Digital Literacies and Language: a critical examination of a general education course at a Hong Kong university

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)Conference presentation (not published in journal/proceeding/book)Teaching and learningpeer-review


Digital Literacies are increasingly important in today’s world. Those who are not digitally literate would find it difficult to operate in a digital world (Vrana, 2016). But, what exactly are digital literacies (Audrin & Audrin, 2022) and can they be effectively combined with a tertiary level English course for second language speakers?

This presentation examines a general education course titles ‘Digital Literacies and Language’ which has been run at a tertiary institution in Hong Kong. In the course, digital literacy is defined as the ability to consume, think critically about, and create multimodal digital assets such as images, podcasts and videos. This subject aims to improve students’ ability to create, modify, describe, analyse and persuade using digital assets, and therefore involves literacy in both computer skills and language skills, and higher-order thinking skills.

The presentation will critically examine the aims of the course and consider to what extent that they have been fulfilled, and also whether all the aspects being covered in the course are useful for students. The course as currently designed places an emphasis on computer skills, for example using software to edit audio or create a video. This presentation will question the value of these skills for non-experts, especially when there are new tools available which can do a similar function automatically. Instead, the author believes that rather than specific software skills being covered in the course, students should be given the skills to navigate the online world to find the tools that they need to complete different tasks. This in itself is a form of digital literacy.

In the presentation, background to the course will be provided, including the constraints that the course designers were under. An overview of the course will then be provided together with some of the examples of work produced by students taking the course. This will be followed by a review of the feedback from teachers on the course and students who were taking the course. The presentation will end with a brief outline of how the course is planned to be modified after taking the teacher and student feedback into consideration, while still operating under the original constraints.

This presentation will be useful for language teachers in higher education, and general education and other teachers with an interest in digital literacy. The lessons learned from the running of the course, and the plans for the updated course, can be borrowed by course designers who need to create / update similar courses for undergraduate students.

Audrin, C., Audrin, B. (2022). Key factors in digital literacy in learning and education: a systematic literature review using text mining. Educ Inf Technol 27, 7395–7419.

Vrana, R. (2016). Digital Literacy as a Boost Factor in Employability of Students. Communications in Computer and Information Science. 676. 169-178.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusNot published / presented only - 26 Jun 2023
EventCanada International Conference on Education - Toronto, Canada
Duration: 26 Jun 202328 Jun 2023


ConferenceCanada International Conference on Education
Abbreviated titleCICE‐2023
Internet address


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