DiCTE addresses the need in EU policies for newly graduated student teachers to be able to teach using ICT, and for data on students’ digital competence. It focuses on the need to enhance ICT in teaching and learning in teacher training programs and to promote consistency between different European nations, and thereby develop and strengthen the student teachers’ digital competence.
Objectives and target group
The European Commission (2006) emphasizes digital competence as central and important to all citizens. According to the Eurostat 2015 data almost 45% of the “EU population aged from 16 to 74 had insufficient digital skills to participate in society and economy” (Vuorikari, Punie, Carretero, and Van den Brande, 2016, p. 5). The European Commission has therefore taken several actions to address this digital divide. The Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission has developed the “The European Digital Competence Framework for Citizens” (Vuorikari et al., 2016, p. 2) with an aim of increasing ‘digital equity’ to empower citizens to more actively engage and participate in society through the use of technology.
Formal education has an important role to play in this regard and none more so than in teacher education. From a perspective of equity, it is crucial for teacher education to equip future teachers with the required professional digital competence so that they can prepare children to grow up in a digital society. However, international studies (Fraillon et al., 2014; European Commission, 2013) show that a number of countries have made little progress when it comes to implementing ICT in schools and ensuring that teachers have the digital competence to teach with and about ICT. From a European perspective, recent research (European Commission, 2013) indicates that EU teachers’ digital competence is insufficient in this regard.
In addition to this apparent knowledge and skills deficit, a review of research literature in this area by Røkenes and Krumsvik (2014) revealed that there were strikingly few studies related to the development of student teachers’ digital competence. This suggests that there is insufficient research being conducted in this area of digital competence in teacher education and that there is a challenge to educate digitally competent teachers through the teacher training institutions. This challenge is exacerbated by the rapid evolution of digital technology where digital competence as a concept in both school and society is constantly in flux (Tyner, 1998; Buckingham, 2006; Johannesen, Giæver & Øgrim 2014) . Teacher education institutions must therefore not only take steps in order to ensure that their student teachers are confident users of ICT for educational purposes, but also ensure that student teachers possess the capacity to adapt and change to use future technologies guided by broader pedagogical and ethical competencies that transcend individual technological changes.
The goals of the DiCTE project are to:
- Identify the student teachers’ levels of digital competence when entering teacher education and compare across institutions (connected to intellectual output 1 and 2).
- Identify and benchmark approaches used in the participating teacher education institutions to develop student teachers digital competence (connected to intellectual output 3 and 4).
- Identify the student teachers’ development of digital competence during their studies and compare across institutions (connected to intellectual output 2).
- Create methods for integrating digital competence in teacher education and transfer of best practices
The need for teachers to be digitally competent is crucial. As such it is teacher education that has to prepare students for being digitally competent teachers. DiCTE addresses the need in EU policies for newly graduated student teachers to be able to teach using ICT, and for data on students’ digital competence. It focuses on the need to enhance ICT in teaching and learning in teacher training programs and to promote consistency between different European nations, and thereby develop and strengthen the student teachers’ digital competence
A digitally competent teaching profession can then influence schooling practices and ultimately the digital competence of all pupils. International research shows variation in digital competence among children and youth. The International Computer and Information Literacy Study 2013 tested digital competence among 15 year old children in 18 countries, including 14 European countries (Fraillon et al., 2014). First, the analysis highlighted variation in digital competence in all countries and that 25% of the students, in the participating EU countries except Czech Republic and Denmark, show low levels of digital competence. Second, students’ social background was the most influencing predictor of students test score in all the participating countries. Recent research rightly points out that schools and teachers are very important to equalize and compensate for social differences in school achievements. Carrying out this project transnationally is essential for understanding practices, and impacting policies and curricula in schools and the integration of ICT teacher education to meet the European requirements for digitally competent youth and children.