Digital Literacy an important factor in Career Success

The University of Derby’s International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) have produced a report entitled ‘Careering through the Web‘ which explores the potential of web technologies for career development and support services.

Inadequate ‘digital literacy’ could jeopardise your future career prospects
Will ‘Digital Literacy’ Determine Your Future Career Success?

The report acknowledges the accelerating influence of the internet in career and learning exploration and job searching. It stresses the need for the public and careers professionals to maintain and grow their digital skills so resources can be better deployed within this changing environment.

Probably the most observant statement came form Ian Kinder, Assistant Director at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills when he said:

The web is now an integral part of many people’s lives. But there is more information, advice and guidance available on there for people buying a television than there is for people considering their career choices.

It’s important to remember that Digital Literacy is not only important for seeking career opportunities but is often a criterion for obtaining them as well.

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CROSSING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE: a basic kit for the adult learner

EGSA would like to introduce the Media Literacy blog’s first guest blogger: Anne Peoples, University of Ulster:


Now seems a good moment to reconsider the Digital Divide and how to equip adult learners to get across it.  We’re led to believe that the Divide is geographical and/ or generational but is this really the case?

Helene Blowers has identified the new Digital Divide (Reality Check 2.010), as one between those with the skills to find and use information and those without.  Among some of the skills she highlights are:

  • Knowing how to “think” about search
  • Knowing how to validate soft information
  • Knowing how to get information to travel to you instead of chasing it
  • Knowing where to find information in new “hot” channels

These skills are neither intuitive nor acquired by osmosis.  Their acquisition is critical to successful learning but they are undervalued and frequently ignored by teachers and students. Mark Moran in a recent posting highlighted growing concerns about children’s information illiteracy, indicating that so-called digital natives have in fact very limited information skills at their disposal.  What hope then for the adult learner’s information literacy skills in the digital age?

Social media can provide a solution and it is worth investing time to put together a learning toolkit, to support a personal learning environment that is fit for purpose.

So how to go about this?  These are my top 10 recommendations to include in a study skills programme for adult learners.  All are free.

  1. Learn about different tools.  Follow one of the many 23 Things courses independently.
  2. Use the online reference resources provided by Libraries NI, or any public library. Library members can access these from home.
  3. Improve search skills and don’t stick to Google. YouTube is the second biggest search engine, offering a vast array of tutorials and lectures on video.  Slideshare is also a useful source for unique content, as are Facebook’s Groups and Pages.
  4. Storing and keeping track of useful web pages is made much easier with Delicious, the social bookmarking site.  Delicious is also a useful search tool in itself.
  5. Personal start pages are a great way for individuals to access their most used social media tools and sites in one place. Try iGoogle  or Netvibes
  6. Get a Google account.  Access books and articles online on Google Books and Google Scholar.  Travel the world on Google Earth and Google Images
  7. Access educational content from universities, broadcasters, museums and individuals on iTunesU, by downloading podcasts from iTunes and check out free course material from Open Courseware and the OU’s OpenLearn .
  8. Read and follow relevant blogs. Subscribe by e-mail or via an RSS feed like Google Reader.
  9. Blogging reinforces learning and focuses thinking.  A private learning blog can record individual learning progress and form the basis of an e-portfolio.  Blogger is easy to set up and use.
  10. Filter information and cut out the timewasting sites. Use De Montfort University’s Information Source Evaluation Matrix, developed as a self-help evaluation tool for students to assess the quality of websites.

Learn how to use these tools and resources and the adult learner will be across the Digital Divide in no time

Anne Peoples


Profile: Anne Peoples has many years experience as a senior manager in public libraries in Northern Ireland, and is a Fellow of CILIP. Anne is currently a tutor in Library and Information Management at the University of Ulster, and jointly co-ordinates the modules on Improving Library Practice and Leadership in Libraries. She develops and delivers introductory courses on Web 2.0 to adult groups and at present is working with her local University of the Third Age. In 2008 she was appointed as a Trustee of the National Museums of Northern Ireland. She uses social media on a daily basis for her personal learning and professional development.

Microsoft College of the Future project

The Microsoft College of the Future project was jointly managed and developed by LSDA NI, Microsoft, and Southern Regional College.  The aim was to introduce lecturing staff to tools that would help with students’ learning.

The project used Microsoft’s Live@Edu software, which is a collection of Web 2.0 tools that enable tutor lead collaboration within a learning context.  Learners would use these tools to upload content to evidence assignments.

This is another good example of how Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), especially Web 2.0, is entering the classroom and the study process to benefit all involved.  However we must remember that there is a need to ensure ICT literacy among the learners because not only do they have to study their course they also have to master the digital tools to engage with and evidence that study.

Feedback from the staff and students participating in the project was positive, with recognition of the enabling effects of such tools.

