Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027)

Resetting education and training for the digital age.

The Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027) outlines the European Commission’s vision for high-quality, inclusive and accessible digital education in Europe. It is a call to action for stronger cooperation at European level to:

  • learn from the COVID-19 crisis, during which technology is being used at an unprecedented scale in education and training
  • make education and training systems fit for the digital age

An open public consultation on the new action plan ran from June to September 2020.

The new Action Plan has two strategic priorities

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

This requires:

  • 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 privacy and ethical standards

What the Commission will do

  • launch a strategic dialogue with European Union (EU) Member States to prepare a proposal for a Council Recommendation on the enabling factors for successful digital education by 2022
  • propose a Council Recommendation on online and distance learning for primary and secondary education. Its focus should be an EU-wide common understanding of how to make distance, online and blended learning effective, inclusive and engaging by the end of 2021
  • develop a European Digital Education Content Framework that will build on European cultural and creative diversity and launch a feasibility study on a possible European exchange platform to share certified online resources and connect with existing education platforms
  • support the Gigabit connectivity of schools, as well as connectivity in schools, carry out Connectivity4Schools awareness on funding opportunities and encourage Member States to make the most of EU support with regard to internet access, the purchase of digital equipment, e-learning applications and platforms
  • support digital transformation plans at all levels of education and training through Erasmus cooperation projects. Support digital pedagogy and expertise in the use of digital tools for teachers through Erasmus Teacher Academies and launch an online self-assessment tool for teachers - SELFIE (Self-reflection on Effective Learning by Fostering the use of Innovative Educational technologies) for Teachers
  • develop ethical guidelines on artificial intelligence (AI) and data usage in teaching and learning for educators and support Horizon Europe research and innovation in this area

2. Enhancing digital skills and competences for the digital transformation

This needs:

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

What the Commission will do

  • develop common guidelines for teachers and educational staff to foster digital literacy and tackle disinformation through education and training. Work with civil society, European technology companies and carriers, broadcasters, journalists, the Media Literacy Expert group, the European Digital Media Observatory, national authorities, parents, students and young people
  • update the European Digital Competence Framework to include AI and data-related skills and support development of AI learning resources for schools, vocational education and training (VET) organisations, and other training providers
  • create a European Digital Skills Certificate (EDSC) that is recognised and accepted by governments, employers and others across Europe
  • propose a Council recommendation on improving the provision of digital skills in education and training. This would include using EU tools to invest in teacher professional development, sharing best practices on instructional methods in high-quality computing education and working with industry to identify and update skills needs as they emerge
  • encourage more participation in the International Computer and Information Literacy Study (ICILS), which gathers cross-national data on student digital skills and introduce an EU target for student digital competence of under 15% by 2030 for 13-14 year old students who underperform in computer and information literacy
  • target advanced digital skills development though steps such as extending the Digital Opportunity traineeships to VET learners and apprentices, and offer professional development opportunities for teachers, trainers and other educational staff
  • encourage women’s participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) with the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) and support the EU STEM Coalition to develop higher education curricula which attracts women to engineering and ICT based on the ‘STEAM’ (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) approach

Why action is needed

  • many low-income homes have no access to computers and broadband access varies widely across the EU depending on household income (Eurostat 2019)
  • more than 1 in 5 young people across the EU fail to reach a basic level of digital skills
  • a 2018 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study found less than 40% of educators felt ready to use digital technologies in teaching, with wide differences across the EU
  • the COVID-19 crisis is leading to an unprecedented shift to online learning and the use of digital technologies

2020 public consultation results

  • almost 60% of the respondents had not used distance and online learning before the crisis
  • 95% consider that the COVID-19 crisis marks a point of no return for how technology is used in education and training
  • respondents say that online learning resources and content need to be more relevant, interactive and easy to use
  • over 60% felt that they had improved their digital skills during the crisis and more than 50% of respondents want to do more

Strengthening cooperation and exchange in digital education at EU level

The EU can play a more active role in:

  • identifying, sharing and scaling up good practices
  • supporting Member States and the education and training sector with tools, frameworks, guidance, technical expertise and research
  • fostering cooperation between all stakeholders

by creating a new European Digital Education Hub to:

  • link national and regional digital education initiatives and actors
  • support cross-sector collaboration and new models for exchange of digital learning content, addressing issues such as common standards, interoperability, accessibility and quality-assurance.

The Hub will serve as a think-tank, supporting the development of policy and practice and monitor the development of digital education in Europe, including the implementation of the new Digital Education Action Plan. The Hub will also support user-driven innovation and engagement through the Digital Education Hackathon.

Previous work on digital education

The 2021-2027 Digital Education Action plan builds on the 2018-2020 plan which had the following priority areas:

  1. making better use of digital technology for teaching and learning
  2. developing digital competencies and skills
  3. improving education through better data analysis and foresight