Page 44 - Campus Technology, May/June 2019
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C-Level View
Exploring Digital Fluency at Penn State University
Penn State Director of Teaching and Learning with Technology Kyle Bowen explains the difference between digital literacy and digital fluency and what’s next for digital transformation in higher education.
By Mary Grush
CAMPUS CONVERSATIONS at Penn State University once centered on digital lit- eracy. Now, they’re focused on digital fluency. Do those topics sound similar? Here, Kyle Bowen, Penn State’s director of teaching and learning with technology, explains why the differences may be greater than you think.
Campus Technology: Penn State is now supporting students in terms of “digital fluency.” Why is this different from what you’ve done in the past?
Kyle Bowen: One of the big things that we are exploring at Penn State is the notion of digital fluency. To that end, it’s important to define it, and to compare and contrast it with other, sim- ilar types of initiatives.
In particular, we can compare digital fluency with past discussions of digital literacy. Digital fluency is not just a minor shift away from — or another flavor of — digital literacy, but a com- pletely different way of thinking: When we talk about digital fluency, the focus is on enabling our students to leverage technology effectively to create new knowledge.
Digital literacy tends to focus on the what and the how — what tools are being used and
how you might apply them. Digital fluency, on the other hand, explores the when and the why — when do I choose to use particular types of tools, and why would that be the most effec- tive way to support students?
Our belief is that we enable our students, not simply to create media or to be more creative, but rather, we support students in such a way that they are defining truly new problems or creating new genres. And, in many cases, they are showing us ways that others can use tech- nology effectively. This kind of thinking is at the core of digital fluency and how we approach supporting our students.
CT: Even at the undergraduate level?
Bowen: Especially at the undergraduate level! CT: Then is this a major shift for
Bowen: A big part of this work is shifting how we support the institution. Many institutions are actively exploring the space of digital transforma- tion — working to leverage the ways that technol- ogy not merely changes, but actually transforms the way teaching and learning happens.
the institution?

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