Early exposure to STEM initiatives and ICT in schools increases digital competences

STEM Alliance publishes two new literature reviews that demonstrate how important it is that pedagogy drives technology in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, not vice versa. Teachers, schools and education authorities are advised to carefully examine how STEM curricula can meaningfully incorporate technology.

When used pedagogically, ICT can enhance students' learning outcomes and digital competence. Evidence shows that an early exposure to STEM and ICT has a positive impact on students' perceptions towards those subjects, and can ensure that students are digitally competent when they leave school. Businesses can facilitate this early exposure through meaningful partnerships with schools, therefore making STEM careers more attractive to students. In addition, the school and home environment have a shared role to play in ensuring this early exposure, in view of the fact that technology has a positive effect on students' motivation, self-confidence and self-esteem, especially when students have a say in choosing the technology they use.

Teachers' attitudes and beliefs about ICT in education matter, as they can be both agents of pedagogical change and adapters of ICT innovation in the classroom. Teachers need to have confidence in their subject knowledge as well as in their digital competence so that ICT can effectively be integrated into teaching and learning. Businesses can actively support teachers in the workplace by helping them to integrate ICT into teaching and learning. Effective integration requires the judicious choice of tools and teaching and learning activities appropriate for the subject, topic and students' level of development. Online forms increasingly complement traditional face-to-face teacher training. Teachers can benefit from a continuous teacher training process thanks to ICT school coordinators who can provide pedagogical as well as technical guidance on an ongoing basis.

It is very important that teachers' ongoing professional development includes three dimensions: personal (beliefs), subject-related (contents) and social (support), ideally in a context that promotes the creation of communities of practice to share best practice.

The two reports, titled "ICT in STEM Education - Impacts and Challenges: On Students" and "ICT in STEM Education - Impacts and Challenges: On Teachers", are part of a series of literature reviews about STEM education. These reports are published by the STEM Alliance, a joint initiative of 14 major companies, coordinated by European Schoolnet and CSR Europe.

"As these reviews show, innovative STEM educational practices, including the pedagogical use of ICT in STEM teaching and learning, are a key element in making science studies and careers more attractive for students. The contextualisation of STEM teaching via school-industry partnerships is also of paramount importance in achieving innovation in STEM education", says Marc Durando, Executive Director of European Schoolnet.

"The two reports demonstrate the potential benefit of mutual engagement between business and the education sector in order to achieve more innovation in STEM education. Business as usual is not an option. Multi-stakeholder collaboration on this topic is imperative to develop or consolidate existing partnerships in support of youth employability and inclusion, therefore making STEM careers more attractive for students", says Stefan Crets, Executive Director of CSR Europe.


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Website: http://www.stemalliance.eu/

For further information, please contact: 
European Schoolnet
Caroline Kearney, Corporate Communications & Advocacy Manager
+32 (0)2 790 75 51, caroline.kearney@eun.org

CSR Europe
Davide Castro, Content Relationship Project Manager
+32 2 541 16 23, dc@csreurope.org


About STEM Alliance

The STEM Alliance brings together industries, Ministries of Education and education stakeholders to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education and careers to young Europeans and address anticipated future skills gaps within the European Union. The STEM Alliance builds on the success of the EU-funded inGenious initiative (2011-2014) to increase the links between STEM education and careers, by involving schools throughout Europe.

About European Schoolnet

European Schoolnet is the network of 31 European Ministries of Education, based in Brussels. As a not-for-profit organisation, we aim to bring innovation in teaching and learning to our key stakeholders: Ministries of Education, schools, teachers, researchers, and industry partners. European Schoolnet's mission is to support relevant education stakeholders in Europe in the transformation of education processes for 21st century digitalized societies. Our remit is to identify and test promising innovative practices, share evidence about their impact, and support the mainstreaming of teaching and learning practices aligned with 21st century standards for the education of all students.

About CSR Europe

CSR Europe is the leading European business network for Corporate Social Responsibility. Through its network of 45 corporate members and 41 National CSR organisations, it gathers over 10,000 companies, and acts as a platform for those businesses looking to enhance sustainable growth and positively contribute to society. Improving STEM skills and promoting quality business-education partnerships is a key priority for CSR Europe, as is reflected in the Pact for Youth launched in 2015.