Social media a new literacy. How can educators support 21st century skills in a digitally disrupted education environment?

It is undeniable that digital technologies and social media have become an important aspect of our lives. Educators are recognising opportunities for professional development on SMP (social media platforms), through informal learning, tacit knowledge and connectionist approaches. Digital technologies have impacted how professionals can engage with learning so quickly that educational providers are still catching up. New modes of learning are evolving with the introduction of new digital technologies, professionals are being empowered to be accountable for their learning experience (Oliver 2019; Williams 2019).

Current scholarship points towards smaller online courses, referred to as Micro-credentials, that provide the learner with an opportunity to target specific learning goals or outcomes. Micro-credentials have emerged as a viable option as professionals captain their own educational experiences and demand more relevant and flexible options, blurring the link between professional development and postgraduate study (James 2018).  I argue micro-credentials are an effective learning modality for creative practitioners to improve their social media literacy but acknowledge there are many unpresented challenges as formal learning methods become informal and students become more connected on SMP.

Micro-credentials have a variety of names including; MOOC’s, nano-degrees, certificates, digital badges, bootcamps (Milligan and Kennedy 2017; Oliver 2019) and are offered in a variety of fields.  For the purpose of my research I am focused on social media literacy scholarship. Scholarship discussing social media literacy is limited and therefore I have broadened my research to include micro-credentials for digital literacy specifically for industry recognition as professional development. Current micro-credentials offerings will be discussed in a future blog.

Micro-credentials have evolved through progressive technology improvements, workforce disruptions, high cost and loss of trust in university degrees. Milligan & Kennedy (2017) state “there are signs that trust is eroding in the utility of the degree”. Oliver (2019) argues that micro-credentials are emerging as a viable alternative to traditional educational institutions.  Several industry reports support this argument as a opportunity to improving Australia’s digital skills (Cunningham et al. 2016; Hajkowicz et al. 2016; Microsoft Australia 2018; Richardson and Milovidov 2017; deLaski 2019; Stewart, Katherine, Salil Gunashekar,…; Bridgstock 2014; Business Council of Australia 2016; Lucas and Smith 2018; Ferguson et al. 2019; Hasan Bakhshi Jonathan M. Downing Mic…; Siemens et al. 2015)

Knowledge is being shared and co-created by produsers (Bruns 2007) who are choosing their educational pathway and educators need to ensure their relevancy. Scholars have labeled the process of highly networked knowledge sharing as connectivism (Downes 2005; Siemens 2004).  Learning shifts need to incorporate essential 21st century skills Kivnja (2014) lists the skills in five domains:

traditional skills,

critical thinking and problem solving,

collaboration,

teamwork and leadership,

digital literacy. 

What are your thoughts on the questions I pose here? 

This blog is part of a series supporting my doctoral research.  I explore the nuance application of micro-credentials for professional development as part of my Doctoral project at Queensland University of Technology.

Your feedback or contribution to the topic is very welcome. What is your experience with micro-credentials? Are you a course developer? or been a participant?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *