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:
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: http://www.udir.no/kl06/ENG1-03/Hele/?lplang=eng [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: http://www.udir.no/Upload/Rapporter/5/ITU_rapport.pdf?epslanguage=no [Accessed: 28.01.2014].
Utdanningsdirektoratet (2006) “Læreplan i engelsk”. Læreplan for Kunnskapsløftet. Oslo: Utdanningsdirektoratet [Online]. Tilgjengeleg frå: http://www.udir.no/kl06/ENG1-03/ [Accessed: 28.01.2014].