A digital literacy proposal in online Higher Education: the UOC scenario
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Universities have a key role in providing students with strategies and competences to allow them to be part of the current information society and hence to be able to develop a productive career. The Open University of Catalonia (UOC) is a fully online university created in 1995 to provide distance-learning university-level education.
ICTs were integrated to UOC’s educational activity since its first steps as a compulsory subject common to all degrees, aimed to help students to cope with a virtual environment and to familiarize them with the university’s specific online tools. This subject has been evolving along these last 11 years of existence in line with new technologies and also according to the necessities of students. Nowadays it is a subject that works the basic competences in ICTs and is inspired by the declaration of Bologna.
In a scenario in which the university is making strategic decisions about the implementation of the new degrees within the framework of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), this competence is defined at the UOC as follows: “The use and application of ICTs in the academic and professional environment”. UOC’s proposal of digital literacy for the acquisition of ICT competences in the academic and professional scope is based on a compulsory subject of each degree. This 6-credit ECTS subject is mandatory during the first semester within the cross-sectional basic credits and is based on the rational and critical use of ICTs, some knowledge of digital technology, the procedures of the virtual project and on new forms of constructing and representing knowledge for the new social Internet (blogs, wikis, social markers etc.) and for multiple alphabetizations.
On the basis of UOC’s experience we are in a position to single out the key transferable elements for designing a proposal for achieving digital literacy in any educational context: the definition of the ICT competence, the gradual acquisition of ICT skills through creating a project-based work, team work to using and applying new tools and the role of consultants.