Digital capability Institutional capability

Institutional or organisational digital capability


So far the project has been working on a digital capability framework for individuals. I have been reflecting on what and how we could define a digitally capable organisation.

The framework, diagnostic tool and online offer are very much in line with individual digital capability, and as was mentioned to me in a discussion, an organisation’s digital capability is much more than just the sum of the individual capabilities of the people who work for the organisation. There are aspects such as infrastructure, organisation, culture, openness, resources, learning spaces, strategy, practice, policy, estate, student engagement, and so on…

As we are aware from the work we have undertaken so far, there are many barriers and obstacles to improving digital capability across an organisation. One of the main barriers is the culture and mindset of the staff working within the organisation, other constraints though include technological and organisational barriers.

So what are the institutional technological constructs that enable digital capability and those that have a negative impact?

How can organisational aspects facilitate improvements to digital capability and which can impede and stall initiatives to improve capability?

What sort of culture cultivates innovation and curiosity in improving the adoption of digital technology and how would you steer an organisation towards that kind of culture?

Then we have questions about structures, we all know the negative impact that silo working can have on culture and development.

The strategy and policies can also have an impact on how organisations approach digital and the resulting actions on improving capability.

Learning spaces, work areas, all have an impact on how people can work or engage with digital technologies, how do we determine what are effective spaces and which kind of spaces impair the ability to work with digital.

So from your perspective what are the institutional enablers and blockers when it comes to growing the digital capability of an organisation?

3 replies on “Institutional or organisational digital capability”

Hi James

Culture is a big issue, but I think over reliance (or expectations) that technology alone will somehow wave some magical digital fairy dust and everyone and ergo the institution will be “digital” and digitally literate.


Really interesting questions! I think a major point in any institution is who is perceived as “owning” technology. In many institutions it’s seen as being the exclusive possession of one department, which decides what’s best for everyone. Caution about what goes on in a particular domain or network is understandable (and of course necessary) but in cultural terms this can be really at odds with the individual awareness and choice that underpin digital literacies as opposed to functional IT skills. Until we have a better general understanding that the two (DL and ICT) are not synonymous, I think the ownership issue is going to be a significant cultural barrier.

It’s ‘institutions’ outside our own that’s the biggest blocker, governments and awarding bodies, and the fact they still don’t accept digital signatures in 2015…

Since the average learners racks up 15 signatures in their first week and over 30 by the end of their programme this puts rather a crimp in delivering the funded qualifications remotely using technology. The very best case scenario is that it resulting in nervous posting of documents and at worst in traipsing the country, not to teach or to ‘blend’ your learning approach but purely to collect paperwork.

Compliance based on the ‘technology’ of a biro and a squiggle representing one’s name which is believed to ensure truthfulness, (commonly know as a ‘signature’) puts a big fear barrier in the way of any sort of change, larger or small. It’s a time sink and contributes to a very risk averse culture.

The push towards partnership working and huge consortiums for apprenticeship contracts also has a tendency to lead to the strictest (rather than necessarily the most effective) policy being applied whenever things are consolidated. This tends to lead to Internet Acceptable Use policies which are laundry lists of Don’ts.

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