Digital Skill Sets for Diverse Users: A Comparison Framework for Curriculum and Competencies

19 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 2019

See all articles by Stacey Wedlake

Stacey Wedlake

Technology and Social Change Group, University of Washington Information School

David Keyes

City of Seattle Information Technology

Karah Lothian

College of Education

Date Written: March 31, 2019


More governmental entities are supporting their residents in digital skill acquisition as part of their information and communications technology (ICT) strategies to foster digital inclusion and broadband adoption. Digital skills frameworks and curricula have been developed by community-based organizations, libraries, and companies, but there lacks a robust comparison between these resources to understand what specific skills they cover. The selection of skills and competencies covered by these trainings impacts the effectiveness of public and private investments in areas such as workforce training, education, and government application development. Understanding which skills are important and are being offered in training can help guide policy, investments and assessment. For this paper, University of Washington and the City of Seattle partnered together to identify and compare digital skills and competencies recommended by fifteen popular frameworks and curricula. This research can be used to adopt shared definitions and evaluation of skills, clarify education pathways, assess training programs, guide investments and policy, and identify important skills not currently addressed by popular resources.

For the review, we examined six digital skills and competency frameworks and nine digital skills curricula from the United States and Europe targeted at high school students or adults. We compared the skills covered across the frameworks and curricula to understand what digital literacy resources covered which skills for different learner needs. The resulting comparison identified a total of 74 distinct digital skills. We then placed these skills into ten separate categories: gateway or foundational skills (11 skills), communication (8), creation (8), device ownership (4), information skills (7), lifelong learning (3), mobile (6), online life (11), privacy and security (7), and workplace (9). Overall, frameworks covered more skills (median of 31) than curricula (median of 23) but individual curriculum covered certain topics more in-depth. We also discovered that only about half of the resources had accompanying assessments for individuals or training providers to measure skills progression. The result of this work is a tool for funders, governments, and training providers to help focus and improve their digital inclusion efforts. The research paper also recommends future action and collaborative efforts to clarify and align learning pathways, expand the application of the comparative tools, develop new training and competency standards, and guide investments in digital skills training and materials.

Keywords: digital inclusion, digital skills, frameworks, curriculum, digital literacy, education, ICT, equity

JEL Classification: 124, 125, 128, 033, 038

Suggested Citation

Wedlake, Stacey and Keyes, David and Lothian, Karah, Digital Skill Sets for Diverse Users: A Comparison Framework for Curriculum and Competencies (March 31, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Stacey Wedlake (Contact Author)

Technology and Social Change Group, University of Washington Information School ( email )

Box 353350
Seattle, WA 98195
United States


David Keyes

City of Seattle Information Technology ( email )

700 5th Avenue, Suite 2700
Seattle, WA 98124
United States
206-386-9759 (Phone)


Karah Lothian

College of Education ( email )

Seattle, WA
United States

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