Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are integrated into any area of society. They should also be part of the educational field. They are presented as instruments capable of transforming the conception of the classroom as a unique training space, and the blackboard and the textbook as teaching resources par excellence.
Digital competence is one of the key competences of the Primary and Secondary Education curriculum. In fact, according to the Recommendations of the European Parliament , it is one of the main skills that our students must have acquired by the end of compulsory education. Those that will allow them to adapt flexibly to a world that changes rapidly and shows multiple interconnections.
It is a transversal competence, which allows us to acquire others, and which is related to the 21st century skills that all citizens should achieve to ensure our active participation in society and the economy.
In the acquisition of this competence by the students, the teacher has a fundamental role as trainer and intermediary. Correctly developing digital competence in the educational system requires teachers to have sufficient training in said competence. The introduction of ICT in the classroom, without adequate digital competence of teachers, does not ensure the improvement of educational quality.
The teaching digital competence has become one of the basic competences of the teacher of the current century. It has been defined as the set of skills and abilities that lead to the incorporation and proper use of ICT as a methodological resource, integrated into the teaching and learning process. ICT thus become Technologies for Learning and Knowledge (TAC), with a clear didactic application.
In Spain, the organization responsible for regulating teaching digital competence is the National Institute of Educational Technologies and Teacher Training ( INTEF ).
Five learning areas
The digital competence of a teacher involves developing knowledge, skills and abilities within five closely related areas.
- Information and information literacy: consists of identifying, retrieving and analyzing digital information.
- Communication and Collaboration – Refers to the use of digital tools and resources to connect and collaborate with others.
- Creation of digital content: it is related to the mastery of tools to create new content (images, texts, videos, infographics…).
- Security: refers to the knowledge and mastery of tools for data protection, digital identity and the safe and sustainable use of technologies.
- Troubleshooting: involves skills to select the appropriate digital tools in each situation, ability to solve technical problems and adapt to new changes in terms of digital competence itself.
Different ways of teaching
ICTs can be used by teachers to follow a traditional transmission-reception pedagogical model, or they can be used to respond to the challenges of today’s society.
Traditional strategies do not respond to the training needs of students, who must learn to live in a globalized, digitized, intercultural, changing society that produces huge amounts of information.
Different ways of teaching are required, and one of the greatest challenges is to evolve to models in which students actively participate in their learning process, develop concrete proposals and construct meanings from the content.
Currently, the use of student-centered active learning models requires teacher training in the five areas of digital competence. These models are often based on virtual platforms that require the use of digital tools for access to information, collaboration between colleagues, generation of new knowledge and collection of information on student progress.
The shortcomings of teachers
However, there are studies that have detected shortcomings in the initial training of future teachers in terms of digital competence. This could be one of the main reasons for the failure of the curricular integration of ICT in education.
In most cases, the training of teachers in digital competence is usually limited to issues of an exclusively instrumental nature. The implementation of innovative pedagogical practices in which these technologies are strengthened is left aside.
Teacher training must attend to the integration of three types of knowledge: content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and technological knowledge. In this way, the teacher will be able to integrate what they know about the subject to be taught, the teaching methods appropriate to the subject and their students, as well as the technology to better teach a specific content.
The type of teaching and learning that the future teacher experiences during their training will determine which option they will choose during their professional practice. Hence the importance of a correct initial training of future teachers in the use and application of active learning models that integrate the most appropriate technology to the subject to be taught.
Active methodologies in training
At the International University of La Rioja, concerned about this need, pedagogical proposals have been designed for the training of future teachers of Primary and Secondary Education in learning related to their university education and in digital competence. These proposals have been based on the use of active methodologies supported by digital tools. In addition, they intend that students discover the potential of this way of learning so that they can apply these educational strategies in their future professional practice.
Future teachers, after studying the subjects in which the pedagogical proposal was implemented, improved in all the areas proposed by INTEF for digital competence: information literacy, communication and collaboration, digital content creation, security and problem solving.
We believe that by experiencing these learning processes first-hand, students will be able to develop higher levels of confidence and competence in the use of technology in their classrooms.
Author Bio: Carmen Romero Garcia is a Hired Doctor Professor and Coordinator of the Area of Didactics of Mathematics and Experimental Sciences at UNIR – International University of La Rioja