Learning, digital literacy and digital skills

How difficult could it be taking an online course? “It depends”, you say, and I agree and wonder further what is the most challenging for online learning:  learner’s personality, learner’s digital or general skills, co-learners’ personalities and skills, teacher related factors, etc. What is the difference between sitting and discussing various topics face-to-face with your studymates or having online meetings/chats/forums with them? Is it really time-consuming to learn online compared to spending hours in the library or working with paper-based materials?

Nowadays, students are supposed to extensively use available digital tools and various digital skills in their study process. We provide them with eMaterials, links to different digital sources & applets, expecting to improve their learning. Yet the question is Why the millennials (Generation Y) equipped with the latest digital facilities often lack digital literacy? Why digital skills are not good enough?

When teaching Statistics, we emphasize the importance of statistical literacy: a person’s ability to be an effective data consumer, e.g., to interpret, critically evaluate, and communicate about statistical information and messages (Gal, 2002). Though, the statistics education often focuses on the procedural and computational aspects of statistics rather than on developing conceptual understanding (Shaughnessy, 2007).
Digital literacy (DL) is also about understanding, for example to understand how to make Google search effective for a specific purpose and being able to evaluate the adequacy and authenticity of the search results. Digital skills (DS) is about knowing, for example how to use Google search (Pewhairangi, 2016).

During ONL course I hope to get a number of new digital skills that I can use in my teaching in order to help students to become statistically and digitally literate 🙂 The latter is quite challenging task, since improving the digital literacy is multifaceted problem which can be context dependent and lack a universal solution.

According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself (Megginson, 1963). So, ONL191 offers us a wonderful opportunity not only to
acquiring various digital skills but also to approach the Millennials (Generation Y) using contemporary digital tools in order to arouse their curiosity for subject (in my case Statistics) and make digital literacy relevant to them.




1. Gal, Iddo. (2002). Adults’ Statistical Literacy: Meanings, Components,
Responsibilities, International Statistical Review, 70 (1), 1-25.

2. Megginson, L.C. (1963). Lessons from Europe for American Business, Southwestern Social Science Quarterly, 44 (1), 3-13.

3. Sally Pewhairangi (2016). “Digital Skills Are Not the Same as Digital
Literacy”. Blog post. 8 February 2016 – 3:13pm. 

4. Shaughnessy, J. M. (2007). Research on statistics learning and reasoning. In F.
K. Lester Jr (Ed.), Second Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and
Learning (pp. 957-1009).
Reston: The National Council of Teachers of


3 reaktioner till “Learning, digital literacy and digital skills

  1. Thank you for your insightful comments regarding digital literacy and how we perhaps see a lack of these skills in the younger generations (the so-called digital natives). Building literacy is a slow process, and just as you point out in regard to statistics, conceptual understanding is crucial. Too often we focus on tools, apps, and gadgets instead of thinking about what they do to us as individuals and our relationships with others, be it in educational, academic or social contexts. It would be interesting to know your thoughts on this now, when the ONL course has proceded a bit.


    1. Hi Tore and thanks for your comment. It is very interesting to discuss a digital literacy since there is a need and wish to be heard. To be able to find a proper channel ( FB, twitter, Youtube) is a challenge not just from a technical point of view but also strategical: what, when, where do I want to say to others, and how to ensure that my audience will understand my message. How to find time and organize an effective communication?… This is the question



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