Education and Information Technologies

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 655–679 | Cite as

Digital competence – an emergent boundary concept for policy and educational research

  • Liisa Ilomäki
  • Sami Paavola
  • Minna Lakkala
  • Anna Kantosalo
Article

Abstract

Digital competence is an evolving concept related to the development of digital technology and the political aims and expectations of citizenship in a knowledge society. It is regarded as a core competence in policy papers; in educational research it is not yet a standardized concept. We suggest that it is a useful boundary concept, which can be used in various contexts. For this study, we analysed 76 educational research articles in which digital competence, described by different terms, was investigated. As a result, we found that digital competence consists of a variety of skills and competences, and its scope is wide, as is its background: from media studies and computer science to library and literacy studies. In the article review, we found a total of 34 terms that had used to describe the digital technology related skills and competences; the most often used terms were digital literacy, new literacies, multiliteracy and media literacy, each with somewhat different focus. We suggest that digital competence is defined as consisting of (1) technical competence, (2) the ability to use digital technologies in a meaningful way for working, studying and in everyday life, (3) the ability to evaluate digital technologies critically, and (4) motivation to participate and commit in the digital culture.

Keywords

Digital competence Digital skill School Pupil Student 

References

  1. Adeyemon, E. (2009). Integrating digital literacies into outreach services for underserved youth populations. Reference Librarian, 50(1), 85–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ala-Mutka, K. (2011). Mapping digital competence: Towards a conceptual understanding. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Retrieved September 30, 2012 from http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC67075_TN.pdf.Google Scholar
  3. Ala-Mutka, K., Punie, Y., & Redecker, C. (2008). Digital competence for Lifelong Learning. Luxemburg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. Retrieved January 11, 2012 from http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC48708.TN.pdf.Google Scholar
  4. Annetta, L., Cheng, M., & Holmes, S. (2010). Assessing twenty-first century skills through a teacher created video game for high school biology students. Research in Science & Technological Education, 8(2), 101–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Armitage, A., & Keeble-Ramsay, D. (2009). The rapid structured literature review as a research strategy. US-China Education Review, 6(4), 27–38.Google Scholar
  6. Arnone, M. & Reynolds, R. (2009). Empirical support for the integration of dispositions in action and multiple literacies into AASL’s standards for the 21st century learner. School Library Media Research. Retrieved November 15, 2013 from http://www.ala.org/aasl/aaslpubsandjournals/slmrb/slmrcontents/volume12/arnone_reynolds.
  7. Aviram, R., & Eshet-Alkalai, Y. (2006). Towards a theory of digital literacy: Three scenarios for the next steps. European Journal of Open Distance E-Learning, 1. Retrieved January 11, 2012 from http://www.eurodl.org/?p = archives&year = 2006&halfyear = 1&article = 223.
  8. Aznar, V., & González, J. (2010). Interactive resources in secondary education: Design and application. International Journal of Learning, 17(2), 181–194.Google Scholar
  9. Baird, C., & Henninger, M. (2011). Serious play, serious problems: Issues with eBook applications. Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 3(2), 1–17.Google Scholar
  10. Bazalgette C. (2008). A Stitch in Time: Skills for the New Literacacy. English in Education 34(1), 42–49. doi:10.1111/j.1754-8845.2000.tb00569.x.
  11. Benson, S. (2008). A restart of what language arts is: Bringing multimodal assignments into secondary language arts. Journal of Advanced Academics, 19(4), 634–674.Google Scholar
  12. Beqiri, E. (2010). ICT and E-learning literacy as an important component for the new competency-based curriculum framework in Kosovo. Journal of Research in Educational Sciences, 1(1), 7–21.Google Scholar
  13. Braasch, J. L. G., Lawless, K. A., Goldman, S. R., Manning, F. H., Gomez, K. W., & MacLeod, S. M. (2009). Evaluating search results: An empirical analysis of middle school students’ use of source attributes to select useful sources. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 41(1), 63–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brand-Gruwel, S., Wopereis, I. G. J. H., & Vermetten, Y. (2005). Information problem solving by experts and novices: Analysis of a complex cognitive skill. Computers in Human Behavior, 21, 487–508.Google Scholar
  15. Brass, J. (2008). Local knowledge and digital movie composing in an after-school literacy program. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 51(6), 464–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bulfin, S., & North, S. (2007). Negotiating digital literacy practices across school and home: Case studies of young people in Australia. Language & Education: An International Journal, 21(3), 247–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Burnett, C., Dickinson, P., Myers, J., & Merchant, G. (2006). Digital connections: Transforming literacy in the primary school. Cambridge Journal of Education, 36(1), 11–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Burns, L. D. (2008). Relevance, new literacies, & pragmatic research for middle grades education. Middle Grades Research Journal, 3(3), 1–28.Google Scholar
