Text of letter in Times Educational Supplement FE Focus 16 July
Your report Digital Literacy ‘as vital as maths and English ’ (FE Focus July 2) is a very timely reminder of the importance of digital skills as the new coalition government establishes priorities in a climate of reduced public funding. The report cites a joint letter to Michael Grove which rightly asserts that ’ a digitally literate and digitally creative workforce is of vital importance to every citizen’. We at the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) not only endorse this but go further and call for all citizens – whether in work or not – to have access to skills to make the very best from the digital world. With over a third of people over 65s already using the online world it is no longer acceptable to think in terms of a lost digital generation – older adults have a place firmly in this learning territory.
In addition to learning about technology there are significant potential benefits of technology for learning. NIACE’s recent survey showed that there is significant technical infrastructure in place for adult learners and that one in three teachers in Adult Community Learning and one in six in Offender Learning are creating their own e-learning resources regularly. Added to this there is now a vast reserve of freely available digital content – so much in fact that busy teachers deserve help in how to locate it and use it in their own context. The ingredients of a digital learning future are now out there but they are not fully mixed and the cake is not baked. We join with the voices of NAACE, 157 Group, AoC and Association for Learning Technology in calling on the coalition not to allow the UK to lose its leading position in digital learning.