Not surprisingly, we’re ending this project the same way we began: convinced that digital literacies are important for the online learner, and adamant that learners need support to develop the digital literacies required for online learning success. Assessing the Athabasca MOOC Learning to Learn Online through the lens of digital literacy opened our eyes to a few considerations we hadn’t previously thought of, so we’d like to end this book with a few general observations.
Since online learning requires digital literacy, it is inherently not accessible to everyone. Even in a course that is about teaching learners to learn online, there is a need for learners in the course to have a basic level of digital literacy. The MOOC instructors did well structuring the course and providing resources to support learners in this regard, but it’s worth noting that, for some, this limited access to technology will always be a barrier to participation.
Throughout the book, we have discussed ways the MOOC both implicitly, through various activities and discussions, and explicitly, through direct instruction, taught digital literacy. We couldn’t help but wonder: Is one of these ways better than the other? Our consensus is no; both implicit and explicit learning is important when it comes to teaching digital literacy. A learner may be able to learn the steps involved in using a digital tool to create a video, for example, through direct instruction, but they will continue to learn so much more once they attempt to create their own video. We also believe that direct instruction, as related to the digital literacies, is important for the simple fact that it helps a student to be aware of digital literacy and what that entails. Introducing learners to the bigger picture of digital literacies can help them self-identify the skills they already have as well as the skills they lack, and can help them further understand when and how to implement these skills. Having the skills and knowledge that make up digital literacy is important, but an explicit understanding of what digital literacy is and entails is of equal importance to both the learner and the instructor.
At the end of the day, if we want to live in a world where all learners can thrive in online learning environments, we need to be engaging in conversations surrounding digital literacies.