28 SES 04 A, New digital policy instrumentations in the governance of education
Whereas the last three decades have produced a significant amount of literature looking at digital competences at school and in terms of a specific set of mixed digital and learning devices in classroom, little has been produced about digital competences in relation to the convergence of public policies per se. Our research exactly focuses on the potential effect of this convergence.
European industry strategists have become more daring in approaching the future in this field and started a process of digitisation of industry as «a unique opportunity for attracting further investments into innovative and high growth digital and digitised industries in Europe» (European Commission, 2016, p.6. See also Buckingham (2007), publications on Horizon2020 and Reports from the World Economic Forums, WEF, 2016).
European frameworks, training programmes and large-scale assessment surveys such as TIMSS and PISA are contributing to standardize and evaluate the facets of digital competence for educators and students (OECD, 2105, 2018). Moreover, new frameworks tend to push both teachers and students to assess skills, follow training and learning pathways and enact targeted activities to foster what has been emphatically and rhetorically prophesised as the knowledge base for the fourth industrial revolution.
Modernising Europe’s digital skills base has become a major priority since 2010, when European Commission launched the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy. Furthermore, to support EU member states in implementing digital policy, a Digital Scoreboard was created at the European level, as an instrument designed to measure the progress of the European digital economy. The European Commission adopted the Communication on the Action Plan on Digital Learning on the results from two successive Survey of Schools: ICT in Education. The study assess progress made in mainstreaming ICT in education and define the conditions for the future connected classroom. A study on the satellite-based broadband services in schools is in progress too.
More significantly a common European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators (DigCompEdu) and a common European Digital Competence Framework for Citizens (DigComp 2.0) have been launched and upgraded from 2013 on. They are part of a general European policy to implement national policies, tools and training programmes. In addition, they aim at providing a common language and approach that «will help the dialogue and exchange of best practices across borders».
A critical question crosses the making of national discourses concerning digital education: what dimensions are going to prevail in the effective deployment of educational policies on digital literacy? In a sort of ideological range, there are policies, programmes and interventions explicitly emphasizing a performative and hetero direct concept of digital skills and at the opposite of the continuum there are tenants to highlight digital literacy as a viaticum for civic knowledge, active citizenship and political awareness. In most cases, national policies apparently recall both the dimensions: performative market-oriented digitalisation and effective digital pedagogy.
Our research aims to identify alternative, somewhat related rationales that are used to justify the Europeanisation of the national educational space via DigCompEdu and DigComp2.0 frameworks in a subcontinental perspective. We conducted a cross national analysis of national ICT policy statements for the latest educational reforms of primary public school’s curricula in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Objectives are to find out whether these countries are converging to a similar digi-educational pattern, to highlight the features of eventual divergencies and to understand the naturalization of the digital paradigm across and between each country-national system. We also aim at detecting eventual explanatory nexuses between the type of State model of public education and the ideological contents expressed inside and about ICT statements introducing DigCompEdu and DigComp2.0 initiatives in primary schools.
The analysis focuses on the underlying visions, specific aims and instruction related aspects that are integrated in the national educational digital curricula and experimentation of the four national cases. The EU’s role in national education policy-making has expanded considerably since the enactment of the Lisbon Strategy (2000) and the Bologna (1999) and Copenhagen (2002) Processes. Our analyses fall within the framework of internationalization considered as one of the main drivers of change in education systems (Landri, Neumann, 2014; Normand, Derouet, 2017). We share the idea that Europeanization not only lead to the emergence of policy-making processes, structures and new actors in education at the international level, but also indicate a growing influence of International Organizations and private stakeholders on national education systems (Busemeyer, Trampusch, 2011). Hence, we try to eclectically combine sociological institutional theory and discourse analysis as suggested by Alexiadou (2007). We adopt an historically narrative approach and a socio-cultural hermeneutic perspective based on content analyses. We then follow the ‘fabrication’ and circulation of educational ‘objects’ as an ensemble of processes transforming discourses and techno-semiotic paradigms into practical devices, materialities and pedagogies (Fenwick, Landri, 2012). Our approach is a proximal gaze to track-back the constituency processes of the educational contexts (Giancola, Vitteritti, 2014). A comparative document analysis of national curricula, reforms and initiatives and their underlying policy documents are chosen as research-design to develop empirical knowledge of the similarities and differences between national development of DigCompEdu and DigComp2.0 frameworks. Document analysis may often be the only realistic approach for historical and cross-cultural studies (Bowen, 2009). Consequently, the cross-national character of this study validates the use of document analysis as a stand-alone method. Three general criteria determined the selection of documents: 1) To guarantee a common international foundation, European members country was the first selection criterion; 2) The countries of the selected cases had to share similar outcomes in terms of ICT Infrastructure in primary schools, frequency of ICT-based learning activities and students’ and teachers’ confidence in their digital Competence (to check Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal performances, see Wastiau et al., 2013) and a well-documented national educational policy on digital competences; 3) The level of centralization or decentralization of the education policy was taken into account, as this parameter has a great influence on the policy content on the macro level. Key digital skills areas investigated are: i) Information; ii) Communication; iii) Content-creation; iv) Safety; v) Problem-solving.
