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QEP Development Research “Digital Fluency for Today’s Jobs”: Home

This guide will change frequently as resources are added by the QEP Development Committee, October 2021 - August 2022.

Annotated Bibliography: Digital Fluency

Resources below are listed in alphabetical order by author and include annotations written by members of the QEP Development Committee.

* indicates the article/resource is peer-reviewed.

Anand, P. & Ackley, S. (2021, June). Assessment of 21 century skills & academic literacies: From theory to practice. Asian EFL Journal. 28(3), 119-142.

This article speaks to the idea of workforce skills really well. “To be employable in the 21st century, academics and employees alike have to possess information sets, skills and abilities which were not necessarily part of 20th century capabilities (Dede, 2009)." Because of advancements in technology and telecommunication, the types of work formerly performed by a labor or clerical force have been shifted to realization by computers and machines. Complex tasks, however, such as critical thinking and communication, are increasingly allocated to human agents. Thus, the needs of the 21st century require academics and professionals to be creative, critical, and independent thinkers; problem solvers and decision makers; and communicators, collaborators, and team players( Dede, 2009; Geisinger, 2016; Greff & Kyllonen, 2016;Silva, 2009). The essence of 21C lies in what human agents can do with the knowledge that they possess. Success in the workplace or academia is no longer determined by stores of knowledge, but by implementation of knowledge in domain specific interpersonal arenas by skilled professionals.”


Association of American College and Universities. (2009). Inquiry and analysis VALUE rubric.

The AAC&U VALUE rubrics are open educational resources that encompass 16 essential learning outcomes. The outcomes include written communication, ethical reasoning, critical thinking, information literacy, problem solving, and creative thinking. The rubric is intended for general evaluation of student learning in an effort to establish a baseline of expectations of undergraduate student learning. It is not designed for grading purposes.


Autor, D.H; Levy, F.; Murnane, R.J. (2003, November 1). The skill content of recent technological change: An empirical exploration. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118(4), 1279–1333.

This article breaks down the nuts and bolts about cognitive and noncognitive behavior. They do it by asking one simple question: what is the role of a computer? Computer capital is related to being substitutes for workers in performing cognitive and manual tasks that can be accomplished by following explicit rules by performing nonroutine problem-solving and complex communications tasks. The authors argue that the computer is only as smart as the person who has proper training and education and skill set as indicated by the job labor market.


* Behar, P.A.; Grande, T.P.F.; Sonego, A.H.S; Loss, S.P. (2020, April 1). M-Learning: Focus on Digital Literacy. International Journal of Advanced Corporate Learning.

Focusing on smartphones, this article includes pedagogy suggestions for developing digital fluency through mobile learning. The authors explore the shift from computers to mobile devices in personal and education environments. Pedagogy specific to distance learning is included, such as autonomy, organization, communication, time management, and teamwork. Specific competencies are listed, which is useful for the development of learning objectives and coursework. This study focuses only on distance learning and on mobile devices as the technology used for learning.


Bratt, S. & Hodgins, L. (2017). Towards the Design of a Digital Fluency Course-An Exploratory Study.

The researchers (Bratt & Hodgins, 2017) were tasked with assessing the efficacy of a digital fluency course for library technology students. The Results of the article include "1) recommendations to adopt a more suitable textbook, 2) use strategies recommended for cohort learning and, 3) reconceptualization of ‘digital fluency’ from a computer science principles perspective to a plurality of digital literacies as conceptualized in contemporary literature." I found very useful the discussion of the definition of digital fluency, the educator-as-research model and recommendation to move from a computer science perspective to a more sociological/contextualized/digital world perspective. The researchers utilized a National Research Council’s report to elaborate on the definition of fluency and discussed two important aspects of digital fluency namely that it is 1) ability to reformulate and generate information and express it appropriately and creatively, and 2) it is not static but evolves driven by advances in technology and is contextualized. They also utilized a action education model "...which involves first-person practitioner research aimed at improving individual teaching practice… The process follows the basic iterative, self-reflective design cycle: question → plan →act → observe →reflect/report results…” The projects for the course were all project based and the collaboration enabled by digital tools meshed well with a student constructionist approach. One of the conclusions of the authors was the need to transition from a digital fluency rooted in computer science to a more sociological/contextualized/digital world perspective: “…that emphasize one’s meaningful participation in a highly contextualized, constantly evolving personal, professional, educational and social digital ecosystem, and to thrive in those spaces.” A more detailed example of a project used in the course would have been very helpful.


