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Adobe Education blog post: NMC Digital Literacy Impact Study

New NMC study examines the impact of digital literacy education on career success.

By Karen McCavitt, Group Manager, Worldwide Marketing for Education Enterprise, Adobe

New Media Consortium (NMC) just published 2017 Digital Literacy Impact Study: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief, a new independent study that looks at how digital literacy training in higher education affects the occupational success of postgraduates. Commissioned by Adobe, the study explores the aspects of digital literacy that postgraduates learn, use, and apply after they enter the workforce — and the findings are enlightening.

With technological changes rapidly reshaping the future of work, it’s critical that postgraduates have digital skills not just for consuming content but for creating content as well. To remain employed and advance in their careers, they need the agility and willingness to continue learning. They also need soft skills like creativity and the ability to collaborate, think critically, and solve problems creatively. Digital literacy training teaches all of these skills, and the NMC study examines the many impacts of this type of learning on the workforce.

Key findings from the study include the following:

  • Students who are exposed to digital literacies in higher education begin to develop digital skill competence. For example, surveyed postgraduates credited the applied technical courses they took in college with their increased technical abilities and digital literacy.
  • Gaps in digital skill sets arise when schools don’t take an applied approach to learning with technology. The study shows a clear need for schools to have students create digital projects that offer evidence of their work, showcase experiences, deliver narratives, and more in order for them to develop digital literacy.
  • Digital literacy education helps learners transfer these skills and knowledge to the workforce. The findings link digital literacy learning, confidence, experience, and work activity to occupational success.
  • Exposure to digital literacy in higher education encourages continuous learning of digital skills and knowledge. Surveyed postgraduates reported that digital skills require an ongoing need for training. By starting with a solid foundation in school, students are well-positioned to develop the momentum and curiosity they need to meet the demands of the workforce.

The impact study reveals that digital literacy goes beyond knowing how to operate a particular set of digital tools. It shows how learners who can use digital tools to design and develop original work are the ones who are well-positioned to adapt to different work environments, make contributions, and be successful.

The study also provides higher education institutions with recommendations for how to advance digital literacies and skill development to drive postgraduates’ occupational success. These include assessing the digital literacy gap with help from industry partners, redesigning learning and development systems to align with the future of work, and cultivating the habits and opportunities for lifelong learning.

Adobe supports higher education institutions as they create innovative digital literacy curricula to help prepare students for the future. We offer teaching and learning tools, modules, rubrics, student examples, and higher education case studies through our Adobe for Academics site within the Adobe Education Exchange. And many colleges and universities have partnered with Adobe to provide Adobe Creative Cloud to their students and faculty, including Clemson University, Penn State, the University of Arizona, the University of Miami, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

We also work with industry partners to develop students’ and postgraduates’ skill sets through our internship programs, certification programs, design and analytics competitions, and more.

We encourage everyone to read the NMC Digital Literacy Impact Study as well as the complementary brief, Digital Literacy in Higher Education, Part II, that was published in August. Both are available online, free of charge, under a Creative Commons license for easy duplication and distribution.

Writer Biline:

Karen McCavitt

Karen McCavitt
Senior Group Manager, Worldwide Marketing – Education Enterprise, Adobe Systems

Karen McCavitt joined Adobe in the fall of 2012 to manage worldwide marketing and programs for Higher Education Institutions. McCavitt brings years of experience in all facets of marketing, helping leading technology companies successfully promote their products and solutions to Education Institutions and Commercial companies. During her career, Karen McCavitt spent 11 years working for Apple, five of which included driving the growth of Apple’s market share among college students.

Karen holds a B.S.B.A. in Marketing and is a graduate of the Marketing Management Executive Program from Columbia University.