Since the very complex and sensitive nature of education in primary schools, we expect that texts introducing, accompanying and diffusing digitalisation and digital frameworks to be catalysed on the civic and democratic dimension of digital citizenship. Nonetheless, the wider framework of rules and regulations provides a background that both constrains and facilitates the adaptation to new policies, but does not determine the outcomes. We then expect that outcomes from our research to be consistent with the evidence that Europe and processes of Europeanisation play a significant role and bear constitutive responsibility in pushing primary public schools toward standardization of teaching and learning in the direction of a performative dimension of digital competences. Furthermore, we expect to prove that the gaps ¬reported to different degrees for Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain along the infrastructural digital divide related to other European countries, may push towards a naturalization of the needs for digital skills, since the latter are presented as the answer to fill these gaps. Finally, it is very likely that even recorded forms of resiliency to standardisation and isomorphism (Grek, 2009), in traditional areas of literacy, numeracy and problem solving may produce, conversely, a widespread acritical acceptance of digital curriculum as a natural, unavoidable and absolutely necessary goal.
Alexiadou, N. (2007), “The Europeanisation of Education Policy: researching changing governance and ‘new’modes of coordination”, RCIE,2(2): 102-16. Bowen, G. A. (2009), “Document analysis as a qualitative research method”, QRJ, 9(2): 27-40. Buckingham, D. (2007), “Digital Media Literacies: rethinking media education in the age of the Internet”, RCIE,2(1): 43-55. Busemeyer, M. R., Trampusch, C. (2011), “Comparative political science and the study of education”, BJPS, 41(2), 413-43. EC (2016), Digitising European Industry. Reaping the full benefits of a Digital Single Market, Brussels Fenwick, T., Landri, P. (2012), “Materialities, textures and pedagogies: socio-material assemblages in education”, PCS, 20(1), 1-7. Giancola, O., Viteritti, A. (2014), “Distal and Proximal Vision: a multi-perspective research in sociology of education”, EERJ, 13(1), 47-57. Global Cities (2017), A Framework for Evaluating Student Outcomes in Global Digital Education, White Paper, Global Cities Inc., New York. Grek, S. (2009), “Governing by Numbers: The PISA Effect in Europe”, JEP, 24(1): 23-37. Landri, P., Neumann, E. (2014), “Mobile Sociologies of Education”, EERJ 13(1): 1–8. Normand, R., Derouet, J.L. (2017), A European Politics of Education: Perspectives from Sociology, Policy Studies and Politics. London: Routledge. OECD, (2015), Students, Computers and Learning: Making the Connection, PISA, OECD Publishing. OECD, (2018), Teaching for Global Competence in a Rapidly Changing World http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264289024-en Wastiau, P., Blamire, R., Kearney, C., Quittre, V., Van de Gaer, E., Monseur, C. (2013), Survey of Schools: ICT in Education Benchmarking Access, Use and Attitudes to Technology in Europe’s Schools, European Commission, Education Luxembourg. WEF (2016), Global Challenge Insight Report. The Future of Jobs Employment, Skills and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution January
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