With digital devices shaping our existence it is extremely important for all citizens to be competent in the use of technologies. Being able to understand technologies and to work independently with them is by no means valuable acumen for success in the connected world. Yet, while digital skills are penetrated in everyday lives, there is growing need for schools to reinforce the uptake of digital skills in young people, as the e-Skills Manifesto 2015 outlines.
While innovation is happening at unprecedented pace, this is not reflected in schools: “less than half of children in the EU are in schools that are highly digitally equipped”, according to the “Survey of Schools: ICT in education” 2013 report by European Schoolnet. Rather than creating a short-term solutions, formal education needs to address the need to raise the level of ICT skills for all learners and also for teachers.
Still, it will be inaccurate to say that schools are not tackling the question of digital skills. According to the 2015 edition of "Computing our future: computer programming and coding" report by European Schoolnet, 16 out of 21 participating countries are currently integrating coding into the curricula at national, regional or local levels; and Finland has included coding in its core curricula for 2016. Most countries also report that coding is just one part of the digital competences frame that students should acquire. Alongside pure technical skills, such as coding, students need to be able to think critically with technologies and to be selective in their use of devices and platforms.
Another important aspect, according to the Manifesto, concerns the teacher training in ICT. Making teachers feel comfortable with using technology and having the knowledge of how best to integrate technology in schools is one of the prerequisites for nurturing students’ engagement and creativity. The professional development of teachers in the area of digital skills is key factor – not only for the development of better pedagogies but also for the future of schools to become more engaged in discovering the right attitudes toward technologies including the awareness of possible future careers.