Digital skills neglected

Nieuws | de redactie
27 september 2013 | Education is late in embracing the potential of new technologies, research by the EU Commission shows. Lack of technology uptake threatens the digital literacy – en thereby employability – of European youth. Concerning MOOCs, Europe is “just a follower.”

While the number of ICT graduates have been declining and the number of new ICT jobs will range between 370.000 and 860.000 until 2015, European schools are not jumping in to teach the crucial e-skills to the workforce of the future.

A staff working paper, accompanying the European Commission’s recent policy document ‘Opening up education’, paints a bleak picture of the level of technology uptake in education. The report states that education “is one of the last societal sectors in Europe, which has not yet embedded the potential of new technologies, failing to provide European citizens with the skills necessary for the future.”

“In a digital world, this has grave consequences”, the readers are warned. Citizens who do not possess the necessary skills are expected to suffer social en economic consequences. The uptake of technologies in European education has at best been “scattered.”

Not leading in emerging technologies

The paper predicts that “Europe will be lagging behind in terms of supply of OER and emerging digital markets compared to the US and Asia. Third countries will lead the emerging digital phenomena in the education and training field (e.g. MOOC) and better exploit the potential of new technologies and of the investments already done. The EU would be just a follower, losing opportunities and increasing its dependency on educational technologies designed and produced abroad.”

Transforming education requires pedagogical, organizational and technological innovation. It’s not just about pilot projects and putting a computer in the classroom, but the whole educational ecosystem needs to change along: the quality certification systems and standards for example, and teacher education.

Digital resources rarely used

“While infrastructure barriers to the use of ICT in education have been reduced over the last 5 years, the percentage of school and initial VET teachers using ICT in more than 25% of lessons has remained fairly stable”, the report shows. Teachers are often familiar with ICT, but use it mainly to prepare lessons, not during their lessons. “Digital resources such as exercise software, online tests and quizzes, data-logging tools and computer simulations are still very rarely used by students.”

The professional development of teachers is of utmost importance for efficient and effective uptake of the use of ICT in education. A joint EC-OECD study showed however that 58% of teachers had not received any training on how to use ICT in the classroom.

90% of job require ICT skills

As a result, the gap between projected ICT vacancies (between 370.000 and 860.000 until 2015) and ICT graduates will increase. Furthermore the European Commission thinks that in 2015, 90% of all jobs will require at least a basic level of digital skills, while in 2012, 49% of the European population had low or no digital skills (according to Eurostat). “Education has thus a crucial role to assure that all learners have the necessary digital skills for employability.”

Ten future technological trends

  1. e-Books: dynamic formats, and innovative uses
  2. Publisher-led short courses: offering self-directed, CPD learning opportunities;
  3. Assessment for Learning: changing the focus of assessment from assessment of learning outcomes towards assessment for feedback to enhance the learning;
  4. Badges: awarding ‘non-formal learning’ through a widely-recognised honour or badge system;
  5. MOOCs: massive open online courses bring open-access education to the masses;
  6. Changing nature of academic publishing: the continued development of open-access scholarly publishing initiatives;
  7. Seamless Learning: learning across multiple locations, platforms, formats in a continued way;
  8. Learning Analytics: emphasis on obtaining data to learn more about the learner and their contexts in an effort to improve learning opportunities;
  9. Personal Inquiry Learning: focus on the learner as an active, exploratory learning agent involved in discovery and inquiry learning processes;
  10. 10. Rhizomatic Learning: learning occurring through multi-facets/avenues of inquiry, taking contexts and previous knowledge and experiences into consideration, using social and personal sources of learning to foster a personal learning network.

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