This paper explores the evolution of digital communication skills development in post-secondary educational institutions around the world. It considers how expectations of and opportunities for effective digital communicators extend well beyond the domain of graphic and visual artists, videographers, and web designers. Today, competencies that have traditionally been expected from art and design professionals are now expected from professionals working in such disciplines as journalism, education, and medicine. The emergence of new post-secondary fields of study such as informatics, medical imaging, instructional design, and educational technology, featuring digital proficiencies as core components of discipline-specific epistemology, further extends the notion of what it means to be a proficient digital communicator.
During the Spring of 2005, Adobe Systems Incorporated sponsored a summit designed to explore the dimensions of "21st Century Literacy." Facilitated by the New Media Consortium, this international assembly of authors, researchers, policy makers, educators and artists debated and discussed the evolving expectations for literacy in a world shaped by the emerging new media of the day. The definition that emerged at the conclusion of their discussions disclosed that a 21st century literate person has a "set of abilities and skills where aural, visual, and digital literacy overlap. These include the ability to understand the power of image and sounds, to recognize and use that power, to manipulate and transform digital media, to distribute them pervasively, and to easily adapt them to new forms" (New Media Consortium, p. 2).
While this definition continues to be relevant for many institutions, today's notion of 21st century digital skills has pushed and pulled this definition to include a widening range of capabilities. In contemporary post-secondary education settings, today's 21st century digital skills appear across curricula in two broad categories:
. Digital Communication Skills: Effective digital communicators need to be able to visually share their insights and ideas in cross-curricular activities
. Advanced Digital Communication Skills: Students, faculty, and staff need to be capable of conceptualizing, designing, and producing rich digital assets and experiences
Post-secondary education is obviously moving beyond words alone with its adoption of 21st century digital communication skills via numerous projects, courses, programs, and collaborative efforts. With each passing day, the call for strong digital proficiencies grows louder. This no-longer-silent transformation has emerged as a pervasive, persuasive, and exciting future across all disciplines.