Digital Skills for All

Definition of Digital Skills 0

Definition of Digital Skills

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Blog, Information Technology Revolution

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Digital Skills for All


Digital skills draws its roots from stratified and complex convergence of several key skills concepts, namely IT literacy, ICT literacy, digital literacy, digital competence, ICT fluency, computer literacy, ICT skills, e-Skills, technological literacy, media literacy, information literacy, e-literacy, generic skills, 21st century skills, multi-literacies, and new literacies. Glister is credited with the widespread of use of the term digital literacy, which he described as the: ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers. Digital skill is defined as

Digital skills involve the knowledge and ability to determine information needs from digital technology sources, and to appropriately use digital tools and facilities to input, access, organize, integrate and assess digital resources as well as to construct new knowledge, create media expressions and communicate with others. Digital skills include both technical skills associated with understanding and using digital systems, tools, and applications, as well as information processing skills, which are the cognitive underpinnings of digital proficiency (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada).

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Digital Skills Framework for the Canadian Workforce 0

Digital Skills Framework for the Canadian Workforce

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Blog, Information Technology Revolution

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Digital Skills for All


In light of the changing skills requirements regarding the use of digital technology, the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) commissioned a study (Chinien & Boutin, 2011) to develop and validate a digital skills framework for generic users of digital technology in the Canadian workplace. This work was done to support HRSDC’s current efforts to update the department‘s Essential Skills Framework and to re-examine the existing concept on computer use as one of the nine essential skills, to determine its continued relevance and to make the necessary adjustments in order to more fully reflect the changing skills needs of Canada‘s digital, knowledge-based economy.

Insight gained from a national and international review of various key digital concepts and major frameworks, buttressed by HRSDC’s research in foundational and transversal skills, were used as building blocks for developing the framework (Figure 1). As shown, digital skill is not depicted as a new skill concept, but rather a multifaceted concept which encapsulates four skill clusters: Digital Technical Skills; Digital Information Processing Skills; Foundational Skills; and Transversal Skills. These four skills clusters and their corresponding definitions were grouped together structurally into a digital skills framework. The HRSDC essential skills concepts provide the foundational skills to be able to work with digital technology generally, as well as the essential skills that support and grow with the development of proficiency in technology use – in an ongoing (transversal) way. In addition, the framework breaks down those underlying skills that manifest themselves more particularly when working with digital technology, including both digital technical skills and digital information processing skills.

Figure 1: Digital Skills Framework for Canadian Workers 

Digital Information Processing Skills

Communicate information Share digital information with others at work
Create information Generate new digital contents and knowledge by organizing, integrating, adapting, and applying digital information
Apply information Use information of various digital formats effectively and efficiently to perform job tasks
Assess information Judge the quality, relevance, usefulness, validity, and applicability of digital information
Integrate information Interpret, analyze, summarize, compare and contrast, combine, repurpose, and represent digital information
Organize information Decode, restructure, and protect digital information
Access information Locate, select, and retrieve digital information
Determine information needs Recognize, define, and articulate digital information needs
Input information Identify, recognize, record, and store digital information to facilitate retrieval and use

Transversal Skills

Thinking / Problem-Solving

Continuous Learning/

Working with Others

Transversal skills are the desirable broadly transferable, non-technical skills, which when combined with specific occupational/technical skills, contribute to the optimization of human performance at work.





Digital Technical Skills

Use Digital Systems and ToolsUse computers and other hardware to perform job tasks
Use Software ApplicationsSelect and use appropriate software to perform job tasks
Apply Security Measures in Digital EnvironmentsProtect hardware, software applications, data, and personal information

Foundational Skills

Reading, Writing, Oral Communication, Document Use, Numeracy

Foundation skills refer to gateway basic literacy and numeracy skills components for which there is often or always a minimum proficiency level required before someone can engage with digital technology and demonstrate or develop the more precise digital information processing skills.


The Canadian Digital Skills Framework includes a key set of information processing skills that Canadian workers can acquire to deploy digital skills effectively and efficiently. These information processing skills are: (Chinien & Boutin, 2011, pp. 2-3).

  • Create information: Generate new digital contents and knowledge by organizing, integrating, adapting, and applying digital information;
  • Apply information: Use information of various digital formats effectively and efficiently to perform job tasks;
  • Assess information: Judge the quality, relevance, usefulness, validity, and applicability of digital information;
  • Integrate information: Interpret, analyze, summarize, compare and contrast, combine, repurpose, and represent digital information;
  • Organize information: Decode, restructure, and protect digital information;
  • Access information: Locate, select, and retrieve digital information;
  • Determine information needs: Recognize, define, and articulate digital information needs; and
  • Input information: Identify, recognize, record, and store digital information to facilitate retrieval and use.


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Human-Information Interaction 0

Human-Information Interaction

Posted by on Dec 7, 2013 in Blog, Human Computer Information Interaction and Information Processing

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Digital Skills for All

Human-Information Interaction

The concept of information processing has move beyond the context of text to image and screen literacy. Eshet-Alkalai has argued that in current digital environments to which people are exposed:

a large flux of stimuli that “bombard” their cognition in real-time, at very high speed and in random temporal and spatial distribution. In all these situations the key to the users’ successful performance is their ability to process these stimuli effectively by splitting their attention to different places in the monitor, reacting to simultaneous stimuli, executing different tasks simultaneously (multi-tasking), rapidly changing their angle of view and perspective of the environment, processing multiple representations of information, and responding to feedback that appears in real-time. And above all – they have to quickly and effectively synchronize the chaotic multimedia stimuli into one coherent action or body of knowledge (Eshet-Alkalai, 2007, p. 57).

Eshet-Alkalai has expanded the concept of digital literacy to include not only photo-visual thinking, reproduction thinking, non-linear thinking, information thinking, and social-emotional thinking, but also real-time thinking skills (Eshet-Alkalai, 2007).

Given the significant importance of information for performing the great majority of occupations, the computer is increasingly becoming a means to an end. As a consequence there is a reassessment of Human-Computer Interaction as an area of research and development. The term Human-Information Interaction (HII) has already been used by researchers from the field of Library and Information Science. The emphasis is on User Experience, that is, how humans interact with information rather than with the computer (Jones, Pirolli, Card, Fidel, Gershon, Morville, Nardi, & Russell, 2006).

Increased demands are being placed on users of digital tools and technologies for processing large amounts of information quickly, effectively, and efficiently. People have gradually realized that working with digital systems and tools to perform most job tasks involves complex cognitive and metacognitive skills, over and above the basic ICT skills necessary for operating a computer. In the information society, information and strategic internet skills will determine people’s ability to succeed in the labour market and in society. Some people may not have the necessary cognitive information processing skills to properly interact with the digital systems and tools and struggle to try to acquire these skills (Deursen & Dijk, 2010). The digital divide, which was once essentially rooted in physical access to technology, has evolved into a widening divide that is focused on skills deficiencies in using technology (Chinien & Boutin, 2011, Deursen & Dijk, 2010). Chinien & Boutin have coined the term “cognitive divide” to describe this information processing skills deficit (Chinien & Boutin, 2003). After studying the internet skills of the Dutch population, researchers from the University of Twente in the Netherlands concluded that due to the digital skills gap: “large parts of the population will be excluded from actual and effective internet use. This especially goes for less educated populations. While these groups have always been socially disadvantaged, their life chances are now further in danger. They are increasingly excluded from the benefits the internet now has to offer” (Deursen & Dijk, 2010, p. 908). The researchers expressed some doubt as to whether this cognitive skills divide can be closed at all.

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