A recent announcement from Hon. Hekia Parata signalled that digital fluency will be a key focus for Ministry centrally-funded professional learning support in 2016 (PLD Changes will lift student achievement, 23 Sept. 2015).
The value of growing digitally fluent learners was signalled in the Ministry report, Future Focused Learning in Connected Communities (2014) which asked that
“digital competencies be recognised as “essential foundation skills for success in 21st century society” and that they be supported by “cross-curriculum resources, a responsive assessment framework, professional development and a programme of evaluation.”
‘Digital fluency’, as a phrase, does not occur specifically in the our various curricula (NZC, Te Marautanga, Te Whāriki) or in other oft-used touchstones for learning with digital technologies. However, the concepts behind it will be familiar to many educators already.
What is digital fluency?
‘Fluency’ derives from the word ‘flow’ and when we think about being ‘fluent’ in any context, it refers to being flexible, accurate, efficient, and appropriate. In other words, the way we use skills, language and speech flows naturally and easily. In a digital context for learning, fluency involves using technologies “readily and strategically to learn, to work, and to play, and the infusion of technology in teaching and learning to improve outcomes for all students”1
Broadly speaking, digital fluency is a combination of:
- digital, or technical, proficiency: able to understand, select and use the technologies and technological systems;
- digital literacy: cognitive or intellectual competencies, which include being able to read, create, evaluate and make judgements and apply technical skills while doing so;
- social competence, or dispositional knowledge: the ability to relate to others and communicate with them effectively.
It is helpful to think of fluency as showing wisdom and confidence in the application and use of digital technologies, as reflected in the diagram below (Wenmoth, 2015):