EU Science Hub

Aligning teacher competence frameworks to 21st century challenges: The case for the European Digital Competence Framework for Educators (DIGCOMPEDU)

Abstract: 

Teachers need to update their competence profiles for 21st century challenges. They have a key role to play in globalised contexts, meeting the needs of modern learners as digital natives by consistently embedding their teaching in digital learning environments. 21st-century volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous contexts call for dialogue and collaboration of key actors, to mainstream innovative education strategies and approaches. Teaching strategies need to change, along with the competence profiles teachers need to develop, so as to deploy innovative pedagogies and empower responsible learners. The recent European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators (DigCompEdu) takes stock of these pressing needs, and represents a paradigmatic example of this endeavour. Teacher competence frameworks can be useful means of describing newly emerging teacher profiles in a structured way. They also allow teachers, training providers and assessors to understand current competence levels and to enhance them where needed. A key starting point regards consistency between the competence profiles of teachers and pupils. At the same time, aligning competence frameworks to the features and needs of a specific context is key for effective education, and requires a flexible framework design that is easy to update over time. Defining the requirements of education professionals through teacher competence frameworks can serve multiple purposes at different levels in education systems. At the micro level, it can support and guide teachers’ practice and continuous professional development; at the meso level, it can promote effective governance of education institutions as learning organisations. At the macro level of quality assurance, it can provide reference standards for initial teacher education, and for education professionals’ quality along the career continuum. The European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators has been designed to align with institutional and contextual requirements, while remaining open to adaptation and updating. It links teachers' and students' digital competence development, and can be linked to institutional capacity building. At the same time, the framework is generic enough to apply to different educational settings and to allow for adaptation as technological possibilities and constraints evolve.