Digital Literacy in Higher Education

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The objective of the article “Covid-19 and remote learning: experiences of parents with children during the pandemic” is to determine the struggles of many parents during the pandemic period with the implementation of remote education. The title provides a clear idea of the research topic, and the abstract fully matches the introductory part. The study’s background was the pandemic situation that forced many schools to close and shift to online learning, thus, placing more responsibilities on guardians and parents (Garbe et al., 2020). Understanding the struggles of parents during the time was useful to inform decision-making in the future. There was no possibility of a funding source to affect the research topic because the activity was inclined to determine parent struggles during the pandemic.

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The title of the second study, “Digital literacy and higher education during COVID-19 lockdown: Spain, Italy, and Ecuador,” sets the direction of the article in terms of its subject and geography. It aimed at analyzing how higher education institutions within Spain, Ecuador, and Italy used digital literacy platforms to support learning. The background of the study was an earlier policy to incorporate digital literacy into education. While this concept had been reviewed before Covid-19, the pandemic emphasized its importance (Miranda et al., 2019). As it has been observed, institutions often fail to utilize digital platforms for remote learning (Spante et al., 2018). There is a significant link between the source of funding and the topic of the research considering the choice of countries.


“Covid-19 and remote learning…” used qualitative methods, whereas the other study relied on the quantitative approach. Quantitative research often collects and analyzes data in the form of statistics and numbers, while qualitative research involves meanings, ideas, and words. The numbers are often expressed in graphs to confirm or test particular assumptions and theories. Therefore, the representation makes it easy to establish facts related to particular topics of research (Garbe et al., 2020).

The words in qualitative research are meant to comprehend experiences, thoughts, or concepts in the world. This way, researchers can gain deeper insights into aspects that were not well understood earlier. The methods used in the study may include observations, open-ended interviews, and literature reviews to explore theories and concepts.

The technique used to accomplish the objectives of the “COVID-19 and Remote Learning” research was an online survey to find out the experiences of the parents during the pandemic. Thematic coding was utilized in the analysis of the responses to determine their struggles during the period. The participants of the study were sampled parents who had at least one student attending a traditional school before lockdown and resorted to remote learning. From the category, 116 mothers and six fathers were chosen for the study (Garbe et al., 2020). Their demographic information was obtained, including the education levels, number of children, and their incomes.

The participants later took part in an online survey with open-ended questions under informed consent. The responses were analyzed using simultaneous and descriptive open and pattern coding for the first and second cycles, respectively (Garbe et al., 2020). The immersion step assisted in familiarizing the content as well as identify the data themes. Independently, the researcher then coded the responses manually and systematically using open coding to determine.

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The approach used in Digital Literacy and Higher Education study involved ad hoc questionnaires distributed to 376 students. The approach is an exploratory-correlational one that targets to find the relationship between the subjects of the research. The study established four different dimensions that were used to develop variables of the research. The first dimension involved the professional collaboration and engagement of teachers as well as effective development and practice (Tejedor et al., 2020). The second dimension was digital sources and learning that is the conventional learning sources and the responsible use of online content. The third dimension was the skills and guidance from teaching and the teachers. The last dimension was empowering and supporting students.

The 376 students who participated in the study were between the ages of 18 and 40. Students from Spain, Italy, and Ecuador accounted for 42.3%, 33.2%, and 24.5%, respectively. The instrument design targeted the description of the observed condition and an exploratory evaluation of the responses from the research questions. As such, the researchers could analyze the dimensions and find the differences that exist in the study groups (Santos and Serpa, 2017).

The instrument was subjected to judgment by six experts and academics departments in the three countries during the first phase. The essence was to establish the relevance and clarity of the items. Five items were discarded for redundancy-related issues, while six were reformulated. A Cronbach’s Alpha was conducted to determine the reliability of the items. The instrument accommodates the “forms tool” from Google to enable data collection. A dichotomous format of questions was preferred considering the nature of the data to be collected.


The results of Covid 19 and Remote Learning study were obtained by first providing the descriptive questions and later analyzing the struggles of most parents by thematic analysis. The survey’s outcome showed that up to 89.3% of the parents agreed strongly with the decision to close schools during the pandemic (Garbe et al., 2020). Five percent of the parents disagreed with the policy stipulated to prevent the spread of the virus. Approximately 62% of the parents devoted at least one hour per day to support the learning of their children during the closure. Most parents also found it crucial to obtain remote learning educational resources.

