Much is reported and discussed lately over the so-called digital media and the competence connected to that. But what is standing behind it? What is part of the digital media and what kind of competence one must acquire?

By the far-reaching development in the area of digitalization, also the different kinds of media digitally used have changed enormously within the last few years. If these were only computer-assisted media, such as internet, emails or eLearning, at the beginning, the mobile supported media also were included primarily by tablets and mobile phones within the last couple of years. Additional media like videos, music, webinar tools or social media like facebook, twitter, whatsApp & co were included. Digital is equal to internet based as the data are transmitted in digital form.

And which competences in regards to digital media one should be able to use nowadays both in the private and in the professional life? Besides the writing and handling of emails, of course the search via internet services as google is part of today as much as making and loading videos and music, taking part at virtual meetings or trainings via webinar software, chatting and spreading of news via the different channels of the social media. In the different professional sectors there are respectively additional competences with digital media.

If one takes the education sector as an example, nowadays teachers, trainers and lecturers should know how to include digital media in the educational concept – and thus not only in the use of one’s own but also for the use of the students or training participants. New alternatives have arisen with the digital media to accompany and to support optimally the learning process for the learners. Moreover, these can also increasingly take on the responsibility for their own learning, to process and pass on knowledge with these media. Additionally, digital media pave the way to be able to tailor individual learning to the needs of the single learner regarding content, ways and learning methods. Christian Lindner, the chairman of the German party FDP, has once used a beautiful comparison for this. By the digitalization we promote the taxi principle and no more the bus principle – every person can be picked up there where he/she just stands with his/her knowledge and development. In the long run this promotes a more efficient and more chance suitable education.

But in education should one completely only teach and learn now with digital methods? No! And here are all stakeholders of the education system in demand: education experts, teachers and persons from different professional sectors. A clever overlapping is asked here by analogously and digitally learning or teaching. Only by the mixture of analogous and digital methods the learning transfer and therefore learning new competences are also secured.

Digital media aren’t a short-term trend which will pull past us! They are in the meantime part of everyday life of all sections of the population, an extended possibility to access information and knowledge, as well as to communicate and to participate with other parts of the society in an at the same time more informal and more direct way.

Digital media competence must be learned, however. And this includes in no case only the technical use of digital learning material, but also acquiring competences for a self-determined and critical as well as a productive and creative handling with digital media. This media competence can be learned! Therefore, I advise you, in case it still haven’t happened, urgently: beam yourself finally into the digital age – otherwise this will be no longer necessary for you sometime!


Author: Ann-Katrin Hardenberg