Challenging Assumptions about IT skills in Higher Education

Lyn G Farrell


This paper challenges the idea of 'the digital native' and the subsequent assumption of digital literacy skills amongst higher education students. It offers clear evidence that current student populations come from a wider range of backgrounds than the theory allows for and that the younger student population is also more complex with varying levels of digital literacy experience. It argues that treating students as a homogenous mass is problematic and challenges the idea that generic technology skills are instantly transferable to academic study.

The paper concludes with a warning that we are letting down some of our students by the ââ¬ËInformation Technology (IT) barrierââ¬â¢ within higher education and that we should be focusing on identification of Information Technology (IT) need and IT skills acquisition support rather than assuming it is something students can ââ¬Ëpick up as they go alongââ¬â¢. This will only happen once IT is given the status of a core academic skill along with maths, information literacy and academic communication.


academic skills;IT;Information Technology;digtal native; digital native myth;student support

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ISSN: 1759-667X