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The parents needed the resources to support learning for their children. However, only 27% of the parents reported having enough resources for remote learning, while 60.7% used the available resources for the same. The evidence was enough to speculate the distribution of resources among learners during the pandemic.

The extent of support received from schools was also analyzed because parents expected the same from the respective schools. In this case, a vast majority of the parents (82.8%) showed satisfaction in the support offered during the survey. Another aspect was the struggles that the parents underwent during the closure period. The biggest challenges correspond to the generally perceived list of balancing responsibilities, negative learner motivation, learning outcomes, accessibility, and outliers (Carpenter et al., 2020).

In terms of balancing tasks, the parents addressed issues like handling the different levels of learners, personal balance, and creating a balance between learner demands and employment needs, while some felt overwhelmed. Most of the learners lacked the motivation linked to remote learning, thus affecting their abilities to utilize the process maximally. Challenges with accessibility usually involve students with special needs and those that lacked sufficient internet quality or technology to learn remotely (Ali, 2020). There was also a need to communicate with teachers as some lacked the knowledge to manage their children.

The outcome of Digital Literacy and Higher Education research showed the need to enhance some dimensions in the school setting. It involved the learning sources in being adapted, the digital skills for teachers, student-university communication tools, and methodologies for teaching the students (McGuinness and Fulton, 2017). It is clear that digital literacy was not observed in the institution of higher learning in the three countries, implying a failure to accomplish one of its major objectives (Burgess and Sievertsen, 2020). The dichotomous questions used were suitable in considering two likely values of the issues under study. The researchers employed SPSS package version 22 to address inferential and descriptive aspects of the issues.

From the first dimension, the percentages of students who felt that the tutors were not well coordinated during the period were 86.18%, 68.8%, and 82.6% respectively for Spain, Italy, and Ecuador (Tejedor et al., 2020). A large percentage of students from Spain reported unsatisfying support from their teachers as compared to the other two countries. Based on the second dimension, at least 91% of the students in Spain reported that the teachers used texts as learning sources, while 96% of them preferred audiovisual sources and video materials (Tejedor et al., 2020).

The case was different for Italy, where nearly 95% of the students reported that most of their teachers used videos and were the most preferred method of learning by a large population of learners. A similar situation as Italy was seen in Ecuador, where teachers used both audiovisual and video sources as learning approaches during the pandemic.

The results of the third dimension showed that Ecuadorian and Italian students were better organized during the pandemic considering their sources of learning. Almost half of the students in Spain felt like the classes resembled a face-to-face interaction. Lastly, approximately 36% of Spanish students reported poor quality teaching, whereas 85.8% from Ecuador registered lower-level teachings. The fourth-dimension outcomes indicated less stimulating learning in all the countries (Tejedor et al., 2020). The above dimensional results aligned with the statement that most higher education institutions did not uphold digital literacy.


The outcome of the Covid 19 and Remote Learning research was efficient in addressing the objectives study. The data was interpreted in consideration with the codes that display similar themes. Most parents had a difficult time adjusting to the learning sources and other activities like employment (Garbe et al., 2020). The struggles stipulated in the research are very realistic and could happen to any of the parents (Lau and Lee, 2020). Accordingly, the findings align with the general perception of remote learning’s effect on households worldwide.

The researchers established a base for new information related to handling the Covid-19 situation. First, there is a need to provide more remote learning resources for parents to handle their children’s learning at home. While most of the parents reported the use of only available resources, it is an indicator that the quality of education for learners will be dragged to a standstill if suitable measures are not devised to cover the issue (Masonbrink and Hurley, 2020).

On the other hand, a lower number of parents reported having more than enough resources for remote learning. It means that the form of learning only favors the fortunate in the society leaving out the less lucky students. It shows the efforts that the education stakeholders need to make to ensure all the learners enjoy equal learning opportunities despite the status of their parents.

