In applications such as Word and Powerpoint you have styles. In online tools such as WordPress and Moodle you also have styles.
Reflecting on your own capability in using styles in applications, would you consider yourself to be:
Your response to this question provides a real insight into your actual and potential personal digital capability.
Styles can be used (obviously) for formatting documents easily and quickly, over selecting individual text strands and then formatting using the various tools in the menu (or button bar). Using styles means that if you wish to update your body text or your headings, you can update the style and this then updates all instances across the document. For those who use styles this is pretty obvious, but there are large numbers of people out there who have yet to discover how styles can be used in their documents and presentations.
However often missed is the use of styles in documents for other aspects of digital capability that come much more easily once you have understood and mastered styles.
Using styles means that documents are more accessible than those that don’t. Talking to staff about accessible documents, I have heard people retort that they create accessible documents because they use Comic Sans! Using styles, headings, sub-headings, means that the document is much easier to navigate when using a screen reader.
Using styles in documents, also means that you may start using them when creating web content in blogging software such as WordPress or a VLE such as Moodle. Rather than using formatting tools, which results in the use of <SPAN> and <DIV> tags, using appropriate styles such as <H1>, <H2> and <P> means that the web content is more easily navigated using a screen reader.
Tools such as Course Genie relied on the use of styles to create learning content from Word documents, unless you used and understood styles, these tools were much more challenging and difficult to use.
Effective use of styles means that your documents will more easily conform to a branding style or guide. This means using templates may be easier. If you understand styles and how they are used, this means that you can create better and more easily used templates aiding digital creation and collaboration.
Knowing that you can use styles, also tells me that you can create long form documents with a Table of Contents automatically created using styles within that document. These documents can then be more easily shared and collaborated on over one which is created in an ad hoc manner.
One issue that arises when introducing new digital technologies is that staff struggle with new tools or ways of working, often this is because they are missing basic ICT proficiency in using applications, tools and services.
Creating accessible documents is easy, if you are already using styles, but if you have no awareness or understanding of styles when creating documents and presentations, this adds an extra layer of skills that needs to be gained before you can start moving onto the actual task of creating accessible documents.
So how do you gain those skills?
Well one of the issues is that, often people don’t know they need to know about styles and as a result not only don’t see it as a priority when it comes to their personal development, they are not even aware that they should know about these things.
Digital capability is not just one thing, but understanding how skills and knowledge builds on existing skills is important when building digital capability in individuals and across an organisation.
So I will leave you with a final question, how do you build basic digital capability in your staff across your organisation?