  19. Capuano, M., & Knoderer, T. (2006). Twenty-first century learning in school systems: The case of the metropolitan school district of Lawrence Township, Indianapolis, Indiana. New Directions for Youth Development, 2006(110), 113–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Carrington, V. (2005). The uncanny, digital texts and literacy. Language and Education, 19, 467–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Coiro, J., & Dobler, E. (2007). Exploring the online reading comprehension strategies used by sixth-grade skilled readers to search for and locate information on the internet. Reading Research Quarterly, 42(2), 214–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Delfino, M. (2011). Against BibliOblivion: How modernize scribes digitized an old book. Computers & Education, 57, 2145–2155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Domine, V. (2011). The Coming of Age of Media Literacy. Journal of Media Literacy Education, 3(1) 8–10.Google Scholar
  24. EC (2010) = European Commission (2010). A Digital Agenda for Europe. Brussels: Author. Retrieved June 1, 2012 from http://eurlex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri = COM:2010:0245: FIN:EN: PDF.
  25. Engeström, Y., Pasanen, A., Toiviainen, H., & Haavisto, V. (2006). Expansive learning as collaborative concept formation at work. In K. Yamazumi, Y. Engeström, & H. Daniels (Eds.), New learning challenges: Going beyond the Industrial Age system of school and work (pp. 47–77). Osaka: Kansai University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Erstad, O. (2005). Digital kompetanse i skolen (Digital literacy in the school). Oslo: University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Erstad, O. (2006). A new direction? digital literacy, student participation and curriculum reform in Norway. Education & Information Technologies, 11, 415–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Erstad, O. (2010). Educating the digital generation. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 1, 56–70.Google Scholar
  29. Eshet-Alkali, Y., & Amichai-Hamburger, Y. (2004). Experiments in digital literacy. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7(4), 421–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Eurydice (2011). Key Data on Learning and Innovation through ICT at School in Europe 2011. European Commission. Retrived May 29, 2012 from http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/documents/key_data_series/129EN.pdf.
  31. Ferrari, A. (2012). Digital Competence in Practice: An Analysis of Frameworks. JRC Technical Reports. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.Google Scholar
  32. Fink, A. (2010). Conducting research literature reviews. from the Internet to paper. Sage: Los Angeles.Google Scholar
  33. Gansmø, H. (2009). Fun for all = digital competence for all? Learning Media and Technology, 34(4), 351–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Glewa, M., & Bogan, M. B. (2007). Improving children’s literacy while promoting digital fluency through the use of blog’s in the classroom: Surviving the hurricane. Journal of Literacy & Technology, 8(1), 40–48.Google Scholar
  35. Gomez, M. L., Schieble, M., Curwood, J. S., & Hassett, D. (2010). Technology, learning and instruction: Distributed cognition in the secondary English classroom. Literacy, 44(1), 20–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Graff, J. M., & Labbo, L. (2009). Globilization & immigration: Aligning education with shifting demographics. Journal of Reading Education, 35(1), 21–30.Google Scholar
  37. Gudmundsdottir, G.B. (2010). From digital divide to digital equity: Learners’ ICT competence in four primary schools in Cape Town, South Africa. International Journal of Education & Development using Information & Communication Technology, 6(2), 1–22.Google Scholar
  38. Greenhow, C., Walker, J. D., & Kim, S. (2009). Millennial learners and net-savvy teens? examining internet use among low-income students. Journal of Computing in Teacher Education, 26(2), 63–68.Google Scholar
  39. Hagood, M. C., Provost, M. C., Skinner, E. N., & Egelson, P. E. (2008). Teachers’ & students’ literacy performance in & engagement with new literacies strategies in underperforming middle schools. Middle Grades Research Journal, 3(3), 57–95.Google Scholar
  40. Hague, C., & Williamson, B. (2009). Digital participation, digital literacy and school subjects. A review of the politicies, literature and evidence. Bristol: Futurelab. Retrieved January 11, 2012, from http://archive.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/lit_reviews/DigitalParticipation.pdf.Google Scholar
  41. Hamilton, B. J. (2009). Transforming information literacy for nowgen students. Knowledge Quest, 37(5), 48–53.Google Scholar
  42. Haras, C. (2011). Information behaviors of Latinos attending high school in East Los Angeles. Library & Information Science Research, 33(1), 34–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Hohlfeld, T. N., Ritzhaupt, A. D., & Barron, A. E. (2010). Development and validation of the student tool for technology literacy (ST2L). Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(4), 361–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Hug, T. (2011). Visual competence, media literacy and “new literacies” - conceptual considerations in a plural discursive landscape. Seminar Net: Media, Technology & Life-Long Learning, 7(1), 1–17.MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  45. Hulleman, C., Schrager, S., Bodmann, S., & Harackiewicz, J. (2010). A meta-analytic review of achievement goal measures: Different labels for the same constructs or different constructs with similar labels? Psychological Bulletin, 136(3), 422–449.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Hutchison, A., & Henry, L. A. (2010). Internet use and online literacy among middle grade students at risk of dropping out of school. Middle Grades Research Journal, 5(2), 61–75.Google Scholar
