Attuning the European Digital Competence Framework (DigComp) to present realities

On 22 March, the European Commission published the updated version of the European Digital Competence Framework, DigComp 2.2, which serves as an essential piece in the EU’s efforts to meet the targets it has set for itself in its Digital Education Action Plan (70% of those aged 16-74 should have at least basic digital skills by 2025) and in its European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan (at least 80% of those aged 16-74 should have basic digital skills). To meet the established targets, there needs to be an awareness that requirements for digital skills are ever-changing, as the new technologies are developing at a rapid pace. This implies a need to discuss about such skills only in a context of lifelong learning, constant review and adaptation of learning and teaching methods and outcomes. To this end, SOLIDAR Foundation commends the updating work undertaken for the development of DigComp 2.2 and recognises the efforts from the European Commission to stay attuned to societal developments linked to digitalisation.

The process of reviewing DigComp lasted across 2021, with the work on the update being coordinated by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre and implemented in a collaborative drafting process with digital education stakeholders from Europe. The collaborative process was organised through SOLIDAR Foundation’s partner, ALL DIGITAL, and more specifically through their online Community of Practice. Civil society organisations, teachers, educators, learners, private sector stakeholders, providers of informal and non-formal education, were some among the wide variety of stakeholders that amounted to 400 and split into 12 working groups to review different sections of the Framework. DigComp 2.2 foresees new entries on more recent technological developments that have inserted themselves more in learners’ lives, such as Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, datafication and competences associated with the new world of teleworking. It also broadens the references to the green and sustainable aspects of interacting with digital technologies, but also with regards to information literacy, referring to two of the biggest challenges experienced by learners in the present times. The inclusion of new examples of knowledge, skills and attitudes is bound to require a comprehensive process in which all stakeholders using the framework, adapt their own approaches to include the most recent developments.

SOLIDAR Foundation was a key contributor to the Information Literacy and Data Literacy Working Groups, ensuring that learners in the virtual space can be prepared to identify the proliferation of misinformation and disinformation, while acting against it. SOLIDAR Foundation appreciates the open and collaborative methodology used to build up the update from the expertise of digital education stakeholders and commits to support the mainstreaming of DigComp 2.2 across the EU.

SOLIDAR Foundation contributed to the second stage of this updating process, joining a Community of Practice (CoP) with diverse members, ranging from CSOs to non-formal and informal education providers, to academics, to education professionals and to businesses. The CoP was organized by ALL DIGITAL and has been kindly invited by the European Commission to participate in the drafting of the update of DigComp. The Community of Practice was divided into working groups tasked with developing a list of scenarios, together with the knowledge, skills and attitudes linked to them, related to various strands of the DigComp. SOLIDAR Foundation joined the working groups related to information and data literacy but also to Artificial Intelligence (AI). These Working Groups have met on 23-24 February to present the work up until this point and in preparation for the following stages in which experts from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre will review the collected examples and vet them before integrating them in the foreseen update of DigComp.

Making use of best practice examples from members and partners, SOLIDAR Foundation have proposed scenarios linked to the capacity to understand the distinction between correlation and causation when evaluating online information, to understanding of data shared through cookies tracking, to knowledge of privacy and data regulations applicable to users, to employing a critical spirit when coming across to data online and to awareness of online alternatives to the mainstream tech companies/products among many other. SOLIDAR Foundation fully supports this multi-stakeholder approach to updating the needed competences, relying on practitioners with knowledge on the ground of the recent changes in how people interact with technology in their daily lives. SOLIDAR Foundation is looking forward to see how these inputs are going to be integrated in DigComp and underlines the fact that, once the update is finalized, it is imperative for all people to receive education providers to build up the knowledge, skills and attitudes to adapt to a society where the line between digital and physical gets more blurred.