The results from the Digital Literacy and Higher Education study align with the evidence in many universities regarding the quality of education offered in the pandemic period. The method of data interpretation is via percentages to represent each dimension in the three countries. A Cramer’s V is used to determine the differences in various dimensional responses for the countries, thus used to accept or reject the null hypothesis of the study (Tejedor et al., 2020).

Generally, the aim of the study to compare the quality of higher education in Spain, Italy, and Ecuador has been attained. The four dimensions used are suitable variables to study the same in a higher institution setting. Typically, the collaboration of teachers, digital sources, and learning, teaching skills, and guidance, as well as student empowerment, are efficient determiners of educational quality in any institution (Burgess and Sievertsen, 2020). Therefore, the incorporation of the mentioned aspects into education means high-quality education for learners.

Research Context

The qualitative research aimed at assessing the impact of remote learning during the pandemic as schools closed to prevent further infections. Studying the struggles and the experiences of parents with the learning process could prove helpful in making informed decisions in the educational sector (Garbe et al., 2020). The study focused on traditional schools because of the role that parents play in the achievement of students within such schools. However, the study was confined to a specific region, unlike exploring a global set-up or cross-boarders experience. There is a possibility that other labs were also pursuing the research at the time when the work was done (Mukhtar et al., 2020). It is because the form of learning was widely applied across different countries, making it necessary to know how parents coped up with the situation. Furthermore, studying the experiences of parents was crucial to devise new ways to boost remote learning in the area.

Simultaneously, the qualitative article compared the prevalence of digital literacy dimensions in Spain, Italy, and Ecuador. The researchers determined the application of digital skills in the education sector, especially in the presence of the pandemic (Tejedor et al., 2020). The research was based on prior requirements to integrate digital literacy into education. The pandemic served as the most appropriate time to study its use, as most teaching skills required the approach to boost the quality of learning.

Comparative Summary

Both titles for the researches state the subject of the entire paper. The Covid 19 and Remote Learning makes it easy to predict the content of the paper, just as in the Digital Literacy and Higher Education paper. The abstracts of both papers provide matching information with the one in their introductions. The opening parts of the papers highlight the problem in the field that forms the basis of the research objectives and hypothesis questions.

The methods are also suitable for studying the objectives together with the participant groups. Parents are direct subjects of remote learning, whereas students could best describe the status of digital literacy in higher institutions. The presentation of the outcomes in tables is accurate, with specific percentages that make it easy to compare variables (Carter et al.). Lastly, both discussions offer a clearer picture of the subject in relation to the results obtained. The studies link the results with outside research to give a clear understanding.

Overall, both articles under review revolve around a similar topical issue, which has been caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.However, each study examined the topic from a different angle, which is reflected in their methodologies. Tejedor et al. (2020) took the quantitative model as the basis of their research into digital literacy across three populations. This approach suggests a more concretized nature of the study, which is the case in the discussed article. Using a quantitative questionnaire, Tejedor et al. (2020) were able to identify the current mean level of digital literacy within the educational space of Italy, Spain, and Ecuador.

Simultaneously, Garbe et al. (2020) relied on a more globalized, quantitative model. This way, the article enabled a broader discussion of the matter. Furthermore, Garbe et al. (2020) studied the parents’ perspective on remote learning, identifying key difficulties, such as the balance of responsibilities, learning motivation, and educational accessibility. At the same time, the other study interviewed students on the academic aspect of remote learning during Covid lockdowns.

Both researches have helped to identify the loopholes in pandemic response in the education sector. Most parents faced the burden of supporting their children’s education through remote learning. Besides, the study on higher education institutions also shows lower rates of digital literacy integration that relates to poor quality of education (Spires et al., 2019). The weaknesses can be eliminated by formulating strict principles that guide the use of digital literacy platforms in higher learning institutions. The policies make the approach a necessity in the institutions making its use effective in the case of pandemics.

For remote learning, schools should introduce sessions that use the resources during holidays to integrate the strategy fully in traditional schools (Sadaf and Johnson, 2017). Future research for both remote learning and the integration of digital literacy can be directed towards the best implementation methods to utilize. The essence is to prepare for possible pandemics that may occur in the future to prevent adverse effects.

