Digital transition in Europe has started way before COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic, has shown that the impact of the digital world in our lives is enormous and it has accelerated the digital transition. From healthcare to school education, from economics to the environment, the digital transition has the power, if carefully regulated and managed, to improve our lives.
European Commission stated digital transformation, in particular a Europe fit for the digital age as one of its priorities. The Commission has identified a compass that will guide policies and investments for the digital transition in the next decades based on four cardinal points: skills, government, infrastructure, and business.
In this framework, the Commission has adopted a Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027), a EU policy initiative to support the sustainable and effective adaptation of the education and training systems of EU Member States to the digital age. In order to reach this objective and a European Education Area, the Plan has two priorities: the development of a high-performing digital education system (infrastructures, connectivity, teachers digitally competent, high-quality learning content) and digital skills and competences for the digital transformation.
In the framework of the Erasmus+ project DigiVET – Creating Digital Content with the Utilisation of Free Online Resources, we have conducted a research on the digital transformation of VET and on the needs and challenges of VET teachers and trainers that have emerged during the pandemic with virtual learning. The research has underlined that before the COVID-19 pandemic, VET was rarely conducted in a virtual environment and that Italian VET teachers and trainers were unprepared to face this challenge.
Indeed, in 2019, Italian teachers ranked at the bottom of OECD countries for digital readiness. This has been confirmed by the same VET teachers and trainers that we have interviewed that have underlined that when the pandemic started, they were not ready for implementing digital VET and that they have improved their skills in a learning-by-doing effort. They have also reported the need for training on digital skills and in particular on innovative teaching methods that allow active participation of students. Moreover, due to the nature of VET, they emphasise the necessity of knowing and experiencing digital tools and platforms that enable learners to make practical experience in their field even online. Artificial intelligence and augmented reality, represents, in this case, a unique opportunity in the digitalisation of VET and they have the power to allow VET learners to do practical experiences online.
By enhancing digital teaching and learning skills of VET teachers/trainers and VET students/learners and by making them experience tool and platforms that allow a virtual practical experience, the quality and effectiveness of VET sector will improve and become a key driver for reaching a Europe fit for Digital age.
DigiVET project supports this broad objective contributing to VET teachers and trainers professional development by improving their digital competences, in particular their capacity to develop digital learning resources.
You can follow the initiative promoted by DigiVET project on this website or through DigiVET Community Facebook page.