  47. Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, P., Robinson, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Chicago: The John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved January 11, 2012, from http://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7 days/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER. PDF.
  48. Jones-Kavalier, B., & Flannigan, S. L. (2008). Connecting the digital dots: Literacy of the 21st century. Teacher Librarian, 35(3), 13–16.Google Scholar
  49. Kiili, C., Laurinen, L., & Marttunen, M. (2009). Skillful Internet reader is metacognitively competent. In W. Leo Tan & R. Subramaniam (Eds.), Handbook of research on new media literacy at the K-12 Level: Issues and challenges (Vol. II, pp. 654–668). Singapore: Information Science Reference.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Kitson, L. (2011). Tween here and there, transitioning from the early years to the middle years: Exploring continuities and discontinuities in a multiliterate environment. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 19(1), 9–17.MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  51. Korthagen, F. (2004). In search of the essence of a good teacher: Towards a more holistic approach in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, 77–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Krumsvik, R. (2008). Situated learning and teachers’ digital competence. Education & Information Technologies, 13(4), 279–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Krumsvik, R. (2009). Situated learning in the networked society and the digitised school. European Journal of Teacher Education, 32(2), 167–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Labbo, L. D. (2006). Literacy pedagogy and computer technologies: Toward solving the puzzle of current and future classroom practices. Australian Journal of Language & Literacy, 29(3), 199–209.Google Scholar
  55. Lebens, M., Graff, M., & Mayer, P. (2009). Access, attitudes and the digital divide: Children’s attitudes towards computers in a technology-rich environment. Educational Media International, 46(3), 255–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Lee, A. Y. L. (2010). Media education: Definitions, approaches and development around the globe. New Horizons in Education, 58(3), 1–13.Google Scholar
  57. Leu, D., Kinzer, C., Coiro, J., & Cammack, D. (2004). Toward a theory of new literacies emerging from the internet and other information and communication technologies. In R. Ruddell & N. Unrau (Eds.), Theoretical models and processes of reading (5th ed., pp. 1570–1613). Newark: International Reading Association.Google Scholar
  58. Leverenz, C. (2008). Remediating writing program administration. WPA: Writing Program Administration – Journal of the Council of Writing Program Administrators, 32(1), 37–56.Google Scholar
  59. Levy, R. (2009). ‘You have to understand words … but not read them’: Young children becoming readers in a digital age. Journal of Research in Reading, 32(1), 75–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Lin, C.-C., & Polaniecki, S. (2008). From media consumption to media production: Applications of YouTube in an eighth-grade video documentary project. Journal of Visual Literacy, 28(1), 92–107.Google Scholar
  61. Loertscher, D. (2008). Information literacy: 20 years later. Teacher Librarian, 35(5), 42–43.Google Scholar
  62. Lotherington, H., & Ronda, N. S. (2009). Gaming geography: Educational games and literacy development in the grade 4 classroom. Canadian Journal of Learning & Technology, 35(3), 4.Google Scholar
  63. Löwy, I. (1992). The strenght of loose concepts – boundary concepts. Federative experimental strategies and disciplinary growth. The case of immunology. History of Science, 30(4), 371–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. McLean, C. A. (2010). A space called home: An immigrant adolescent’s digital literacy practices. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(1), 13–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Mendelovits, J. (Chair) (2013, August). Assessing digital competence in national and international contexts. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, Münich, Germany.Google Scholar
  66. Meneses, J., & Mominó, J. M. (2010). Putting digital literacy in practice: How schools contribute to digital inclusion in the network society. Information Society, 26(3), 197–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Merchant, G. (2007). Writing the future in the digital age. Literacy, 41, 118–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Miettinen, R. (2013). Innovation, human capabilities and democracy. Towards an enabling welfare state. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Moran, J., Ferdig, R., Pearson, P., Wardrop, J., & Blomeyer, R. (2008). Technology and reading performance in the middle-school grades: A meta-analysis with recommendations for policy and practice. Journal of Literacy Research, 40(1), 6–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Mullen, R., & Wedwick, L. (2008). Avoiding the digital abyss: Getting started in the classroom with YouTube, digital stories, and blogs. Clearing House, 82(2), 66–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Nat Turner, K. C. (2011). “Rap universal”: Using multimodal media production to develop ICT literacies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(8), 613–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. National Board of Education (2011). Osaaminen ja sivistys 2020 – Opetushallituksen strategia. [Competence and education 2020 – Strategy for National Board of Education.] Helsinki: Opetushallitus. Retrieved January 3, 2012, from http://www.oph.fi/download/133481_osaaminen_ja_sivistys_2020.pdf.
