Digital literacy & pedagogy

I have not had a clear perception of my own digital literacy – I have used the tools university has provided me with without much effort, at times reading through manuals and searching for solutions if problems have arisen. The metaphor of visitors and residents by White and Le Cornu (2011) provided me with a clarifying way of seeing my own practices – I seem to be most often a visitor that utilizes the tools for particular situations. With the addition of the axis personal–professional, I do use certain digital platforms in a more resident-mode personally.

What I see as relevant question is how the digital literacy of me as a teacher can possibly affect my students. I perceive digital tools as affordances that enable certain means of teaching while excluding others and those affordances can also have unintended consequences. As the ONL course has already shown, there needs to be explicit discussion regarding used digital tools to build up a learning environment that is safe and accessible. As a teacher making sure that student are able to use or learn to use the methods is thus important to remember.

However, I believe that I need not master the same tools that students are using as long as their deliverables can be shared and evaluated without accessibility issues. This can provide students with opportunities to explore tools that are not familiar to the teacher or the rest of the group. Of course, such leeway is probably more applicable to small master’s level courses than bachelor courses with hundreds of students.

I have also read on the so called TPACK-model (technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge) that aims at analysing and describing how the different elements of teaching (i.e. the tools, the pedagogical thinking, and content that is taught) are connected with one another (Koehler & Mishra, 2009). The model can be useful in addressing how the digital tool affect both the pedagogical aspects but also the contents of courses. It is good to keep in mind how these relations shift with the introduction of new tools.

It is also worth noting that a teacher can be more than a technical assistant in directing students. For example, Aguilera-Hermida (2021) reminds of basic pedagogical means of affecting students’ attitudes and motivations with respect to digital tools. For example, she argues that supporting student’s feelings of self-efficacy with explicit conversations is important (encouraging students to have a positive outlook on their own capabilities of using digital tools) and that discussing what is working for them can improve their self-regulatory capabilities.

The use of digital tools should always be linked also with learning outcomes. For example, if students are to learn critical thinking, they need to write texts – as all researchers know, writing (and speaking) is thinking. The classic tenet “How do I know what I think until I see what I say” by E. M. Forster still holds true – before I see my thought in writing there is only disparate thoughts in my cognition. Hence, for example, the use of AI must be reflected on critically, and in relation to the learning outcomes. It is no wonder that some top tier universities are at least partly going back to pen-and-paper to address the challenges of AI. This is not to say that AI would not be useful in teaching, just that it’s application needs to be in line with the intended learning outcomes.


Aguilera-Hermida, A. P. (2020). College students’ use and acceptance of emergency online learning due to COVID-19. Int. J. Educ. Res. 1:100011. doi: 10.1016/j.ijedro.2020.100011

Koehler, M., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK)?. Contemporary issues in technology and teacher education, 9(1), 60-70.

White, D. & Le Cornu, A. (2011) Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16 (9 – 5). Available from


I really liked your view on the need for the teacher to be as digitally literate as their students. I have a priori felt that I would need to master whatever tool my students would be using, but thinking a little bit harder I realize this is almost never the case when supervising degree projects. If it were the case, it would also be very limiting for the teaching environment. It would also go against what I find as one of the most important aspects of teaching, i.e. closing the gap between the authoritative teacher and the students. I have felt that the most rewarding moments in my academic life both as a student and as a teacher, has been when a question is asked that the teacher cannot immediately answer. This provides the opportunity for student and teacher to meet on a level that I find extremely interesting. I believe that the fact that there is a teacher who “knows the right answer” is rather limiting, and it definitely does not foster creativity. therefore, I really like the approach that the teacher does not have to master everything the students do, they just need to be able to follow and evaluate the process.

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