1. Do you agree that a simple framework for Basic Digital Skills that all key stakeholders adopt, would be useful?
The term ‘digital skills’ is often used to describe a wide range of skills and capabilities, from the capabilities everyone needs to be able to use the internet through to high level skills for software development and engineering. This framework is crucial in establishing a shared understanding of the skills and capabilities everyone needs to be able to use digital technology and the internet effectively in the modern world.
It therefore may be useful to explicitly reference where this framework fits on a spectrum of digital skills. For example, the 2015 report by the UK Select Committee on Digital Skill refers to the description of three categories of digital skills highlighted by the UK Forum for Computing Education:
- Digital citizen (the basic or foundational skills everyone requires for life and work)
- Digital worker (the more advanced skills needed for particular roles, from marketing to data analytics)
- Digital maker (the skills involved in creating digital products and services, such as software development)
A particular strength of the framework over the past few years has been in enabling a wide range of stakeholders being able to assess levels of basic digital skills and capability, without having to have an associated qualification. We would therefore support the continuation of the framework in its current simple format, perhaps with the addition of standard self-assessment tools, rather than potentially moving towards a qualification standard.
2. Is the title “Basic Digital Skills” the right one – or would you suggest an alternative?
No, not the right title
We feel that getting the terminology right at the outset is important in setting clarity and applicability.
There is evidence that points the important role language plays in people’s motivation to learn. While the word ‘basic’ clearly articulates these skills as the starting point on a spectrum, it may actually demotivate people to learn when described in this way. A recent report by Eduserve on digital skills in local government noted that:
“Fear was another common theme raised as a major barrier to learning. No one wants to be made to feel stupid and, particularly when skills are labelled as ‘basic’ or ‘easy’, there is fear of not being able to do something and being embarrassed by that.”
A more positive term might be ‘foundation digital skills’ or perhaps only referring to ‘digital skills for life’ and ‘digital skills for the workplace’.
3. Is the approach to having a set of Digital Skills for Life and a set for Work, the right one? Please comment if you wish.
Yes, right approach
We welcome the delineation between the skills that people need to develop for life and those needed for work and that one leads to the next. The ability to adapt to both the fast pace of change of the internet and a confidence to work across different platforms, operating systems and devices is critical. Nurturing curiosity and focusing on digital literacy is key. However, the new frameworks highlight that there is an overlap in skills for life and skills for work and we feel that this should be made explicit.
An example would be in the ‘Communicating’ category. It could easily be argued that ‘skills for life’ needs to go further than ‘Communicate with others directly using email and other messaging systems, on your computer and mobile devices’ and should also cover ‘Use online video conferencing or direct messaging applications to communicate with others‘. For older people who may not be looking at skills for work the use of video conferencing technology is a key element of reducing social isolation by enabling them to keep in touch with family and friends.
4. Are the four categories – Managing Information, Communicating, Transacting and Problem-Solving – the right ones? If not, what would you change?
No, not the right categories
Currently the skills highlighted in the framework are relatively device agnostic. However, since the creation of the original basic digital skills framework, there has been a significant growth in the number of people accessing the internet using only a smartphone.
There is clear evidence that shows no matter how well designed an online service is to use on a smartphone, there are some essential tasks that are easier to complete on some devices than others. For example, creating a CV is much easier on a laptop and or PC than on a smartphone. Therefore we would suggest that skills for work, in particular, include the ability to confidently use the operate the basic functions of a smartphone, tablet, laptop and PC.
With the increasing number of ‘smart’ devices in people’s homes – from Bluetooth speakers and toys to internet connected thermostats – it is important that the skills needed to operate these devices confidently and safely are built in to the framework to ensure it is futureproof.
Perhaps a new category of ‘Using devices’ would be an appropriate way to reflect these issues across both skills for life and skills for work. The safety and security elements of these would be critical (e.g. setting passcodes and passwords).
We are also concerned about the suggestion that the ‘creating’ category is removed. The ability to create content, to share it safely online and to understand how it might be used by others is important for everyone. Fundamentally important skills for work – such as the creation of documents with formatted text, tables and images (e.g. CVs) – appear to be missing from the current framework.
It may be possible to embed this within the ‘managing information’ – but this may result in a category which is too large in comparison with the others. We would therefore suggest that creating should remain a separate category (although it could be reworded as creating is too allied to creativity).
We would really like to focus our events on the detail below and as such haven’t offered our thoughts and draft responses to these questions.
BASIC DIGITAL SKILLS FOR LIFE
5. With regards to the Basic Digital Skills for Life section, are the skills and examples for each of the categories, the right ones? If not, what would you change?
6. Are there any other areas that you would add to the Basic Digital Skills for Life section?
7. Are there any things that you think learners need to understand, or attributes that they need, in addition to the skills in the Basic Digital Skills for Life section?
8. Any other comments on the Basic Digital Skills for Life section?
BASIC DIGITAL SKILLS FOR WORK
9. With regards to the Basic Digital Skills for Work section, are the skills and examples for each of the categories, the right ones? If not, what would you change?
10. Are there any other areas that you would add to the Basic Digital Skills for Work section?