Permettre aux apprenant.e.s postsecondaires de réussir dans un monde de plus en plus numérique

Empowering postsecondary learners to succeed in an increasingly digital world

When today’s learners enter a postsecondary institution, whether they are coming straight from high school or are continuing a lifelong journey of learning, they are faced with challenges unique to these times. When today almost every human activity is now mediated through technology of some sort, learners need a fluency in digital technologies that goes way beyond a mastery of social media or even familiarity with any specific set of applications or software tools.

That digital world is always changing and evolving. Learners, professionals and citizens will need to be digitally fluent in using technology to perform daily tasks, solve complex problems and create new things. New digital technologies will be introduced throughout a learner’s lifetime and adapting these fluent, transferrable skills will be essential.

Those challenges become no less acute when learners move into or return to a workforce that demands proficiency in any number of applications from digital collaborative work environments and office productivity tools to advanced technologies such as robotics and artificial intelligence.

Faculty at Ontario’s postsecondary institutions are increasingly reporting that learners at all levels lack the levels of digital fluency required for them to succeed in school and beyond. At the most basic level, learners lack operational management skills, the ability to work with the broad range of platforms that might be deployed both in the classroom and online. Coming fresh into this level of education, they likely have never had to navigate the learning management systems that are now ubiquitous in Canada’s postsecondary institutions, or to use search engines for the kind of intensive academic research now required of them. They don’t fully know how to identify and adopt which digital tool is most ideal to createand present their work, whether than means coding, or video editing or making a podcast or even a simple PowerPoint presentation. And while these digital natives are almost certainly well-familiar with the social media and chat tools they have been using since junior high to socialise, the postsecondary environment calls for a far more structured and formal level of socialisation and communication.

Learners will improve on their digital communication skills for collaboration with their professors and peers for collaboration, and will hone the digital navigational skills required for submitting an assignment or posting to the course discussion forum. They will learn to exploit the rich capabilities of new research search engines and presentation tools and acquire the adaptability that will allow them to more readily assimilate new technologies they will encounter in the workforce or that have yet to even

be developed. In short, they need to learn how to learn in a digitally mediated world. The ultimate goal is that they acquire the ability to transfer skills and capabilities, the ability to take an existing proficiency and adapt it to new tools, new challenges and new ways of learning and working.

The task of addressing these very contemporary challenges and developing solutions to them falls squarely within the mandate of eCampusOntario, the organization that helps drive digital transformation at Ontario’s colleges, universities and Indigenous institutes while supporting government priorities and industry needs and incorporating the voice of learners. Over the past two to three years, eCampusOntario has managed Government of Ontario investments that have seen the province’s colleges, universities and Indigenous institutes initially respond to the dramatic shift to online teaching brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, and then, thoughtfully and deliberately, increase their capacity to evaluate and introduce appropriate technologies to enhance all aspects of learning. These investments have seen eCampusOntario fulfil its leadership role in improving access to postsecondary learners from all socioeconomic groups and at all stages of learning, deepening the richness of learning environments, and facilitating the development of shared educational resources that are both more beneficial and cost-effective.

The digital transformation of learners is now the focus of a Digital Fluency Accelerator Micro-credential that eCampusOntario is launching to support students in acquiring or improving their digital fluency skills to better succeed in online and hybrid learning environments. These skills empower learners to engage in content creation, digital collaboration, digital communication, operation of digital productivity technology, social media management, digital research, digital security and safety, and digital citizenship.

The pilot will see thousands of students at postsecondary institutions participate in one or more of five modules that will give them a foundational understanding of the impact current and emerging technologies are going to have in their learning and work careers, and then expand their digital fluency to embrace operational management of digital productivity tools, teach them navigational and digital creation skills, and finish with improving their digital socialisation. Students who complete all five modules will gain a digital badge that tells their peers and professors – and, eventually, their employers – that they are ready for this digitally mediated world.

For faculty, more than 100 of whom will be involved across Ontario, participation in the pilot project is a way to enhance the teaching of skills outside of their disciplinary range. By improving the digital fluency skills of their leaners, they will see these learners conduct more thorough and thoughtful research, produce creative assignment submissions, engage in better critical digital thinking and forge a higher degree of cooperation. Learners who participate in this pilot will become empowered digital and hybrid learners, making teaching learners in online and hybrid environments a more enjoyable experience.

The pilot program will deliver the research findings necessary to validate the effectiveness of this approach and to modify the modules before they are rolled out province wide. The objective is that when new learners come on board, educators can be confident that they have the basic foundational skills to succeed and thrive in their educational journey and their eventual career.

To learn more about how the Digital Fluency Accelerator Micro-credential and how educators can get involved, visit