Embedding Digital Competences in the Curriculum : A Case Study on Student-Experience of an Online Technology-enhanced, Activity-based Learning Design

George Evangelinos
Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom

Debbie Holley
Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom


The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the student experience of an online technology- enhanced activity-based learning design that has been developed to facilitate the embedding of digital competences in the health education curriculum. Previous work has shown that digital literacy can be identified as the collection of digital competences and skills that can be measured (Evangelinos & Holley, 2014b); however the qualitative interpretation of the results was standing on a complex, highly individual profile for each participant (Evangelinos & Holley, 2014a). The conceptual model for curriculum development is founded on the premise that technology-enhanced, activity-based and collaborative learning (Goodyear, 2001) interventions should become an integral part of the curriculum design and delivery as there is wide consensus on the increasing trend of using digital technologies in all professional and employment sectors (Didero, Husing & Korte, 2009; The Economist, 2014) including health and education. Digital skills are the most transferable skills (Balcar et al., 2011) especially relevant to life-long and life-wide professional development (Figel’, 2007). Literature in general, widely supports that within education, the communication of knowledge has drastically changed because of the fast rates of development of digital technologies and the associated implications upon society (Hanna, 2011). Digital proficiency is acquired; therefore, it should be measured in the context of specific tasks. The intervention was delivered via the institutional Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) by means of eight online study activities. The content of the activities was based on aspects of the existing curriculum but each activity introduced elements of digital competences identified by the European Union Digital Competence (DIGCOMP) framework (Ferrari, 2013). The nature of digital competences and the delivery mode of the module necessitated the embedding of digital skills within the curriculum so as to make them relevant for incorporation into the existing study programme for two equally important reasons: i) the students should be able to develop the digital skills needed for successful studies; ii) there is evidence that digital skills are best ‘embedded’ in the ‘normal’ curriculum and should not be offered as a separate training course difficult to relate to and incorporate into the students’ busy workload (Leeds Metropolitan University, 2011; Thomson et al., 2014). The purpose of the case study was to pilot a Learning Design (Dalziel et al., 2013) activity-based approach for embedding digital Embedding Digital Competences in the Curriculum: A Case Study on Student-Experience of an Online Technology-Enhanced, Activity-Based Learning Design George Evangelinos, Debbie Holley literacies in the curriculum and assess the student experience of undertaking technology- enhanced learning activities. The curriculum development model and the digital competence framework used to map digital literacy are transferable to different disciplines.

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