Skilled, LIterate & Fluent in the Digital World

I have been intrigued with the relationship of being skilled, literate and fluent in the Digital World for a while. We are focusing at school to look through the lens of fluency using technology as tools (e.g. using the iPad as the device and apps as the tool to achieve fluency), not as the end. I am wondering if the word “fluency” in the digital world, sparks the same thoughts or activates the background definition in other educators? I have heard others in the edubloggersphere use the word “workflow” instead of “fluency”.

Workflow is defined by Wikipedia as:

The sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion.

The word “workflow” c-o-u-l-d work, but still does not sound right. What about a LEARNflow? The goal in education is for our students to learn, to become life long learners and do do so unconsciously, smoothly and [as] effortlessly [as possible]… I am still mulling over the semantics here… Your input is appreciated…

fluency- workflow?- learnflow?

Looking back at my train of thought, I started by looking at the flow between the skills needed to become literate in order to move on to become fluent.

Then I moved along the lines of remembering what it felt like to NOT be fluent in a language. Words like cumbersome, painstaking, tedious, with effort and drudgingly come to mind. What feels so effortless to the fluent, is broken down in so many steps for the beginner… vocabulary words, grammar rules, exceptions, idioms…


Most monolingual people might relate how it feels to TRY to learn another language, but they cannot relate to the feeling of being fluent in that other language. Most people might find a way to understand the analogy though when looking back at learning or teaching someone else how to drive a car. So many steps, from looking around you, to keeping your distance from other cars, observing and “feeling” the speed of the vehicle, breaking, shifting, merging, side & back mirrors, etc. As “fluent” drivers we don’t have to think about each step, it just happens naturally as opposed to the novice driver.


Sports also allow for a good analogy by comparing the learning of skills, to knowing how to perform them and practice until  movements become unconscious and seem effortless.


Moving back from analogies to what being fluent in a digital world means, I stumbled across a post by Christian Briggs titled  “The Difference Between Digital Literacy and Digital Fluency“. He pointed out:

Note that a literate person is perfectly capable of using the tools. They know how to use them and what to do with them, but the outcome is less likely to match their intention. It is not until that person reaches a level of fluency, however, that they are comfortable with when to use the tools to achieve the desired outcome, and even why the tools they are using are likely to have the desired outcome at all.

Ian Jukes and Andrew Churches even wrote an entire book titled “Literacy is NOT enough: 21st Century Fluencies for the Digital Age“. A presentation by Alec Couros titled Towards Digital Fluency, inspired me to visualize the following “flow” of what digital fluency [currently] looks like to me.



The following is the slide deck that puts my train of thought together and documents my understanding of  being skilled, literate and fluent in the digital world at this moment in time.