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Future of Education Technology Q2 2023

Ways we can support educators to thrive with digital education in the EU

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Gillian O’Keefe

Technology Ireland Executive and Vice Chair of Digital Skills working group of Digital Europe

Digitalisation has the power to enact real change that will pave the way for a diverse, equitable and inclusive education system in the EU.

This 2023, the European Year of Skills, aims to address skills shortages in the European Union (EU) and boost the EU skills strategy, which will help reskill 6 million people and focus on digital and green technology skills.

Helping educators keep up with digital education

With recent radical innovations and rapid accelerations in digital education, we must now ensure the digital momentum continues. Key to creating a digitally competent talent pipeline is ensuring that the educators are confident, briefed and adaptable to new technologies and methods of teaching.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we saw a rushed transition to online learning, but more importantly — teaching. It highlighted the resilience of teachers and their ability to support new methods of teaching. While we believe digital teaching cannot replace classroom teaching, we need a radical transformation from the theoretical era to the digital era where online learning can supplement and complement — but not replace — the offline direct teaching–learning process.

The toolkit will identify an educator’s digital competence and can guide them.

Tools promoting digital education across the EU

At an EU level, a new initiative ‘SELFIEforTEACHERS’ has been developed together with a panel of education experts from across Europe. It is an online tool to help primary and secondary teachers reflect on how they are using digital technologies in their professional practice.

Educators can use the tool to learn more about the digital skills they have and identify areas where they can develop further. The toolkit will identify an educator’s digital competence and can guide them by showing how they are using digital technologies in their practice and how they can support students’ digital skills.

Key developments in Ireland across the Junior and Senior Cycles — including the introduction of the Leaving Certificate Computer Science programme — have been welcomed. To facilitate the rollout of this course, educators need opportunities to acquire and enhance their knowledge, skills and attitudes to support the learning of STEM subjects.

Methods of teaching support

Many European and international studies have highlighted the importance of strengthening teacher competencies in STEM subjects. For example, teachers’ professional development combined with in-school evaluation and co-teaching have shown positive results for the schools using these methods.

Industry can play an important role in facilitating teacher training through placement opportunities, co-teaching and opportunities to understand various skills needs. Technology Ireland and its members aim to support educators and empower them to lead the future of education.

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