The technologist module of Ontario Extend asks us to define what digital literacy means to us. If I use the trick I tell my students and just look at the term I would say that literacy is about being competent in something, which would logically mean that digital literacy has to do with competence. In this case, it would relate to one’s competence or ability to use technology (I am trying not to use the word digital here). Broadly speaking, that is correct. It might get me by on an exam. However, the resources in the module go into a lot more depth than that. Exploring them is worth it.

geralt / Pixabay

A Deeper Definition

Being able to use technology effectively involves a range of skills. The links share common themes, represented in different ways. Among those themes are knowledge, skills, and personal attributes that extend beyond simply the ability to use technology. A few things resonated with me. Digital literacy isn’t about just knowing how to use technology, it has to do with ongoing scholarship (Jisc, 2018), collaboration, innovation, relationship development (Digital Literacy Framework, n.d.) and so much more. It makes a lot of sense that in order to be competent (or literate) in the use of technology it is important to think big – beyond the technology.

(Luckily the diagram below was licensed in a way that I could add it to this post instead of trying to repackage the information.)

Seven element of digital literacies

Seven element of digital literacies / ©Jisc / CC BY-NC-ND

A key takeaway is that much like everything in education, digital literacy is not something one can stop working towards. It is a process. Technology is always changing. Likewise, our context will require us to constantly re-examine what technology is the best option to use to solve the same problem. Becoming fluent and proficient in the use of technology is possible. However, it is important that we never develop an attitude of “I have arrived” or we will actually get left behind.

Level it Up:

As the module indicates, a short description of digital literacy can be added to a teaching portfolio or dossier. I am not really sure where I would put that but it could be.


The badge checklist asks us to assess our digital literacy, but unless I missed it in the module (I re-read this one) no specific tool is recommended to do so. My initial reaction is to say high. Instead, I went on a search for an actual self-assessment tool. Several are available online. This one from the Open University seemed appropriate.  I like that it is divided into categories, quick and easy to use. Self-assessing skills that you are less confident in is a really good way to identify areas for growth. (PS: I feel like maybe there should also be a column for confident but lazy sometimes.)

Wokandapix / Pixabay

Adding this self-assessment is a good way to extend one’s dossier. The outcome of the self-assessment can be then used to set individualized goals for extenders! Learning plans also make good tools for demonstrating professional growth in a performance review meeting (at Colleges) or in a dossier.

Note to self: Add a section for self-assessments.

In summary, I am very confident in most areas in this assessment form. However, I identified one area that I am “not confident” in, which is not a surprise. Understanding my digital footprint is something I have not spent enough time thinking about. A presentation by Sidney last May opened my eyes to how much I actually didn’t know about my digital footprint and how the data is used. I have some general knowledge that I feel is enough to get me by, but the more time I spend with Sidney the more I learn about it. While I am confident in most areas of understanding digital practices, I could expand on this understanding.

Thanks to my previous education, friendly librarians, eCampusOntario fellowship, conference opportunities and personal interest I rated myself high in the ability to find, use and create information. While there is always room for growth, if I were to develop a personalized learning plan I would focus on understanding my digital footprint and seek assistance from my support network as needed in other areas.

To achieve my goal I will go search for the recording of Sidney’s presentation and reflect some more on what is being done with our data. I left his session with more questions than answers as well as an incomplete blog post. Here are some thoughts from it: on one hand, I like the idea of preventing teenage suicide by tracking social media patterns … but on the other, I question the ethical implications of convicting people of crimes before they are committed, particularly when data may be targeting minority groups or contain false positives.

Deleted data is still there. Your boss may not know, but Google knows. Google can sell it to insurance companies, who can increase your insurance rates.

Maybe other extenders would be interested in engaging in this conversation as well. Could we have some more PD on the topic if enough of us were interested in expanding this area of our digital literacy?


Laura Killam is an experienced nursing educator from Northern Ontario with a keen interest in improving student learning through innovation. For more information please visit


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