  73. O’Brien, D., & Scharber, C. (2008). Digital literacies go to school: Potholes and possibilities. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 52(1), 66–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. O’Brien, D., Beach, R., & Scharber, C. (2007). “Struggling” middle schoolers: Engagement and literate competence in a reading writing intervention class. Reading Psychology, 28(1), 51–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Papadopoulou, S., & Ioannis, S. (2010). The emergence of digital storytelling and multimedia technology in improving Greek language teaching and learning: Challenges versus limitations. Sino-US English Teaching, 7(4), 1–14.Google Scholar
  76. Pfannenstiel, A. N. (2010). Digital literacies and academic integrity. International Journal for Educational Integrity, 6(2), 41–49.Google Scholar
  77. Poore, M. (2011). Digital literacy: Human flourishing and collective intelligence in a knowledge society. Australian Journal of Language & Literacy, 34(2), 20–26.MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  78. Punie, Y. (2007). Learning spaces: an ICT-enabled model of future learning in the knowledge-based Society. European Journal of Education, 42, 185–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Ranker, J. (2008). Making meaning on the screen: Digital video production about the Dominican republic. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 51(5), 410–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Ryberg, T., & Dirckinck-Holmfeld, L. (2008). Power Users and patchworking - an analytical approach to critical studies of young people’s learning with digital media. Educational Media International, 45(3), 143–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Schoen, L. T., & Teddlie, C. (2008). A new model of school culture: A response to a call for conceptual clarity. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 19(2), 129–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Sefton-Green, J., Nixon, H., & Erstad, O. (2009). Reviewing approaches and perspectives on “Digital literacy”. Pedagogies, 4(2), 107–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Selwyn, N., & Husen, O. (2010). The educational benefits of technological competence: an investigation of students’ perceptions. Evaluation & Research in Education, 23(2), 137–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Star, S. L., & Griesemer, J. (1989). Institutional ecology, ‘Translations’, and Boundary objects: Amateurs and professionals on Berkeley’s museum of vertebrate zoology. Social Studies of Science, 19, 387–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Steinkuehler, C. (2010). Digital literacies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(1), 61–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Taranto, G., Dalbon, M., & Gaetano, J. (2011). Academic social networking brings Web 2.0 technologies to the middle grades. Middle School Journal, 42(5), 12–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Tchibozo, G. (2010). Emergence and outlook of competence-based education in European education systems: An overview. Education, Knowledge & Economy, 4(3), 193–205.Google Scholar
  88. The New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2005). The definition and selection of key competencies. Executive summary. The DeSeCo Project. (n.p.): Author. Retrieved January 11, 2011, from http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/47/61/35070367.pdf.
  90. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2010). Are the New Millenium Learners Making the Grade? Technology use and educational performance in PISA. Paris, France: OECD Publishing.Google Scholar
  91. Tierney, R., Bond, E., & Bresler, J. (2006). Examining literate lives as students engage with multiple literacies. Theory Into Practice, 45(4), 359–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Union, E. (2010). 2010 joint progress report of the council and the commission on the implementation of the ‘education and training 2010 work programme’. Official Journal of the European Union, C, 117. Retrieved January 11, 2012 from http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri = OJ:C:2010:117:0001:0007:EN: PDF.
  93. van Deursen, A. J. A. M., & van Dijk, J. A. G. M. (2009). Using the internet: Skill related problems in users’ online behavior. Interacting with Computers, 21(5), 393–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Vasudevan, L. (2006). Looking for angels: Knowing adolescents by engaging with their multimodal literacy practices. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(4), 252–256.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Walsh, M. (2008). Worlds have collided and modes have merged: Classroom evidence of changed literacy practices. Literacy, 42(2), 101–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Weeks, P., Boxma, A., & Maxwell, N. (2009). Does a “Flat World” level the playing field? International Journal of Learning, 16(11), 557–567.Google Scholar
  97. Westera, W. (2001). Competences in education: A confusion of tongues. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 33(1), 75–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liisa Ilomäki
    • 1
  • Sami Paavola
    • 1
  • Minna Lakkala
    • 1
  • Anna Kantosalo
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Behavioural SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIITUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations