EDUCATION, DIGITAL SKILLS AND DIGITAL LEARNING

(A.) Policy and legislation

(A.1) Policy objectives

The development of digital skills is currently a political priority for the European Commission and for Member States.In her political guidelines, President von der Leyen highlighted the need to unlock the potential of digital technologies for learning and teaching and to develop digital skills for all. Digital is one of the 6 Commission priorities for 2019-2024 with a dedicated digital strategy to empower people with a new generation of technologies, named “A Europe Fit for the Digital Age”. The policy objectives are:

  • to ensure that all citizens can develop their digital skills;
  • to support the development of advanced and specialised digital skills;
  • to support education and training in their digital transition.

The Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027) is a renewed European Union (EU) policy initiative adopted in September 2020 to support the sustainable and effective adaptation of the education and training systems of EU Member States to the digital age. It offers a long-term strategic vision for high-quality, inclusive and accessible European digital education and supports the development of digital skills for all in a lifelong learning perspective. The Action Plan seeks stronger cooperation at the EU level on digital education and underscores the importance of working together across sectors.

The Skills Agenda, adopted in July 2020, is a five-year plan to help individuals and businesses develop more and better skills for resilience, recovery and for a fair and just green and digital transition. The Skills Agenda supports the development of digital skills with specific initiatives such as, among others, Digital Crash Courses for SMEs and “digital volunteers” programme to upskill the current workforce in digital areas, and ICT-Jump-Start trainings to provide short-term intensive training to tackle ICT skills shortages, with a focus on gender-balanced participation.

The Digital Education Action Plan and the Skills Agenda contribute to achieving the objectives of the Digital Compass, which translates the EU’s digital ambitions for the next decade into clear, concrete targets, setting out a European way for the digital decade. Specifically, the Digital Compass puts forward the target of reaching by 2030 20 million ICT specialists (with convergence between man and women) and the minimum of 80% of the population to have acquired digital skills.

(A.2) EC perspectiveand progress report

Regarding digital skills:

Pan-European digital competences (e-competences) frameworks and tools,as well as efficient and interoperable digital-learning solutions are indispensable for reducing digital skills shortages, gaps and mismatches. Similar activities are under development in the United States, Russia, Japan, Australia, Canada, South Africa and Latin America, and other parts of the world. In the early 2000s, the development of national frameworks had already begun in the UK, Germany, France,Italy and other European countries. In the Council Conclusions of 23 November 2007, Member States supported the Commission’s intention to continue to provide a platform for the exchange of best practices, and to promote a regular dialogue on digital skills (e-skills) and develop a European e-Competence Framework.

Progress has been made with the development of the European e-Competence Framework for ICT professionals being available and with the establishment of a CEN technical committee (CEN/TC 428 on ICT Professionalism and Digital Competences). CEN/TC 428 published the standard EN 16234. See details in D.2 below.

Launched in 2016, the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition is bringing together Member States, companies, social partners, non-profit organisations and education providers, who take action to tackle the lack of digital skills in Europe.

Regarding digital learning:Efficient, accessible, affordable and interoperable digital learning solutions are necessary to promote the development of a large digital learning and technology-enhanced learning market in Europe. It is vital to ensure everyone’s right to access education and lifelong learning.

The forced closure of schools and campus buildings in spring 2020 due to the Covid-crisis has pushed educators and students into teaching and learning with technology at a scale never seen before. This shift to remote teaching and learning has shown major flaws and weaknesses regarding digital skills and competences levels in the population, access to infrastructure and the availability and usability of quality digital resources and platforms. Many teachers are also lacking experience and training - technical and pedagogical – for teaching with digital technologies, including in remote settings. Students too faced new challenges learning at home, including being able to use digital tools and resources independently, efficiently and safely.

In this context, digital learning should be made understandable, pedagogically sound, usable and accessible for all learners, including those with with additional needs. Digital learning also provides an opportunity to foster skills regarding accessibility using a design for all approach.

European EdTech alliance:

The European Edtech Alliance (EEA) is a consortium of national trade associations and clusters working with founders and providers of education technology (Edtech).

The European EdTech alliance’s mission is to support the growth of the European Edtech sector, and to connect and strengthen the pan-European Edtech ecosystem.
https://www.edtecheurope.org

(A.3) References

COM(2020) 624 Communication “Digital Education Action Plan 2021-2027 — resetting education and training for the digital age” outlining the European Commission’s vision for high quality, inclusive and accessible digital education in Europe. It is a call to action for stronger cooperation at EU level to learn from the COVID-19 crisis and make education and training systems fit for the digital age.

COM(2020) 274 CommunicationThe European Skills Agenda — for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience” which is a five-year plan to help individuals and businesses develop more and better skills, by strengthening sustainable competitiveness; ensuring social fairness; and building resilience to react to crises, based on the lessons learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic

COM (2018) 22On 17 January 2018 the Commission published the “Digital Education Action Plan”to support technology-use and digital competence development in education. A new Action Plan is foreseen for adoption in September 2020.

Council Recommendation (2018/C 189/01) on key competences for lifelong learning

COM(2016) 381 On 10 June 2016 the European Commission published “A new skills agenda for Europe — Working together to strengthen human capital, employability and competitiveness”. It presents a number of actions and initiatives aiming to tackle the digital skills deficit in Europe. One of these actions is the launch in December 2016 of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition to develop a large digital talent pool and ensure that individuals and the labour force in Europe are equipped with adequate digital skills. This new coalition builds on the work already done under the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs and the EU e-skills strategy, and will bring together a broader set of stakeholders beyond ICT-sector, including ICT-using sectors, training organisations, academia, social partners and Member States.

COM(2016) 180 On 18 April 2016 the European Commission published the Communication Digitising European industry, which introduced a set of coherent policy measures as part of a digital single market technologies and public service modernisation package. Part of the communication is devoted to digital skills. In particular, it calls for human capital ready for the digital transformation with the necessary skills.

COM(2013)654 Communication Open up education: innovative teaching and learning for all through new technologies and open educational resources”.

IP/13/182Grand coalition for digital jobs

(B.) Requested actions

General recommendation: Standardisation proposals must be based on clear and well-defined market needs and be developed in full coherence with multi-stakeholder initiatives and public policies in this area. These include relevant European Commission’s Communications: “e-Skills for the 21st Century” (2007); “Digitising European Industry (2016);European Skills Agenda” (2020) as well as the on-going Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition and a Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills; andDigital Education Action Plan” (2020). The aim is to reduce skills shortages, gaps and mismatches; foster ICT professionalism and digital competence; and further mature the ICT profession, building on the European e-competence framework for ICT professionals and the digital competency framework for citizens.

Relevant stakeholders from the education sector, EdTech industry and policy makers are encouraged to join and engage into standardisation activities to ensure that the European EdTech standards developed support how schools would like to use technology to reach their educational and pedagogical goals. At the same time we need to ensure that requirements are implementable by the EdTech industry, where EdTech products developed, based on developed standards supports the goal of the Commission.

Regarding digital skills:

The public and private sectors need to collaborate on the following topics :

Action 1 SDO to make further progress towards a comprehensive framework for ICT professionals integrating four building blocks:(1)European e-competence framework (e-CF) and related job profiles,(2)foundational body of knowledge,(3)qualifications and certifications, and(4)ethics. This should be complemented by relevant methods and tools for the further development, efficient implementation and regular maintenance of this framework to strengthen ICT professionalism in Europe and foster balanced international dialogue and cooperation on this subject

  • The standard (EN 16234-1:2016) was adopted in 2016. It provides a common European description about the knowledge, skills and competences of the ICT professional workforce in all sectors.Its review - CEN/TC 428 project (SA 2017-03) - was successfully completed and a new version was released in 2019 (EN 1634-1:2019).Based on proposals received in 2018, new projects started in 2019 to address the other building blocks.
  • To boost successful and consistent implementation, it is important to provide and maintain standards and supporting technical reports related to the four building blocks in a coherent and integrated manner. It is also necessary to reflect and address issues such as assessment and guidance tools, compliance, validation, recognition, and accreditation aspects etc. The aim is to provide an efficient solution to stakeholders, ICT and digital related user, supply and service organisations, businesses of all sizes in all sectors (multinationals and SMEs), Chief Information Officers (CIOs), Human Resources departments, ICT professionals and digitalleaders, managers and workers, and education and training organisations on how to apply standards and implement a comprehensive framework. It is necessary to provide case studies to illustrate practical implementation.
  • Taking into account that digital technologies are rapidly evolving, the framework will need regular review and update in a consistent and integrated manner.This update of EN16234-1 will become due in 2022.
  • Consideration must also be given to the competence areas identified in the Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on European Skills Agenda plans for specific ICT areas, software skill, blockchain and cybersecurity. Significant projects are underway in these topics and these can form the basis of further work to supply urgently required skills, and to attract more entrants to the profession.

Action 2 Digital organisational capability and maturity take stock of initiatives (such as the report on Digital organisational frameworks and IT professionalism) and their benefits regarding the digital capability of organisations, including education organisations, in liaison the individual competences of their staff. Make progress towards the development of synergy with the framework for ICT professionals with a view to match personnel digital competence with digital organisational processes and procedures to ensure best return on investment in digital technologies.

ICT professionalism is defined in terms of the four building blocks of competence, body of knowledge, competence indicators and common metrics, education and training, and a code of ethics, and these should be standardised in a coherent, holistic way to ensure that there is an appropriate context for the standards supported development of the ICT profession. This coordinated approach should also consider employers, wider society and organisational capability.

Action 3 International cooperation: European SDOs need to coordinate and establish a regular dialogue and cooperation with international level with relevant associations (IEEE, ACM etc.) and standardisation bodies (ISO, NIST,IEEEetc.) in the field of ICT professionalism and digital competence.

Action 4 Organisational capability: take stock of ongoing assessments, initiatives and their impacts regarding the capability of organisations in the context of the digital skills/e-competence of the personnel. Match personnel competence with organisational processes and procedures to ensure best return on investment in ICT.

Action 5 The consolidation of ICT professional framework that includes the European e-Competence Framework(EN 16234-1:2019)will be advanced following the publication of the outputs of additional work items (prCEN/TR 17748-1, (Foundational Body of Knowledge for the ICT Profession (ICT BoK), prCEN/TR 17802 (e-Competence performance indicators and common metrics), prCEN/TS 17699 (Guidelines for developing ICT Professional Curricula as scoped by EN16234-1 (e-CF) and prCEN/TS XXX (European Professional Ethics Framework for the ICT Profession (EU ICT Ethics)).

This work should be the basisfor a new coherence in the definition and promotion of digital user skills (non-professional). Definition of digital skills at all levels, via a common language, avoids confusion and facilitates a progression in skills development that is appropriate for citizens in all walks of life, and also for addressing the skill and competence needs of the ICT profession. A planned coordination of outputs, like the e-Competence Framework and DigComp can broaden the influence of both constituencies, and the resulting beneficial impact on the development of high level professional skills, and is therefore an essential part of this work. New standards work items in this regard will be particularly important to leverage this synergy.

Regarding digital learning:

Action 6 European digital learningstandards to facilitate large scale adoption of best practices and solutions on a voluntary basis. The focus should be on specifications and guidelines for digital learning opportunities designed for all kinds of users, learning outcomes, credit points, assessment and e-portfolios.

Action 7 Standardisation potential around digital learning serveces and tools: SDO to investigate digital learning courses and resources, content repositories and exchange mechanisms with a focus on data privacy metadata, learning design and structure, technical and semantic interoperability supported by agreed protocols, exchange formats and vocabularies and data governance. Interoperability should include context-aware, adaptable and mobile/ambient e-learningsystems and cross-domain aspects. This may include the learning trajectory or learning route including, e.g. the didactic approach, aimed learning & learner›s profiles and the availability of additional tools that support digital learning. End users (learners and educators) should be involved in the design, testing and development of digital learning solutions and digital pedagogical services to ensure adoption in the different educational practices.

Action 8 Standardisation potential around interoperability and transfer of learners› data:SDOs to investigate the possible standardisation of the exchange of learning & learners activity data which may be generated in the different learning spaces. By the use of a Caliper or xAPI-like framework, the exchange and therefore effective usage might be facilitated.

Action 9 European guidelines on ensuring accessible and inclusive digital learning:These guidelines should be based on a design-for-all approach to facilitate learning for diverse range of users, including learners with disabilities ensuring everyone has equal access to equivalent digital learning tools and services.

(C.) Activities and additional information

(C.1) Related standardisation activities

Regarding digital skills:

CEN

CEN/TC 428 ‘ICT Professionalism and Digital Competences’is responsible for the standardisation of a common language of professionalICT and digitalcompetences, skills and knowledge applied in all domains. A non-exhaustive list of areaswhereCEN/TC 428can develop its activity follows:

  • EN 16234:2019(e-CF) maintenance and evolution
  • Interaction with different Frameworks
  • Curricula guidance
  • Professional profiles
  • Provide guidance for the assessment against EN 16234 (e-CF)

See: CEN/TC 428-ICT Professionalism and Digital Competencespublished standards

The CEN workshop on ICT Skillshas been definitively replaced by the CEN/TC 428.

ISO/IEC JTC1

SC 27 “Competence requirements for information security management systems professionals”

SC 7/WG 20 “Software and Systems Bodies of Knowledge and Professionalisation and related activities”

SC 36 “Information Technology for Learning Education and Training” has in particular the following published standards of relevance:

  • ISO/IEC 2382-36: Information Technology - Vocabulary - Part 36: Learning, Education and Training
  • ISO/IEC 19788 All parts: Information technology — Learning, education and training — Metadata for learning resources
  • ISO/IEC 20013: Information technology for learning, education and training — Reference framework of e-Portfolio information
  • ISO/IEC 22602: Information technology — Learning, education and training — Competency models expressed in MLR
  • ISO/IEC 23126: Information technology for learning, education and training — Ubiquitous learning resource organization and description framework
  • ISO/IEC 23127: Information technology — Learning, education, and training — Metadata for facilitators of online learning
  • ISO/IEC TR 20748: Information technology for learning, education and training — Learning analytics interoperability
  • ISO/IEC TR 20821: Information technology — Learning, education and training — Learning environment components for automated contents adaptation
  • ISO/IEC TR 23842: Information technology for learning, education and training — Human factor guidelines for virtual reality content

See https://www.iso.org/committee/45392/x/catalogue/p/1

Regarding digital learning:

CEN

CEN/TC 428 - “ICT Professionalism and Digital Competences”is responsible for all aspects of standardisation related to maturing the ICT Profession in all sectors, public and private. This includes, at a minimum, activity related to four major building blocks of ICT Professionalism (competences, education and certification,professionalethics, body of knowledge).A non-exhaustive list of areas where CEN/TC 428 develops its activity:

  • EN 16234(e-CF) - a common European e-Competence Frameworkfor ICT Professionals in all industry sectors’: maintenance and evolution
  • interaction with differentinternationalFrameworks
  • curricula guidance
  • professional role profiles
  • guidance for the assessment against EN 16234 (e-CF): Body of Knowledge (BoK), development of an education and certification model related to the e-CF, development of a sustainableframework for ICT professionalof ethics

CEN/TC 353 - “Information and Communication Technology for Learning, Education and Training” has the following published standards of relevance:

  • EN 15981: European Learner mobility - Achievement information (EuroLMAI)
  • EN 16425: Simple Publishing Interface
  • EN 15982: Metadata for Learning Opportunities (MLO) - Advertising
  • EN 15943: Curriculum Exchange Format (CEF) - Datamodel

seehttps://itprofessionalism.org/

IEEE

IEEE/LTSC - “Learning Technology Standards Committee”

  • IEEE 1484.1 - IEEE Standard for Learning Technology - Learning Technology Systems Architecture (LTSA)
  • IEEE 1484.11.2 - IEEE Standard for Learning Technology--ECMAScript Application - Programming Interface for Content to Runtime Services Communication
  • IEEE 1484.12.1 - IEEE Standard for Learning Object Metadata
  • IEEE 1589 - IEEE Standard for Augmented Reality Learning Experience Model
  • Adaptive Instructional Systems (AIS) (IEEE P2247)
  • Augmented Reality Learning Experience Model (AR-LEM) (IEEE P1589)
  • Child and Student Data Governance(CSDG) (IEEE P7004)
  • Collaborative Edge Computing (CED)
  • Conceptual Model for Learning Technology Systems (CM4LTS) (IEEE P1484.1)
  • Computer-Managed Instruction (CMI) (IEEE P1484.11.2)
  • Digital Literacy, Skills and Readiness (DLSR) (IEEE P3527.1)
  • Data & AI Literacy, Skills and Readiness (IEEE P7015)
  • Experience API Base Standard (xAPI) (IEEE P9274)
  • Explainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI) (IEEE P2894)
  • Federated Machine Learning (FML) (IEEE P3652.1)
  • Interoperable Learner Records (ILR) (IEEE P1484.2)
  • Learning Object Metadata (LOM) (IEEE P1484.12)
  • Mobile Learning Platforms (Mobile) (IEEE P7919.1)
  • Recommended Practices for Defining Competencies (IEEE P1484.20)
  • Resource Aggregation Models for Learning, Education, and Training (RMLTWG) (IEEE P1484.13)
  • Renewing SCORM Standards (SCORM) (IEEE P1484.11.1 IEEE P1484.11.2 IEEE P1484.12.1, IEEE P1484.12.3)
  • Standard for Learning Metadata (LMeta) (IEEE P2881)

There also are relevant IEEE pre-standards activities, including:

For more information, please visithttps://ieeesa.io/rp-elearning

ISO/IEC JTC 1 SC 36

Subcommittee (SC) 36 on Information Technology for Learning, Education and Training (ITLET) has the following work programme underway:

http://www.iec.ch/dyn/www/f?p=103:22:0::::FSP_ORG_ID:3410

Standards to ensure interoperability between information technology systems used in ITLET;

