Digital Fluency

In the 21st century digital technology is paramount, the digital world is inescapable. For the modern human to work well in this environment, a digital fluency is required.

We teachers must first teach digital proficiency, then digital literacy, to then have instructions geared towards fluency (Wenworth, 2015).


According to Spencer (2015) digital fluency has three parts.

First there it the “digital, or technical, proficiency”, which is the ability to chose the appropriate technology to master a task, as well as being able to use said technology.

Secondly we have digital literacy. Digital literacy is the mental capacity to engage with the digital world. Meaning being able to access, produce, and assess digital content, using judgement and technical skills.

Lastly Spencer lists “social competence, the capacity to effectively socially engage with others and exchange information. Others also include an ethical component, as in applying ethical practices and protocols (Australian Curriculum, n. D).

While Spencer uses the term digital literacy and digital fluency as two seperate terms, some use the terms synonymously (TKI Ministry of Education, n. D.). The author Christian Briggs (2011) explains the difference between the two as follows.

Note that a literate person is perfectly capable of using the tools. They know how to use them and what to do with them, but the outcome is less likely to match their intention. It is not until that person reaches a level of fluency, however, that they are comfortable with when to use the tools to achieve the desired outcome, and even why the tools they are using are likely to have the desired outcome at all.

The digitally fluent student becomes a prosumer (“What is Prosumer,” 2016), as opposed to a mere consumer (St.Patrick’s College, n. D.).

Howell (2012, p.13) suggests that digital fluency of students already exists, but that it is one for outside the classroom, not suited for an educational environment. Further she states that it takes years “of consolidating and building on the skills already acquired” (p.134).

The teacher needs to utilize pre-existing skills and build upon them. We as teachers are no longer an instructor, but a coach (Orlando, 2014). We coach towards life-long learning, as digital fluency includes continuous learning, always adapting and learning new skills and technologies. The time in our classrooms is to prepare them for this.


ACARA. (n. D.). Information and Communication Technology Capability
   learning continuum
. Retrieved from

Australian Curriculum. (n. D.). Key ideas. Retrieved from

Bois State University. (n. D.). Definition of Digital Fluency.
   Retrieved from

Briggs, C. (February 5, 2011). The Difference Between Digital
   Literacy and Digital Fluency.
Retrieved from

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital Pedagogies for
   Collaboration and Creativity.
Melbourne, Australia:
   Oxford University Press.

Orlando, J. (July 7, 2014). To Improve Student Performance, Start
   Thinking Like a Coach.
Retrieved from

Spencer, K. (October 30, 2015). What is digital fluency? Retrieved

St.Patrick’s College. (n. D.). Changing Learning and Teaching.
   Retrieved from

TKI Ministry of Education. (n. D.). Digital Fluency. Retrieved from

Wenworth, D. (2015). Digital Fluency [image]. Retrieved from

What is Prosumer (2016) Retrieved October 2, 2016 from:


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