Digital Competence and Digital Skills

In the digital rush, it is necessary to cross competences and training programmes, which consider various groups of users with different digital skills. Digital competences is a general term used to describe or explain the ability to use ICT in specific contexts.

The literature over digital competences has generated an abundance of different nominations such as digital competences, e-competences or digital skills and e-skills. However, even if these denominations seems to be synonyms expressing the same concepts, this is quite far from reality. Within this framework, IT has a sound impact on knowledge manipulation and culture manufacturing processes. Digital competences, consequently, become an undeniable concept in the digital era.

Digital Competence vs. Digital Skill

In 2007, the European Commission has defined competences as a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes fitting into a certain context. Key competences then are needed by single individuals to achieve personal fulfillment, social inclusion, boost own virtual citizenship, which are also components of the lifelong learning. On the other hand the terms e-competence and e-skill are used in IT literature to define the required workforce competences or skills in terms of IT uses, expressing for example the ability to use skills for work-related activities appropriately.

The impact of ICT among digital migrants

When it comes to analyzing the impact of IT within the society, it is necessary to consider two opposing points. By its nature IT creates social inclusion, but on the other hand it requires double mediation, both technical and social (because of the ways in which IT is used as well as the signification of the practices determined by society). Double mediation is required for an effective introduction of technology in society. Through this double mediation and role, it assigns new knowledge and know-how, becoming a vector of social inclusion or social exclusion.

In a virtualized world, technologies have become a fundamental tool to accomplish everyday tasks, consequently numerous initiatives as well need to be developed accordingly.

For digital migrants digital skills can become effective, as they boost sense of empowerment and feel control and independence over own lives. The lack of access to technology may, marginalize people not able to perform digital operations from the mainstream of development, as the traditional ways of doing things have been substituted by new operations. Experts, nevertheless, highlighted the potential of innovation of technology: they improve the quality of users’ lives, create jobs, facilitate the monitoring of health care and daily activities.

What kind of digital migrant are you?

Digital immigrants’ groups:

Avoiders: they prefer minimal technology, or technology-free lifestyle. They do not have an email account and/or smartphones. They do not consider the social media as an opportunity, but rather a waste of time.

Reluctant adopters: they accept technology and are trying to engage with it, but feel still unintuitive and hard to use it. They have a Smartphone, only occasionally they use Google but do not have a Facebook account but they check their emails and use online banking.

Enthusiastic adopters: they are digital immigrants who are trying to speak the e-language of natives. They embrace ICT sometimes for working-related activities. This group has understood the value of technology, they use social media, check emails and are technologically-excited.

Therefore, as emerges in the competence map participants report higher levels of competence in the following areas:

1 –  information and data literacy – they feel confident about their ability to search, evaluate and manage data and information;

5 – problem-solving – in activities such as making equipment works, turning on and off, installing and uninstalling apps. However, lower levels of competence were found for areas 3 – digital content creation and 4 – safety meaning that participants feel they need support from others to perform the task).

And you in which areas do you need support or feel uncomfortable to perform on your own?

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