Eurydice network’s study, Digital Education at School in Europe, published in 2019, offers much food for thought due to its topical theme, and the enhanced interest in digital education caused by Covid-19 breakout. The pandemic has forced some students, teachers, head teachers and families, to face a wide challenge: organizing distance teaching and learning with the use of digital means.
Digital education has been a key issue in European policies for years and the recent Commission’s Action Plan for Digital Education 2021-2027, entitled Resetting education and training for the digital age, reaffirms the centrality of digital innovation in European education and training systems, as well as highlighting the challenges they are called to face up to in the post-Covid era. Furthermore, the reflection of the European Parliament and the EU institutions on access to the Internet to be introduced as a fundamental human right for all, is considered essential, especially to promote social inclusion and reduce inequalities, to ensure equal access to learning and to increase digital skills.
The topics covered by the Eurydice study are: development of digital skills in European school curricula; specific digital skills of teachers; assessment of students’ digital skills and use of technologies for pupils / students testing and assessment; and finally, strategies and policies. These issues are analysed through two distinct but complementary perspectives: the development of digital skills in pupils, students, teachers, head teachers, and the use of digital technologies for pedagogical purposes to support, improve and transform teaching and learning.
The levels of education involved in the study are: primary, lower and upper secondary school levels. The school year of reference is 2018/2019 and the education systems examined are 43 (28 EU member states – given that the United Kingdom was still part of it – and Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia and Turkey).
An aspect of great interest that emerges from the study and that the pandemic has highlighted is the presence in European education systems of ongoing reforms and strategies, which account for the continuous evolution of digital systems and means and which underline the need for European countries to continually review and renew their approaches to digital content and methods in the school environment.
50% of European education systems have an ongoing reform process in the digital education sector. However, what are the focus areas of these strategies and reforms?
In some countries, the reforms began with the need to introduce, for the first time, digital content in curricula, where they were not present; other states have introduced digital competence at an early level of education, for example at primary level, where it was already present in the secondary education curriculum; Finally, the reforms of some European education systems have aimed at strengthening digital competence in curricula through the introduction of new curricular approaches or the enhancement of curricular areas, such as coding, computational thinking or the safety issue.
The new issue of the series “Eurydice Notebook Italy”, entitled Digital education at school in Europe, presents readers with the Italian translation of the report Digital Education at School in Europe, also making it possible to use the paper version of the text.
What is Eurydice?
Eurydice is the European network which collects, updates, analyses and disseminates information on policies, structure and organisation of the European educational systems. Created in 1980 on the initiative of the European Commission, the network consists of a European Unit based in Brussels and some National Units. Since 1985, the Italian National Unit has been based at Indire.