Briggs, C.& Makice, K. (2012). Digital fluency: Building success in the digital age. Digital Fluency, Seattle, Washington.

This book covers what is necessary for companies and their employees to transition from older technology to new technological tools, focusing on mobile devices. The authors highlight the speed within which the digital landscape moves and the need for employees and employers to keep up with changes in the digital world.


Bryn Mawr College, "Bryn Mawr Digital Competencies Framework" (2016). Blended Learning Research and Open Educational Resources. 3.

This article identifies a comprehensive framework of digital skills competencies and their associated components needed for "21st century leaders" (students). The aggregate of these skills are associated with digital fluency (although this term is not used in the article). These competencies are meant to guide faculty and staff to assess their own skills, in addition to evaluating curricular and co-curricular opportunities for students that would further develop students' digital competencies – including identifying interventions to fill gaps. An expectation of the framework is to guide students in ways to articulate or demonstrate competencies to various audiences. Recommended because: Bryn Mawr College has identified key digital competencies that aggregate into digital fluency. Lacking from this source:  A clear mode of assessment to determine if digital fluency has been achieved by students.


Carretero, S., Vuorikari, R., Punie, Y. (2018). DigComp 2.1 : The digital competence framework for citizens with eight proficiency levels and examples of use. European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Publications Office.

This publication presents not only a framework of digital competencies but also describes proficiency levels and examples that could be used to assess those competencies. This framework (DigCom) was created to support the development of the digital competence of individuals in Europe. The framework includes 21 competencies necessary to be digitally competent and maps them across 8 proficiency levels. The proficiency levels mapping could be adapted to our project to provide proficiency level granularity, assessment metrics, and learning progression of digital fluency. This will allow more flexibility for integrating this project across the college. Useful for mapping of the level of proficiency to competency dimensions, but was lacking in assessment results data.


Debeer, D., Vanbecelaere, S., van den Noortgate, W., Reynvoet, B., & Depaepe, F. (2021). The effect of adaptivity in digital learning technologies. Modelling learning efficiency using data from an educational game. British Journal of Educational Technology, 52(5), 1881–1897.

In the last 10 years there has been a since of urgency by government and edtechs to bridge the learning gap of cognitive and noncognitive of digital literacy through games K-12 and post education. This is a small study of 78 students chosen randomly for a 3- 6week study to empirically validate the beneficial impact adaptive learning technology and analysis through gaming.  Games have always been a great way of of teaching strategy and problem solving. Government and education institutions are realizing they are falling behind with people having the necessary skills to compete in today's jobs and are realizing the need to change from the traditional learning environment to be able to reach these students of today.


Dias-Trindade, S. Moreira, J.A., Ferreira, A.G. (2020). Assessment of university teachers on their digital competencies. QWERTY, 15(1), 50-69.

This article implies that it is simple for teachers to acquire digital competencies. The study was conducted in Portugal, and there are a couple of nice graphics on pages 56-57 outlining the dimensions and sub-dimensions of the instrument used in the study. The focus of ACC's QEP is on digital fluency of students, but it is interesting to note issues that may arise for faculty as well.


*Fleming, E.C., Robert, J., Sparrow, J., Wee, J., Dudas, P., & Slattery, M.J. (2021). A Digital Fluency Framework to Support 21st-Century Skills. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 53:2, 41-48.

This article develops the concept of digital fluency as a guiding framework in order to prepare students with the tools needed for 21st-century work. The framework is divided into three 'subfluencies': storytelling fluency, maker fluency, and information fluency. It seems that the authors divide up these fluencies in order to develop specific outcomes related to each respective subfluency. There's also seven common practices that apply to all of these fluencies, which reinforces the idea that digital fluency is relevant and applicable to all aspects of a general college education. The future of work is expected to be more focused on the creation of programmable content, utilization of global communication, and generation of novel media. I found the common practices that are relevant throughout the three subfluencies particularly helpful and, in terms of the assessment aspect of the QEP, I think the outcomes of each subfluency are extremely important.  Given how fresh this new concept is, I'm not sure there was anything lacking, per se. It would be interesting to see the data related to successful student job placement after the implementation of this digital fluency model.  This article provides detailed information on the needs of creating digital fluency framework.


