A Manifesto For Adult Educators’ Digital Competencies Inspired By The SLIDE Project
Slovenian Third Age University is currently involved in SLIDE, Digital Story Telling in Digital Europe, an Erasmus+ EU project. The project is about narration, the art of story telling in the digital way. Basically, the project aims at augmenting adult educators’ ICT skills and introducing digitalized educational tasks into adult education programmes. Two rather simple, but useful applications Story Jumper and Canva and their use in adult education programmes are at the core of the SLIDE project having the following partners:
- Fundacja Integraciji Spolecznej FIS, Poland
- LUETEC, Libera Università Europea della Terza Età, Italia
- Eesti People to People, Estonia
- EOSA, Spain
- Slovenska univerza za tretje življenjsko obdobje, Slovenia
Why digitalized adult education
No doubt, our societies are getting digitalized and digital inclusion is ever more needed as not to deepen the digital divide between generations, social groups and social layers, as to prevent the increase in social inequality. Moreover, basic competencies like reading, writing, understanding, problem solving etc. have been joined by the digital competence to be used in all areas, adult education included. Therefore, questions like “How digitally competent are adult educators?” or “To what extent are digital skills developed and used in adult education?” are being urgently relevant.
The field of adult education has to participate in the digital transformation of society
In has been generally admitted that adults best acquire digital skills in their professional life and their work place. Without their readiness to acquire ICT skills, without their increasing digital competencies or their mastering ever new applications, they cannot accomplish most of their work tasks and are slow at adapting to the changes in the digital world and society. To illustrate this point; for the purpose of participating in a European project they have to learn how to use Bitrix or may be, as soon as the next week, in another EU project Google Drive. For different reasons they have to switch quickly from Facebook to Twitter, Messenger, LinkedIn, etc. They have to learn that there are usefull applications for controlling their household appliances or helping their old parents from a distance etc. They should even consider learning about the science of informatics which has become a science in its own right. They should not be only confident but also critical users and therefore reading Manfred Spitzer’s Digital Dementia would be recommended for them. They would choose Skype to communicate but may be the next week Adobe Connect would be a better choice, though without general digital competencies, programme specific compteencies are of limited usefulness.
To cut a long story short, digital skills are like linguistic skills. We learn them mostly by using them, by simply absorbing them, mostly without being aware of how we have learned them. But the important thing is that we never stop learning.
The profession of adult educators has changed
Many are professions that are disappearing due to the digitalization of production and service processes. Many are professions and jobs that are changing due to the digitalization and robotization processes and many are professions that have been changing the one of adult educator included. From knowledge tranmitters, informers, etc. they have become knowledge constructorsm who contsryct new knowledge together with their students, excellent explainers of difficult concepts, providers of carefully chosen examples, but also digital learning faciltators. One should not forget it, ever! Adult educators are turning into a source of learning, perhaps the most important one, but still jit one of the sources. So one day in this role they might get replaced, but truly the chance ting that they get replaced as motivators and those who channel a learning group dynamics. I am talking from experience. My students read what I read and what their collegues read. They watch films that their colleagues watch. My students go to the Internet and consult web pages because one of us has inspired them. Because, what they really want are relationships encouraged by acquiring knowledge and information!
They have to incorporate digital tools and tasks into their programmes and learning contents
Adult educators have many responsibilities. One of them is to support the digital skills of their learners developping them and motivating their learners to use them. They have to incorporate digital learning tasks into their programmes and learning contents. We were told that coding ability is a wished for ability in secondary schools but schools and teachers are not obligated to deal take care of it. In older adult education learners have smart phones but are they sysrtematically used in teaching languages and other topics? If tecahers do not include digitalized tasks in their learning programmes howcan we expect older learners to progress in the digital learning? One thing can be expected for sure: the digital divide between generations is going to grow. Digital exclusion will continue increasing and for that matter social inequality etc. We do not want this!
SAGA of the digital learning at Slovenian U3A
About three decades separate us frOm the first computer learning programme at Slovenian Third Age University. The Programme Wordstar For Beginners In English And Computer Using For Older Students. A film was produced with a famous mime to iluustrate computer functions as Backspace, Delete, Using arrows etc.
Today, Slovenian U3A is being faced with ever greater needs of their older students to acquire advanced digital skills. Their programmes tailored to these needs are popular. Their programmes Coding for older people within the concluded Erasmus+ Silver Code Project, European Certificate in Intergenerational learning, ECIL, have been welcomed by older students. Years ago, their membership in the Leonardo da Vinci EU ECIL project lead to the development of a Moodle Platform and the programme Let’s Come together, Let’s be together, Let’s stay together. Their on-line educational programme on European Identity within the project Promoting older adult education , P3AE, has been welcomed and more recently the digital interactive DeepIn Handbook on literacy (available at this link)
Dr. Dušana Findeisen is a teacher of English and French language and literature and andragogue. On her own or jointly with her colleagues she introduced a fair number of innovations in theory and practice in the field of adult education: socio-cultural animation and education for local development, older adult education, Slovenian Third Age University, Summer School for Adult Educators. She contributed to the development of study circles in Slovenia, she co-funded the journal Andragogic Perspectives and is on its editorial board. For five years she was an Age Platform Europe expert in the field of employment and education of older people, and an external expert of the European Commission in this field. So far she has coordinated and delivered about twenty-five transnational projects. She is currently the Head of the Institute for Research and Development of Education at Slovenian Third Age University. She is vice-president of DANET, Danube Networkers for Europe. She publiahed 5 monographs and several hundred articles. Research areas: community education, older adult education, dyslexia in adults, diversity in companies, but also burn out at work, identity at work, migrations and migrants, integrated counselling for older adults, film education in adult education, pre-reitrement education, socially engaged education of older workers, digital inclusion versus digital exclusion, functional illiteracy, etc. So far she has published 5 monographs and hundreds of articles.