16 SES 06 A, Developing Student Teachers’ Digital Competence
Digital literacy and digital competence are two terms used to describe the range of knowledge, skills and attitudes needed by teachers to successfully utilise technologies as professional educators. Yet despite wide agreement that digital competence/literacy are important, there remains considerable confusion in relation to the terms. In mapping the development of the terms Ala-Mutka (2011) revealed ‘a complex landscape of definitions and concepts’ (p. 15) which have been changing and developing overtime. Early in their development Bawden (2001) identified a similar mosaic of terms ranging from information literacy, computer literacy, library literacy, media literacy, network literacy, internet literacy and digital literacy. While definitions of the terms range from narrow to expansive views, there is growing agreement that the more instrumental, tool-focused definitions do not capture the complex range of skills, knowledge and attitudes needed as a result of pervasive technology use in society. Through an exploration of the term in the education literature, this paper aims to examine the current manifestation of digital literacy and digital competence in teacher education and attempt to trace its historical origins. In particular it aims to explore whether the terms literacy and competency mean the same thing, and that their different uses simply reflect linguistic preferences, or whether they reflect more substantial differences. For example, did the early focus on the term ‘literacy’ reflect the early need to raise the status of the issue? Buckingham (2015) argues that the term literacy, carrying a degree of social status, has been used to elevate the status of areas of study when used in conjunction with them. Seen in this light, the use of the term digital literacy may have been used as much as a device to convince wider society of its importance – a type of social mobility. More recent references to ‘digital competency’ could reflect a level of maturation of the term and signify a recognition of the broad dimensions now associated with it (Ferrari, 2013). Alternatively, the use of the term ‘competency’ could also reflect a broader neoliberal shift towards accountability where ‘digital competency’ forms part of the list of competencies for teachers. The breadth of this interpretation of ‘competence’ can largely determine how it is used in teacher education programmes – as either a device for professional compliance or a tool for teacher empowerment in an increasingly complex digital age.
Ala-Mutka, K. (2011). Mapping Digital Competence: Towards a Conceptual Understanding. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Buckingham, D. (2006). Defining digital literacy – What do young people need to know about digital media? Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 1(04), 263-277. Bawden, D. (2001). Information and digital literacies: a review of concepts. Journal of Documentation, 57(2), 218-259. doi:doi:10.1108/EUM0000000007083 Ferrari, A. ((2013)). DIGCOMP: A Framework for Developing and Understanding Digital Competence in Europe. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.
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