Enhancing Digital Skills for Teaching

The Digi Teachers project is a collaborative effort between several European organizations, dedicated to training teachers of students with special needs. The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shift to online education highlighted the urgent need for special education staff to enhance their digital skills. With DigCompEdu as a point of reference, the project responds to the challenge by developing a syllabus, a training course and a toolkit for teachers. 

This article provides an overview of the project’s objectives, activities, and expected outcomes. 

Importance of Vocational Training and Social Inclusion 

The Digi Teachers project recognizes vocational training as a valuable opportunity to both improve the digital skills of disadvantaged groups and promote social inclusion. However, to ensure its effectiveness and accessibility, teaching staff must be adequately trained in the use of digital tools and techniques. The project also aims to enhance the pedagogy of using digital tools to facilitate effective online and face-to-face instruction. Coordinated by the Finnish Live Foundation, the project involves partners from Finland, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Belgium. 

Building on the European DigComp and DigCompEdu frameworks 

Recognizing the importance of equipping citizens with digital competences, the European Digital Competence Framework (DigComp) has identified key components of digital competence across five areas, such as information and data literacy, communication and collaboration, digital content creation, safety, and problem-solving. DigComp serves as a reference framework to enhance individuals’ digital skills and promote their digital empowerment. 

Building upon the foundation of DigComp, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre developed the Digital Competence Framework for Educators (DigCompEdu)DigCompEdu focuses further on the digital skills required by educators to effectively integrate technology into their pedagogical practices. DigCompEdu recognizes that teachers need to possess a distinct set of competences to leverage technology in a pedagogically sound manner. 

The Digi Teachers Working Online project aligns with the objectives of both DigComp and DigCompEdu. It aims to enhance the digital skills of teaching staff, particularly those engaged in special education, by equipping them with the necessary competences to teach and instruct individuals with special needs. 

Focus areas based on the survey conducted among the teachers 

The survey conducted across multiple countries provides valuable insights into the digital and pedagogical skills that teachers and instructors in the participating organizations need to improve for effective distance and online teaching. 

Conducted in the beginning of the project, the results of the survey deepened the understanding of the key areas that should be paid special attention to in this particular project and its target group: 

 

What to expect next from Digi Teachers 

The project’s syllabus development, training course, and pilot testing will all be designed to address the specific needs of teachers identified in the survey. 

  1. Syllabus and Open Badges: Based on the survey findings and the European Digital Competence Framework (DigCompEdu), a syllabus outlining the required competencies for teachers to improve their digital skills will be further iterated. Additionally, a model for an open badge constellation will be developed to recognize and certify these skills. 
  1. Training course: A training course will be designed based on the syllabus. This course will focus on online education pedagogy and address the specific needs of the learners. 
  1. Pilot testing: The training module will be piloted in the participating organizations from Italy, Germany, Finland, and Spain. This step will enable the project partners to evaluate and refine the training course based on feedback. 
  1. Toolbox: The project will compile all outcomes and results into a comprehensive toolbox, serving as a reference for stakeholders seeking to leverage the Digi Techers project’s resources. This toolbox will provide guidance on utilizing the project’s findings and best practices for enhancing digital skills among teaching staff. 

By empowering educators with the necessary tools and competencies, The Digi Teachers Working Online project endeavors to create an inclusive and technologically proficient learning environment. 

Stay tuned for the forthcoming results and updates from the project, as we strive to meet the evolving needs of teaching staff in the digital age! 

Text: Hanna Vuohelainen/Tieke 

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