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EPALE - ríomhArdán d’Fhoghlaim Aosach san Eoraip


EPALE discussion: digital skills as a way of accessing learning opportunities

ag EPALE Moderator


EPALE Online Discussion Digital Skills


As part of our April-June 2020 focus on Digital skills as a way of accessing learning opportunities, EPALE is organising an online discussion.

The large number of adults with poor basic digital skills represents a major obstacle in achieving an inclusive society and reducing social inequalities. Too few adults have access to adult learning resources, and this has a real impact on their personal development and employment prospects.

Providing adult-specific teaching methods to help trainers to become more effective in their work requires specialised training and continuous professional development geared towards adult-specific teaching strategies.

Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced everyone to adapt to new ways of working and pushed adult educators to explore and adopt new online tools and techniques to allow them continue their training and learning activities.  

The discussion will take place on this page on 27 May between 10:00 and 16:00 CET and will be moderated by EPALE Thematic Coordinator Altheo Valentini and by EPALE Content Assistant Claudia D'Eramo.

► Share your stories, tips, case studies and good practices with the EPALE community!

Also, if you’ve ever been involved in successful projects, or if you have developed any relevant methodologies – share your story with the other participants in the comments below!

The discussion on 27 May will include the following topics:

  • digital inclusion
  • barriers to digital access
  • distance learning
  • how to reshape adult education at the times of Covid-19

► Comments will be open on 20 May so participants can introduce themselves or post their comments in advance.

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James Callus's picture
I agree with you the current pandemic has highlighted the crucial role digital competences play in contemporary society.  We all experienced the effects of the digital divide among parents who could not support their children during the school lockdown to engage in online learning.  This was specifically evident among students who are at the lower classes of primary education.  We need to learn from this experience and specifically focus on upskilling the digital skills of adults to empower them to become autonomous in using technology.
Dora SANTOS's picture
In the beginning of this year, according to “Digital 2020: Portugal: global digital insights”, Portugal presented 83% of penetration of internet and about seven millions of users (6,6% more than in April 2019). In regard to the percentage of the population with mobile connections, Portugal was included in the study with 155%, which means that there are more connections than population, due to the fact that many people have more than one mobile phone. Despite the existence of this technological investment, Portugal has shown a weak performance concerning the domain of digital skills. The government programme Portugal INCoDe2030 revealed (data from 2016) that the percentage of individuals with basic digital skills or more than basic skills was only 47% (the EU average was 56%). However, we believe the COVID-19 outbreak accelerated the domain of digital skills, because suddenly people had no choice to interact and to contact with their families, to deal with health and social programmes and all the governmental structures created programmes to help people to deal with this new situation using new technologies. Adult learner providers and Qualifica Centres (Centres that assure recognition and certification of adult prior learning) reshaped their methodologies and used new technologies to guarantee that adults could keep learning and get their certification. Government agencies have also made many tutorials and tools available to help education and training professionals readjust their practices to the new reality of coronavirus. Adult education is likely to change in the future and adults will be able to benefit from new opportunities for distance education that are more inclusive and more adjusted to the reality of adult life, avoiding travel or even providing learning at times compatible with their professional and family life.  
Marlies Bitter's picture
Hello Benjamin,
Thank you for sharing your post on VR in education. Its importance will certainly grow in the near future.
I know various dedicated (secondary) school learning applications and professional learning apps.
Do you know where to find information on learning applications in other areas like adult learners and senior citizens? 
And can you provide a reference to the capabilities and applications of the VR platform you use?  

