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1) a database of digital competence frameworks. This database provides a global reference point for information on how digital competencies are being defined for citizens, learners and educators through the use of competence frameworks. The content is relevant to all types of UNEVOC Network members (national and international policy-makers, researchers and practitioners)
2) links to articles and think-pieces discussing the many implications of changing digital skills needs on TVET provision:
This database was established as a global ‘reference point’ for information on how digital competencies are being defined for citizens, learners and educators through the use of digital competence frameworks. The content is targeted to all types of UNEVOC Network members (national and international TVET policy-makers, researchers and practitioners - especially those engaged in national TVET teacher training). It aims to promote international discussion in topics related to digital competencies for TVET teachers, trainers and learners and to assist those wanting to design, implement, improve, and/or cooperate on their digital competence frameworks.
2. How were the DCFs identified and selected for inclusion in the database?
The DCFs included in the database have been identified following a systematic and informed process. The first stage was to perform a literature review to identify relevant digital skills/competence frameworks. A working definition of a ‘digital skills/competency framework’ was established and then key words associated with the definition identified to inform what should be included and excluded. Using these keywords, a review of the following electronic databases was undertaken: Web of Science, Scopus, ERIC and Education Search Complete, the TVET Country Profiles database and the Innovative and Promising Practices in TVET database.
DCFs identified were then sorted, coded and recorded in tabular form according to a set of criteria relevant to design, content and use of the DCFs. Feedback from experts on the initial coding terms was obtained, with adjustments made. The information regarding each DCF was then further analysed and edited for inclusion in the database.
3. Which organizations/government bodies are creating DCFs?
DCFs in the database have been developed by a diverse range of national governments, regional governments, government agencies, inter-governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and foundations, and private sector companies. Looking at the DCFs in the UNESCO-UNEVOC online reference point reveals the range of actors who produce DCFs. Of the DCFs in the reference point: 8 are produced by national governments/national government agencies, 2 by regional governments, 7 by international inter-governmental agencies and 9 by private sector organizations. The governments include those of Australia, India, Indonesia, Norway, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. The two inter-governmental organizations represented are UNESCO and the European Commission, who are both involved in work on more than one DCF.
4. Are there some common reasons for establishing DCFs?
DFCs are commonly developed in response to Industrial Revolution 4.0, with the massive increase in digitalization worldwide across all spheres of social and economic life as the 21st century unfolds. This increase in digitization implies that individuals throughout society have to be able to use digital tools and applications, and so require skills across a range of levels. Societies must support their citizens’ development of appropriate skills. DCFs have been developed as a way of identifying, codifying and systematizing digital skills and their levels. They are produced to bring together in a common system skills, knowledge, and attitudes which constitute digital competence.
However, as outlined, DCFs have been developed by a diverse range of organizations. Hence, while the different types of organizations who establish DCFs do so to support professionals or citizens to be able to better cope with the professional and personal demands placed on them by the proliferation of digital technology, they also have their own specific reasons as well. In the case of some of the DCFs developed by national governments, they have been produced to support or link with broader policy initiatives related to digital skills/engagement for example.
5. To what extent are DCFs specific to TVET or make specific reference to TVET?
Of the DCFs included, only one is specific to TVET: the Digital Teaching Professional Framework which has been developed by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) in the United Kingdom (UK). The ETF is the workforce development body for teachers and trainers in the TVET sector in the UK funded by the Department of Education.
Target groups differ by individual framework but include educators, citizens, learners and policy-makers. A common characteristic of all the frameworks is that they are designed to include those who are engaged in as wide a range of subject disciplines as possible and are generic in nature (they are less accessible for all social groups as is discussed in question 10). Hence, even though the majority of frameworks do not focus specifically on TVET or make reference to TVET, they are relevant to policy-makers and educators in the TVET field or students on TVET courses. However, while they are relevant to those working or learning in TVET subject areas, there may still be a need for specific DCFs focused on TVET subject areas/occupational fields. Some such DCFs do exist and as the UNESCO-UNEVOC online reference point expands, it will look to include these frameworks as well.
6. What is the relationship between the DCFs in the database and broader policy and practice in digital skills and TVET?
For the majority of the DCFs in the repository, there is some evidence of linkages with broader policy and practices related to digital skills and/or TVET. These linkages differ across the frameworks. In some cases, the DCF sits within a broader programme or framework related to the development of digital or wider skills. For example, the Foundation for your Future Digital Literacy Skills Framework has been developed to support the 'Foundation Skills for your Future Commonwealth Government Programme 2019'. This programme offers subsidized training for individuals to identify language, literacy, numeracy and digital (LLND) skill needs and enables eligible participants to access either accredited or non-accredited training either in a traditional vocational education and training (VET) or workplace setting. The Digital Skills Competency Framework produced by the Welsh government is part of a set of cross-curricular skills frameworks which underpin the Curriculum for Wales alongside literacy and numeracy. While in South Africa the Professional Development Framework for Digital Learning, aimed at teacher trainers, school leaders and teachers, e-learning specialists and curriculum subject specialists, is aligned with the Department of Basic Education’s strategic plan that encompasses all forms of training.
It would be expected that frameworks which are national, or produced by a region within a country, would have a link to broader polices given that they are produced by administrative bodies. The picture is more varied for those produced by international and non-governmental bodies or commercial enterprises/foundations. The latter are less connected to actual policies although they do attempt to nest themselves within the broader challenges facing nations and their citizens. The framework developed by the McKinsey Global Institute for example, is informed by a survey of 18,000 people in 15 countries in 2019. This research alongside academic research and McKinsey’s experience in adult training was used to identify a set of 56 foundational skills that will benefit all citizens across countries. Frameworks developed by international bodies, specifically UNESCO and the European Commission, are connected explicitly to the broader policy imperatives of these organizations. UNESCO for example has done work on DCFs related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the European Commission’s DigComp 2.2. is designed to help in reaching the European Union’s policy targets of a minimum of 80% of the population of member states with basic digital skills and 20 million ICT specialists by 2030.
