The first module focuses on showing how important digital competence is in today’s digital society
Today’s society require a high level of knowledges and skills within ICT (information and communication technology). It’s essential in a constant changing environment were searching for an employment, apply for an education program or housing, handle bank errands etcetera require us to navigate different digital platforms. There are no jobs today that does not demand even the slightest knowledge of digital skills. Everyone needs to know how to use a computer to do at least the minimum. Digital illiteracy negatively effects individuals to become self-sufficient citizens, it keeps them from earning a living and contribute to the society’s economic growth. Therefore, skills and knowledges in ICT are critical in increasing increasing individuals’ employability and for the society’s economy in general.
The official website of the European Union acknowledges the need of digital skills and competences. Digital competences are in demand more than ever and digital solutions impact almost every aspect of our daily life.
In Europe more than 90% of professionals’ roles requires a basic level of digital knowledge, just as they require basic literacy and numeracy skills. At the same time, 80 million Europeans do not use the Internet because it is too expensive to buy a computer or that they find it too difficult or not relevant to connect digitally. Approximately around 42% of Europeans lack basic digital skills, including 37% of those in the workforce.
Digital exclusion is a growing phenomenon and a part of the overall challenge of exclusion. Exclusion means a deterioration of the whole life situation like poor health, poor lifelong earnings and an increased risk of marginalization. Many individuals are presently excluded for several reasons like for example low income and education, location, culture trust and confidence levels or various disabilities
According to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, there is a difference between Digital Equity and Digital Inclusion:
“Digital Equity is a condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy and economy. Digital Equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services.
The European Union has developed a range of policies and initiatives to increase digital skills in both the workforce and consumers. EU is investing in programmes to train Europeans and expand the talent pool in Europe so we can be confident our future in the digital world. The connection between social and digital exclusion has been confirmed by various worldwide research. Individuals with lower levels of education, income and health are less likely to use ICT. By reducing digital exclusion, these individuals will have access to the same information regarding education, health, and societal issues. In the long run, the increasing use of ICT will mean reduced exclusion.
The Swedish national Agency for education specifies that by using digital tools in teaching, you as a teacher can improve student´s conditions for learning. Students also bring digital skills with them to further studies and working life.
The curriculum for adult education also points to the importance of knowledge in ICT:
“In an increasingly digital society, adult education must also contribute to developing students’ digital skills. The education must contribute to all students developing an understanding of how digitalization affects the individual and society’s development. All students should be given the opportunity to develop their ability to use digital technology. They must also be given the opportunity to develop a critical and responsible approach to digital technology, to be able to see opportunities and understand risks and to be able to evaluate information. Through these knowledge and attitudes linked to digital competence, entrepreneurship and innovation thinking, students develop abilities that are important in both work and social life as well as in further studies.”
The Swedish author, lecturer and teacher Ivana Eklund has long experience working with ICT, developing material, and educating professionals. According to her research it’s important to remember that our target group are adults and therefore the content of the teaching (developing) digital competence must be adult relevant, useful and move within domains of everyday life, social life, working life and studies. The individuals need to develop digital skills to be able to search and handle information, be able to word processing, send and receive emails, make reservations online, search for job, find a living and so on.
Tips for the facilitator
A theoretical background to module 2 that can be used to learn more about the importance of knowledge in digital competence. It can also be used as inspiration for further reading and knowledge in the field.