Conclusion and Recommendations

In conclusion, Covid-19 has become a challenge of unprecedented magnitude for modern society. While it has affected virtually all areas of human activity, education is a sphere, which has suffered from a particularly strong impact (Hash, 2021). Nationwide lockdowns imposed restrictions on in-class learning, forcing institutions to resort to remote studies (Daniel, 2020). As a result, the situation has revealed several major flaws in the system. From the academic perspective, a higher level of digital literacy is required, especially from the faculty (Alexander et al., 2017 and Chan et al., 2017). The digital environment possesses immense opportunities, which, however, become impediments when utilized incorrectly (Reich et al., 2020). Additionally, remote learning requires a stable Internet connection, which, despite being a basic necessity, is not always provided in some areas.

Next, the parenting perspective introduces another set of perceived challenges. In remote learning, students may lack the motivation and the means to perform on the same level as in class and achieve optimal outcomes. Evidently, Covid-19 is a recent phenomenon, meaning that its impact is to be studied further. Accordingly, current studies focus on the immediate impact of remote learning and other aspects of lockdown. Further research will benefit from analyzing the mid-to-long-terms effects of the pandemic on students’ performance and ability to master the required competencies.

Reference List

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Ali, W. (2020) ‘Online and remote learning in higher education institutes: a necessity in light of COVID-19 pandemic’, Higher Education Studies, 10(3), pp. 16-25.

Burgess, S. and Sievertsen, H. H. (2020) Schools, skills, and learning: the impact of COVID-19 on education. Web.

Carpenter, J. P., Krutka, D. G. and Kimmons, R. (2020) ‘remote teaching & remote learning: educator tweeting during the COVID-19 pandemic’, Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 28(2), pp. 151-159.

Carter Jr, R. A. et al. (2020) ‘Self-regulated learning in online learning environments: strategies for remote learning’, Information and Learning Sciences, 121(5), pp. 321-329. Web.

Chan, B.S., Churchill, D. and Chiu, T.K. (2017) ‘Digital literacy learning in higher education through a digital storytelling approach’. Journal of International Education Research (JIER), 13(1), pp. 1-16. Web.

Daniel, J. (2020) ‘Education and the COVID-19 pandemic’. Prospects, 49(1), pp.91-96. Web.

Garbe, A. et al. (2020) ‘Covid-19 and remote learning: experiences of parents with children during the pandemic’. American Journal of Qualitative Research (AJQR), 4(3), pp. 45-66.

Hash, P.M., 2021. ‘Remote learning in school bands during the COVID-19 shutdown’. Journal of Research in Music Education, 68(4), pp.381-397. Web.

Lau, E.Y.H. and Lee, K. (2020) ‘Parents’ views on young children’s distance learning and screen time during COVID-19 class suspension in Hong Kong’. Early Education and Development, pp.1-18. Web.

McGuinness, C. and Fulton, C. (2019) ‘Digital literacy in higher education: A case study of student engagement with e-tutorials using blended learning’. Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice, 18, pp.001-028. Web.

Masonbrink, A.R. and Hurley, E. (2020) ‘Advocating for children during the COVID-19 school closures’. Pediatrics, 146(3). Web.

Miranda, P., Isaias, P. and Pifano, S. (2018) ‘Digital Literacy in Higher Education. In International Conference on Learning and Collaboration Technologies’ (pp. 71-87). Springer, Cham. Germany. Web.

Mukhtar, K. et al. (2020) ‘Advantages, Limitations, and Recommendations for online learning during COVID-19 pandemic era’. Pakistan journal of medical sciences, 36(COVID19-S4), p.S27. S27–S31. Web.

Reich, J. et al. (2020) Remote learning guidance from state education agencies during the Covid- 19 pandemic: a first look. Web.

Sadaf, A. and Johnson, B.L. (2017) ‘Teachers’ beliefs about integrating digital literacy into classroom practice: An investigation based on the theory of planned behavior.’ Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 33(4), pp.129-137. Web.

Santos, A.I. and Serpa, S. (2017) ‘The importance of promoting digital literacy in higher education’. International journal of science studies, 5(6), pp. 90-93. Web.

Spante, M. et al. (2018) ‘Digital competence and digital literacy in higher education research: Systematic review of concept use’. Cogent education, 5(1). Web.

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