7. How is digital competence defined in the construction of the DCFs?
Across the different DCFs, several terms are used to describe what is meant by digital competence and the term is used inter-changeably at times with digital literacy, digital knowledge, and digital attitudes. Hence, while similar terms are used to define digital competence, there is no one uniform definition adopted.
Given the range of organizations who have produced the DCFs and the differing levels of detail that the DCFs embody this is not surprising. Looking at the DCFs in the database overall though, it is clear that digital competence is a multi-faceted concept that is context dependent. It involves technical skills as well as the ability to engage critically with the different facets of the digital world. This is evident in the definition used by the European Commission in the DigComp 2.2 DCF for example:
‘Digital competence involves the confident, critical and responsible use of, and engagement with, digital technologies for learning, at work, and for participation in society. It includes information and data literacy, communication and collaboration, media literacy, digital content creation (including programming), safety (including digital well-being and competences related to cybersecurity), intellectual property related questions, problem solving and critical thinking.’
This definition from DigComp 2.2 is a detailed and nuanced one which captures well the competencies citizens need to be able to engage in society in a digital sense in the early 21st century. However, DigComp 2.2. itself must be see in context. It is one of the most detailed and thorough DCFs in the database designed to support the developments of competencies across a whole continent. Many of the DCFs do not actually provide a specific definition of digital competence. Rather, what digital competence means is embodied in the areas of competency/thematic areas which make up the DCF.
8. To what extent do the DCFs in the database disaggregate digital competence by dimensions and levels of proficiency?
Every DCF in the database disaggregates digital competency to some extent. The majority of DCFs disaggregate competency by outlining 4-5 dimensions/thematic areas. For example, DigComp 2.2., which is produced by the European Commission and aimed at citizens, has 5 dimensions: Information and data literacy; Communication and collaboration; Digital content creation; Safety; and Problem solving. These dimensions are then sub-divided into a larger number of competencies. In the case of DigComp 2.2, there are 21 such competencies. This structure – where dimensions or thematic areas are identified and then divided into a larger number of competencies – is a common one characterizing over 70% of the DCFs in the database. The number of dimensions differs between 4 and 7 with competencies ranging from under 10 to over 30.
In terms of proficiency, around 60% of the frameworks are disaggregated into different levels of proficiency. The number of levels ranges from 3 to 6. How such levels of proficiency are described is specific to each framework.
9. Are there provisions within DCFs for specific regions/hard-to-reach groups?
The majority (52%) of DCFs do include some reference to accessibility and inclusion for those from lower socio-economic groups, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities or those from rural locations. However, these references are not very detailed and while some DCFs do include some specific sections, recognizing the existence of divisions in access to digital technology such sections are brief. As outlined in the article which can be found on the DCF repository site, challenges in access to digital technology by certain groups are multi-faceted and common across the world. As DCFs continue to develop, if they are to maximise their impact across societies, it is vital that they build into their design and delivery a greater understanding of these differences in access to digital technology that exist.
10. What are UNEVOC’s plans for this database?
This database was established in 2022. For 2023, plans include expanding the database to cover national and regional digital skills strategies and occupational digital competence frameworks. Further articles and think-pieces will be prepared picking up on specific issues related to digitalization.
This framework has been developed to support the 'Foundation Skills for your Future Commonwealth Government Program 2019'. This program offers subsidised training to support individuals to identify language, literacy, numeracy and digital (LLND) skill needs and enables eligible participants to access either accredited or non-accredited training either in a traditional vocational education and training (VET) or workplace setting.
GEOGRAPHICAL COVERAGE: Country
ORIGIN: Australia 2021
PUBLISHER: Australian Department for Education, Skills and Employment, 2021
BACKGROUND: The framework is aligned with the government’s Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF). Digital literacy has been added as the sixth core skill to the ACSF (learning, reading, writing, oral communication and numeracy) to ensure shared concepts and language when discussing core skills and a systematic approach to benchmarking. It can be used to: benchmark an individual's digital literacy skills; map core skill requirements in education and training, to tailor teaching and learning approaches; to describe core skills relevant to the workplace; support the moderation and validation of digital literacy; and to inform decisions regarding funding and referrals.
SUMMARY: The Australian Digital Literacy Skills Framework is structured according to: 1) Active awareness of self as a digital user (further disaggregated into two focus areas: create, communicate and collaborate; and digital identity and safety) 2) Knowledge, use and application of digital literacy skills (further disaggregated into: digital technologies and systems; and access, organise, present and problem solve) Each focus area describes 5 levels of competence (Pre-Level 1 Stages A and B, Levels 1, 2 and 3) according to four performance variables that can influence a person's performance at any time (support, context, text complexity and task complexity) in 3 domains (personal and community, workplace and employment; education and training). The Framework describes examples of demonstrated competence at each level for each focus area. For example, at Level 2 Education and Training: ‘Interacting with others appropriately using internet-based software, e.g., group discussion’, and level 3, ‘Converts data to a bar graph or pie chart’. Significant for teachers is the section on tailoring teaching and learning to assess and develop relevant skills. The tabular form of the framework is readily accessed and understood.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The resource and the framework are underpinned by the understanding that technology is a channel to improve skills, enhance the quality of life, drive education and promote economic wellbeing.
TARGET GROUP(S): Citizens; Non-governmental organisations
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