The coming of age of digital literacy skills

This week, I attended a webinar entitled Skills First: Language, Literacy and Numeracy, presented by Jenni Oldfield on behalf on the VET Development Centre. The focus was on digital literacy skills and the introduction of the Digital Literacy Skills Framework (DLSF), released this April (and produced by Philippa McLean, Jenni Oldfield and Adrian Stephens for the Australian government’s Department of Education, Skills and Employment).

Here are some of my notes with my thoughts below each point.

  • A Pre-Training Review (PTR) should take into account a learner’s digital capability

What should be determined in PTRs has always been confusing for me. The Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 require RTOs to undertake an initial assessment of learner skills and knowledge, but considering the array of skills in foundation skills, e.g. the five core skills of the ACSF and the three clustered skills of the CSfW, three questions always come to my mind:

  1. How does an RTO determine all of them?
  2. How does an RTO determine them in a meaningful way?
  3. How does an RTO ensure the results are reliable and accurate?

Not that I am saying digital literacy levels shouldn’t be determined, not at all, but these three questions still apply.

  • Literacy and numeracy (LN) levels on Training and Assessment Strategies are what learners would need to have to complete their courses – they are not entry levels – learners with levels lower than requirement can be accepted, but with support

Yes, that’s where my role primarily comes in – providing support to learners whose foundation skills levels are lower than what are needed to successfully complete their courses.

  • It would probably be best to direct learners with two LN levels below requirement to an LN development program rather than the program they wish to enrol in

Increasing two levels across the span of one VET program is a large increase, especially considering many programs often start assessments within the first few weeks.

  • LN initial assessment tools need to include the Principles of Assessment and Rules of Evidence

Oh yes – big questions around that, not just the three I have written above.

  • The Digital Literacy Skills Framework (DLSF) was created to work within the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF) (with digital literacy as the sixth skill)

So I guess here is where digital literacy comes of age in Australian VET. It was included as an LN component of foundation skill in the 2012 National Foundation Skills Strategy for Adults, it is included as part of the Foundation Skills Training Package and it was mentioned in The Joyce Review (as well as industry reports), but now it has a framework which practitioners can work with. Great.

Besides, I love the ACSF, and having the DLSF match it in design and content would be much more user-friendly than having a whole new framework that doesn’t align.

  • The DLSF was created for the Foundation Skills for Your Future program but can be used for other VET courses

Good, as per the ACSF. I might even need it to see what my level is and what professional development I need!

  • The ACSF, Pre-Level 1 and the DLSF will eventually be combined into one document, once funding is provided to do that

One document – great. Bring on the funding.

  • Only levels Pre-1, 1, 2 and 3 are included in the DLSF because that is all that was funded for, and if more funding is provided in the future, then levels 4 and 5 will be added

Come on, bring on the funding!

  • Jenni hopes that Skills Service Providers will include digital literacy skills as explicit foundation skills in Units of Competency in the same way that skills from the ACSF and CSfW are

Clarity works for me … and having digital literacy skill levels in Units of Competency will (hopefully) make them become included in Training and Assessment Strategies … and, therefore, make them more obvious for trainers to include in training and assessment … and better enable foundation skills support teachers to support learners.