The action plan on digital learning
The Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027) is a European Union (EU) policy initiative to support the sustainable and effective adaptation of the education and training systems of EU Member States to the digital age.
To achieve its objectives, the Action Plan sets out 13 actions in 2 priority areas:
- Fostering the development of a high-performing digital education ecosystem;
- Enhancing digital skills and competences for the digital transformation.
Under priority 1, action 6, an expert group has been tasked with the development of ethical guidelines on artificial intelligence and data usage in education and training based on the Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence, presented by the High-Level Expert Group on AI in 2019.
Under priority 2, action 7, an expert group has been tasked with developing common guidelines for teachers and educators to foster digital literacy and tackle disinformation through education and training.
The guidelines are expected to be ready in September 2022.
The European Commission has also adopted in 2017 a Communication on strengthening European identity through education and culture. This Communication was the Commission's contribution to the leaders' meeting on education and culture at the Gothenburg summit. Some actions have to be adopted by 2025.
Funding Research and Innovation for Digital Learning
The European Commission funds many activities on research and innovation for digital learning under several programmes, including Horizon Europe and Digital Europea Programme, as also the precedent programmes Horizon 2020, the seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP).
Under the Horizon Europe and Digital Europe Programmes, the following calls are planned:
- eXtended Reality Learning — Engage and Interact (TOPIC ID: HORIZON-CL4-2022-HUMAN-01-19), opening date: 21 December 2021;
- Calls under the Digital Europe Programme work programme for 2021-22 includes preparatory actions for the data space for skills open between 17/11/2021-22/02/2022.
The following areas were covered under Horizon 2020:
- Mentoring scheme for schools: mainstreaming innovation by spreading the advanced ICT-based teaching practices to a wide circle of schools (DT-TRANSFORMATIONS-21-2020);an empowering, inclusive next generation Internet (ICT-2019-30);
- International partnership building in low and middle income countries (ICT-39-2016-2017);
- technologies for learning and skills (ICT-22-2016);
- technologies for better human learning and teaching (ICT 20 – 2015);
- advanced digital gaming/gamification technologies (ICT 21- 2014).
Following the initiative of the European Parliament, the Commission co-finances pilot project and preparatory actions, the ongoing action are:
- preparatory action — Increasing access to educational tools in areas and communities with low connectivity or access to technologies (PPPA-2021-RemoteDigEdu);
- pilot project call — Girls 4 STEM in Europe (Girls4STEM-2019) and the selected project GEM — Empower Girls to Embrace their Digital and Entrepreneurial Potential.
Digitisation of schools
The Commission carried out a second survey of schools: ICT in education in 2019. The survey had 2 objectives:
- benchmark progress in ICT in schools;
- define a model for a highly equipped and connected classroom.
The survey was carried out in 31 countries (EU27 + UK, Norway, Iceland and Türkiye). It provides detailed and reliable benchmarking on the use of ICT in school education across Europe, and infrastructure provision, use, confidence and attitudes.
The European Commission also published a study on satellite-based broadband services in schools. The study showed that in 2015, an estimated 18% of EU primary and secondary schools were not connected to broadband. The study concluded that the satellite broadband could be an efficient option for poorly connected schools. It also suggested that a voucher scheme could be used as a tool to close the broadband gap for schools.