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Enabling e-Learning forum: How can we foster digital fluency?

For the past several years the Ministry of Education has been dedicated to supporting schools with a large number of initiatives to helps schools and kura grow their e-capability. Looking to the future, the MoE has a vision for Lifelong Learners in a Connected World 2025 and has outlined a number of initiatives to help support this direction in this one-page PDF file, Towards Digital Fluency. One thing is clear, our students will need to be digital savvy and digitally literate; therefore schools need to foster digital fluency, so that students can thrive in a digital age.

Digital literacy and digital fluency defined


  • Digital literacy – A digitally literate person knows how to use digital technologies and what to do with them.
  • Digital fluency – A digitally fluent person can decide when to use specific digital technologies to achieve their desired outcome. They can articulate why the tools they are using will provide their desired outcome. Enabling e-Learning: Digital Fluency.

In this CORE blog post, What is Digital Fluency, Karen Spencer clarifies that digital fluency is broader than digital literacy. She writes,

“Being ‘digitally literate’ means acquiring the skills to make and create meaning, and select technologies to do so. Being fluent requires competencies and capabilities that go beyond the skill level. Someone who is digitally fluent not only selects tools and knows what to do with them, but can explain why they work in the way they do and how they might adapt what they do if the context were to change.”

In this Edtalks video, Esther Casey explains that digital literacy and fluency is; being aware, navigating, making meaning and being critical of digital content from social media to research articles - being able to contribute, being collaborative, making the most of the diverse perspectives to strengthen your own learning, making new knowledge in authentic contexts (ethically).

EDtalks: What does digital literacy look like?

What does this mean for schools?


Esther also explains the challenge for us as educators is to understand the environment for ourselves and know what we do and how they can contribute to the on-going building of new knowledge. CORE Ten Trends Digital fluency has some further suggestions for where to begin:

  • align to the principles of the New Zealand Curriculum, TMOA and Te Whāriki
  • draw on a range of values that are inclusive and enable young people to become confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners
  • be embedded in learning in each of the learning areas
  • be supported by effective pedagogy.

Another key consideration is to ensure that our students (and ourselves) model appropriate actions online as successful digital citizenship, including:

  • understanding where knowledge comes from, assessing the validity (trustworthiness, accuracy)
  • knowing when and how to process/use this information (intellectual property rights, plagiarism)

Digital citizenship and technology use

 Enabling e-Learning digital fluency school stories

What does this mean for your learning community? We invite you to take the challenge and choose one of the following to respond to in the discussion box below.

• A brief explanation for why we should foster digital fluency


• An example or resource to share, showing how you are developing/modelling digital literacy in your school/kura

Once you have responded, download your own community challenge badge for your profile page. Are you up for it? smiley


Related links:



  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 09 Nov 2016 10:19am ()

    First off, thanks Allanah, Monika and Cat - always a pleasure and of course, make sure you download the following badge of honor (to your profile page) for contributing!

    Your posts have got me thinking. We often jump into what this means for students, - and they’re getting pretty savvy in their own ways, so yes if we’re advocating one thing and not modelling it ourselves, they’ll soon see through that.

    I once presented to a group of teachers on the elements of successful Digital Citizenship and one discussion was around the material we use – mainly images in Google. Most teachers could tell me they used these frequently and encouraged their students too as well, but couldn’t tell me where the images came from or whether there was an ownership issue or not – ie: license to use or share or Creative Commons. They were mostly unaware of advanced search (browser setting) to download images to use or reuse with permissions. Like Monika says, teachers are at different stages of knowing, understanding and doing (SAMR).

    So, with your thoughts Allanah, I’m wondering if we’ve focused on the students and forgotten to upskill ourselves? We all know how to use Facebook, but do we know about copyright and digital plagiarism? Where could we a href="mailto:

    Monika you have run with the focus on us as educators, and I am loving how you’ve reminding us to continue to focus on the 'why'. In my story above some teacher didn’t know why they’d need permissions for images if they're ‘right in front of us when we search’. #more teachable moments

    Also Monika, your comments about how discussions have changed online is a very relevant one. There are rich korero in the Enabling e-Learning community groups when the focus has been timely, targeted, community-driven and facilitated; and while the interactions have slowed in the wider VLN, there are also a lot of online analytics showing us that there an increased amount of people viewing and staying longer on pages to read those threaded posts.

    We hope we’ve created a safe space for teachers and educators (who are often parents too) to have a say, have an opinion, where energies flow and our minds can be challenged and expanded through conversation. So I’d also love to see more educators dive in, click on the LIKE buttons or be really brave and add to the conversations. EG I’ve just commented back to Gretchen Cocks who has helped to clarify some collaborative inquiry processes. I wouldn’t have been able to have this conversation with Gretchen if a) we weren’t in here or b) she hadn’t had been brave enough to share with us all. Hopefully this is timely and relevant for many more people too.

    Cat your observations around the 'changing students' are very relevant too. Steve Bargh (NZQA) was discussing the very same thing yesterday when he shared the changes in digital assessment practices from NZQA. He also said that our young people are becoming more savvy and will eventually walk with their feet if tertiary institutions are not going to be responsive and utilise technologies to blend and personalise learning for them. Tertiary students simply won’t pay for it – and for some they’ll hack the content instead.

    So, yes we need to empower our students and teachers to understand when and why we'd use certain tools, how we'd used them appropriately and know why we'd be using them at all. It might be as simple as giving students guidance like, When you choose to present your project (passion, problem based or other) tell us why you thought it was the best tool to use (or not).” No point writing a song when you needed a database instead.

    I'm now going to wait for more teachers to come and play with us....smiley

    Also see:

    Enabling e-Learning Digital Citizenship resources

Join this group to contribute to discussions.