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Beyond ‘google classroom’: what digital skills do teachers need?

We live in an increasingly digital world. Technology is present in all aspects of our lives, including education. Teachers of today, and those of the future, must not only be competent in its use, but also guide students in the development of their digital citizenship competence.

Teaching digital competence is the set of knowledge, skills and attitudes that allow teachers to use digital technologies effectively in teaching. To develop it, it is necessary both a positive attitude as a technical mastery of digital tools.

Recent studies indicate that the practicing teachers in Spain has a medium level of teaching digital competence, similar to that of other European countries such as Portugal o Germany. Digital content creation, copyright and digital security are the most challenging aspects.

Digital divide: a challenge for education

In Spain, the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training has developed a guide for the training and evaluation in digital competence of teachers at all educational levels.

This guide is called the Digital Teaching Competence Reference Framework and is based on the similar European framework (DigCompEdu).

This competence goes beyond the technical mastery of digital tools, that is, the use of specific applications or platforms such as Google Classroom and the management of portable devices, interactive digital whiteboards or those linked to educational robotics, for example.

According to this frameworkis made up of six areas related to the professional activities of teachers:

  • Professional commitment. Use of technology for collaborative work, improvement of professional practice, control of privacy and security on the Internet.
  • Digital content. Selection and creation of digital educational materials.
  • Teaching and learning. Use of technology in teaching and learning processes.
  • Evaluation and feedback. Use of technology in the evaluation of students during the teaching and learning process.
  • Student empowerment. Use of technology to facilitate inclusion, attention to diversity and active engagement of students.
  • Development of digital competence of students. Develop in students the creative and responsible use of technology in the school context and in their daily lives.
  • Act on the digital and gender divide

    Teachers can and should contribute to reducing the different digital divides. These have to do with inequalities that range from access to technologies to the development of digital competence in students. One of its consequences is the excessive or inappropriate use of technologies, which can affect the physical and mental health of the population.

    There is also a digital gender gap that is present from childhood to adulthood. This gap ranges from the use of technology to perceptions and attitudes towards it.

    For example, girls are more aware of the risks of excessive use of technology and cybersecurity (the way to protect yourself in the digital world).

    On the other hand, boys are more confident when using technology and have a more positive attitude towards it.

    These results are obtained from the research carried out in the project Mind gap.

    This means that with boys it would be necessary to focus especially on competitions technoethicswhich are related to the responsible use of technologies.

    At the same time, certain technological skills should be worked on with the girls, promoting in them a more positive attitude towards technology.

    To reduce this gap, leading teachers with a high level of digital competence are needed, as well as promoting equality education for both sexes from early childhood education.

    Teacher training for digital leadership

    Teachers need specific training to develop students’ digital competence. Universities and educational administration must guarantee the development of this professional competence during the initial and ongoing training of teachers.

    In 2022, the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training Spanish published an agreement to establish the procedures for the accreditation of this professional competence. Since then, the different educational administrations have launched ongoing training programs aimed at accrediting the different levels of the Digital Teaching Competence Reference Framework.

    Initial training in digital teaching competence depends on the study plans of each university, so it is not always incorporated in the same way and sometimes it is insufficient or inadequate. Therefore, it is necessary to incorporate it into the study plans and agree on the criteria to evaluate it.

    Beyond the technical aspects

    This training must go beyond the technical aspects and focus on the development of the pedagogical component, that is, on the use of technology to improve teaching-learning processes: attention to diversity in the classroom, evaluation and monitoring of students or the development of their digital competence, among many other aspects.

    In addition to teacher training, leadership at different levels (administration, educational center, classroom) is essential to develop the digital maturity of educational centers. Digital maturity refers to the ability of the school institution to effectively integrate digital technologies both in the teaching and learning processes and in administrative management.

    In short, the school institution must be transformed into an innovative and leadership context within society, and, specifically, in terms of the use of technologies. In this sense, it is important to promote collaboration between different institutions to share experiences and innovative practices in the use of digital technologies.

    Future challenges: artificial intelligence

    The expansion of artificial intelligence It is one of the current challenges in education. The reaction of educational institutions has been very diverse in the use of generative AI tools such as ChatGPT.

    The role of teachers is key when it comes to the use of tools in education. We must not forget the risks that this technology entails. For this reason, educational administration and universities must offer specific training to teachers that promote responsible use. This training It should cover everything from how AI tools work and how they can help us in the teaching and learning processes, to the ethical and legal aspects involved in their use.

    It is also necessary to promote a positive attitude and openness to change on the part of teachers and administrations.

    This challenge requires a joint effort from the entire educational community to ensure quality education in the digital age.

    This article was originally published in The Conversation. read the original.

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