Turn on the news, read twitter or listen to the radio and you are bound to hear the words digital and data. Governments talk about digital infrastructure, schools might be focused on digital skills or your child may be encouraged to become data literate. Sometimes it is hard to understand the difference between digital and data. Are they related? Do you need one set of skills to understand the other? This post aims to clarify the differences between digital and data skills and the relationships between the two.

Digital Skills

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) says:

Digital skills are defined as a range of abilities to use digital devices, communication applications, and networks to access and manage information.

This means that having digital skills would allow you to access the internet, pay bills, check your online banking or book cinema tickets.  You might also be able to use a spreadsheet tool to track your spending or a wordprocessing tool to write a letter.

In Scotland young people are encouraged to develop digital skills as soon as they enter pre-school and they continue to develop their digital schools throughout their time in compulsory education.

Data Skills

Data skills have become a hot topic with the increase in the use of data in all aspects of society. Today companies are using huge amounts of data to take decisions for example decisions about whether to grant mortgage applications, shortlisting for jobs, medical diagnoses, and crime prevention are made based on automatic data analysis by computers.

Data skills are defined as a range of abilities to gather, organise and interpret data to allow informed decisions to be made. Everyday examples of these skills might include reading and understanding your smart meter to to let you make decisions about your energy usage. Or using a step counter to understand your physical activity.

Children in Scotland are exposed to some data learning as part of their compulsory education, and the Data Education for Schools project is now working with schools and teachers to increase opportunities for data learning and teching.

Bringing Digital and Data Together – Literacy

A person who has digital or data skills can be described as being digitally literate or data literate

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