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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


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  • Monika Kern (View all users posts) 04 Nov 2016 5:10pm ()

    You make an interesting point of how differently people use digital tools differently, Allanah. In some sense Digital Literacy and Digital Fluency remind me of the SAMR model; I would imagine that the kind of online interactions you are describing are at a substitution or maybe augmentation level, not transformative. And to a certain degree that's how I have been viewing the term 'Digital Fluency' since I first came across it, transformative, and a step up from literacy.

    I (still) love the Golden Circle approach of why-how-what which I try to follow in a lot of what I do, and I find it quite interesting how in this case Digital Literacy uses the How and What, but Digital Fluency the Why and in addition the When (something I hadn't paid particular attention to previously). Are we at the stage now (finally) where we are seriously considering the why? As Oliver Quinlan said so well:

    It took me a long time to work out that when you start out with Why, the What and How largely take care of themselves. They become obvious and straightforward when you have the confidence you get by knowing and consciously defining Why you are doing things.

    I like the fact that we can use two terms to describe different levels of digital though the terms probably need to be accompanied by their definitions to help with clarity. However, what does it look like?

    In my mind, a digitally literate educator will know how to use technology to access resources, to create resources, (hopefully) to share them (legally). They will know how to get students to complete a task using technology, to show their learning, connect them with others.

    A digitally fluent educator would be able to tell you why they do this (e.g. learning with and from each other, give and take, tuakana - teina), they would know when to use or share (creative commons?) and when and through what platform to create best learning opportunities for themselves and others.

    Yes, we can all get into the last minute panic of needing a resource then and there (especially when we are new to a topic / year level etc.), but, probably like you, I get annoyed when I read posts that ask again and again for often last minute help when there might be better places to get resources from.

    On a side note, after some online abstinence I have to say I find the online education world in NZ quite changed, I am missing some of the rich discussions and resource sharing sessions we have had. Some of the platforms frequented by teachers are less, some are more helpful in providing us with transformative digital learning experiences, and that's where fluency and the ability to pick right place and right time definitely come in to play.

    Maybe I'm completely on the wrong track? Let me know :) Looking forward to reading more posts in this discussion.


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