In the past, we’ve talked about the critical 21st-century skills students need and why. But what about other digital age skills? What about other useful and practical abilities to have? These are things that can help build success and enable lifelong learning. They’re skills students can protect and preserve their identities with. We’re talking about things that can help them help others as well.

Under the blanket of digital age skills there are many useful pursuits. A student’s toolbox will be constantly evolving throughout their life. The need for newer and newer skills will always be the norm. In the meantime, consider this list a useful starting point.

10 Digital Age Skills For Modern Students

The following list contains some useful and versatile abilities for any modern student to have. They’re digital age skills for work and for life in our ever-changing world. Add and subtract as you like, and offer up some suggestions. Remember, as the world changes, so will the skills we need to make our way in it.

1. Personal Branding

Today, we live our lives online. Our identities are out there for the world to see. Websites, blogs, and social media present facets of who we are. They showcase our values, opinions, accomplishments, dreams, and desires. How do your students look to the world? More importantly, how do they look to prospective employers and educators? This is what personal branding is all about.


It’s estimated that over 90% of people click on the first item in search results. That means students must put their best foot forward always. Personal branding is a digital age skill that can make or break a potential job opportunity or a spot in a prestigious college or university. It’s something students must take very seriously.

Here are some resources to help students rock their personal branding:

2. Portfolio Building

Online portfolios are a quick and convenient gallery for student greatness. Students should start creating records of their work as early as possible. As their experience and skills grow, so will their body of work. Check out this post on using online tools to build portfolios.


Students can also build simple starter portfolios on Facebook and Pinterest. This article from Mashable features another 20 great portfolio-building tools.

3. Online Searching

Today, information is everywhere online. The Web is a living breathing juggernaut of digital content. It is growing and expanding at an amazing rate. According to Cisco, global IP traffic will be in the zettabytes by the end of 2016. They also estimate that almost 2 zettabytes of data will be produced online annually by 2019. 1 zettabyte is equal to about 1 billion gigabytes—yikes.

Knowing how to navigate this ocean of information is one of the most crucial digital age skills students can have. It will help them know good information from bad information. It can assist them with many daily living and working tasks.


Take a look at this article from Mindshift about being more search-savvy. Next, download the GDCF’s free Information Fluency QuickStart Guide. It features lots of skill profiles for learning better search skills.

4. Proper Citation Practices

At some point, students will be drawing on the expertise of others to support their own work. Part of this is honouring that work and effort that helped them and others learn. We do this by properly citing sources and respecting the intellectual property of others.

This article shows you how to search for and attribute images. This one is on basic best practices for citation. When it comes to building bibliographies, there are lots of online tools available. Try out EasyBib, Zotero, or Citation Machine.

5. Image/Video Editing

Digital age skills include basic media editing. Everything has a visual component to it nowadays. The projects we do and profiles we manage are largely visual in nature. We are also inherently visual learners. It makes sense for students to possess basic video and image editing know-how. This list of resources is a great place to start:

6. File Conversion

File conversion is another useful overall skill to have in the digital age. Much of the information we share with colleagues and employers is done online. We communicate and share files with co-workers online. We send electronic files of projects to clients for approval and consideration. Much of this is done by file sharing on the cloud. We also convert files for use on the Web. This applies to social media, websites, and more.


Understanding how to maximize file size for various applications and tasks is good stuff to know. It’s about knowing how to convert and compress image, video, sound, and doc files for various purposes. It’s about knowing what files to use when for things like coding and printing purposes.

Many subheadings fall under the file conversion umbrella. It’s a broad area to get into. Students should start small and build their knowledge one skill at a time.

7. Coding

Coding is arguably one of the most important digital age skills we can have. Coding is being taught more and more in schools worldwide. It’s beginning to be recognized as an essential ability for the future. Sites like are bringing computer science to the mainstream. It’s more accessible than ever now, and today everyone can learn. Explore these 12 sites where students can learn to code for free.


8. Blogging

This is more than just about sharing content and perspective. Good blogging exercises writing, researching, and editing skills. It’s an incredible arena for creativity and specialization. Edudemic even makes the case for blogging being one of the best learning tools students can have.

Getting started with a blog is a snap nowadays. There plenty of sites that will get students out of the gates. Students can try WordPressTumblr, or Svtble.

These tools and more are covered in the free Tools for Teachers Writing Guide. Students can also look at these resources on better blogging tips:

9. Presentation Building

Building a good presentation can be a boon to any business or creative venture. You know when you’ve walked out of a good presentation. You feel educated, inspired, and entertained. The rules of making great presentations are the guidelines for success.

A great presentation is an extension of intention and idea that evolves into an impression. This should be an impression that’s left on the viewer long after the presentation is over. Great presentations entertain, and inspire thought and action.

One of the best people you’ll watch regarding presentation mojo is Garr Reynolds. If students want to know about the art of perfecting 21st-century presentation, they should watch this TED Talks video by Reynolds. They can also check out these tips and strategies:

10. Creating a Website

Last but not least in our digital age skills list is website creating. This is partly in tandem with coding. It’s also about knowing the aesthetics of website appearance and functionality. You can build the best website in the world on the back end. That said, if it’s ugly and clunky up front, people won’t go near it. It has to look good to the eye and feel good to the cursor.


This article from Hubspot explains effective website design. It also gives you 15 of the best examples on the Web to look at. Even if students are still iffy on coding skills, there are lots of website builders out there they can use. The best website builder reviews are right here. Students can decide the best route to go for their own website adventures.

What other digital age skills do you think are important to have?

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