All aboard - empowering learners and teachers to flourish in a digital age
Funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning, the All Aboard! project has developed a National Digital Skills Framework which, although originally focused on the needs of the higher education community, has proven popular and is being adopted (and adapted) by other sectors and internationally. From the outset, the project team strove to take a more creative approach than is traditionally the case with skills and competency frameworks. Reviewing over 60 pre-existing frameworks for digital literacies, the principal question is not just ‘why add to this list’ but rather, ‘why have so few actually been implemented at the ground level?’ By using a simple, but effective visual metaphor (that of a Metro Map), which captures key domains, and by aligning this with a flexible, and open, approach to curricular design, the project has helped to nurture wider conversations about skills, confidence, digital identity and the recognition of informal learning.
Anyone is able to make use of the framework by using a simple personal digital confidence profile tool and by dipping into self-study, multimedia learning materials all of which are available under remixable, Creative Commons licences. By demonstrating achievement and knowledge, learners can also acquire Digital Badges (Mozilla Open Badge compliant) whose currency is recognized in the sector. Continuing the metro metaphor, we have also designed a series of ‘travelcards’ which are effectively mini-courses targeted at different groups or special interests – eg Students, Tutors, Researchers, Creative Endeavour, Tech Guru, etc.
Finally, one of the key sources of inspiration and energy across the project, has been the contribution of students via student-staff partnerships in the consortium institutions (but which we aim to support nationally) such as NUI Galway’s ‘Digital Champions’ and UCD’s ‘Digital Ambassadors’, inspired by similar work in the UK and elsewhere, these schemes have supported ‘campaigns’ around aspects of digital identity and wellbeing, raising crucial questions regarding confidence, responsibility and creativity in this digital age.