The full article can be read in LSDA’s January briefing.

Using Social Media to Enhance Your Information Service

The Association of Information Managers (AIM) held an excellent seminar on Social Media after their AGM last Friday (12 Feb).  The seminar, entitled “Using Social Media to Enhance Your Information Service”, was delivered by Anne Peoples, tutor in Library and Information Management at the University of Ulster.

The presentation focused on how to strategically engage with Social Media and was followed by a workshop discussion on developing a social media policy for your organisation.  I’ve included Anne’s presentation below:

The presentation is comprehensive and I would encourage anyone interested in exploring Social Media to review it.  Anne also has a number of other presentations that she has kindly shared with everyone on her slideshare channel.

As many readers will know Social Media has been a very popular topic and over the past few years businesses and organisations have been using it to engage with their customers/clients.

Doing so however is sometimes not as straight forward as it may seem.  While there are many benefits, there are also risks due to the transparent nature of the medium i.e. what is said online is there for all to see.  For this reason it is very important to have a strategy and relevant policies in place.

Web 2.0 in teaching and learning

Web 2.0 and social media are everywhere on the internet and the idea of sharing and collaborating now seems to be the norm.  We know it is used extensively by media literate internet users; is constantly in the news; and has all sizes of organisations scrambling to embrace it as a means of connecting with their clients and customers.

One area of particular interest, to this blog, is web 2.0 and social media within learning.  In a previous post I had drawn your attention to its use within the classroom and last week a colleague of mine discovered the work of John Larkin.  He has created a great resource on Web 2.0 in teaching and learning that could form the basis of many workshops in the classroom.

“John Larkin is an educator and instructional designer presently living in Australia. He has a rich experience in the development and application of educational technologies in primary, secondary, tertiary and corporate educational fields.
About John

One of the benefits of John’s work is that he has made it available under a Creative Commons licence (some rights reserved) so others can share it.  If you believe his work will be of benefit to you it may be worth sending him a quick email.

10 Rules for Social Media in Corporate Communication

The Quadriga University of Applied Sciences are organising a conference in Amsterdam on the 22/23 Oct on Web 2.0 and social media.  The conference entitled ‘Online Communication: Decoding the Digital Revolution – Trends and Tools in Corporate Communication’ will showcase the necessary toolkit to deal with online communication methods and social media.

Probably most of us will not be fortunate enough to attend what appears to be a very good conference but we can benefit from the 10 rules for social media they have made available on the conference website along with the agenda etc.

I’ve summarised these below but would encourage you to read them in full on their website.

1-Question
… before you do engage in Social Media, make sure to question every step and tool at least twice and make sure one of those is through the glass of prospective users.

2-Prepare
Deal with your issues before engaging in online conversations, prepare your answers to difficult questions and make sure to train all of your employees who will be entering the Web 2.0 world in your company’s name in these same issues.

3-Plan
… it is important to have a strategy that you can refer to, and pre-defined goals that can help you decide, at any given moment, which action (including non-action) would be most effective.

4-Monitor
The fact that you … have only decided to go for a blog … does not mean that you don’t have to monitor all other Social Media websites.

5-Be authentic
Participation in Social Media requires you to make the best out of your social skills and, even if you are doing for your company, spice it up with a bit of the real you.

6-Dont be all 1.0 about it
If you don’t have the time to read what others are writing, react, reply and link relevant content, then you are not engaging in a conversation, you are just wasting your time.

7-React /Don’t React
… being a part of a conversation does not mean you have to react every single time.

8-Kiss and Tell
Links and recommendations are the currency in social media. But be a wise linker: if you link to everything, your readers will stop following your links, rendering them worthless.

9-Be coherent
The goals of your social media strategy must match the goals of your overall communication strategy, both internally and externally.

10-Evaluate
Finally, keep evaluating how you are doing.

Embracing social media is clearly something many companies recognise as very important and therefore wish to adopt the correct approach before they start conversations with their customers.  It is therefore in everyone’s interest that more people (and potential customers) become media literate.

Ofcom Poll: What do you think of blogs?

Ofcom are currently running a poll to capture your view on blogging. (What is blogging?)

The Poll Question: What do you think of blogs? Are they:

  • The way forward for journalism
  • Hit and miss – some are great, some less so
  • Self-opinionated, amateurish twaddle

To vote, you can find the poll on the lower right hand column of the Ofcom home page.

So far journalism is in the lead with 50% of the vote.

Previous polls include: (Ofcom poll archive)

  • How do you get your breaking news?  “News Websites” – 39% of the vote
  • When was TV’s golden age?  “The 80s” – 29% of the vote
  • Which communication service could you not live without?  “Internet” – 62% of the vote

Clearly digital participantion is becoming very important in our lives.