Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Digital and Substantive Skills for Every Citizen, Worker and Consumer in the 21st Century #ecil2016

The Keynote Speech at day 2 of the European Conference on Information Literacy 2016, in Prague today was Jan Van Dijk, talking about Digital and Substantive Skills for Every Citizen, Worker and Consumer in the 21st Century. His website is at https://www.utwente.nl/bms/vandijk/
Van Dijk distinguished between digital skills ("medium-related and content-related skills needed to operate digital technology") and 21st century skills ("general substantial skills" which includes higher order skills). He sees digital skills as having 6 types: operational, formal, information, communication, strategic, and content-creation. Thre first two are medium-related and the last four are content-related. He identified the relationship between them (see the rather fuzzy picture) and felt that they needed to be addressed sequentially: strategic skills are at the top of the hierarchy (then the other content related ones below that, then at the bottom the medium-related ones).
As revealed in a question afterwards, unfortunately he saw information literacy as "part of information skills".
Van Dijk moved to differentiating between digital and traditional media skills. Some things (e.g. reading, writing, intellectual ability) were required by both. Digital media make tasks easier in some ways, but also required new skills to cope with navigation, information selection, overload and so forth. He then took us through the different kinds of skills listed earlier, starting with the medium-related skills. For example information skills included choosing a website or search engine, querying sources, selecting and evaluating material. Communication skills included things like managing your social media profile - basically communicating in different formats and media. Content creation skills includes content in multimedia. Strategic digital skills means "Using the internet as a means to a particular goal" (including taking action and making decisions).
The speaker described some results from tests of Dutch citizens who undertook 9 internet tasks, using public services. They found the biggest differences in age and education. Younger people (18-30) were better at formal internet skills, but older were better at information and strategic. Younger people were quicker, but not neccessarily finding better information. The conclusion was that if the older people are able to acquire the medium-related skills, they will become much better, because they already have some of the content-related skills. However, the younger people need more development in content-related skills.
Moving on to 21st century skills, he identified these are including ways of thinking and working, tools of working, and living in the world. (To begin with I thought these were related to the AASL 21st Century skills or the Framework for 21st Century learning but it is slightly different), As robots took over more jobs, 21st century skills become more important, as the new jobs will be in areas which robots can't cover. This could lead to social divides. There is also a need to "prepare people for the internet of things" - as more devices are available to monitor and report, and these in turn create relationships with other companies and people. For example, smart energy meters (which are sold as giving you more information and control) also mean you are sharing more detailed information with your energy supplier, which the supplier can exploit and even demand.
Finally, the speaker turned to policy, and how to avoid exclusion. He identified 5 strategies: awareness and organisation, design improvement, technology provision, contenet development, education.
Van Dijk gave some specific recommendations: using public libraries, public services and community services more effectively, and providing citizenship courses for migrants, including internet courses in their native language. In terms of libraries, because not everyone goes at the moment, more triggers are needed to attract people, and there need to be more activities in which staff guide people in the multimedia world.
I already linked to the speaker's website: this presentation explains the "Four successive types of access" model that he introduced at the start of talk, but which I didn't have time to blog, and something about the types of skills and the digital divide.

No comments: