Digital Skills – what are they and why are they different from digital tools?
It’s easy to demonstrate how to make an electrical circuit in minutes by following step by step instructions. With practise, a learner could build that circuit in record time.
But what would happen if the circuit configuration was slightly altered? Same principles, different set of circumstances. Without any fundamental understanding, the learner is unable to apply or transfer skills, because the only learning was how to mimic and memorise.
In the same way, it is easy to teach yourself almost any digital tool online. “Trello for beginners”videos range from five to fifteen minutes; “Basic Slack” can be demonstrated in seven minutes. But what would the learning be besides mimicry and memory? Would you be able to transfer or apply those skills?
Trello, Slack, Mindomo, Google Suite – these are all digital tools; they focus on what and how; digital skills focus on why and when and refer to the ability to source and evaluate digital tools in order to best impact your work. Digital skills incorporate critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, being safe and inclusive online. These skills, collectively, open up a world of digitisation and build your confidence to use any tool out there. And when some tools become obsolete or outdated, you’ll be able to carry on consistently and introduce new tools, without needing to retrain or watch more “how to…” videos.
There was a significant shift towards digitalisation in the everyday workplace before COVID-19 but lockdown has accelerated the need to be digitally savvy – particularly with the entry level tools. And although there are undoubtedly a lot of negatives from COVID-19, it has also provided the space to be human in the workspace. Everyone is floundering, everyone is doing their best – so now is the perfect time to recognise exactly where your digital skills gaps are, and set about filling them with knowledge.
Why? Because digital tools are constantly changing. It is vital to adapt, learn and develop essential, base digital skills in order to evaluate the best tool for maximum outcome. And that cannot be done without a clear grasp of the digital landscape: how it looks, what it requires and where you stand in relation to it.
Our answer to this is Digital Skills for the Workplace – an online micro-credential aimed at instilling confidence and calm in your digital world.
When rapid upskilling becomes a necessity, make it count.
On a human note, while writing this article, I searched up synonyms for “skill” – one of the options was “happy”. Happiness comes from confidence in your abilities. You deserve to be happy in your work. Everyone does.