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Digital literacy

We all use technology in our personal lives. As technology evolves we want the health and social care workforce to be fully competent, confident and capable in its use in the workplace.

The digital literacy project is about improving the digital capabilities of everyone working in health and social care. The best care of all individuals is only possible if these capabilities are fully developed and exploited.

Excellent digital capabilities include a positive attitude towards technology and innovation and its potential to improve care and outcomes. With improved overall digital literacy capabilities, we can all maximise that potential.

We define digital literacies as:

those capabilities that fit someone for living, learning, working, participating and thriving in a digital society.

Digital literacy is person-centred and can be divided into six domains. Each one has its own capabilities and behaviours to help improve the health and social care workforce.

  1. Communication, collaboration and participation
  2. Teaching, learning and self-development
  3. Information, data and media literacies
  4. Creation, innovation, scholarship
  5. Technical proficiency

Underpinning all the above domains is the sixth - digital identity, wellbeing, safety and security. This is because everything we do must be within a safe and secure context with due regard for our own and others’ wellbeing.  It is also because anything we do online contributes to a created digital identity or identities which we all need to be mindful of.

We are working with and supporting the Building a Digital Ready Workforce (BDRW) programme of the National Information Board to support the digital literacy work stream. The need for this important work was also identified as part of our mandate from Government.

Our work so far

The digital literacy definition and domains resulted from work undertaken on the project by a Digital Literacy Stakeholders Group.  This group was also responsible for work undertaken to research the challenge in upskilling workforces in the healthcare and other sectors and looking at some of the solutions in meeting those challenges.  In addition to this work, another stakeholder group focused on some of the barriers that prevent people working in health and social care from accessing technology and exploiting the power of digital in providing the best care.  Included in this work were those human factors, including insufficiently high digital capabilities, that can act as barriers.

Read more on the work so far:

We are working in partnership with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) on some of our digital literacy work. Together, we are working to promote the widest use across the health and care landscape of our definition of digital literacy and the digital capabilities that sit within that definition. Our latest document, 'Improving Digital Literacy', available below, explains what digital literacy is and why it is important.

Six papers have been produced as part of the digital literacy project. These are:

Digital Literacy - Towards A Definition builds on the work of experts in the field of digital literacy: Digital literacies are the capabilities which fit someone for living, learning, working, participating and thriving in a digital society.

Literature review examining the extent to which digital literacy is seen as a challenge for trainers, learners and employees in the workplacelooking at the challenges across sectors in improving digital literacy in the workforce.

Desktop study of digital literacy in practice looking at potential solutions and best practice in improving digital literacy in the workforce.

Barriers to Accessing Technology Enhanced Learning explores both the challenges and potential solutions in accessing digital and technology.

Standards and Framework Mapping examines to what extent and in what ways do existing standards and frameworks align with the HEE digital literacy definition and domains.

Existing Educational Resource Mapping and Analysis builds a resource base for use in developing and improving the digital skills in the health and social care workforce.

Next steps

We are looking at developing a competency framework covering all who work and train in the NHS.

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