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Course Design Blueprint

Digital Skills, Capability and Fluency

Employing digital skills to enable and enhance learning is fundamental to all the University's provision and the University expects all its students to be able to develop their digital capabilities through their studies. 

Jisc define an individual's digital capabilities as those which equip someone to live, learn and work in a digital society.

This short animation from the University of Derby explains why it is important for people to think about developing their digital capabilities (download animation transcript (pdf)).

What it means to be digitally capable will vary for each person. It will depend on the requirements of their role, their subject specialism, career choice, personal and other contextual factors.  Course Teams should develop strategies to enable students and learning to develop and stretch their skills.

Building digital capabilities: the six elements defined offers a framework that looks more closely at what this means for individuals:



Building digital capabilities: the six elements defined (this work is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA)

  • ICT Proficiency (functional skills)
  • Information, data and media literacies (critical use)
  • Digital creation, problem solving and innovation (creative production)
  • Digital communication, collaboration and partnership (participation)
  • Digital learning and development (development)
  • Digital identity and wellbeing (self-actualising)

Uses of the framework include:

  • To support discussion and build consensus about the capabilities required in a digital organisation, perhaps in order to develop a local framework or a locally adapted version of this framework
  • To plan or review staff/educational development, for example ensuring that framework elements are included in professional development activities for teaching staff
  • To plan or review a curriculum, but note you’ll need to adapt this generic model carefully to the demands of the subject area and course outcome. One approach has been to produce each element as a prompt card with ideas for digital activities on the reverse. Another has been to encourage staff and students in a faculty or school to devise their own version of the framework for use in the curriculum
  •  To structure and signpost development opportunities, for example developing playlists of digital content mapped to the framework, or signposting a workshop programme
  •  To design digital badges and award them to staff and/ or students undertaking certain development activities or demonstrating certain practices
  • To map digital expertise across different staff roles within a team identifying gaps and recognising where digital expertise adds value

In this presentation Helen Beethan explains how she and Rhona Sharpe the digital literacy development pyramid devised a pyramid model based on Maslow's hierarchy of needs to explore how digital technologies could be embedded into the curriculum using meaningful tasks.

Jisc, have used this framework to develop a series of ‘role profiles’ which highlight the digital capabilities that are relevant to particular roles ( We used these profiles to create reflective questions in the discovery tool (, which is designed to help staff and students reflect on their digital capabilities and identify current strengths and areas for development. 

Find out more from Jisc with their Higher Education Teacher and learner profiles.