Digital Literacies and Digital Fluencies

We recently completed some further consultancy and workshops with experts from the Changing the Learning Landscape partnership, the results have been a number of recommendations centered on how HYMS can best support the development of digital literacies and digital fluencies in both staff and student groups.

But what do we mean by digital literacies and digital fluencies? And how does our understanding of them influence the direction of our future support and development offerings?

Digital literacies

Digital literacies are those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society. Digital literacy looks beyond functional IT skills to describe a richer set of digital behaviours, practices and identities.’

Developing digital literacies – Jisc infoNet

To be digitally literate is to know what tools to use and how to use them. Being digitally fluent is to know when and why to use them. In linguistic terms fluency means being able to both articulate complex ideas and construct new ones. Our aim would be that through embedding digital literacies into all we do at HYMS, both staff and students will attain higher levels of digital fluency. As with everything though this will form part of the wider discussion we are currently having with staff and students.

So can we define digital literacies? Jisc ( has done a lot of work over the past few years developing a list of 7 elements of digital literacies which encompasses a range of capabilities: Media literacies; Communication and Collaboration; Career and identity management; ITC literacy; Learning skills; Digital scholarship; and finally information literacy (see figure 1 below).

digram of the Jisc 7 elements of digital literacies

Figure 1: Jisc 7 Elements of Digital Literacies

So how does this translate to an organisation such as HYMS and how will it help us all to be more confident users of technology in the future.

In future training could emphasise less of the functional button clicking aspects and focus more on orientation and why a system or process is used. Functional guidance would be provided through other media such as online guides and videos. As long as these are well signposted and available to the individual at the point of need, training need only reference them.

Ensuring that Technology Enhanced Learning is embedded within all appropriate training, whether the subject is explicitly technology based or not, is an obvious step to take. In a modern 21st century educational establishment, technology is ubiquitous throughout all of what we do, so why should the technology elements of training be dealt with separately. One of the primary tenets of digital literacies is that they are heavily contextual to particular roles, jobs, and processes. Learning to how to transfer that knowledge to less familiar systems and processes are key.

For example training on ‘How to use blogs in Blackboard’ or ‘How to use blogs in WordPress’ would use very similar processes and visual cues regardless of the platform, in addition many of these skills may have already been learnt through using the other online services such as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and eBay. Employing digital literacies, this training session on blogs would now focus on the uses of blogs, common elements, good practice etc. rather than on the sequence of how to post to a Blackboard course or WordPress site. Correlations would be drawn between posting to your Facebook or Twitter status, reviewing a product on Amazon or messaging a seller in EBay.  Include with this, strategies for resolving problems and finding answers to questions (whether that is searching the web, looking for guides, getting help from the office guru or contacting the right support team) and you have staff with high digital fluency, more confidence with technology, and with a skill set which is genuinely transferable.

If you would like to know more about digital literacies, digital fluencies or any aspect of the Changing the Learning Landscape initiative please contact the eLearning Team


HYMS Changing the Leaning Landscape website

Jisc Developing digital Literacies

Learning Enhancement & Support Manager at Hull York Medical School

Posted in CLL, TEL