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Digital learning and ICT in education

The European Commission is aiming to modernise education and training by funding research and innovation and promoting digital technologies used for learning.

The action plan on digital learning

The European Commission adopted a Communication on the digital education action plan in 2018.

A Communication on resetting education and training for the digital age was published in 2020 to reflect on distance learning due to the lockdown.

The initial action plan outlined how the EU can help individuals, educational institutions and education systems to better adapt for life and work in an age of rapid digital change by:

  • making better use of digital technology for teaching and learning;
  • developing relevant digital competences and skills for the digital transformation;
  • improving education through better data analysis and foresight;
  • strengthening European identity through education and culture.

Two more points were added in the Communication:

  1. fostering the development of a high-performing digital education ecosystem;
  2. enhancing digital skills and competences for the digital transformation.

The European Commission has also adopted 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.

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 2020, the seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP).

The following areas were covered under Horizon 2020:

In the work programme year 2018-2020 of the Horizon 2020 programme, the Commission focused on supporting actions on smarter, open, trusted and personalised learning solutions. These solutions helped to optimise digital learning and to allow learners to engage and interact with content and with their peers (topic ICT-30-2019-2020: an empowering, inclusive Next Generation Internet).

The European Commission also co-funds the development and demonstration of a European-wide learning and assessment technology system. It also co-funds networks to facilitate the up-skilling and re-skilling of European citizens at risk of exclusion.

Following the initiative of the European Parliament, the Commission co-finances a pilot project to identify existing digital learning solutions that can support teachers in the classroom and parents at home with pupils having attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and/or concentration problems.

Digitisation of schools

The Commission carried out a second survey of schools: ICT in education in 2019. The survey had two objectives:

  1. benchmark progress in ICT in schools;
  2. define a model for a highly equipped and connected classroom.

The survey was carried out in 31 countries (EU27 + UK, Norway, Iceland and Turkey). 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.


Commission sets up a Centre for digital preservation of cultural heritage and launches projects supporting digital innovation in schools

The Commission launched this week a European competence centre aiming to preserve and conserve European Cultural Heritage. The centre, which will work for a period of three years, has been granted up to €3 million from the Horizon 2020 programme. It will set up a collaborative digital space for cultural heritage conservation and give access to repositories of data, metadata, standards and guidelines.

Digital economy: scoreboard shows women in Europe are less likely to work or be skilled in ICT

The Commission has published the 2020 Women in Digital Scoreboard. Women have spearheaded innovation essential to the advancement of digital technology – from computer algorithms to programming. Yet, they are still less likely to have specialist digital skills and work in this field compared to men. Only when looking at the basic digital skills, the gender gap has narrowed, from 10.5% in 2015 to 7.7% in 2019.

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