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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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  • Margaux Hlavac (View all users posts) 11 Nov 2016 9:14pm ()

    Hi all, I've just watched the discussion with Steve Bargh and it's all very interesting. I am an English teacher in a large co-ed school, which has trialed e-learning over the last 4 years with this year our school going fully BYOD, it has been a steep learning curve for staff and students alike. The early adopters - both students and staff - are generous in sharing strategies, apps and innovations. The diversification in how students can demonstrate and extend their learning is really exciting!

    This year I've worked alongside students creating screencasts to record their responses to texts or craft and create spoken texts, creating short films to demonstrate their film knowledge, collaborating on research tasks that explore their individual interests and assist them to develop critical reading skills, to name a few. Some of the gains are quiet and small but profoundly valuable for the student - such as one with severe anxiety and scripting difficulties, for whom voice-to-text software gives access to an articulate intelligence. For me, voice recorded feedback on work back to students conveys a warmth that takes so much longer to write, and quiet in class students are asking questions by voice recording comments that they would be too inhibited to ask in class. In terms of digital citizenship, I am seeing students articulate their ideas in a respectful, insightful manner, in collaborative documents that support the face to face teaching and learning in the classroom.

    I think that the journey that our staff is on is no different to the journey of a broad banded classroom - some keen and self driven, some anxious to face change and unsure of what works - so the challenge of leading e-learning in our schools is about how to enable the diversity of our staff to see the benefits to the students and to themselves, and to find the tools that work. Transforming pedagogy is key - backwards mapping from the skills we want our 21st Century learners (and ourselves included!) to have, and being willing to take some risks in the classroom to experiment with new strategies. 

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