The identification of generic LET requirements for information technology systems and services used in ITLET situations (example: types of digital content)

Standards projects being addressed:

The description of metadata for learning resources

  • ITLET vocabularies
  • the personalization of the IT-enabled educational environment (individualized accessibility)
  • models for describing competency
  • the creation of an ITLET quality framework
  • the advancement of e-Assessments, e-textbooks and related learning services, virtual experiments
  • Future work planned
  • learning analytics
  • massive open online course (MOOC) standardisation
  • how existing standards and specifications may work together to better the LET environment
  • ISO TR 20514: EHR Definition scope and context

http://www.iso.org/iso/home/standards_development/

list_of_iso_technical_committees/iso_technical_committee.htm?commid=45392

ITU-T

ITU-T SG16 on multimedia has produced a series of standards that enable remote collaboration, e.g. Recommendation ITU-T F.742 on service description and requirements for distance learning services.

http://itu.int/ITU-T/go/tsg16

The Recommendation ITU-TY.2241“Service framework to support web objects based ubiquitous self-directed learning”was approvedby ITU-T SG13 in 2017.

ITU-T SG13 has developed the Recommendation onapplication of a u-learning environment to the smart farming(Y.2246). Additionally, SG13 is also working on the Recommendation on QoS requirements for smart education supported by IMT-2020 (Y.IMT2020-qos-req-se).

http://itu.int/ITU-T/go/tsg13

The ITU also published a technology watch report on technology-based learning

http://itu.int/en/ITU-T/techwatch/Pages/learning-standards.aspx

(C.2) additional information

Regardin

g digital skills:

This topic is suitable for standardisation for well-documented needs. Fostering ICT professionalism is a challenging task and is essential to ensure that the European economy has the supply of professional skills that it needs and that are currently not being delivered in sufficient numbers. Digitalskills must also be provided, at appropriate levels, to the whole population, including those who usually find more barriers in accessing ICT, such as old people and people with disabilities. Efforts to facilitate this cohort of people could include accessible e-learning environments, such as accessible MOOCs. As new technologies and new areas of their application emerge rapidly, establishing standardised skill sets is a great challenge requiring timely and regular updates. Since the 1990s, this topic has primarily been addressed bypublic-private partnerships with the ICT industry. More recently, many countries around the world have launched standardisation efforts. There is a need to maintain a European platform for exchanging best practices, implementing a master plan and coordinating across Europe. The existing structure of the CEN TC 428- ICT Professionalism and Digital Competences -constitutes a good place for such a piece of work — following the already successful development of the e-CF.

Thee-Skills Manifestoalso contains contributions from various stakeholders.See:http://ec.europa.eu/DocsRoom/documents/21341/attachments/1/translations/en/renditions/pdf

EN 16234-1 is the only existing standard in the field ofICT professionalism, focusing on e-Competences at the European and national level. Though several European organisations have started promoting and using the e-CF, those local implementations do not always fully comply with EN 16234-1, and local adaptations and application platforms make the standard more attractive to clients not accustomed to standardised approaches.Since 2019, new initiatives to produce standards, pre-standards and supportive documentation in the area of digital competences are ongoing e.g. development of a professional Body of Knowledge, IT Certifications and Qualifications, Curriculum Development Guidelines, development of an ICTProfessional EthicsFramework, and specification of Common Metrics for e-Competences. Alongside this work, there is work underway to update the EN-16234-1, incorporating amappingwith SFIAof the UK(Skills Framework for the Information Age). All of this takes place in the context of the ICT professionalism framework project. At the same time, new initiatives on ICT competences are ongoing internationally as well, e.g. in ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 7 and ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 27. New standards may bedeveloped,which might conflict with European standards. The fragmentation of the globaldigitalmarket could undermine interoperability,which so far has led the European action. There is the need to support initiatives,which assure European governance and influence in the ISO.

Regarding digital learning:

European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education/DAISY Consortium/European Schoolnet/Global Initiative of Inclusive ICTs/International Association of Universities/UNESCO

The ICT4IAL project is a multi-disciplinary network of European and international partners that represent both learning and ICT communities. This network was co-funded by the European Commission under the Lifelong Learning Transversal Programme, Key Activity 3: Information and Communication Technologies. The project aims to:

1. Raise awareness and increase the visibility of the issue of accessible information provision and its relevance for equitable lifelong learning opportunities;

2. Support accessible information provision within organisations through the development, trialling and evaluation of guidelines that build upon already existing work in the field.https://www.ict4ial.eu/project-aims