Digital literacy is a struggle

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“Maaate. I am 56 years old and I don’t know how to use a computer or even the smart phone.” I have deleted the intervening swear words, nevertheless this is a regular conversation when heavy vehicle drivers want to undertake the fatigue management units TLIF2010 Apply fatigue management strategies course. For providers of On-Line, and face to face learning this is an ongoing challenge.

In a world of expanding use of communication based technologies such as smart phones, SMS’s, Emails, and Social media products, it is more than a problem with digital illiteracy, it also a problem for many in an older work place cohort whose literacy levels have them struggling in any mode of learning.

As a RTO we have to support these course applicants as they are required to complete their fatigue management training in order to drive and earn a living. They are often under pressure to engage in and complete fatigue management training in very short periods of time. Herein lies the challenge. How to support and assist them without compromising the training or impacting on the drivers self-esteem.

Consequently, many hours are spent on the phone talking with those who opt for the On-line mode, assisting them through the course. I suspect many get extra external help from family or colleagues. In Face to face settings the trainer/assessor can adjust the training to suit.. The situation is that the real long term assistance often required is impossible if the RTO is small and doesn’t have the staff as do TAFE and larger RTO’s to focus on the problem. Referring them to external Language Literacy and Numeracy support is usually ignored as the pressure to complete and work outweighs any longer term benefit.

Current Language Literacy and Numeracy programs while important and useful, don’t address the issue of digital literacy issues. Both digital literacy and language literacy are should be addressed together. Being compliant is one part of the problem. Getting compliant can have bigger challenges

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