Students’ ICT literacies

Have a good look at the Proceedings* of the Association for Learning Technology’s Conference, held in Manchester this month, because the papers have much to say about our students and their learning, particularly their ICT literacies – or their lack of them.

It’s easy for us to get complacent about what students OUGHT to be able to do, but what if they can’t? Members of the Net Generation, the digital natives, may not be as skilled as we think they should be.

Of course, it’s very intriguing to read about collaborative mind mapping through Twitter and FreeMind (at the University of Bolton), but the skills required are certainly not widely distributed among our students at present. A Canadian study of problems that students have in learning online offers some suggestions for helping them, but mainly through selecting the right technologies.

For contrast, read the report of a national study by Sero Consulting of next generation user skills: what employers will need, what young people will have, what generic skills will be needed, all in 2013, not now. The study offers an overview of current skills, models the Next Generation Skillscape of activities and competencies, and maps these onto tools and awards, showing where the gaps will arise.

In plainer English, what’s it going to be like in 2013 and how can it be better than we think it will be?

You may be interested to know that at the Open University Robin Goodfellow and Mary Lea have got funding from the UK Economic and Social Research Council to run a seminar series entitled ‘Literacy in the Digital University’. This will bring together researchers and practitioners from the applied linguistics and technology-enhanced learning fields to share ideas about ‘new literacies’ and learning in higher education.

Other participants include Sian Bayne from Edinburgh University, David Barton from Lancaster, Alison Littlejohn from Glasgow Caledonian, and Helen Beetham, freelance writer and researcher.

Robin has started a blog about LiDU ideas.

The first seminar will be at Edinburgh University on October 16th 2009. Places are limited but there may still be some available: contact Robin at for further details.


*Damis, H. and Creanor, L. (2009) “In dreams begins responsibility” – choice, evidence and change. 16th Association for Learning Technology Conference (ALT-C 2009). Held 8-10 September 2009, University of Manchester, England, UK.

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