The All Aboard! project team have the honour of being asked to develop a ‘National Digital Skills Framework’ for Irish Higher Education. As those of you who have been following our work (since we started in February) you’ll know that we’ve been busy reviewing, comparing and contrasting just some of the many excellent recommendations and suggested frameworks that various Digital Literacies projects and organisations have put forward. As ever, JISC in the UK provides a particularly rich treasure trove of high quality projects and reports, so also do the various working groups established by library organisations in this country and elsewhere. There’s certainly no shortage of possibilities, particularly if the focus is on the information skills dimension.

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There is also, however, a great deal of agreement as to what the broad categories should be, just perhaps some variation in emphasis, nomenclature and perspective. In All Aboard! we intend though to be quite broad in our definitions and tend to use the terms skills and knowledge rather than literacies, but there’s plenty of argument in the literature about exact definitions of each of these and where each sits in the hierarchy of meaning. Perhaps we’re just being naive (although we’d like to think of it as ‘pragmatic’), but we’re not too angst-ridden about some of the finer details of some of those debates because our aim is to broaden awareness and confidence of technologies across anyone and everyone who engages with higher education, whether students or staff.

We also want to, if possible, avoid over-formalising the framework in a way that might lead to it ossifying and indeed which turns it into a bureaucratic artefact or a lumbering, outdated behemoth. Again naively (or, in this case, we’d like to think ‘optimistically’) we’d like to help establish a fluid but meaningful framework which everyone can feel is useful and, hopefully, also to which they feel a sense of ownership. That’s what we think ‘national’ should mean: something that we all own, share and shape.

OK, so what does that mean in practice, then? Well for a start it means that we intend to start the process off by suggesting some broad headings; listing skills, knowledge and capabilities by means of example; providing training materials (for self study, or group use); and welcoming contributions from anyone who is interested.

In effect, we’re looking to ‘crowdsource’ the framework and its components, recognising the tremendous efforts many of you have already put into this type of work, giving due credit (through CC and similar licensing), and connecting all those of us who are busy providing training workshops, taught programmes, etc, in digital technologies in education.

We will be collating as many existing resources as we can find and mapping to the emerging framework and have already started doing so as part of an exercise which also aims to identify the gaps — areas in which we will develop (shareable) new materials.

If you’d like to contribute (perhaps notes for workshop activities, online lessons, video clips, etc) please do get in touch with us. It’s your framework, your resources. We really do mean it when we say “All Aboard!”

 Iain