Curriculum analysis of the English subject (LK06): Looking for Digital Competence

Digital competence has for a long time been solely a matter of mastering and utilizing ICT tools. This is a reductionist definition in terms of the multitude of challenges and information load students are faced with every day. Søby (2005) has defined digital competence as “[…] skills, knowledge, creativity, and attitudes that all needs to be able to use digital media for learning and being able to master in the knowledge society” (p. 8; my translation). Erstad (2010) also argues that competence implies much more than just skills: “Competence indicates thus preparedness for action and judgement which is a combination of skills, knowledge, and attitudes” (Erstad, 2010, p. 123, my translation). However, the Knowledge Promotion Curriculum still operates with only one of these aspects, “Digital skills”, when presenting the fifth basic skill of all activity in the Norwegian education. This is, of course, a step forward, seeing as it was originally called “able to use digital tools”.

The basic skill, digital tools in English, is described like this:

“Digital skills in English means being able to use a varied selection of digital tools, media and resources to assist in language learning, to communicate in English and to acquire relevant knowledge in the subject of English. The use of digital resources provides opportunities to experience English texts in authentic situations, meaning natural and unadapted situations. The development of digital skills involves gathering and processing information to create different kinds of text. Formal requirements in digital texts means that effects, images, tables, headlines and bullet points are compiled to emphasise and communicate a message. This further involves using digital sources in written texts and oral communication and having a critical and independent attitude to the use of sources. Digital skills involve developing knowledge about copyright and protection of personal privacy through verifiable references to sources.”

Udir (2006, online)

A quick copy and paste-job using Wordle generates this word-cloud:

Digital skills in English wordle

In the picture above, you can see that the word “skills” (repeated thrice, 3) is given prominence, reflecting the initial discussion. However, the word “knowledge” (2) is not too far behind, and the word “sources” (3) is repeated as many times as skills, interestingly. This is used in connection to the “critical and independent attitude” one is hoped to acquire in the course of education. Broadly speaking, the description of “Digital skills” is more influenced now than ever by the notion of “Digital competence”. Earlier, this was only a matter of using digital tools.

The word “texts” is a very significant one for the English subject. And the notion of text is expanded to the use of digital texts, offering a wide range of semiotic resources. Incorporating digital skills in the English subject is hoped to facilitate greater “opportunities to experience English in authentic situations”. Nevertheless, there are aspects of “Digital skills” that might as well be copy and pasted into all the other subject curricula as well, e.g., “Digital skills involve developing knowledge about copyright and protection of personal privacy through verifiable references to sources”. This is an example to show that there are aspects of “Digital skills in English” that are not specific for the English subject. “Formal requirement” is a new aspect from the 2013 revisions, and connects digital texts in relation to the semiotic resources and communication.

A Wordle-cloud can also illustrate some general tendencies in the English subject curriculum as a whole:


Here, the word “digital” is repeated 19 times, whereas an important word such as “multimodal” is nowhere to be found.


Erstad, O. (2010). Digital kompetanse i skolen (2 ed.). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

The Norwegian Directorate of Education and Training (2006) “English subject curriculum”. Curriculum for the Knowledge Promotion. Oslo: The Norwegian Directorate of Education and Training [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 28.01.2014].

Søby, M (2005): Digital skole hver dag -om helhetlig utvikling av digital kompetanse i grunnopplæringen. ITU: University of Oslo [Online] Available at: The Norwegian Directorate of Education and Training: [Accessed: 28.01.2014].

Utdanningsdirektoratet (2006) “Læreplan i engelsk”. Læreplan for Kunnskapsløftet. Oslo: Utdanningsdirektoratet [Online]. Tilgjengeleg frå: [Accessed: 28.01.2014].


5 thoughts on “Curriculum analysis of the English subject (LK06): Looking for Digital Competence

  1. Hi Kim-Daniel,
    I think their are two main reasons why the discussion has focused so much on skills. One, I think, is that a there existed the notion that today’s teachers, who have not grown up with a tablet in hand, were lacking these skills and that this had to be remedied as soon as possible. Just think how embarrassing it would be if your students actually had skills you were lacking, the loss of face!
    The other is that a skill is so much easier to measure and to grasp. You are either able to use this or that program or you are not. But how to make sure that teachers and students have an appropriate attitude towards digital tools or the digital world?
    We have started now to talk about cyber bullying, and not too soon either! But what about the naiveté with which many people, independent of age still share their most private thoughts in social media? I personally think that a lot of grown ups are definitely lacking digital competence in that respect. A lot of people are so enchanted by the possibilities of the digital work that they happily ignore its dangers.
    I could go on about this topic for sometime but that should be enough for today.
    Take care

  2. Hi Silke,
    I absolutely see your point, and there is lot to it that many students are better digitally equipped than their educators. I think the solution to this is to embrace it and use it as an advantage, rather than trying to play it down. But, I guess people can be scared of the unknown. My point is that digital competence has been for a too long time been a matter of skills, and that it still is. I mean, even though we find it harder to assess attitudes as a competence aims, does not mean that we should forget it. Sometimes I feel like we’re talking about 2006 (the year of the Knowledge Promotion) as it was yesterday. It is starting to become a while back, and I think we should acknowledge it, despite the appearance of some revisions. In terms of “attitudes”, then, I think it is a matter of exactly what you are getting to. Grown ups who publicly pours out their hearts or let you know when they are going to the toilet on Facebook, for instance, ignorant of the Safety settings, lack a critical digital attitude. I agree with you that many have a naïve idea of digital competence where critical thought completely lacks, and that is irresponsible. Sadly, this attitude sometimes arises from ignorance. I enjoyed reading your intelligent comments.
    Be well,

  3. Excellent argumentation. Certainty valid, even though I think we both can agree English is one of the subjects that have received a reasonably mindful treatment in the curriculum compared to some other subjects. Creative use of Wordle by the way 🙂

  4. Thank you, Kjell. Yes, I would have to agree.Most strikingly, I find the unchanged Food and Health subject curriculum with its ever so scarce description of “Being able to use digital tools”: “Being able to use digital tools in food and health focuses on searching for information, comparing and assessing the content of nutrients and presenting subject material.” (UDIR, 2006) (With only one competence aim “to go” 😀 ). So, I guess it’s just to toss the laptop on the kitchen counter and let Jamie Oliver do the trick! Thanks. Hildegunn Otnes tutored us in Wordle, so I should give her the credit.

  5. Pingback: Multimodal analysis: Deconstructing the semiotics of a power point presentation | Kim-Daniel's Digital Didactical Blog

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