* Goodfellow, R. (2011). Literacy and literacies and the digital in higher education. Teaching in Higher Education, 16(1), doi:10.1080/13562517.2011.544125.

This paper discusses the evolution of the term "literacy" in conjunction with various areas of knowledge with a focus on literacy as related to digital communication and technology in higher education. The authors point out the difficulty in terminology as researchers and practitioners use variations of words to mean "digital literacy," and the definition itself shifts. At the time of this article's writing (2011), Goodfellow contended that "digital literacies" were, in practice, measured with individual learners rather than by communities as a whole. It is recognized that "digital literacy" is an emerging literacy in academics and not fully encompassed by higher education pedagogy.


Horrigan, J.B. (2016, September 20). Digital readiness gaps. Pew Research Center

This is a report from the Pew Research Center that evaluates American's digital readiness. The survey explored 5 areas: "their confidence in using computers, their facility with getting new technology to work, their use of digital tools for learning, their ability to determine the trustworthiness of online information, and their familiarity with contemporary "education tech" terms." They approach the data by separating those who are "Relatively Hesitant" and those who are "Relatively more prepared." They do not look at prepared individuals but do make a point of correlating staying active and engaged in the world with digital literacy.


Institute for the Future for Dell Technologies (2019). Future of Work: Forecasting Emerging Technologies' Impact on Work in the Next Era of Human-Machine Partnerships.

The article focuses on how AI fluency can be cultivated from a platform of digital fluency and why this is important not only domestically but also globally. The article addresses ways that the worker can partner with AI technologies rather than be juxtaposed or displaced by them.  The 15 page article took the long view out to project what is needed between when the article was written and out to 2030 . This helps us imagine what we need to prepare our students for in the workplace and close the gap between what we teach and where employers are needing worker competencies to grow and excel in the future.  The focus is on many AI driven businesses and may miss the mark in some softer content where the AI skills are more incidental and other digital fluency skills are required.


Kiili, C.; Lakkala, M.; Ilomaki, L.; Toom, A.; Coiro, J.; Hamalainen, E.; Sormunen, E. (2021). Designing classroom practices for teaching online inquiry: Experiences from the field. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 0(0), pp. 1-12.

This paper is a joint collaboration with scholars in Finland and Rhode Island. It outlines lessons in online research. They clearly show overreaching design principles and flesh these principles out with detailed examples of implementing the lesson. Included in this work is a rubric that addresses the competency and the why, what and how of it.


Kim, K. T. (2019).The structural relationship among digital literacy, learning strategies, and core competencies among South Korean college students. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 19(2),3-21.

This is a study that explores the relationship between structural relationship among digital literacy, learning strategies, and core competencies and how that they are all inter related with South Korean college students that was conducted by the South Korean university. The paper includes several useful graphs and data that encompass the goals of our QEP topic.


Kropp, B., Smith, A., & Cain, M. (2021, November 19). How to build digital dexterity into your workforce. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved December 10, 2021, from

The need for digital dexterity has become increasingly important due to the COVID pandemic and more people working from home. Companies are spending more on digital tools to connect people together. Most companies are moving to a hybrid role emphasizing the need for digital fluency. Making sure the workforce is proficient in these tools is important and some companies are adding those competencies into job descriptions.  This ties into my belief that having these digital skills is critical to being able to communicate in this rapidly changing world.  The article mentions mid sized companies were surveyed but didn't list any specific company names.


Lakkala, M.; Ilomaki, L.; Kantosalo, A. (2011). Which pedagogical practices and methods best support learning digital competences? In Linked portal. Brussels: European Schoolnet.

This is an article review citing multiple research papers regarding digital competencies (the term most used in Europe but appears equivalent to fluency in our research). This researcher makes a clear argument that digital skills require practice by individuals in hands-on ways rather than just in classrooms and trainings. This closely aligns with the Digital Fluency course work currently in place at ACC for teaching word-processing, spreadsheet, and presentation tools. 


Lalonde, C. (2019, February 22). Digital Fluency vs Digital Literacy. EdTech Factotum.

Great, albeit detailed map of the digital world. The map is very comprehensive and indicates a myriad of pathways to explore the goal of coursework to include in our QEP project. It cites a 2014 report that I feel is superseded by the movement of faculty digital fluency vis a vis the COVID crisis. This article focuses on digital literacy and fluency of educators and cites a “lack of digital literacy among post-secondary educators as a barrier to the adoption of educational technology.”


