Towards inclusive digital literacy and learning:
Interest in digital literacy and learning has increased in higher education, especially since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, much has been written about the challenges and limits of ‘digitization’, as in the recent article by Roberta Malee Bassett.
One initiative that addresses some of these challenges is Go Digital ASEAN, which was attended by Nurul Farah Fantasy, a student at Universiti Brunei Darussalam.
Go Digital ASEAN is a local initiative implemented by the Asia Foundation in 2020 with the support of Google.org. It aims to equip micro and small businesses and young workers with the essential skills and tools to participate in and benefit from the digital economy.
The main goal of this initiative is to bring underprivileged communities, including women and youth, to ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) rural areas of digital integration and literacy. Go Digital ASEAN is also committed to mitigating the negative effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
In July 2020, after Brunei lifted the national blockade, the Go Digital ASEAN initiative was launched in Brunei as a national event, attracting a lot of attention, especially from university students and young people. Brunei’s Go Digital ASEAN is led by the Big BWN Project, a local non-governmental organization.
The initiative realized that it was essential for economic diversification in line with Brunei’s Wawasan 2035 vision. The initiative was officially launched in August 2020. It targets youth with fewer jobs, inferior communities and indigenous groups, as well as people with disabilities across the country. The project takes place through several individual workshops and tutorials.
Digital literacy and higher education
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit higher education institutions around the world, forcing them to go digital in their education offerings. At that time, many universities and their administrators, as well as professors and students, were unprepared to adapt to this unexpected new model.
In Brunei, higher education students often benefit from their institutions integrating some form of online learning, such as the Canvas Learning Management System, even before the pandemic crisis.
In line with Brunei’s Wawasan 2035 vision, it provides the necessary infrastructure to prepare for the future; and now the need has accelerated and the concept of “preparing for the future” has become clearer to us.
From Leng, Sothy Kheng, and Tineke Water write about the ‘digitization’ of the Cambodian context and make a number of urgent and practical proposals to effectively promote digital education and learning in government and its higher education institutions.
These tips include blended learning, inverted classroom models, and investments in digital infrastructure and literacy. On a larger scale, this sense of urgency to adapt to digital literacy reflects the reality of many Asian countries.
Online education and digital literacy are often interpreted as simply doing everything online, filling the spaces with digital machines and equipment, and completing everything from “physical” settings to online platforms like Dr. Copy John Vu.
Computer scientist and university professor with extensive teaching experience in several countries, including the United States and Vietnam, Dr. Discover that online learning and digital literacy involve understanding, implementation, and advanced pedagogy.
They work interactively with specific attention to learning, participation, and the will to learn themselves, with/from colleagues and with/from teachers. It also means that the university professor must be up-to-date and equipped with this understanding and pedagogy.
Digital marketing and employability
The ongoing Go Digital ASEAN initiative includes more than 2,000 volunteer trainers across the region, including Nurul Farah Fantasy. They came together to provide workshops and guidance to a diverse target group.
Fantasy has managed to form several working and digital marketing groups that few people know about. It demonstrates the importance of introducing digital skills to the general public, as well as other topics related to digital literacy, such as cybersecurity, e-commerce, and digital workforce issues.
The Go Digital ASEAN project shows how technology can help them and increase their chances of presenting their skills, knowledge, ideas, and products to a much wider audience.
The project demonstrates the importance of lifelong learning and how lifelong learning can deliver many positive outcomes for disadvantaged communities and young people.
Through module AZ-3309 “Education and Society in a Globalized World”, Fantasy discovers that she can have a sociological perspective on what she experiences in her daily life. Before and during her studies, she questioned the relevance of her studies in sociology and anthropology and believed that she would not create a specific career for students.
Building an inclusive digital community
Through her experience of and exposure to digital literacy and online learning and her knowledge of how to manage a digital home, Fantasy is also aware of many conflicting problems and responses from individuals. She believes it is essential not to blindly look at students who are struggling in different ways and learning online.
Although institutions and governments play an important role in your education and can provide the necessary infrastructure and training, we must remember that education is an ecosystem; and educators, institutions, governments, parents, students, and other members of society all play a role in the parenting journey.
The same can be said of building a digital community. It requires a community-wide approach.
Evidence points to a wide range of experiences, insights, aspirations, and decisions that administrators, students, and educators make regarding digital and online learning. Although the results and implications of online delivery are still controversial, one thing is certain: more initiatives are needed to promote certain aspects of digital literacy appropriate to the situation of different individuals.