What is it about?

The Commission adopted in January 2018 a Digital Education Action Plan which includes 11 initiatives to support technology-use and digital competence development in education.

Alongside the action plan, a 'Staff Working Document' was adopted which goes into more detail on the Commission's approach to digital education. 

The action plan has three priorities, setting out measures to help EU Member States meet the challenges and opportunities of education in the digital age:

Priority 1: Making better use of digital technology for teaching and learning

Actions:

1. Tackle the connectivity divide by supporting the uptake of high capacity broadband in all schools, including through a voucher scheme focusing on disadvantaged areas.
2. Support the digital readiness of both general and vocational schools by strengthening their digital capacity and extending the new SELFIE self-assessment tool to reach one million teachers, trainers and learners by the end of 2019.
3. Provide a framework for issuing digitally-certified qualifications and validating digitally acquired skills. This framework will align with the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning (EQF) and the European Classification of Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO).

Priority 2: Developing digital competences and skills

Actions:

1. Development of a Europe-wide platform for digital higher education which will offer online learning, blended mobility, virtual campuses and exchange of best practices among higher education institutions.
2. Dedicated training courses on open science in higher education institutions for students, researchers and educators.
3. Scaling up of EU Code Week to more schools in Europe.
4. Launch of an EU-wide awareness campaign on online safety, cyber hygiene and media literacy, as well as a cyber-security teaching programme.
5. Promotion of digital and entrepreneurial competences of female students developed in partnership with industry and NGOs.

Priority 3: Improving education through better data analysis and foresight

Actions:

1. Launch of a reference study on mainstreaming ICT use in education, including the availability and usage of infrastructure and tools and levels of digital skills.
2. Launch of artificial intelligence and learning analytics pilots in education.
3. Strategic foresight exercise on key trends arising from digital transformation for the future of education systems. 

Why is it needed?

There is an urgent need to boost digital competences in Europe and to improve the uptake of technologies in education:

  • 37% of the EU workforce has low digital skills, or none at all.
  • Less than half of children are in schools which are highly equipped digitally.
  • Only 20-25% of them are taught by teachers who are confident using technology in the classroom.
  • 18% of primary and secondary schools in the EU were not connected to broadband.

Source: The Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI)

What has been done so far?

Implementation of the Action Plan

The Action Plan sets out 11 actions that the Commission, in partnership with Member States, stakeholders and society, will implement by the end of 2020. This page will be updated as these actions are launched and further developed. 

Definition of digital competence

A recommendation to update the 2006 framework on key competences was adopted the same day as the Digital Education Action Plan. The definition of digital competences has been extended and updated to reflect the changing nature of digital technology in working life and society more broadly. The new definition also aligns with the Digital Competence Framework for Citizens:

2018 Definition 

Digital competence involves the confident, critical and responsible use of, and engagement with, digital technologies for learning, at work, and for participation in society. It includes information and data literacy, communication and collaboration, digital content creation (including programming), safety (including digital well-being and competences related to cybersecurity), and problem solving.

2006 Definition 

Digital competence involves the confident and critical use of Information Society Technology (IST) for work, leisure and communication. It is underpinned by basic skills in ICT: the use of computers to retrieve, assess, store, produce, present and exchange information, and to communicate and participate in collaborative networks via the Internet.

Policy cooperation

The Commission works closely with national education ministries and education stakeholders on digital education to share experience, good practice and developing practical tools to support digitla age learning. This cooperation takes place through the working group on digital skills and competences which meets regularly in Brussels and the Member States.

More about the working group.

Frameworks for digital skills and competences

The Commission has, in consultation with the Member States, developed a number of frameworks to help policy makers, learners and organisations in assessing digital skills and 'readiness'. Frameworks have been developed for citizens, organisations and most recently educators. 

Digital skills and competences framework for citizens

The European Digital Competence Framework for Citizens sets out the wide mix of digital skills and competences which are needed by all learners (5 areas, 21 competences). It was first published in 2013 and has become a reference for many digital competence initiatives at both European and Member State level. The framework was updated in 2016.

Digital skills and competences framework for educators

The Digital Skills and Competences Framework for Educators was published in December 2017. It maps digital competences for educators at all levels of education, from early childhood to higher and adult education, including general and vocational training, special needs education, and non-formal learning contexts. 

Digital skills and competences framework for educational organisations

The purpose of this framework (published in December 2015) is to allow organisations to assess their progress in integrating digital learning and pedagogies and to help policy makers to design, implement and evaluate policy interventions for the integration and effective use of digital learning technologies. The framework was the conceptual basis for the SELFIE self-assessment tool for schools which is currently being scaled up across Europe.

Research

The Commission finances research on digital skills and competences and the uptake of innovation and new opportunities in education institutions. Research reports and studies are regularly published by the Commission's Joint Research Centre

Recent studies include:

Project funding

The Erasmus+ programme funds exchanges in support of teacher education in digital skills as well as projects aiming to explore and develop the potential of technology use in education and it promotes the creation and availability of new digital pedagogies and educational resources.

Erasmus + funding opportunities

European Structural and Investment Funds support the provision of connectivity and devices for educational institutions and skills training for young people and adults.

More on the contribution of the structural funds to digital skills

 

Find out more