The ETF Digital Education Reform Framework, developed within the Creating New Learning initiative, aims to support policy makers, in ETF Partner Countries and beyond, to design, implement and monitor effective and equitable digital education policies that are tailored to the dynamics and characteristics of contemporary digital ecosystems.
The framework details and connects the WHAT of digital education policies, meaning the possible focus areas of such initiatives, and the HOW of digital education, through some critical factors that need to be taken into account within sustainable and human-centric digital education initiatives.
The ‘What’: focus areas for digital education reforms
The central part of the framework (in blue) is about the “What” of digital education and aims at presenting the different possible policy areas with examples of real-life initiatives, so that policy‑makers can learn from the experiences of other countries. Also, for each area, the main common challenges and the mostly used policy support tools are included. The framework identifies nine areas that can be at the focus of specific digital education policies:
- Digital infrastructure is the precondition for fostering the digitalisation of education systems and should guarantee access to adequate digital devices and sufficient internet connection, by privileging inclusive and sustainable approaches.
- Digital competences of educators should be addressed by equipping teachers with the necessary skills, knowledge and attitudes to effectively and confidently use digital technologies as a result of the provision of relevant and innovative, high-quality initial and/or continuous professional development.
- Digital capacity of schools is key for blending traditional and digital teaching and learning approaches: policies can target issues such as school leadership, digital strategy development, and data management capacity.
- Digital pedagogies and curriculum are needed to take advantage of the potential of the digital revolution: policies should promote and monitor meaningful digital pedagogies and update the curriculum to develop both practical digital skills and digital citizenship.
- Digital education resources of high quality and accessible, possibly through open licences, are a key component of digital education: their use as well as the capacity of educators to produce and curate them should be fostered.
- Digital learning environments and online platforms can be the focus of digital education policies, both for the development of connected learning management systems and virtual labs within schools and the creation of digital learning environments at regional, national and school level.
- Digital assessment has the potential to support authentic, self-directed and peer learning and to multiply interactions with peers and professionals: by fostering formative and summative digital assessment practices, policies can have a strong impact.
- Digital competences of learners are essential in everyday life and should be a target of digital education initiatives: governments can act by including digital subjects in schools and by building digital skills, knowledge and attitude through informal learning, with attention to digital citizenship.
- Digital credentials are a rather new area for digital education reform, which keeps receiving increased attention from the policy level due to the potential impact of micro- and digital credentials on increased employability and innovations in reskilling processes.
The ‘How’: critical factors for digital education reforms
The outer part of the framework (in green) is about the “How” and outlines the main critical factors and the corresponding questions that may help policy-makers articulate key elements of digital education policies:
- Data for policy‑making. Digital education policies should be based on sound evidence, and they should foster the collection and analysis of data according to international best practices; at the same time, policy‑makers should be wary of how the data produced by digital education practices are collected, stored and used.
- Digital inclusion. Tackling digital and educational inequality should be the key driver of any digital education reforms, encompassing the provision of basic digital skills and specific measures to ensure that digitalisation increases inclusion and accessibility of education and training, and not the opposite.
- Stakeholders’ engagement. Policy design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation should be an inclusive process that meaningfully involves stakeholders, including teachers, through various channels and in different phases of the policy process. The contribution of technology commercial providers should be carefully managed by the policy‑maker.
- Financing. Available financial resources should be carefully planned, with attention given to sources’ differentiation and sustainability. Innovative funding mechanisms, also with the participation of commercial actors, should be explored, ensuring that all parties involved, such as learners’ families are considered.
- Quality assurance. An adequate mechanism for digital education quality assurance should be established, integrating new dimensions into the existing system to generate swift feedback rounds and immediate programme adaptation, to guarantee equity and innovation in a technology-neutral way.
- Environmental sustainability. The environmental impact relating to the introduction of digital practices in education should be kept in mind, to allow future-looking digital education reforms to fit environmentally sustainable standards and to foster the emergence of green and digital skillsets among learners.
- Teachers and learners wellbeing. As shown by the COVID‑19 experience, introducing digital education can have a negative impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of teachers and learners. These risks should be taken into account by digital education initiatives, instilling virtuous circles of wellbeing support and development.
- Foresight capacity. Digital education initiatives have to be based on a sound understanding of possible future developments, in societal, technological and educational terms: for this to happen, the capacity of policy‑makers to deeply understand the long‑term impact and trends of digital technology must be built on and nurtured.
For further information about the ETF Digital Education Reform Framework please contact Fabio Nascimbeni, firstname.lastname@example.org.