Working towards a digital data literacy framework for the Caribbean

Isn’t This Project Great?
Wow! I am super-excited about our Digital Data Literacy project "Ayitic Goes Global: Empowering Women through Digital Markets". This project is about giving youth and, women in particular, digital data skills to be employed locally within the Caribbean, and internationally. Isn’t this project great? This is an opportunity for Caribbean youth, especially women, to improve their educational levels and work in the booming and highly paid world of digital data, thereby gaining economic and social well-being. To ensure they are well-prepared and meet international standards we are developing the Digital Data Literacy Framework for the Caribbean. The first country where our Framework will be rolled out is in beautiful Haiti, the land of Toussaint L’Overture. Have you visited their beaches? You must!

Powerful Stuff
The Framework will give Caribbean countries a common training and educational reference tool with which to work. The same curriculum with various levels of competencies available in Haiti will eventually be propagated for all islands, through the Caribbean School of Data. This is powerful stuff. The common framework can promote inter-island mobility among graduates because employers will have a common currency by which to evaluate employee’s digital competencies; learners can take charge of their learning by having a tool that will show exactly what digital skills they need to have to function in particular jobs. And for my teaching friends, especially those teaching digital and data courses, who are always complaining about their heavy work-load (you are right, you have a lot to do) this framework will reduce your work-load since less time be spent researching digital competencies because they would be easily identifiable in the framework’s repository.

Attitude is Important
Developing, adapting or adopting a framework is no easy task (I’m not complaining, I’m just saying). The framework must be contextually important for Caribbean countries and serve as a policy document to be utilized by:

  • Policy Makers
  • Education and Training Institutes: Students and Teachers
  • Industry: business owners and employees

The first step we took towards developing a relevant framework was deciding what Digital Data Literacy means to my beautiful Caribbean people. I have heard of, and seen, foreign programs imported into the Caribbean fail because they did not take the unique cultural complexities of the islands into consideration. Well, not this framework. We chose a holistic definition that includes Knowledge and Skills pertaining to digital data but also Attitude. Attitude is important for our approach to digital literacy, because as Caribbean people, we are culturally unique: we give our online password to everyone - from our girlfriend to our nennen (God-Mother) - and we might be prone to telling the customers online exactly what we think about them. I love my Caribbean people. With our holistic approach to Digital Data Literacy learners acquire skills by actually doing the tasks.

DigComp 2.1
After selecting our definition, we decided that any framework developed, adopted or adapted must build around it. Many hours were spent reviewing existing frameworks (again, I am not complaining, this was a labor of love), in the end, we selected a framework DigComp 2.1 to guide Digital Data Literacy Caribbean efforts. It is very appropriate for a Caribbean context and offers many benefits including:

  • It is built upon the holistic definition of Attitudes, Knowledge and Skills
  • It lends itself to blended learning, which means that you can be educated face to face but also on your cell phone (I told you this was powerful).
  • Caribbean countries have been adopting Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) models which are competency-based thus, rendering DigComp 2.1 a seamless fit into the Caribbean approach.
  • It facilitates modular learning and Accreditation for Prior Learning. Caribbean learners can be trained depending on individual needs. Experience and previous learning are taken into consideration.
  • It’s openness and flexibility allows for adaptation to address the needs of specific target groups and their context, rather than imposing pre-defined solutions.

Exciting Times Ahead
Remember, there are additional benefits which, because of blog space and the fact its 2 a.m. (yes, I am complaining), that I cannot list. Now that our framework, DigComp 2.1, has been selected we are progressing to the next stage, which will involve:

  • Designing the set of digital skills profiles that identify the mix of competences and proficiency levels for our target learners
  • Developing educational materials (both courses and assessment tools) for our project in Haiti and the wider Caribbean

Exciting times ahead, so keep an eye out for our next update. You will like it!

Shurland George M.Sc. PMP is a Consultant and Researcher specialized in Education, Tourism, Open Data and all things Caribbean development. He is especially excited since he recently found out that his Great Great Grandmother was of half CARIB decent (original people of the Caribbean) and now sees himself as the Original Caribbean Man.