Posts Tagged 'Competence'

Competence, technology access and digital divide

spindelWhen Internet had is big breakthrough in the end of the 1990:s, the view on competence, knowledge and education started to change. To read, write and count was the most important competences, but this is not longer enough to fulfil the needs that a changing society demands. To handle the high-tech, digital and global society new knowledge, competence and attitudes are needed. The words digital competence and digital gap are used. The phrase “Digital divide” often regards to the difference between groups of citizens when it comes to computer access and possibilities to handle information via internet.

Digital competence is a wide concept, containing several different parts, from knowledge on handling computers, mobile phones and several applications, to developing a critical and reflecting attitude to ICT. The EU-commission has listed eight key competences for life long learning. One of these competences is digital competence. In Sweden its mainly the National Agency for Education, the KK-foundation, the National Agency for School Development and the National Agency for Flexible Learning that has worked nationally to provide digital competence by initiating and financing different ICT-projects.

The whole society changes with the modern information technology, so schools and teacher programmes has to consider this change. Internet and the technical development puts new demands on the educational organisation and its strategies. The enormous development of the last years social and collaborative media is one example of this development. This can be used in much greater extent than it is today.

Many teachers feel they do not have enough knowledge to use ICT as a pedagogical tool in their education. A new teacher programme that focuses on a new teacher role can meet this and give teachers more knowledge and confidence. When the future teacher programme is planned, ICT, digital competence and internationalization should be regarded. Technology demands an open attitude by the teachers, as there is a steady stream of new tools and methods. This attitude will be met by a new teacher programme. A continuous development of competence is also necessary for a professional teacher trade.

The digital technology needs a developed, modern infrastructure. One of the main reasons that the school world has not aquired the benefits of modern technology is the lack of access. Education has never been regarded as equal to other parts of society when it comes to “IT-fication”. Teachers is one of few trades where its not a matter of course to have a working computer and in the school world, the computer is not always regarded as a tool for learning. This point of view needs to change.

Even the schools and classrooms infrastructure is a problem in many cases, as one has to do with outdated technology and equipment. But by building well designed environments and by using older computers as thin clients in combination with modern computers as work stations, the schools existing equipment would be used better.

There are two reasons for introducing ICT in schools. One is pedagogical. The computer is a good tool for education and ICT supports most subjects and learning situations. The other one is about the schools mission to bride the digital divide, since certain groups will not have access. They can not use a computer at home to work on learning matters, or they do not use a computer at all. Schools have a task to make sure everyone uses a computer as a natural tool. Several other measures are also necessary to bridge the digital divide and to reach the accessibility goal. Among others, support for broadband development.


Competence and digital gap

Of course it is not easy to change the learning community. One of the main problems is that many teachers and many students do not have the competence right now, to take advantage of the tools that are available on the web.

For some reason, it is often presumed that the students, particularly the younger ones, automatically has huge knowledge of the web. But this is not the case. Some do, but mostly it is very shallow. If you can handle your Facebook account, does that mean you can use the web and web2 as a meaningful learning resource or your personal learning environment? I am not so sure.

And the teachers… I feel a bit sad for them, beacuse they always get the blame for the system errors. The whole education system is slow, conservative and of course, lack the recourses to be in the front line of the development. Continuation courses in digital media would be very clever to make teachers  more competent in these matters.

This slow system is confronted with students that are extremely fast to pick up new trends and new methods. So it leaves a large gap between the scool and the individual. Also it leaves a gap between the school world and the business world, which uses these tools more and more.

So I can identify four parts with gaps between them, when it comes to digital competence: the student, the teacher, the school world and the business world. Since three of these parts are in the same system, it is meaningful to aim recources toward these and make a real change.

About this blog

Starting from a project about foreseeing the future of learning, this blog is an output of thoughts, ideas, comments and research. I am trying to be practical too, providning examples of the different aspects of the subject. My name is Pelle Filipsson and I work as a web pedagog.