The Dutch programme Digitally Skilled & Digitally Safe aims to enhance the digital skills of the labour force.
Since 2009 public institutions and the business community collaborate within the programme following two lines: Digital skills of the labour force (Digitally Skilled) and Internet safety (Digitally Safe), targeting future employees, working people and jobseekers between 15 and 64 years old in order to enhance the innovation capacity and productivity of the Dutch economy.
The work plan for the year 2013 describes the strategy, approach and activities of Digitally Skilled and Digitally Safe for the upcoming months. Each line of the programme has its own goals, own results envisaged, own activities and own necessary and desired public-private collaboration.
Log On, Learn provides an easy way for people of all ages to learn how to use computers.
The programme, based in Ireland, pairs up a transition-year student with an older person from their local community so that they can share skills with each other. The course spread out over eight modules, during which one-to-one training allows for personalized assessment of the learners' initial level, learning pace, interests, and goals. The website allows users to search for current programmes all over Ireland.
This paper summarizes ATC21S assessments for ICT Literacy, including a description of data (collected in Fall 2011 studies in Australia, Finland, Singapore and the U.S.) and discussion on how assessment outcomes can be reported. ATC21S aims to help educators around the world equip students with 21st century skills to succeed in career and college goals, including problem-solving, digital literacy and working together in learning communities.
Commission President José Manuel Barroso called on Europe's digital businesses, governments, training and education sectors to join a Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs to address up to 900 000 job vacancies expected to exist in Europe in Information and Communication technologies (ICT) by 2015. Despite the current levels of unemployment, the number of digital jobs is growing by more than 100 000 per year. Yet the number of fresh ICT graduates and skilled ICT workers is not keeping up.
Vice-Presidents Neelie Kroes (Digital Agenda) and Antonio Tajani (Industry and Entrepreneurship) and Commission members László Andor (Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) and Androulla Vassiliou (Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth) also attended the launch of the Grand Coalition held today in Brussels, which is part of the Commission's drive to make Europe more competitive.
President Barroso said: "The Grand Coalition we launch today is an essential part of getting Europe's economy back on track and finding jobs for some of Europe's 26 million unemployed. I applaud those companies who have signed up today. If, together, we can turn the tide and fill the growing number of ICT vacancies, we will see a much wider impact across the whole economy. We want to empower Europeans to fill the jobs that will drive the next ICT revolution."
Europe cannot afford to leave employment opportunities like this unexploited. Today's announcement builds on the groundwork laid by Vice President Kroes in collecting initial pledges on new jobs, internships, training places, start-up funding, free online university courses and more from technology companies, governments, educators, social partners, employment service providers and civil society organisations at the World Economic Forum in Davos (see IP/13/52).
Initial commitments from stakeholders have been endorsed with over 15 companies and organisations signing up to the Grand Coalition. Among the first pledges to come to life is a new online learning platform for young people called the Academy Cube and a new training module for energy smart grid installers.
The Commission has sought pledges in the following key areas:
Training and matching for digital jobs – to help ensure the skills people are getting are the skills business needs;
Mobility – helping those with skills get to the place where they're needed, to avoid shortages and surpluses in different towns and cities;
Certification – making it easier to prove to an employer what skills one has, regardless of the country;
Awareness raising – so that people know the digital sector offers rewarding and enjoyable careers to both women and men;
Innovative learning and teaching – so our education and training systems expand and improve to give more people the skills for success.
President Barroso also called on organisations to follow the example of the early pledgers. The Commission has a role to play, but actions like industry-led training, assisting labour mobility, certifying skills, improving school and university curricula, raising awareness, and creating an entrepreneur friendly environment for start-ups need the active engagement of all stakeholders.
The Commission is also launching Startup Europe, a single platform for tools and programmes supporting people wanting to set up and grow web start-ups in Europe.
We recently spoke with Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Public Sector Education at Microsoft Corporation, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona 2013. Salcito works with education institutions to embrace technology to optimize learning environments and student achievement.
What challenges does fomenting innovation in schools currently face?
