Digital Nonprofit

Digital Skills Framework

  • March 19, 2018
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Developed for NetHope, the Digital Skills Framework is based on deep research into technology trends, existing frameworks, and digital skills needed for success, both now and in the future.

Historically, skills frameworks have been based around 5 common themes: Information and Digital Literacy, Communication and Collaboration, Problem-Solving, Safety, Creativity and Innovation. These existing frameworks have helped guide skills training, and have been used in businesses, and education for well over a decade.

But newer technology and trends, such as advancement in cloud technology, blockchain, AI and Machine Learning, as well as IoT need to be incorporated into the frameworks to fully identify the skills needed for employees and organizations to be successful now and in the future.

The evolution of existing frameworks combined with trends and technology advances lead to the new Digital Skills Framework:

  • Information and Digital Literacy was helpful in the first 20 years of computer technology as technology became ubiquitious. But there needs to be a deeper understanding of technology, a proficiency in data use, and the ability to follow technology trends and apply those trends to an organization. These skills lead to a new Technical Literacy, which forms the foundation for all the other skills in the framework.
  • Communication and Collaboration is still an important part of the new framework. However, now people within an organization need to participate in digital teams, share projects, tasks, calendars, tools & media. They need to work effectively across cultural, social and language barriers, while learning to share openly across networks as appropriate. This changes the skill to one of Highly Adaptive Collaboration.
  • Problem-Solving is the backbone of all employee work. Technology allows individuals to use data in figuring out answers to problems. It also means problems get more complicated with the increase in information. Employees will need to solve increasingly complex problems using research, analytics, rapid prototyping and feedback. They will have to pivot to incorporate environmental changes and organizations will need to continually build an agile environment to achieve the best solution. This skill evolves to one of Complex Problem-Solving.
  • Safety was originally geared towards keeping your private information safe, while ensuring the safety of other peoples’ personal information. With the proliferation of so many online sites – both social sites and shared sites, it is critical that employees understand their own digital footprint. In the nonprofit sector, work with vulnerable populations means safety and security of those individuals is a moral imperative. They also need to identify secure sites, as well as the benefits and risks of giving information across devices and different sites thru software. Developing a positive online identity, and building a digital reputation, while being safe leads to a skill around Digital Responsibility.
  • Creativity & Innovation remains a skill but grows to include the ability to generate new ideas or revise original ones with divergent thinking or by drawing connections thru categorization, prioritization or other segmentation. This skill uses the information available thru technology and data to make better formed decisions and allows people from different places to participate in the creative process. Organizations can then take well-formulated risks on new ideas to generate greater impact. Creativity & Innovation remains a pillar in the framework.
  • Entrepreneurial Spirit is an important part of a digital skill set. It involves a fail-fast attitude, and a feeling of ownership. Employees can look at old problems or processes with new eyes. They challenge old ways of working and are open, co-creators with a laser focus on users and customers, and an agile way of working within an organization.

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