Dr. Doug Belshaw consults around digital literacies, Open Badges, and educational technology.

Page 3

Digital Skills and Digital Literacy: knowing the difference and teaching both


I was delighted to be notified on Twitter that a recent Literacy Today article heavily features my work around digital literacies. The main article by Baha Mali is accompanied by a ‘sidebar’ by Ian O'Byrne (a friend and valuable contributor to the Web Literacy Map work I led at Mozilla).

The focus of the article is on the Eight Essential Elements of Digital Literacies that I outline in my thesis, TEDx talk, and ebook.

Update (8th January 2016): I’ve been asked by the editor of Literacy Today to remove the link to the PDF. However, it’s been selected as one of the articles which will become open-access in February 2016. The link will appear via the magazine website.

Update (3rd February 2016): These articles are now freely available online:

  • Knowing the Difference Between Digital Skills and Digital Literacies, and Teaching Both
  • Perspectives of Digital Literacies


Continue reading →

How I’ve achieved notification nirvana with a smartphone / smartband combo

TL;DR I’m using a cheap Sony SmartBand SWR10 to get selective vibrating notifications on my wrist from my Android phone. I never miss anything important, and I’m not constantly checking my devices.

Sony SmartBand SWR10 - image via Digital Trends

Every year I take between one and two months away from social media and blogging. I call this period Belshaw Black Ops. One of the things I’ve really enjoyed during these periods is not being constantly interrupted by notifications.

The problem with notifications systems on smartphones is that they’re still reasonably immature. You’re never really sure which ones are unmissable and which ones are just fairly meaningless social updates. When a pre-requisite of your job is ‘keeping up to date’ it’s difficult to flick the binary switch to off.

Thankfully, I’ve come across a cheap and easy way to simplify all of this. After finding out about the existence of Sony smartbands via HotUKDeals...

Continue reading →

Web Literacy Map v2.0

I’m delighted to see that development of Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map is still continuing after my departure a few months ago.

Read, Write, Participate

Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, wrote a blog post outlining the way forward and a working group has been put together to drive forward further activity. It’s great to see Mark Lesser being used as a bridge to previous iterations.

Another thing I’m excited to see is the commitment to use Open Badges to credential Web Literacy skills. We tinkered with badges a little last year, but hopefully there’ll be a new impetus around this.

The approach to take the Web Literacy Map from version 1.5 to version 2.0 is going to be different from the past few years. It’s going to be a ‘task force’ approach with people brought in to lend their expertise rather than a fully open community approach. That’s probably what’s needed at this point.


Continue reading →

Ian O'Byrne interviews me about leading development of Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map

A couple of months ago I left my position as Web Literacy Lead at the Mozilla Foundation to set up Dynamic Skillset, my new consultancy. My role from 2013 to 2015 at Mozilla involved leading a community effort to create and sustain what was first called a Web Literacy ‘Standard’, and then a Web Literacy Map. Version 1.1 of this can be found at Mozilla’s new ‘teach’ site and you may also be interested in the whitepaper I co-authored Why Mozilla cares about Web Literacy.

One of the key members of Mozilla’s web literacy community is Ian O'Byrne, an academic and teacher. Recently, along with Greg McVerry, we recently put together an paper for the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy entitled Guiding Students as They Explore, Build, and Connect Online. It’s paywalled, sadly, but you can find a pre-print via Ian’s blog post. As part of the process of releasing the paper, Ian’s got a...

Continue reading →

A conversation with Helen Beetham around digital literacies

Helen Beetham got in touch recently asking for a conversation about some work she’s doing with Jisc. I jumped at the chance as she’s got an extremely sharp mind - particularly when it comes to digital literacies.

Although I wasn’t expecting her to do so, I was delighted when Helen informed me that she’d created a transcript of most of our discussion. She’s also been kind enough to give me the go-ahead to post it here.

Splashy animal

In what follows I reference my work around the eight elements of digital literacies as expressed in my e-book. Helen began by outlining the particular project she’s working on, expressing how difficult it is to define ‘digital literacy’ as a fixed set of terms.

Doug: That’s something I realised from my work – people always want to problematise terms and pick apart what you mean by ‘e-safety’ or the ‘civic element’. That’s why I ended up with an approach that means...

Continue reading →

Web Literacy Map v1.5 is now live at

Mozilla has soft-launched This provides a new home for the Web Literacy Map, which now stands at v1.5.

Web Literacy Map v1.5

While I’m a bit sad at the lack of colour compared to the previous version, at least it’s live and underpinning the ‘Teach Like Mozilla’ work!

  • Click here to see it
  • Full list of skills/competencies

Questions? Comments? I’m @dajbelshaw or you can email me:

View →

Guiding Students as They Explore, Build, and Connect Online

Ian O'Byne, Greg McVerry and I have just had an article published in the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy (JAAL). Entitled Guiding Students as They Explore, Build, and Connect Online it’s an attempt to situate and explain the importance of the Web Literacy Map work.


I’d have preferred it be published in an open access journal, but there was a window of opportunity that we decided to take advantage of. Happily, you can access the pre-publication version via Ian’s blog here.


  • Why Mozilla cares about Web Literacy

Cite this article:

McVerry, J.G., Belshaw, D. & Ian O'Byrne, W. (2015). Guiding Students as They Explore, Build, and Connect Online. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 58(8), 632–635. doi: 10.1002/jaal.411

Continue reading →

Web Literacy Map v1.5

I’m delighted to announce that, as a result of a process that started back in late August 2014, the Mozilla community has defined the skills and competencies that make up v1.5 of the Web Literacy Map.

Cheers - DiCaprio.gif

Visual design work will be forthcoming with the launch of, but I wanted to share the list of skills and competencies as soon as possible:


Reading the Web


Using software tools to browse the web

  • Accessing the web using the common features of a browser
  • Using hyperlinks to access a range of resources on the web
  • Reading, evaluating, and manipulating URLs
  • Recognizing the common visual cues in web services
  • Exploring browser add-ons and extensions to provide additional functionality

Web Mechanics

Understanding the web ecosystem and Internet stack

  • Using and understanding the differences between URLs, IP addresses and search terms
  • Identifying...

Continue reading →

Hive Toronto privacy badges

Hive Toronto privacy badges

I really like these badges, part of work carried out by Hive Toronto and funded by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

  • Data Trail Timeline
  • IP Address Tracer
  • Privacy Coach

I’m an advisor to the project, but most of the hard work is being done by Karen Smith. The badges are informed (of course!) by the Privacy competency of Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map.

Each of the badges links to activities that help learners get to grips with the various aspects of privacy. As these have been created using Webmaker’s Thimble tool it’s straightforward to remix them for your own use!

Continue reading →

The final push for Web Literacy Map v1.5 (and how you can get involved!)

By the end of March 2015 we should have a new, localised iteration of Mozilla’s Web Literacy Map. We’re calling this ‘version 1.5’ and it’s important to note that this is a point release rather than a major new version.

Cat with skills

Right now we’re at the point where we’ve locked down the competencies and are now diving into the skills underpinning those competencies. To help, we’ve got a epic spreadsheet with a couple of tabs:


The REVIEW tab contains lots of comments about the suitability of the skills for v1.5. On this week’s community call we copied those skills that had no comments about them to the REFINE tab:


This is where we need your help. We’ve got skills in the REVIEW tab that, with some tweaking, can help round out those skills we’ve already transferred. It would be great if you could help us discuss and debate those. There’s also some new competencies that have no skills defined...

Continue reading →