Career Learning Support

Introduction to Digital Capabilities

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Digital capabilities? Sounds like something that I would put on my CV without knowing what it means. When I learned that My Learning Essentials have created an online resource for developing your digital capabilities, I thought it would be worth giving it a go. Turns out it is a very broad term, with Jisc defining it as:

“Skills and attitudes that individuals and organisations need if they are to thrive in today’s world” and “those which equip someone to live, learn and work in a digital society.”

That got me thinking: would hosting a Zoom quiz count as a digital capability? Perhaps that isn’t the most useful one anymore, but yes! Essentially, a digital capability is anything that helps you to exist and operate within contemporary society. The pandemic has forced us to pick up and learn many of these skills, and with online and hybrid working becoming more commonplace in many aspects of our lives, they are going to be incredibly important going forward.

Jisc Discovery tool

As students at The University of Manchester, we have access to the Jisc Discovery tool. Step One of the MLE online resource talks you through how to access it and it’s very straight forward! All you need is your university log-in details.

The tool itself is a survey that asks you two questions for a series of digital themes (such as digital wellbeing and media literacy). The first question shows you eight statements, and you choose which ones apply to you. The second question asks you to use a slider to say how confident you are in that particular area. The whole survey only took me around ten minutes and made me realise that I already have a lot of digital capabilities just from studying and working here at the university.

Digital Capability Report

The tool uses your responses to create a report. The first page represents your digital capabilities in a circular bar graph. Yours might have slightly different categories to mine (unless you also have a student job at the university).

Image: Circular bar chart representing the author’s digital capabilities. Image author: Jisc, used under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

As advised by the MLE resource, I spent some time reflecting on my report. I wasn’t surprised by my higher scores in Digital Collaboration and Digital Communication as well as my decent scores for different literacies. I decided it would be best to focus on my lower scoring areas: Digital Creation and Participation. After examining the area of Digital Innovation as well, I decided this skill was not as relevant and important to me as the other two lower ranking areas. It’s important to remember that you steer the ship and can decide which skills are more important to you. The way I see this tool is as a way of analysing your current skillset and helping you to reflect on areas that you might want to build upon.

The Jisc report suggests some next steps for each of your digital capabilities according to your results, as well as signposting you to some useful resources. What’s even better is that the MLE resource goes one step further by providing you with a template action plan. I combined some of the suggested next steps from the report with the action plan template, which you can see below:

Alt text: Reflective action plan formatted as a table

The MLE resource also has links to other online guides and resources grouped by digital capabilities. The difference here is that some of them are more specific to the university. The university offers so many resources that it can sometimes be difficult to know which ones will be most useful to you, so getting suggestions based on your survey results is highly useful.

What now?

The next steps are to revisit my plan and record my progress. The action plan template found in the MLE online resource has space to do this so I will try and update it weekly. The Jisc discovery tool helped me to identify where I am lacking digital capabilities. Combining it with MLE’s Start to Finish: Develop your Digital Capabilities resource has set me on track to address these areas. It was also reassuring to realise that many skills that seemed mundane to me (things like using instant messaging for work and working collaboratively on a shared document) are actually digital capabilities that are necessary for the world of work. It turns out I’ve been telling the truth on my CV this entire time!

Author: George Bissett, MSc Urban Design and International Planning

Contributor: Sara Knurowska, BSc (Hons) Biotechnology

George and Sara reviewed the use of the tool and contributed to the development of the ‘Develop your digital capabilities’ MLE resource as members of the Library Student Team.

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