Digital technologies are an inseparable part of today's learning process. The European Commission works on several policy initiatives in order to modernise education and training, provides funding for research and innovation in order to promote digital technologies used for learning and measures the progress on digitization of schools.

Digital learning and ICT in education provide technologies and techniques to improve education in the digital world.

Digital Learning and the EU

The Action plan on Digital Learning

The European Commission has adopted on 17 January 2018 the Communication on the Action Plan on Digital Learning. The Action Plan outlines how the EU can help individuals, educational institutions and education systems to better adapt for life and work in an age of rapid digital change by: 

  • Making better use of digital technology for teaching and learning; 
  • Developing relevant digital competences and skills for the digital transformation;
  • Improving education through better data analysis and foresight.

Strengthening European identity through education and culture

The European Commission adopted on 17 November 2017 the Communication on Strengthening European identity through education and culture, the Commission's contribution to the Leaders' meeting on education and culture at the Gothenburg summit. Within this Communication, the Commission proposes to roll-out in 2019 the pilot project for an EU student eCard, with the objective of offering it to all mobile students by 2025, to facilitate student mobility across borders and offer a new user-friendly way to store information on a person's academic records. A study commissioned by the European Commission is currently analysing the feasibility of eID and Authentication Services to support Student Mobility and Access to Student Services in Europe and will soon be published.

Improving and modernising education

On 7 December 2016, the European Commission also adopted a Communication on improving and modernising education in order to provide a high quality education for all, highlighting amongst others the benefits of digital technologies for offering new ways of learning.

Opening up education

The European Commission has also adopted on 25 October 2013 the Communication on Opening Up Education, a high-level European Agenda to seize the opportunities of the digital revolution in education and training, as well as the Communication on Rethinking Education adopted on 20 November 2012, investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes.

Funding of Research and Innovation for Digital Learning

The European Commission funds many activities on research and innovation for digital learning under several programmes, including Horizon 2020, FP7 and CIP.

The following areas were covered under Horizon 2020:

In the work programme year 2018-2020 of the Horizon 2020 programme, the focus will be on supporting actions on smarter, open, trusted and personalised learning solutions to optimise digital learning and to allow learners to engage and interact with content and with peers (topic ICT-30-2019-2020: An empowering, inclusive Next Generation Internet).

Initiated by the European Parliament, the European Commission also co-funds the development and demonstration of a European-wide learning and assessment technology system and networks to facilitate the up- and re-skilling of European citizens at risk of exclusion, in particular migrants, whilst empowering citizens to take more responsibilities for their own learning. Moreover, the European Commission, following the initiative by the European Parliament, co-finances a pilot project to identify existing digital learning solutions that can support teachers in the classroom and parents at home with pupils having attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and/or concentration problems.

Measuring the progress on digitization of schools

In order to assess progress made in the introduction of ICT in education, the Commission plans to update "The Survey of Schools: ICT in Education". This study has been the last in-depth analysis on the uptake of technology in classrooms across Europe, with data collected in 2011-2012. It provides detailed and reliable benchmarking on the use of ICT in school education across Europe, from infrastructure provision to use, confidence and attitudes.

Six years later, there is an urgent need to provide more up-to-date figures. Building on the results of the first Survey of Schools: ICT in Education, the European Commission plans to publish a 2nd Survey of Schools: ICT in Education in 2018. The study will assess progress made in mainstreaming ICT in education and define the conditions for the future connected classroom.

Moreover, the European Commission has also published a study on the satellite-based broadband services in schools. The study showed that in 2015, an estimated 18% of primary and secondary schools in the EU were not connected to broadband. The study concluded that the satellite broadband could be an efficient option for poorly connected schools. It also suggested that a voucher scheme could be used as a tool to close the broadband gap for schools.