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6 Digital Competency Areas for Mobile Phone Usage

By Guest Writer on June 22, 2022

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A framework that maps key digital competencies and proficiency levels can be a valuable way to support the design and assessment of mobile digital skills strategies and interventions. Most existing digital competence frameworks do not focus explicitly on mobile devices or use cases, although they can be relevant when they are device agnostic.

The following points provide guidance on designing a framework to support mobile digital skills development strategies:

  1. Build the framework around use cases that the target population finds compelling. The first step is to map the knowledge and skills the target population needs to engage in these use cases, as well as the key tasks involved.
  2. Establish the proficiency levels required for each use case, being aware that they may vary depending on the complexity of the tasks involved. Learners may also have higher levels of proficiency in some competencies than others depending on their previous experience with mobile devices and the internet.
  3. When assessing learner proficiency, consider not only the complexity of the task that the learner can manage, but also the “cognitive challenge” involved and the “autonomy” of the learner in completing the task.

Digital Competencies for Mobile Devices

The GSMA report “Developing Mobile Digital Skills in LMICs” has developed a sample framework that organisations can use. This is based on six competency areas relevant to mobile digital skills development, adapted from UNESCO’s Digital Literacy Global Framework. Each competency area can be combined with different proficiency levels. The proficiency levels included here are indicative and based on the complexity of tasks for a particular use case.

1. Set-up and configuration

The ability to set up devices, products and services, configure settings and set preferences to personal needs. Examples include acquiring, understanding and managing a data plan, setting up internet access, downloading and installing or deleting applications, creating accounts and managing device or app settings.

2. Information management

The ability to articulate information needs, to search or discover new and useful information, content and services, and to evaluate, compare and judge the relevance and trustworthiness of information and its sources.

3. Digital communication

The ability to interact, communicate, collaborate and participate in society through a variety of digital services. It also includes being able to build a positive digital identity and reputation while being aware and sensitive to others’ needs, concerns and cultural diversity.

4. Digital content creation

The ability to create, edit and share digital content with a particular audience or contribute information to an existing body of knowledge.

5. Safety and security

This is a cross-cutting competency and includes the ability to protect devices, content and personal information (e.g. the ability to change privacy settings, protect passwords), as well as physical and psychological well-being from potential online harm (including scams, malware, harassment and harmful content).

6. Problem solving

The ability to identify technical problems with devices or services, and addressing them or recognising the lack of capabilities to do so. It also includes being able to help others develop their digital competence and stay up to date with new developments.

An excerpt of Developing Mobile Digital Skills in LMICs by Lani Jacobs, GSMA

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