of digital fluency. They could unpack the extent and nature of their confidence, their critical approach & etc. in their use of digital technologies to achieve their goals. And then they could seek and obtain the necessary support. (Fluency, as described here, has an important affective component as well as describing capabilities.)

At the same time, they will know what specific digital capabilities, what specific digital literacies, they are likely to need – because some at least of the demands and expectations of the subject, the course, the institution are known. So we can provide enough fish to ensure survival in the short term.

Where next?

We have to support the development of digital literacies or fluency.

Blue Morpho

Blue Morpho

Changing metaphor: Let’s photograph the butterfly, not pin it to the board.

Our most valuable digital capability is probably to continue to review and enhance our digital capabilities. (Of course we could ditch the word ‘digital’.)

There, above all, may be where we should focus our development efforts.

David Baume


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Filed under Digital Fluency, Digital Literacies, Seda Sig, Technology Enhanced Learning

The SEDA Special Interest Group on technology-enhanced practice (working title)

SIG Membership of SEDA Committees

  • Sue Beckingham from Sheffield Hallam and Joelle Adams from Bath Spa , both members of the SEDA SIG, have been elected to SEDA Executive. They were elected at the  Annual General Meeting on May 17th at the SEDA Conference in Chester. Congratulation to them both!


These SIG members serve as full members of their committee. They also support the committee in further developing  the technology-enhanced practice dimension of SEDA’s work. This is likely to include both content  and SEDA’s working practices.


Got a question about academic development and technology-enhanced practice? Put it hereAnswer it here.

Join the SIG

Read about SIG members, and sign up.

First SEDA SIG meeting

Five of us – Helen Boulton, Joelle Adams, Peter Hartley, Marios Hadjianastasis and David Baume – had a lively and productive informal meeting at the SEDA Conference on May 17th. We developed some ideas about what the SIG might be for, what it might be like, what it might do and how it might work.

Perhaps the most important idea was that the SIG will do and be whatever its members from time to time want it to do and be, within the broad remit described on the “About the SEDA SIG” tab of the blog.

So: Tell us what you think!

More of our ideas:

  • There was enthusiasm for ‘technology-enhanced practice’ in the SIG name, to emphasize that we are concerned with the use of technology across all of work and life, not limited to education.
  • We want to share questions and answers, practices and technologies. Hence the SEDA SIG Q&A googledoc linked from the blog. With its first question. A googledoc table may or may not be the best way to do this. We’ll see.
  • We’d like the SIG to be a place for play and exploration and demonstration of new and potentially useful technologies. A sandpit. We haven’t worked out how to implement this yet. Suggestions welcome.
  • We want the SIG to be a site for co-operation.
  • We’d like the SIG to research job roles and organisational structures around academic development and learning technology and teaching, to understand how these parts of organisations work together, and maybe see ways to shape and do things better.
  • Maybe every SIG member should offer one example or case study of, or story about, good and / or interesting practice. Maybe that should be the price of admission to the SIG!
  • Maybe SEDA could work with other organisations to support work-based and professional association PhDs.
  • The SIG could be a test bed for new ideas in developing digital literacies.
  • We could co-define and undertake and write up research studies and papers, sometimes for publication in conventional journals and sometimes not.
  • The SIG will work across SEDA. We already have someone on each of the main SEDA Committees – Sue Beckingham on Executive and Papers, Joelle Adams on Executive, Peter Hartley on Services and Enterprise, David Walker on Conferences and Keith Smyth on Professional Development Framework.
  • We want to go forth and work together and do good stuff, aimed at good student learning. This will require work and play.
  • The SIG’s policy and practice will evolve.
  •  As a personal note, I wonder how soon this SIG will fade away, our work done?

David Baume

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