For me, this was a great place to start the course – both in terms of the wider ONL content and the group work on this topic. Our understanding of digital tools and our participation in digital spaces forms the foundation of our ability to use these effectively. I was familiar with the concepts of digital ‘natives’ and ‘immigrants’ proposed by Prensky (2001) previously but was fascinated to explore the newer ideas of ‘visitors’ and ‘residents’, and how we can exist on a spectrum depending on the platform (White & Le Cornu, 2011). This to me felt much more natural and inclusive, and it seems important in terms of our digital identities – with the previous idea it can be easy to fall into a state of ‘I’m not native in these spaces and my lack of familiarity makes it harder’, which in itself can be quite demotivating for learning and developing. In reality, we are all more comfortable with certain things and it just takes curiosity and a growth mindset to master new avenues.

However, an important thing to consider is: where exactly are we starting and what do we need in order to develop? Our PBL group took this on by exploring different assessment methods for a variety of digital literacies, and we opened this topic up in ways I wouldn’t have thought of before. I was familiar with online tests and courses (for example the LinkedIn Excel assessment), but I had no idea about the variety of other tools. I also found it interesting that the level of these assessments was so important – something that came up for us was that some tests seemed too basic, but in some circumstances that might be exactly what is needed. We also discussed how we could support growth, using this understanding of starting points in digital literacy. We all agreed that YouTube was often a go-to for quick and informative tutorials, but we also explored several other helpful techniques, as summarised in our group contribution to the wider community (Prezi).  

I also found that this topic was also helpful in reflecting on my role in the research team for my wider PhD project. Due to the demands of our large longitudinal design and the need for data security, we had to move from one platform (Qualtrics) to a completely new one that none of us had heard of before (REDCap). I wouldn’t consider myself extremely tech-savvy, but I headed straight to YouTube for some tutorials and found myself quickly able to grasp the basics of this new platform. This experience has given me confidence that I can quickly improve an entirely new digital literacy, and it has been interesting to use my ONL learning to reflect on how this came together, as well as the implications it has had for our research. 

Overall, it was really helpful to consider the types of digital literacies (Software, Communication and General), explore different ways of assessing these, and expand my understanding of how to improve in different areas. My personal favourite was the The digital competence wheel, which gave a comprehensive, personalised and very lovely-looking overview of different areas. I aim to use my results to develop in storage, legal aspects and data protection, which were my areas of improvement. 


Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 2: Do they really think differently?. On the horizon.

White, D. S., & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday

Topic 1 – Online participation and digital literacies