seyma kiraz's picture
Letonya Üniversitesi'nde bir erasmus öğrencisi olarak derslerimi uzaktan takip ediyorum. Eğitim sistemini e-öğrenmeye dönüştürmek okulum için yeni ya da zor bir şey değildi. Zaten bir sistem '' e-çalışmaları '' vardı. Oradaki tüm malzemeleri görebilir ve kolayca çalışabilirsiniz. Ayrıca, MS ekipleri ile çalışıyorlar, bu çok yardımcı oluyor. Öğretmenlerim bunu kullanmakta iyi ve sorunumuz yok. İyi gidiyor. Bazen internet bağlantısı problemim olabilir, ancak öğretmenlerim benim için iyi çözümler buluyor. Bu sorunu halledebiliriz.
Erika Novotná's picture
Dear all, 
 I am a university teacher and an adult education teacher. I would like to contribute to the discussion, because I perceive that people around me, whether in working age or in the 60+ age group, have a fear and aversion to the use of digital technologies. They feel stressed that they can't do something, they go wrong and they depend on the help of younger people. The circumstances surrounding the pandemic have raised the issue of digital literacy urgently and without time to prepare. Many professions and professions (not only teachers) rely on virtual reality and distance forms of education, communication and online meetings. Even though we live in the age of informatization and digitization, reality has shown that we are not sufficiently armed with digital skills, and I perceive great reservations in this area. These relate not only to the ability to be digitally skilled, but also to the material equipment and availability of internet networks for disadvantaged social groups and people from peripheral areas of the region where internet coverage is still lacking. I consider it essential to create a space for the education of adults and people of retirement age in the field of digital skills. It might be a good idea to initiate the need to set up a platform / grant scheme within European funds that would offer not only training in the field, but also advice and support.  
James Callus's picture
Dear Erika,
I agree with you that the pandemic has highlighted the need to focus on the upskilling the digital competences among adult learners and the urgency to reduce the digital divide.  As time passes, we are becoming heavily reliant on technology even for the simple day to day tasks.  So from an early age we have to work with students to make the shift from consumers to creators when using digital technology.  By the time these students will grow up, they would have gained enough experience to use technology more frequently and more responsibly hence maybe reducing the digital divide.
Roseline Le Squère's picture
Dear Erika,
For your information, a project funded by Erasmus + that may be of interest to you :
DENTA: Discovering European Neighbours Third Age.
If the main theme of the project is not specifically related to digital skills, the engineering of the project necessarily addresses it, particularly through cultural and social development aspects.
It is led by Germany: University of Oulme.

Luca Pagliaricci's picture
Dear all,

I would like to share with you the experience me and my colleagues are currently having in one of the European project we implement and in particular to focus your attention on the use of open-source tools for adult education. Open-AE is an Erasmus+ project aimed at promoting access and learning through open educational resources (OER); promoting Open Source (OS) technologies in the non-formal educational sector to support the upskilling of adult educators and learners; addressing adult trainers working in the non-formal educational sector to reinforce digital skills and competences.

Among the activities foreseen by Open-AE, the implementation of a training course addressed to adult educators aimed at improving their skills and knowledge of technological tools and digital learning platforms is one of the key results.

Centro Studi di Foligno, the Italian partner of the project, in order to face the difficulties related to the Covid-19 health emergency, has designed a course entirely online (Moodle Course and Webinars) to introduce and deepen innovative practices and the latest available technologies useful for adult education. The online course, lasting a total of two months, is addressed to adult professionals interested in deepening their knowledge and tools necessary to promote free and open education and training. The distance learning course organized by CSF has registered a strong interest throughout the Italian territory.

In our vision, open source is applied to a way wider field than mere software development. It has to do with open educational resources, collaborative methodologies, and bottom-up approaches. We believe that in these difficult days, the open and common education promoted by Open-AE can be the best response for the innovation of the educational sector and a fruitful investment for public and private organizations.
Christine Bertram's picture
That's a very interesting and very necessary project. There is a large amount of useful Information and support for teaching professionals (in the form of OER) already out there. The difficulty is to find it and then use it in an appropriate way. 
Open Source Software is an excellent example of how we can enhance something through sharing (and actually at high Quality) - there is still much work to be done in Terms of Building trust in OS-Tools and their use and Usability.
Roseline Le Squère's picture
What we can learn from the current health context is that the digital whole cannot work. Human contact is necessary. They are necessary for training.
Perhaps the future will allow for more mixed methods combining distance and face-to-face?
Evaluation methods, which have been widely commented on here, can evolve. We have seen many initiatives in training centres, schools and universities. For example, the "grand oral", the classic exam that closes a training course, can be organised by videoconference. It allows to evaluate knowledge but also skills of oral expression or synthesis and presentation of a theme, with or without preparation of the student. The Microsoft Teams tool of the Office 365 suite has the advantage of respecting the RGPD and the contents are secure. The tool makes it possible to present group work or to have internships or dissertations defended before a jury composed of several members of the faculty team. The "Document Sharing" option also allows the student to project, during his oral presentation, a PowerPoint or any other document necessary for his demonstration. This tool has been widely deployed in universities and has proven its worth.

There are other very conclusive examples that I can propose you if you wish :))