This session supports the conference theme “critical frames of reference” by reviewing the application of JISC’s digital literacy “pyramid” (Beetham & Sharpe, 2010) to a case study of developing digital literacy. This framework sees digital literacy as an interaction between skills, practices and identity. The continuing relevance of the model is demonstrated, but, particularly in relation to identity, it is argued that more detailed analysis is required, including use of research around identity change and identity play (Giddens, 1991, Ibarra & Petriglieri, 2010, Ibarra, 2015).
The session presents and summarises research tracing the development of digital literacy, as seen through references to identity, both in direct and indirect relationship to digital technology. The research was undertaken as a sub-project in a PhD programme, using the methodology of autoethnography (Chang, 2016), where the researcher and the subject are the same person. To reduce issues with memory, and to get a sense of development over time, the research was based on existing material – posts from my blog “Learningshrew” (https://learningshrew.wordpress.com/) written between 2011 and 2019. Over 100 posts were extracted and analysed for references to skills, practices and identity. It quickly became clear that the most numerous and revealing references related to identity, so these became the focus of more detailed analysis.
The analysis findings reveal four specific and contradictory themes describing aspects of identity in relation to technology – technology evangelist, technology sceptic, technology adept and technology novice. Rather than a linear progression from one category to another, the posts reveal fluidity and oscillation between these themes. This suggests that the digital literacy journey involves accepting and integrating these different “identities”. In addition, the importance of other identity markers in relation to technology will be discussed, including integration of technology into aspects of identity such as parent and educator.
In the context of individuals and organisations in the wider economy prioritising the enhancement of digital skills and capability (European Round Table of Industrialists, 2017, van Laar et al, 2017), the research suggests that the role of identity in such enhancement is critical. Developments in technology and therefore the skills required to work with it are unpredictable and becoming digitally literate is different for everyone (Littlejohn et al, 2012). Participants will gain insight into the detail of how digital literacy can develop, its links to identity change, and the need to accept some level of identity fluidity. This will lead to ideas for enhancements to programmes aimed at improving the digital literacy of staff and students, in a general environment where it is becoming an ever more important success factor.
BEETHAM, H. & SHARPE, R. 2010. Digital literacy framework [Online]. Available at: http://jiscdesignstudio.pbworks.com/w/page/46740204/Digital%20literacy%20framework [Accessed 16 March 2019].
CHANG, H. 2016. Autoethnography as method, Abingdon, Routledge.
EUROPEAN ROUND TABLE OF INDUSTRIALISTS, 2017. Building and transforming skills for a digital world [Online]. Available at: https://www.ert.eu/document/building-and-transforming-skills-digital-world [Accessed 18 May 2019]
GIDDENS, A. 1991. Modernity and self-identity : self and society in the late modern age, Cambridge, Polity Press.
IBARRA, H. 2015. Act Like A Leader, Think Like A Leader, Boston, Harvard Business Review Press.
IBARRA, H. & PETRIGLIERI, J. L. 2010. Identity work and play. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 23, 10-25.
LITTLEJOHN, A., BEETHAM, H. & MCGILL, L. 2012. Learning at the digital frontier: a review of digital literacies in theory and practice.(Report). Journal of Computer Assisted Learning., 28, 547-556
VAN LAAR, E., VAN DEURSEN, A. J. A. M., VAN DIJK, J. A. G. M. & DE HAAN, J. 2017. The relation between 21st-century skills and digital skills: A systematic literature review. Computers in Human Behavior, 72, 577-588.