Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027)

Resetting education and training for the digital age.

#DEAP #EUDigitalEducation

What is the Digital Education Action Plan?

The Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027) is a renewed European Union (EU) policy initiative to support the sustainable and effective adaptation of the education and training systems of EU Member States to the digital age.  

The Digital Education Action Plan:

  • offers a long-term strategic vision for high-quality, inclusive and accessible European digital education 
  • addresses the challenges and opportunities of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to the unprecedented use of technology for education and training purposes 
  • seeks stronger cooperation at the EU level on digital education and underscores the importance of working together across sectors to bring education into the digital age
  • presents opportunities, including improved quality and quantity of teaching concerning digital technologies, support for the digitalisation of teaching methods and pedagogies and the provision of infrastructure required for inclusive and resilient remote learning

To achieve these objectives, the Action Plan sets out two priority areas

  1. Fostering the development of a high-performing digital education ecosystem

This includes:

  • infrastructure, connectivity and digital equipment
  • effective digital capacity planning and development, including up-to-date organisational capabilities
  • digitally competent and confident teachers and education and training staff
  • high-quality learning content, user-friendly tools and secure platforms which respect e-privacy rules and ethical standards
  1. Enhancing digital skills and competences for the digital transformation

This requires:

  • basic digital skills and competences from an early age
  • digital literacy, including tackling disinformation
  • computing education
  • good knowledge and understanding of data-intensive technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI)
  • advanced digital skills, which produce more digital specialists 
  • ensuring that girls and young women are equally represented in digital studies and careers

Why is action needed?

Digital transformation has transformed society and the economy with an ever deepening impact on everyday life. However, until the COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on education and training was much more limited. 

The pandemic has demonstrated that having an education and training system which is fit for the digital age is essential. 

While COVID-19 demonstrated the need for higher levels of digital capacity in education and training, it also led to the amplification of a number of existing challenges and inequalities between those who have access to digital technologies and those who do not, including individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

The pandemic has also revealed a number of challenges for education and training systems related to the digital capacities of education and training institutions, teacher training and overall levels of digital skills and competences. 

The figures speak for themselves:

  • a 2018 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study found that on average less than 40% of educators across the EU felt ready to use digital technologies in teaching, with divergences between EU Member States  
  • more than one third of 13-14 year olds who participated in the International Computer and Information Literacy Study (ICILS) in 2018 did not possess the most basic proficiency level in digital skills
  • a quarter of low-income households have no access to computers and broadband, with divergences across the EU affected by household income (Eurostat, 2019)

The pandemic has accelerated an existing trend towards online and hybrid learning.

This shift has uncovered new and innovative ways for students and educators to organise their teaching and learning activities and to interact in a more personal and flexible manner online. 

These changes call for a strong and coordinated effort at the EU level to support education and training systems to address the challenges identified and exasperated by the COVID-19 pandemic, while putting forward a long-term vision for the way ahead for European digital education. 

Political context

The need for a new Action Plan, building on the first Digital Education Action Plan (2018-2020) was expressed in the Political Guidelines of European Commission President, President Ursula von der Leyen, in July 2019. 

The renewed Digital Education Action Plan  contributes to the Commission’s priority ‘A Europe fit for the Digital Age’ and to Next Generation EU. It also supports the Recovery and Resilience Facility, which aims to create a greener, more digital and resilient European Union. 

The Digital Education Action Plan is a key enabler to realising the vision of achieving a European Education Area by 2025. It contributes to achieving the goals of the European Skills Agenda, the European Social Pillar Action Plan and the ‘2030 Digital Compass: the European way for the Digital Decade’.

Open public consultation

From July to September 2020, the Commission launched an open public consultation to gather the views and experiences of all citizens, institutions and organisations from the public and private sectors on the impact of COVID-19 on education and training, the related switch to distance and online learning and their vision for the future of digital education in Europe. 

The public consultation highlighted that:

  • almost 60% of respondents had not used distance and online learning before the crisis
  • 95% consider that the COVID-19 pandemic marks a turning point for how technology is used in education and training
  • respondents expressed that online learning resources and content need to be more relevant, interactive and easy-to-use and not depend on the financial resources of a town or municipality
  • over 60% felt that they had improved their digital skills during the crisis, with more than 50% of respondents wanting to build upon them

With a total of more than 2,700 responses from 60 countries and 127 position papers submitted, the consultation helped to inform the Commission’s proposal for a renewed Digital Education Action Plan, which was adopted by the College of Commissioners on 30 September 2020.

Digital Education Action Plan actions

The Digital Education Plan puts forward the following actions for the period 2021-2027:

Priority 1: Fostering the development of a high-performing digital education ecosystem

  • Action 1: Strategic Dialogue with Member States on the enabling factors for successful digital education
  • Action 2: Council Recommendation on blended learning for primary and secondary education
  • Action 3: European Digital Education Content Framework
  • Action 4: Connectivity and digital equipment for education
  • Action 5: Digital transformation plans for education and training institutions
  • Action 6: Artificial intelligence and data usage in education and training 

Priority 2: Enhancing digital skills and competences for the digital transformation 

  • Action 7: Common guidelines for teachers and educators to foster digital literacy and tackle disinformation through education and training 
  • Action 8: Update the European Digital Competence Framework to include AI and data-related skills
  • Action 9: European Digital Skills Certificate (EDSC)
  • Action 10: Council recommendation on improving the provision of digital skills in education and training
  • Action 11: Cross-national collection of data on student digital skills and introduce an EU target for student digital competence
  • Action 12: Digital Opportunity Traineeships
  • Action 13: Women’s participation in STEM
  • Digital Education Hub 

The Digital Education Hub

To support both priority areas, the Commission will establish a Digital Education Hub strengthening cooperation and exchange in digital education at the EU level.

First Digital Education Action Plan 

The Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027) builds on the first Digital Education Action Plan (2018- 2020), which had the following priority areas:

  • making better use of digital technology for teaching and learning
  • developing digital competencies and skills
  • improving education through better data analysis and foresight

Get in touch

The Digital Education Action Plan is coordinated by the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture’s (DG EAC) Digital Education unit. 

To find out more about the Digital Education Action Plan, get in touch with us by email at
EAC-DIGITALEDUCATION@ec.europa.eu.

Follow @EUDigitalEdu on Twitter for the latest news and developments on the Digital Education Action Plan and its actions. 


Header image: © European Union, 2021.