Digital literacy and digital jargon

Untitled10Following on from Digital Present’s article about the meaning of data, this post tries to reveal the meaning of digitally related institutional jargon. UAL’s Digital Integration into Arts Learning project (DIAL) has been doing much work over the past two years investigating multiple aspects of digital literacy within arts and design HE. In the DIAL project year one evaluation report an issue was raised of “structural presentation and communication beyond DIAL’s immediate interlocutors within UAL and beyond JISC.  There is a tendency to assume a shared understanding of terminology and of decisions to change use: for example ‘open educational resources’ have at different times been called ‘open education’ and ‘open resources’.” (Year one DIAL Evaluation Report Duna Sabri October 2012).

In response to this evaluation finding DIAL created an open education web page for UAL promotion/communication at the OER13 conference. A glossary of terms was also recommended at the final DIAL advisory board meeting; this has been developed and features below:



DIAL / Digital Integration into Arts Learning The DIAL project partially funded by JISC Developing Digital Literacies Programme, is a two-year project (November 2011 to December 2013) at the University of the Arts London.
JISC / Joint Information Systems Committee The JISC are a registered charity and work on behalf of UK higher education, further education and skills to champion the use of digital technologies.
DL / Digital Literacies Digital Literacies: There are many different levels and types of DLs, these can be interest, discipline, subject, social, cultural, process and practice etc. specific.Digital Literacies: UAL practice (DIAL working definition)Self-identified digital skills and attributes needed to support personal and professional digital practice, ranging from awareness and participation, application of good practice through to participation in emergent and innovative digital practices.
Practice Practice: a general term referring to the personal and professional work being carried out within a specialist area or activity. We also use practice along side other key terms like ‘open practice’, please see below:

  • Personal: Outside work or institutional constraints (Home life)
  • Professional: Artistic work, discipline specialism creative practice (arts/design studio practice, creative industries)
  • Academic: Learning & Teaching (staff work)
  • Technical: Learning and teaching (staff work)
  • Educational: course study, research and working within a specialism(s) (student work).
  • Open: See OP and OEP below
Open Any online content, from text, images, video, comments etc. which are openly available online to view or download without the need to login or join.
OP / Open Practice Individuals and groups who share personal and professional practice online through participatory blogs and online community networks. Content (resources & ideas) are mostly unrestricted to access and freely downloadable for use and reuse, content is openly licensed using creative commons or similar (see below). 
OEP / Open educational Practice Those open practices specifically related to educational activities.
CC – Creative Commons An open licensing system to provide content creators option to add specific use guidelines to their content whilst retaining their intellectual property rights on the content/item, e.g. CC BY you can download & use my video, but please attribute me.
Hard Skills / DLs ‘How to skills’ that can be learned through training or viewing instructional videos.  Hard skills are more tangible and explicit than soft skills and are easily codified. e.g. use Photoshop, edit a video
Soft Skills / DLs Soft skills can be harder to codify than soft skills, they are hidden and more difficult to make explicit or make sense of.  They can be relational skills, the way we do something or have learnt to do something over time, through iterative processes and practice.  They are complex and emergent, they can only be understood or communicated sometimes in retrospect.
OER / Open educational resources  “OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge.” Hewlett Foundation
CoP / Communities of practice “Communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavor: A clique of pupils defining their identity in the school, a network of surgeons exploring novel techniques…. Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly”. Etienne Wenger
VLE / Virtual learning environment At UAL our VLE was Blackboard, this has now been replaced by a new VLE environment including Moodle and its related UAL tools, blogs, e-portfolios and process.arts, see VLE map here (these tools are also defined below)
MOOC / Massive Open Online Course MOOCs are large free open online courses; some MOOC’s are more ‘open’ than others.  Anyone can enroll or join a MOOC and users follow/take part in the course remotely without paying a fee for participation.  Some MOOCs are self directed and some involve the support of a teacher, however, in bery large courses support is typically minimal.  Peer networking and support can be an important aspect of some MOOCs. Some MOOCs offer accreditation for a fee. Mini MOOC is a small version of a MOOC.
Badges Open badges are digital badges (image icons), which are issued/awarded to an individual to highlight particular (hard and soft) skills gained by either taking part in a small courses/training or being a productive/effective digital citizen within a particular online peer network. The badge can be displayed on your online profile as a recognition and demonstration of your skills and experience. The digital badge also has ‘meta data’ (digital info/links) embedded into the badge to point to further information, evidence etc.
CLTAD / Centre for Learning & Teaching in Art & Design CLTAD provides professional development and support to University of the Arts London staff in learning and teaching, develops and assists the implementation of technology to support learning, undertakes and supports pedagogic research, and contributes to the strategic development of learning and teaching across the institution.
OD&L / Organisational Development and Learning UALs Organisational Development and Learning formally Development and learning. This is the staff-training department at UAL, which includes Learn IT.
process.arts is an open practice community sharing arts, design, practice & research worldwide.  The site is open to anyone to encourage open communities of practice between individuals, groups, and institutions worldwide. The site offers a rich media/social media experience to sharing arts practice, users are encouraged to openly share and use creative commons licensed content and support others in doing the same.
SCORE / Support centre for open resources in education. The aims of the SCORE Fellowship provided to Chris Follows by the Open University were to explore relationships between traditional arts practice and OER practice including: use and reuse of OER, best processes and practices, OER communities, inter-college collaborations and the development of an open Arts-UKOER community of practice.
ALTO l Arts Learning and Teaching Online ALTO was a project funded by JISC to develop the capacity of the UAL to participate in the rapidly developing open educational community movement. ALTO focused on developing institutional infrastructure and capacity to engage in open educational practice. The online tools and websites that compose the ALTO infrastructure can be found at
File Store Filestore is the name for the University’s open educational resources file sharing and storage tool. Visit the filestore site for more information. A teaching and learning blogging community at; is a learning and teaching collaborative blogging service for UAL staff and students, blogs range from from personal reflection to project group blogs. Could you add a sentence on what it might it be used for?
Workflow ePortfolio Mahara based ePortfolio platform at; its used by many staff and students at UAL to present learning and teaching, course work and professional eportfolios to the world Could you add a sentence on what it is used for?
UAL / University of the Arts London Six distinctive and distinguished Colleges make up University of the Arts London: –
CCA Camberwell College of Arts
CSM Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design
CCAD Chelsea College of Art and Design
LCC London College of Communication
LCF London College of Fashion
WCA Wimbledon College of Art.
CCW Camberwell College of Arts, Chelsea College of Art and Design and Wimbledon College of Art.

If you’d like to comment, edit, add or contribute to this list please contact: Chris Follows