Digital Literacy in Post-certification Healthcare Education


  • Veronica Montebello University of Malta



digital literacy, healthcare education, post-certification, higher education


Digitally mediated contexts are proliferating across all professional disciplines and also transverse social cultures in higher education worldwide. Malta is no exception. Financial pressures, keeping up with international advances, maintaining standards and changing patterns of lifelong learning are driving the education institutions to adopt online modes of communication, interaction and education. As expected, these changes can also be evidenced in the healthcare education sector. This inevitably brings with it a drive towards innovative modalities of interaction, carrying out research and in the pedagogy of teaching and learning. More importantly it necessitates an institutional shift towards prioritising the development of digital literacy among higher education students and academics alike. This does come with challenges – financial and logistical – but significant in the case of post-certification students is the varying degrees of digital literacy competences, combined with a packed curriculum, to be covered in a restrained timeframe, in combination with work and personal commitments. Additionally, a large percentage of these students have gone through their education in the traditional format, and therefore studying in a technology-centric environment presents unique difficulties. The following report presents recommendations envisaged to overcome the challenges around digital literacy in post-certification healthcare professionals. It is to be highlighted that many of the proposals are applicable to the development of digital literacy within the wider higher education community and are not restricted to post-certification healthcare professions alone.

Author Biography

Veronica Montebello, University of Malta

Veronica Montebello is a Dental Hygienist and a lecturer on both traditionally and online delivered modules at the University of Malta. Holding a BSc in Health Science, a PgCert in Statistics and an MSc in Blended and Online Education with Edinburgh Napier University, she has just embarked on a PhD.


Aviram, A., & Eshet-Alkalai, Y. (2006). Towards a theory of digital literacy: three scenarios for the next steps. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 1, 1-11.

Bawden, D. (2008). Origins and concepts of digital literacy. Digital literacies: Concepts, policies and practices, 17-32.

Beetham, H., & Sharpe, R. (2010) ‘Digital literacies workshop’, Paper presented at the JISC Learning Literacies Workshop, Birmingham [online], retrieved 24 January, 2014, from Digital Literacy Workshop materials

Bloom, B.S. (Ed.). (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals: Handbook I, cognitive domain. New York: Longman.

Buckingham, D. (2010). Defining digital literacy: what do people need to know about digital media? Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 4, 264-277. doi:

Casey, L., & Bruce, B. C. (2011). The practice profile of inquiry: Connecting digital literacy and pedagogy. E-Learning and Digital Media, 8(1), 76-85. doi:

Distance and E-Learning Committee, University of Malta. (2012). E-Learning Strategy: Development Framework. Retrieved 24 January, 2014, from

European Commission (2004). e-Health - making healthcare better for European citizens: An action plan for a European e-Health Area. Brussels. Retrieved 24 January, 2014, from

European Commission (2010).Digital Agenda for Europe retrieved 24 January, 2014, from

European Commission (2013)a. Digital Agenda for Europe: A Europe 2020 Initiative. Action 57: Prioritize digital literacy and competences for the European Social Fund. Retrieved 24 January, 2014, from

European Commission (2013)b. Digital Agenda for Europe: A Europe 2020 Initiative. Measuring Digital Skills across the EU: EU wide indicators of Digital Competence. Retrieved 24 January, 2014, from

European Commission (2013)c. Digital Agenda for Europe: A Europe 2020 Initiative.The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). Retrieved 24 January, 2014, from

Gilster, P., & Glister, P. (1997). Digital literacy. New York: Wiley.

Goodfellow, R. (2011). Literacy, literacies and the digital in higher education.Teaching in Higher Education, 16(1), 131-144. doi:

JISC (2012). Developing Digital Literacies: Briefing paper. Retrieved 24 January, 2014, from

JISC. (2014)a. Seven Elements Model of Digital Literacies retrieved from

JISC. (2014)b. Developing students digital literacy: Quick guide. Retrieved 24 January, 2014, from

JISC info Kit. (2014). Developing digital literacies. Retrieved 24 January, 2014, from

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2015). NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Kent, P. & Holdway, M. (2009). Interactive whiteboards, productive pedagogies and literacy teaching in a primary context. Literacy learning: the Middle Years, 17, (1).

Knebel, E., & Greiner, A. C. (Eds.). (2003). Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality. Chicago: National Academies Press.

Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2008). Digital literacies: concepts, policies and practices. New York: Peter Lang.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:

Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE). (2015). Changing the learning landscape. Connect to the future. Retrieved 24 January, 2014, from

Littlejohn, A., Beetham, H., & McGill, L. (2012). Learning at the digital frontier: A review of digital literacies in theory and practice. Journal of computer assisted learning, 28(6), 547-556. doi:

Martin, A., & Grudziecki, J. (2006). DigEuLit: Concepts and tools for digital literacy development. Innovation in Teaching and Learning in Information and Computer Sciences, 5(4), 249-267. doi:

McLoughlin, C. (2001). Inclusivity and alignment: Principles of pedagogy, task and assessment design for effective cross‐cultural online learning. Distance Education, 22(1), 7-29. doi:

Milton, M., & Vozzo, L. (2013). Digital literacy and digital pedagogies for teaching literacy: Pre-service teachers’ experience on teaching rounds. Journal of Literacy and Technology, 14(1), 72-97.

Ministry of Education and Employment (2012). A National Curriculum Framework for All. Sliema: Salesian Press.

Ministry of Education and Employment (2014). National Literacy Strategy for All 2014-2019. Retrieved 24 January, 2014, from

Murray, M. C., & Pérez, J. (2014).Unraveling the digital literacy paradox: How higher education fails at the fourth literacy. Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology, 11.

New Zealand Ministry of Education (2003). Digital horizons: Learning through ICT. Retrieved 24 January, 2014, from

Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development. (2013). OECD skills outlook 2013: First results from the survey of adult skills. Retrieved 24 January, 2014, from

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2003). The virtual student: A profile and guide to working with online learners. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Pérez, J., & Murray, M. C. (2010). Generativity: The new frontier for information and communication technology literacy. Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge and Management, 5, 127-137.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the horizon,9(5), 1-6. doi:

Restall, B., Giest, S., Dumortier, J., & Artmann, J. (2010). eHealth strategy Country Brief: Malta. Retrieved 24 January, 2014, from

Schutt, M. A., & Hightower, B. (2009). Enhancing RN-to-BSN students' information literacy skills through the use of instructional technology. The Journal of Nursing Education, 48(2), 101-105. doi:

Seale, J., Draffan, E. A., & Wald, M. (2010). Digital agility and digital decision‐making: conceptualising digital inclusion in the context of disabled learners in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 35(4), 445-461. doi:

Sharpe, R. (2010). Conceptualizing differences in learners' experiences of e-learning: a review of contextual models: Report of the Higher Education Academy Learner Difference (HEALD) synthesis project. Retrieved 24 January, 2014, from

Sharpe, R., & Beetham, H. (2010). Understanding students’ uses of technology for learning: towards creative appropriation in Sharpe, R., Beetham, H. and De Freitas, S. (eds.) Rethinking Learning for a Digital Age: How learners are shaping their own experiences. London and New York: Routledge (pp. 85-99).

Wenger, E., McDermott, R. A., & Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge. Cambridge: Harvard Business Press.

Williams, P., & Rowlands, I. (2010). Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future. (JISC study) Retrieved 24 January, 2014, from






Reflective Analysis Papers