Improve your digital competences

February, still the beginning of a new year with all its opportunities ahead. While we made our plans about our professional and personal goals, reports are published: what can, could or should the new year bring? For instance the NMC Horizon Report that describes annual findings from the NMC Horizon Project. It is “an ongoing research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in education”. It states out six different significant challenges in the context of higher education.

Within our EEP-project we align our work to these challenges. One of them is to improve digital literacy.

You cannot educate and make students ready for the world out there without learning them relevant digital skills. You cannot just drop them in front of a computer and expect that they will be competent enough to reach whatever learning goal you had in mind (the same is true for teachers, of course). Students not always seem to be sure about how to use available tools to optimalise learning (Ellis et al.,2005).

What does it mean, digital literacy? It is true that most of our students go online every day. But being digitally competent is more than just knowing how to use a computer. “Digital literacy transcends gaining isolated technological skills to generate a deeper understanding of the digital environment, enabling intuitive adaptation to new contexts and co-creation of content with others. Becoming a digital literate is about developing skills to select the right tools for a particular context to deepen learning outcomes and engage in creative problem-solving.” The correct use of available digital tools by students cannot be taken for granted (Lust et al.,2011).

Using a portfolio as an online tool that gives ownership to the student, makes him responsible for his own learning process towards digital competency. It is the role of the teacher to guide students to use it and to give the tools and support they need to make it their own. At the KU Leuven we not only use portfolio as showcaseportfolio but also to visualize non-formal and/or prior learning. Students engage in using portfolio as a tool for guiding them through their learning process within curricular programs as well as extra-curricular activities. With our vision on education that education is about creating your own ‘future self’, personal development and academic development go hand in hand alongside our social responsabilities. Often the portfolio is chosen to be the best digital tool to demonstrate the students’ learning process, skills and competences.

In this phase of the project we focus on what students need to engage in using a portfolio, to use it as a learning tool and to ask them about the competences they think they will develop by using a portfolio.  Want to know all about it? Read it in our next blog!

Want to know more about the NMC Horizon Report? An eight minute video will guide you through the main areas.


Ilse Op de Beeck and Karen Van Eylen, Educational Development Unit – KU Leuven


Ellis, R. A., Marcus, G., & Taylor, R. (2005). Learning through inquiry: student difficulties with online course‐based Material. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning21(4), 239-252.

Lust, G., Vandewaetere, M., Ceulemans, E., Elen, J., & Clarebout, G. (2011). Tool-use in a blended undergraduate course: In Search of user profiles. Computers & Education57(3), 2135-2144.



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