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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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  • CatWooller (View all users posts) 04 Nov 2016 5:58pm ()

    Thanks Allanah,  Monika and Tessa for this discussion,

     I have been pondering over the term digital fluency for a while now. I like that analogy you used Monika to SAMR, that really helps to clarify this for us.  At my school we have focused on developing the use of etools by staff and students.  In the classes with our early adopting teachers we are starting to look at the which tool you choose and why but not in a very planned way.  

    I believe for many of our students tasks early on need to get students using a range of specifically identified tools for certain tasks.  Many students in years 11-13 still have resistance around technology and so they need experience in using tools to gain confidence before given the opportunity to make choices around which tool to use and why.  Over the past few years, teachers have provided digital options in assessments, however these were rarely chosen in classes where etools weren't used regularly.  This will not be the case in the coming years as the year 9 students arriving have already developed some skill sets around using etools.  

    Basically what I'm saying is that this landscape is changing fast and we need to respond to that quite quickly as educators in a number of ways, firstly to develop as many digital skills as possible in our older more resistant students and secondly to ensure our junior programs are progressing the skills students are coming in with, as well as providing opportunities for,students to have to select tools appropriate for tasks.

    In terms of this last part, I often see these starting to occur in more PBL type activities where students are navigating their way and finding tools to solve their communication/project needs.  Design thinking, PBL's, passion projects are all good options for developing digital fluencies then.

    Just a few thoughts on the topic!


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