7 Characteristics of A Digitally Competent Teacher

What does being a ‘digitally competent’ teacher mean? Does it mean using laptops, smartphones, or tablets in your classroom? Does it mean finding new and interesting ways to use those devices along with apps and web tools?  What level of expertise with technology constitutes ‘competent’? Or does the concept encompass more than that? Do things like digital citizenship, acceptable use policies, digital footprints, and privacy concerns ring a bell.

Just like in real life, being well-rounded is important when you’re addressing technology use. Having the ability to say, use an laptop isn’t really enough. The handy infographic below explores what it means to be a digitally competent teacher. Do you think that anything is missing from this list? Weigh in by leaving a comment below, mentioning @Edudemic on Twitter or leaving your thoughts on our Facebook page.

What Does It Mean To Be A Digitally Competent Teacher?

  • You can integrate digital skills into daily life. If you can shop online, you can teach online.
  • You have a balanced attitude. Digital isn’t everything. You’re a teacher, not a techie.
  • You’re open to using and trying new stuff. You can find digital tools, so can your kids. What matters is if they work.
  • You’re a digital communicator. You can use email and social media with ease. You know the difference between things like a tweet and a DM.
  • You know how to do a digital assessment. You’re a sound judge of the quality of information, apps, and tools.
  • You understand and respect privacy. You treat personal data with the respect it deserves.
  • You’re a digital citizen. You know how to behave online appropriately, legally, and in socially responsible ways. And you’ll pass it on to your pupils.

digitally competent teacher


  1. Michael Kistler

    June 29, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I think one of the most important characteristics is that you have a balanced approach. So often I feel as if students are losing personal communication skills and depending to much on technology to do things for them. It is important that we as teachers are not only teaching them new ways to use technology, but also communication and thinking skills that well help them succeed in today’s world. I also feel that teachers sometimes use so much technology that some of the technology they are using may not be appropriate for the lesson or subject matter they are trying to teach. A teacher must always have the goals in mind when planning a lesson and use the technology to help enhance the lesson.

  2. Deborah McCallum

    June 29, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    I really appreciated your infographic, especially your point that said:
    ‘You Understand and Respect Privacy – You treat personal data with the respect it deserves’.

    I do think that we as educators need to be respectful of student work, and student information that can be shared, aggregated, and the privacy and security issues that could arise. Just one of the many questions I think about, can we make decisions on behalf of them as to what we are taking pictures of, tweeting and sharing via social media? Would this be okay if my instructor was doing this with me without my full knowledge? Just how much information is gleaned from information about our children through edtech?

    These are the kinds of questions that I ponder. Ethically, it behooves us all to consider for the respect of privacy and security of our students.

    Thank you!

  3. Dee Lynch

    July 1, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    I like these articles and they provide very useful information.

  4. Karen Bell

    July 3, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    This blog is so true. I especially like the beginning statement. “if you can shop online you can teach online.” People get so overwhelmed before they even begin when it comes to online technology when really it is just a few basic things repeated over and over again.

  5. Jo Wilson

    July 9, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    I think this provides a really good guide. I would however add an 8th characteristic of a digital competent teacher. This being that they have a sound understanding of ‘learning’ and use this knowledge to identify the learning needs of their students and then work with their students to develop personalised learning programmes to best meet their needs. This would include being discerning, aware and innovative with the use of digital technologies

  6. Michael Hind

    July 10, 2014 at 9:07 am

    I would add the ability to teach students the technology involved. There’s an assumption in this list that the students are more digitally savvy than the teacher, which is sometimes not the case.

  7. Bob Andersen

    July 10, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    Great list. I would add the ability to compile and assess data to be used in decision making, the ability to secure and protect your information and to be vigilant and aware on the ways that technology changes us.

  8. Pamela Van Halsema

    July 17, 2014 at 12:21 am

    I disagree with the first point…the skills for shopping online are not the same for teaching online. Just like the skills for being a successful student are not the same as the skills for being an effective teacher. Really well designed online teaching requires a great deal of planning and understanding of pedagogy.

  9. Louisa Chan

    July 24, 2014 at 10:39 am

    To me, digital tools and platforms are great instruments that can facilitate the learning process.

    Digitally competent teachers are able to use these tools to enhance learning.

    That would entail being open to embrace new ways of doing things ie be a ready learner so these tools don’t get in the way of teaching / facilitating.