At the moment, youth unemployment in some European Union member states exceeds 50%. The preparation of young people for the labor market has to be improved, especially since companies hire their workforce primarily on the basis of skills. Collaboration, communication, and leadership skills should be at the center of schools’ education.
21st-century learning should be competency based, because becoming prepared for life and work is crucial, more important than content knowledge alone. The problem is that pupils today are awarded grades based on content knowledge. They often progress to the next level despite low grades in certain subject areas, which actually signals a lack of foundational knowledge they’ll need in the future.
Proper assessment should therefore not be bound to specific timing, but to understanding—that’s the true measure of achievement. Furthermore, it should take into account the learning of concepts and overall progress, instead of focusing solely on content results.
The research project Assessment and Teaching of 21st-Century Skills (ATC21S) proposes ways of assessing 21st-century skills and encourages teaching and adopting those skills in the classroom. Ultimately, the best results are achieved when learning is personalized.
What role should teachers play in this transformation?
The role of teachers is essential, but they need training and support in order to move toward increasingly teaching skills and competencies. Teachers should listen more, and provide individual assessment and mentoring to their pupils. To this end, various different resources are available, such as “Education Competencies”, designed to help educators and administrators.
Coming back to the topic of assessment, we are not welcoming educators and curriculum developers to innovate if we do not change the way we assess what learners know and what they are supposed to know. Global assessment models such as PISA should be improved in such a way that they incorporate new trends currently taking place in formal and especially informal learning.
Who would you say are the innovators in the education field?
Innovators in the education field are mainly individuals. Innovative teachers who have created their own educational resources often do not want to share their content; they don’t think about scalability and believe that this content only works for them. It’s crucial to show them how they can be examples for others. Microsoft has therefore created a network of innovative teachers and a network of innovative schools.
I would also like to briefly mention our entrepreneurship program for young people. The Youth Spark Hub is an online space to explore and access all the Microsoft programs and resources to help youth imagine and realize their full potential.
How do we transform innovative teaching with scalability?
I recommend the scalability toolkit developed by Christopher J. Dede, Professor of Learning Technologies at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. Innovation in education is a global matter, and everything teachers do has a directly global dimension.
The ultimate goal of the project is to move from small marginal pilot projects to implementing new forms of assessment within a coherent teaching and learning system. This paper focuses on the reform needed in school and government systems to achieve this shift.
This paper looks at innovative ways to improve the development of 21st-century skills in students both individually and in groups, considering both formal and informal learning opportunities.
This paper identifies and analyzes various technological problems in computer-based assessment of 21st-century skills, with suggested solutions.
This paper reviews the contribution of new information-communication technologies to the advancement of educational assessment. Improvements can be described in terms of precision in detecting the actual values of the observed variables, efficiency in collecting and processing information, and speed and frequency of feedback given for the participants and stakeholders. It reviews previous research and development in two ways, describing the main tendencies in four continents (Asia, Australia, Europe and the US) and summarizing research on how technology advances assessment in some crucial dimensions (assessment of established constructs, extension of assessment domains, assessment of new constructs and in dynamic situations).
As there is a great variety of applications of assessment in education, each one requiring different technological solutions, the paper classifies assessment domains, purposes and contexts and identifies the technological needs and solutions for each. The paper reviews the contribution of technology to the advancement of the entire educational evaluation process from authoring and automatic generation and storing items through delivery methods (Internet-based, local server, removable media, mini-computer labs) and forms of task presentation made possible with technology to response capture, scoring and automated feedback and reporting.
The paper also reviews some special cases for which new technologies have enabled significant advances (e.g. assessments of students with special educational needs, assessment of collaborative skills and group achievement) and discusses the validity issues raised by the application of the new technolgies (e.g. factors influencing achievements when working with technological tools, the question of transferability of skills measured in a virtual environment).
Finally, the paper identifies areas where further research and development is needed (migration strategies, security, availability, accessibility, comparability, framework and instrument compliance) and lists themes for research projects feasible in the Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills project.
This paper outlines high-priority 21st-century skills, with examples of how they apply to real-world situations. It also delves into examples of assessment tasks and scoring rubrics that would provide evidence of students’ levels of mastery.