* Miller, C., & Bartlett, J. (2012). 'Digital fluency': towards young people's critical use of the internet. Journal of Information Literacy, 6(2), 35-55.

Miller and Bartlett (2012) assessed young adults' perceptions of internet digital fluency in their schooling experiences. among 509 youth in the UK. Findings indicated that while 79.8% of participants felt digital fluency was essential, they also perceived that their educators had not kept up with maintaining digital fluency in their own classrooms. For example, over 50% of students reported encountering false, misleading, or biased resources in classrooms more than occasionally, and only 35.1% said they never encountered conspiracy theories in their classrooms. This resource suggests the need for promoting digital fluency not only among students, but also among educators.  This is interesting because so far, it seems like a lot of our focus has been on developing students' competencies. We'll need to focus on teachers, too, it seems. Drawback of this paper: It's in a different sample from our own.


NewsHour, P. B. S. (2016, September 16). Giving students a leg up with job skills a resume won't show. PBS. Retrieved January 17, 2022, from 

An empirical example of digital fluency at Georgetown University's "Designing the Future Initiative" uses digital badges. The digital fluency program allows students to demonstrate "soft skills" such as ethical leadership, communication, and empathy. Recruiters indicate that digital badges give more information about the student that a degree may not convey.  Provides an example of a pilot program which is an exemplar case study.


* Niessen, Shuana. (2015). What is Digital Fluency? 10.13140/RG.2.1.3412.2960. An exploration of what it means to be digitally fluent. (Paper for EC&I 830).

This paper explores the importance digital fluency and how it correlates with life-long learning. It defines digital fluency in a way that is easily understood for a concept that can be confused with digital literacy. Examines digital fluency as it pertains to both students and instructors. I found the description for the difference between digital literacy and fluency particularly helpful and easily understood. I'm unable to determine what additional content should have been included that was omitted.


NMC Horizon Project. (2017, November). 2017 Digital Literacy Impact Study: An NMC Horizon project strategic brief. Educause, 3.5.

This is a report of a higher education study of the impact of providing digital literacy training for students as undergraduates on their postgraduate career success. Researchers point out that adult learners are able to experience the risk, acceptance, uncertainty and innovation of digital skills in a safer environment prior to their career aspirations requiring comfort and often mastery of these skills.  Digital literacy includes continuous learning, skills of self-regulation and self-direction, and requires a commitment to lifelong learning that can be instilled during college years. Realistically, students and educators must recognize that digital literacy is not a one-time mastery checklist. Rather, digital literacy requires "relearning, retraining, and upskilling" throughout a lifetime. 


Pammenter, B. (2022, January 4). Creating the foundation for intuitive tech in education. Education Technology.

This article talks about how factors like having poor Wi-Fi and connectivity in an educational environment such as a university, can negatively impact the digital literacy as well as fluency of students. The article suggests that in order to prevent this, educational spaces need to establish a strong technological foundation. “This is the smart campus, and it’s the fundamental first step towards a university’s digital future”. The article goes on to suggest an example of what a smart campus can look like: Developing for example a system with mapping and wayfinding technology throughout the campus will helps us with the task of easily monitoring the movement of people throughout the campus, and with the data collected we can see how people are behaving therefore providing insights into which areas are busiest and how and why are certain areas more or less frequented. Examination of the data will allow the educational space to tailor experiences and environments to individual needs.


Patrinos, H. A. (2020, April 13). The learning challenge in the 21st century. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 9214, Available at SSRN:

Before the internet became of age learning institutions were in charge of educating and motivating students to learn in a traditional format in a classroom. As time has gone on technology has evolved and so has the antiquated ways of teaching the necessary skill sets for today's jobs . There is a major disconnect between employers and employee skill sets in problem solving, basic computer skills along with computer applications which has increased the need for CBL= computer based learning and LMS= learning management systems that has become increasingly complex and employers reaching out to educational institutions. 


Pelzel, M. (2019, April 17). Competent, Literate, Fluent: The What and Why of Digital Initiatives. Educause Review.

As digital initiatives for teaching and learning continue to gain ground within institutions of higher education, how should associated terms including literacy, competency, and fluency be distinguished? How is digital fluency different from digital literacy? In learning a foreign language, a literate person can read, speak, and listen for understanding in the new language. A fluent person can create something in the language: a story, a poem, a play, or a conversation. Similarly, digital literacy is an understanding of how to use the tools; digital fluency is the ability to create something new with those tools. This mirrors our exploration of literacy vs fluency and places the same issue in various institutes of higher education, This gives us the possibility of collaboration or gleaning from others similar explorations.


