Topic 3 Software, tools and techniques to source, organize, share and synthesize digital information

Today it is true to say that, in most of Europe and many other parts of the world, we live in a digital society, a society permeated by the digital, in which our actions are frequently mediated by digital tools, and the objects we encounter are often shaped by digital intervention.

ICT literacy is the interest, attitude and ability of individuals to appropriately use digital technology and communication tools to access, manage, integrate and evaluate information, construct new knowledge, and communicate with others in order to participate effectively in society (Van Joolingen, 2004).

Knowledge creation

In  the  Knowledge  Creation  level,  the  goal  is  to  enable  educators  to  engage  in,  and  benefit  from,  knowledge  creation,   innovation   and   lifelong   learning.   Educators should  be  able  not  only  to  design  classroom  activities  that    advance    these    goals    but    also    to    develop    programmes,  to  support  them  throughout  the  classroom environment and beyond.

In a digital environment certain priorities must be set by both educators and learners in order to design activities that will use certain tools and techniques in order to synthesize digital information and enable creativity and innovation.

Basic ICT skills are a prerequisite for integrating technology into an educator’s duties. The digital tools identified are commonplace and popular, such as word processors, presentation packages, e-mail clients and social networking apps. However it is useful to be less specific about which tools educators deploy, allowing for the learning community to determine tools appropriate to the task at hand. The function of the digital tools – rather than the tools themselves – might be identified, to reinforce and enhance learning (UNESCO, 2018).

Concepts and Tools for Digital Literacy Development

These are more-or-less sequential functions carried out with digital tools upon digital resources of any type, within the context of a specific task or problem. The problem or task may be in any area of activity: e.g. writing an academic paper, making a multimedia presentation, or investigating one’s family tree. “Digital resources” are to be considered in the most inclusive way: a digital resource is any item which can be stored as a digital file. This includes text, images, graphics, video, music, and multimedia objects; digital resources could take the specific form of reports, academic papers, fiction, pieces of music, art works, films, games, learning materials, data collections, etc. (Martin & Grudziecki, 2015):

What is the most common adjusted element in your teaching? Why and how did you adjust to the learners needs? What was the outcome of the process? What tools did you use (if any)?

Try Plickers trial ( with your learners.

The following tools help researchers take notes and store, find, mine and manage research materials. Discuss with your colleagues which of the following could be used by adult educators.

2collab:  “2collab is a new type of research tool launched in 2007- a collaboration platform designed specifically for researchers in the science, technical and medical communities.  Intended for use by professional researchers in academic, government and corporate institutions, 2collab provides three types of features:  1. Online bookmarking and reference management.  2. Groups – for sharing with existing networks, or building new ones.  3. Networking – find, evaluate and initiate contact with new people” (Free, cross-platform)

AskSam: “a flexible and powerful way to organize information and create searchable databases from Web pages, Email, PDF files, texts, and Word documents” (Commercial, PC)

BlueOrganizer: “BlueOrganizer adds a button to your toolbar with a menu that has been automatically personalized based on your browsing history. This menu contains contextual shortcuts to make all relevant information for books, music, movies, wines, recipes, stocks, and more just 1-click away.”  (Free, Firefox add-on).

Devon Think: “DEVON Think stores your documents, scanned papers, email messages, notes, bookmarks, etc. in one place. Access live web pages seamlessly from within Think to review, extract further information.” (Commercial, Mac)

EverNote:  an application that allows you to capture information of any kind anywhere and synchronize it across all of your devices: “Take snapshots, read to-do lists, record audio whenever and wherever you like.” (Free, with premium service available; cross-platform)

Journler: “a daily notebook and entry based information manager.  Scholars , teachers, students, professors, scientists, thinkers, the business minded and writers of every persuasion use it on a daily basis to connect the written word with the media most important to them.” (Shareware, Mac)

Mendeley[Review] “free social software for managing and sharing research papers. It is also a Web 2.0 site for discovering research trends and connecting to like-minded academics.” (Free, Cross-platform)

Netvibes: a “service that brings together your favorite media sources and online services. Everything that matters to you — blogs, news, weather, videos, photos, social networks, emails and much more — is automatically updated every time you visit your Page.” (Free, web-based).

