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Digital skills: succeeding in a digital world
Digital skills: succeeding in a digital world

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Week 1: Your digital life


It is too early to tell whether the Internet’s effect on media will be as radical as that of the printing press. It is not too early to tell that there is nothing that happened between 1450 and now that comes close.

(Naughton, 2012)

Why is ‘digital’ such a big deal? Here are a few reasons. The world is connected in such a way that news is available at our fingertips as it happens. ‘Everyday activities – such as shopping, using a telephone and banking – increasingly require interaction with technology’ (House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills, 2015, p. 6). Children are born into a digital world and exposed to technology from a young age. At work, many routine processes are being automated, and according to some commentators, around 35 per cent of jobs are at high risk of computerisation (BBC News, 2015). Technology is impacting on every area of life and the speed of change is accelerating.

All this has implications for the way people live, work and study. If you are new to life online, it is not always obvious where to start. There is a saying that even the longest journey begins with a single step. This course is designed to help you to succeed in a digital world by starting with a few essential core skills. You have the opportunity to think about your own experience of buying things online or connecting via social media, or managing information on your phone, laptop or perhaps in the cloud. You'll also hear from Manuela, Michael and John – your three companions on this course – as they share their experiences of digital work, life and study.

In Week 1 you will identify your starting point and where you want to get to. To help you keep track of your learning and development, you have the chance to fill in a Digital plan (or learning journal) with actions you want to take. You can start it here in Week 1 and then keep adding to it throughout the course. You can use it to note down any insights you gain through studying this course, or perhaps things you want to explore further. It's personal to you and no-one has to see it, if you don't want them to. Now would be a good time to download the document and keep it somewhere safe for future reference.

Download: Digital plan [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

If you prefer, you can use another tool for your notes. You may already have a digital space, possibly cloud-based, or you may want to try one out – for example Microsoft OneDrive or Google Drive or a Notes app on your phone. You might prefer to keep a record of your thoughts as audio recordings. Whatever you decide, have a quick look first at the Digital plan template that we’ve provided so you get an idea of the sort of things to record.

Now watch Katharine and Wendy of The Open University (and original authors of this course) introduce Week 1 and the course:

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 1: Introduction to Week 1
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Video 1: Introduction to Week 1
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At the end of this week you will have:

  • identified and reflected on your current use of online technologies
  • thought about how confident you are online
  • started your Digital plan.

The Open University would really appreciate a few minutes of your time to tell us about yourself and your expectations for the course before you begin, in our optional start-of-course survey. Participation will be completely confidential and we will not pass on your details to others.