Skov, A. (2016, March). What is Digital Competence? Center for Digital Dannelse.

This is a very slick and beautiful graphic filled site originating in the EU. It has a clear definition of Digital Competency. We have not looked at literacy -> competency -> fluency. The graphics and distinctions of categories of digital users, definitions and scope of exploration are new to me. By this site, competency and fluency are similar. Can a defining of competencies help to create meaningful assessments? The website for the originator of this site is in Danish so hard to research farther.


Sparks, J.R.; Katz, I.R.; Beile, P. (2016). Assessing digital information literacy in higher education: A review of existing frameworks and assessments with recommendations for next-generation assessment. ETS Research

This report includes a chart of the various definitions of digital literacy, many of which are clearly applicable to digital fluency, as well as a suggested working definition of digital information literacy as: "the ability to function in a knowledge society through the appropriate use of information and communication technology to solve information problems, including the ability to research, organize, and synthesize information through digital technology and having a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the use of such information." Assessment of digital information literacy is explored through numerous organizations, including ETS, ACRL, UNESCO, and other. The disparate nature of self-reports compared to skills in practice is also addressed with a suggestion to use both in overall evaluations. Overall, this report covers assessment of lower level technological skills specifically related to digital literacy and separates measurement of cognitive skills (evaluating information, ethical behavior, etc.) from technology skills. 


Sparrow, J. (2018, March 12). Digital Fluency: Preparing Students to Create Big, Bold Problems. Educause Review.

How do we in higher education help students prepare for the future by becoming not only problem solvers but also problem creators? The author, Jennifer Sparrow restates our issue and adds some similar components to the mix such as curiosity fluency, communication fluency, creation fluency, and data fluency. This article discusses the importance of digital fluency now, in order to create the jobs of the future. It looks back on the jobs that were at one time non-existent and looks forward to what other careers may be created by 2030. It sheds light on the different fluencies that make up all that is digital fluency. As we work on designing assessments for this initiative, we should keep in mind that technology is ever changing. We should think of assessments that reflect the new technology and ways that may not have been thought of or used yet. This article articulates the problem, but it does not provide solutions.


Stefaniak, J., & Carey, K. (2019). Instilling purpose and value in the implementation of digital badges in higher education. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 16(1).

Digital badges are electronic symbols used as micro-credentials to document achievement or skills mastered such as course completion, professional development participation, or training completion in a particular area. With growing interest in the use of digital badges within educational institutes , research has been emerging to explore to what extent badge systems can be used in higher education and do employers really value digital badge systems over degrees or certifications or a combination of both.


*Wang, R., Wiesemes, R., Gibbons, C. (2012).Developing digital fluency through ubiquitous mobile devices: Findings from a small-scale study, Computers & Education, 58(1).

In reading the abstract, I noted how the article provides a background on generational differences, including “biological and life stage factors.” This information may serve as a foundation for how digital fluency must be used with a wide variety of (often marginalized) students. The study was small, but it was done in a higher education setting. The article “challenges the ongoing debate on generational issues on uses of mobile or other digital technologies and leads to discussion of the concept of digital fluency with all learners.”


* Wang, Q. (Emily), Myers, M. D., Sundaram, D. (2013). Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants - Towards a Model of Digital Fluency. Business & Information Systems Engineering: 5(6), 409-419.

Opposing the widespread practices of terming students as "digital natives," Wang, Myers, and Sundaram (2012) posed moving towards understanding students' skills as "digital fluency." Wang et al. defined digital fluency as "the ability to reformulate knowledge and produce information to express oneself creatively and appropriately in a digital environment" (p. 1). Their key findings were that so-called "digital natives" had a variety of technological experiences and proficiency, little difference between the divide of digital natives and digital immigrants (those who had adopted technology at an older age), and that literacy was dependent on social, demographic, and psychological factors. Because of these varying, diverse experiences, Wang et al. noted that promoting digital fluency, rather than focusing on digital nativity, was a more accurate and effective method of increasing technology use. This source seems useful in understanding our main research concept of promoting digital literacy, and potentially providing a model of assessment for assessing students' baseline digital fluency in context. Wang et al.'s model was conceptual--it was not supported in empirical data that they collected.






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