NoodleTools: Take notes, pile them on a virtual tabletop, add visual cues and tags which can then be searched and grouped, drag-and-drop notes or piles into an outline created on-the-fly or in advance (Commercial, Web-based, cross platform).

Notebook: [Review] application which offers a notebook-like interface for organizing digital information such as notes and web pages; users can annotate, search, track tasks (Commercial, Mac)

Pageflakes: personalized web portal: “you can easily customize the Internet and make it yours using ‘Flakes’ – small, movable versions of all of your web favorites that you can arrange on your personal homepage. You can also participate in the Pageflakes community, sharing your page as a ‘Pagecast’ with a private group or with the world, and connecting with other users across the globe.” (Free, web-based)

Papers: “iTunes for research”; can automatically capture bibliographic information from PDFs; browse, organize and read papers–now available for the iPhone (Commercial, Mac)

Personal Brain: “helps you organize all your Web pages, contacts, documents, emails and files in one place so that you can always find them” (Commercial, cross-platform).

Scrapbook: “Scrapbook is a Firefox extension, which helps you to save Web pages and easily manage collections. Key features are lightness, speed, accuracy and multi-language support.” (Free, browser-based)

Supermemo: “A. SuperMemo is a learning method that makes it possible to learn fast and retain memories for years    B. SuperMemo is available as an easy computer program for Windows, Windows CE, and Palm Pilot. It can also be used in a web browser, in DOS, in Linux, on Mac, on Amiga, and even without a computer    C. SuperMemo is based on the science of long-term memory” (Free, with premium versions available; cross-platform)

Twine: Twine helps you organize, share and discover information about your interests, with networks of like-minded people; can use Twine alone, with friends, groups and communities, or even in your company (Free, web-based)

Yojimbo: information manager: store and organize files, annotate, search (Commercial, Mac)

Zotero: an excellent Firefox-based research tool that lets you manage bibliographies, take notes, download resources, analyze your research, and more (Open source, cross-platform).

The DigEuLit project, funded by the EC eLearning Initiative, has a task of defining digital literacy and developing a framework and tools for digital literacy development in European educational settings. Learn more by reading the following.

DigEuLit: Concepts and Tools for Digital Literacy Development

(DigEuLit Concepts and Tools for Digital Literacy Development.pdf)

The European Digital Literacy Framework is based on the recognition that a common understanding of digital literacy would aid European student mobility across Europe, would aid the passage of students in Europe into employment, and would play a part in the preparation of students as competent practitioners in society. Specific benefits to be gained from a digital literacy framework would be:

  • Educators will be able to identify clearly the digital elements involved in any programme of learning, and the digital literacy gained therefrom, and will be able to take steps to ensure that the appropriate digital competences are delivered.
  • Learners will also be able to identify clearly the digital elements involved in any programme of learning, and the digital literacy gained therefrom, and will be able to take steps to ensure that they acquire appropriate digital competences.
  • Learning support staff will be able to identify clearly the digital elements involved in any programme of learning, and the digital literacy gained therefrom, and will be able to take steps to support activities developing digital literacy.
  • Learners will be able to keep a record of their personal development as digitally literate persons, relate this development to their career and other life objectives, and reflect upon their own progress.
  • Mapping of acquisition of digital competences and participation in activities which develop digital literacy onto a single European framework will enable comparability of achievements across Europe. This will aid student mobility and employment mobility within Europe.
  • The framework will produce added clarity for all in the understanding of digital literacy and its acquisition and usefulness, and will thereby contribute to the development of individuals as digitally literate citizens.
  • A final benefit is socio-psychological: in a fast-changing area such as the digital, a clear identification of what is involved in digital literacy and how educational provision and individual progress can both be mapped can provide a feeling of security and of confidence in tackling an digitally infused world.
  • Do you think that this Framework will affect your teaching methods and strategy regarding the digital competences of the learners?

This topic aimed to provide an understanding of digital literacy development in the European community. A list of tools and processes were presented in order for the educator to understand the importance of digital literacy at the level of creating digital information and knowledge.