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About Digital and Information Literacy

At the OU, digital and information literacy refers to the skills of OU students using digital technologies to achieve personal, study, and work-related goals. Digital literacy includes the ability to find and use information (otherwise known as information literacy) but goes beyond this to encompass communication, collaboration and teamwork, social awareness in the digital environment, understanding of e-safety and creation of new information; all underpinned by critical thinking and evaluation.

We created this framework for qualification and module teams in 2010, to support students’ skills development. In 2020, we refreshed it, to reflect changes in employer expectations of graduates, as well as the latest thinking in HE about digital skills. We have used Jisc’s digital capabilities framework to inform this refresh, which sets out the kinds of skills the sector should now consider developing in students and staff. A range of stakeholders from across the OU have been involved in supporting the various stages of development of the framework.

How to use the framework

The purpose of the framework is to provide a common reference point for module, programme and qualification teams to use in planning and measuring students’ progression across different digital skills areas. It enables appropriate learning outcomes for digital and information literacy to be integrated into qualification pathways, and activities meeting those outcomes to be created and embedded into module materials.

Some notes on our approach

Baseline ICT skills are not included in detail in this framework but they are a key enabler for the skills articulated here, and may be covered in other ways, for example, through engagement with the Employability Framework, as part of student induction, or using other resources alongside module study.

‘Digital wellbeing’ (in understand and engage) is a new area for this version of the framework that is key within the Jisc digital capabilities framework and relevant to the university’s current focus on mental health. Looking after our own wellbeing is often about our personality traits and habits. We do however have a responsibility to provide the environment and model and encourage those habits and behaviours which will enable students to look after their own digital wellbeing.

We have taken a ‘best fit’ approach to where skills sit within the overall headings of the framework, because digital skills are closely linked to each other and often overlap. This means that some skills might not be obviously in one area of the framework but will be in another.

We have tried to avoid too much repetition across the levels: for example, at higher levels students should already be able to demonstrate the outcomes at lower levels of study.

We have included examples of some specific tools and platforms where we think they add context and help explain the skills; tools change, so we have avoided giving prescriptive lists that will date quickly.

Your academic liaison librarian will provide advice and mediate the use of the framework throughout the learning design and course production process. The aim is always to start conversations about student skills development, rather than provide a prescriptive ‘tick list’ . Please interpret the framework flexibly according to the discipline or level, and the qualification or module learning design, focussing on the required learning outcomes.

Developing digital and information literacy skills supports the university’s employability strategy and framework, for example, by developing collaborative and team-working skills, effective research and information handling skills, and communication / self-presentation in a virtual environment. The framework is not intended for use directly with students but will help with the wording of learning outcomes, which ultimately helps students to articulate their skills. Students should be encouraged to record and articulate the value of their digital and information literacy skills and to link them to their personal and / or career goals.

How is it structured?

This website allows you to view the Framework in different ways. View all allows you to view the entire Framework. The Framework is divided into five broad skills areas, which can be viewed individually:

There are labels within each overall skill area (e.g. ‘Maintain digital wellbeing’ in ‘Understand and engage’) as well as summaries. These aim to explain the skills, and help highlight progression, articulating different skills or the degree of sophistication a student might demonstrate as they progress through the levels of study. [this will change if we decide to present the website in a different way]. We have also included ‘real’ examples of activities to show how students might develop skills during their studies.

Contact us

For further information, please contact the OU Library Helpdesk