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Edtech Thoughts and reflections

How digitally competent are you?

 Oiluj Samall Zeid: Autofocus (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This might sound like a trick question but is in fact an attempt (probably lame) at a clickbaity title. It’s not entirely misleading though because this post is going to be about assessing a whole range of digital competences – before you tune out at the mention of ‘digital’ and think, “Oh God, not 21st-century skills again,” give it a chance because you might be interested in how you’d score. 😛

I’ve been teaching online – in an asynchronous environment, which I suspect is not the primary definition of ‘online’ that comes to mind for most of the ELT community – for the last 6 years. Given that over this time I’ve tried out a lot of online tools and consider myself reasonably edtech proficient, I was curious to see which level I’d be at if something like the CEFR for digital skills were ever devised.

Over the last couple of months I’ve had the opportunity to familiarize myself with the DigCompEdu framework, which basically works like the CEFR and will be easy to navigate for those familiar with the six-level (A2-C2) concept. This is what the European Commission website says (if you didn’t click through above):

The European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators (DigCompEdu) is a scientifically sound framework describing what it means for educators to be digitally competent. It provides a general reference frame to support the development of educator-specific digital competences in Europe. DigCompEdu is directed towards educators at all levels of education, from early childhood to higher and adult education, including general and vocational education and training, special needs education, and non-formal learning contexts. DigCompEdu details 22 competences organised in six Areas. The focus is not on technical skills. Rather, the framework aims to detail how digital technologies can be used to enhance and innovate education and training.

Apart from the random capitalization – why Areas? *groan* – I liked the idea. We used to use the CEFR a lot at Octopus, by which I mean that the school took part in piloting the ELP (the European Language Portfolio) – this was before my time – and for a time each student received their own copy and part of at least one class was dedicated to explaining how the ELP works and helping familiarize students with the concept of self-assessment (not widely known or trusted in Croatia 15 years ago, or possibly even now when it comes to trusting, but that’s another matter).

The six Areas, incidentally, for those who still haven’t clicked through are: professional engagement, digital resources, teaching and learning, assessment, empowering learners, and facilitating learners’ digital competence. 

Last week I used the self-assessment tool developed to accompany the DigCompEdu framework. Disclaimer: in a rush to get started I clicked on the first link available, whereas what I should have done was used the version developed for those in higher ed, which is my current context and which I had in mind as I was completing the assessment. This may have had an impact on my results.

What happens when you’re done assessing your skills in the six areas is you receive two pdf documents: one has the answers you picked and the other has your results and recommendations on how you could go from, say, A2 to B1 for each of the 22 competences. You’re asked at the beginning which level you’d place yourself at and then the same question comes up again at the end – before the results.

I confidently said I was at B2 before I started clicking away and then, in a sudden burst of what turned out to be delusion overconfidence, changed my mind to C1 before clicking submit.

As you can see above, my score places me at the higher end of B2 (okay, the higher end bit you can’t see but the range for B2 is 50-65). I scored best on professional engagement, teaching and learning and facilitating learners’ digital competence, and I think this is actually pretty fair and accurate. People at B2 go by the possibly presumptuous name of Expert, and while I very much hesitate to say that I am an expert in all things digital, I think I am quite comfortable with many things edtech related. People at C1 and especially C2 are what we – possibly sometimes with a degree of (misplaced?) irony – refer to as edtech gurus. They’re the people we’d ask for advice on edtech issues, who contribute to shaping the opinions of others… and I definitely don’t see myself as this type of person.

If you decide to do the self-assessment, I’d be interested in hearing what you think. Or even if you don’t, of course. 🙂

By ven_vve

ELT, elearning, higher ed, teacher training, translation. Partial to the island of Vis since the pre-tourist era.

8 replies on “How digitally competent are you?”

Ooh, I got high B1, but I think it’s because I am highly tech-sceptical and prefer my students who are not digitally competent to focus on language rather than ICT skills. Was a bit surprised though.

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That makes a lot of sense to me (focusing primarily on language skills). In terms of language learning I’ve always had this notion that being at B1 across the language skills makes the speaker perfectly capable of functioning effectively in that language. 🙂

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Debated whether it would apply to me and my context but, of course, couldn’t resist 🙂 I put the in-house courses in focus and also placed myself at B2 at the beginning, thinking I’m comfortable and fairly up-to-date with most tech and definitely curious about anything new. I got C1 at the end and must say I don’t think I’ve ever shaped anyone’s opinion in the digital universe. And I’m not comfortable with being called an expert, guru or pioneer either.
The suggestions were interesting, like setting up an internal – or, why not, open- resource network with colleagues, engaging more of the community (I’m all for that!) and exploring new tools to improve upon collaborations (I’d like something more specific for this one).

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Hi Christina,

Thanks for the comment! I thought the suggestions were worth exploring too, only I should definitely do the assessment for my context first – maybe the suggestions will be more relevant. Re the names, maybe that’s something the authors should consider too. I think they probably wanted them to sound empowering (I don’t like that word) but if people are going to feel embarrassed using them, then maybe they should rethink the names. I’ll probably suggest that in my feedback.

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I got high B1 as well, two marks off B2. It was an interesting process, but I disagree with some of the ways that the questions were framed and the assumptions about how you should be using digital tools in the classroom – there’s no acknowledgement of the fact that sometimes digital tools aren’t the most appropriate way to do something.

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Hi Sandy, interesting observation. Now I think about it, there should be – especially at higher levels – an awareness of whether digital tools are appropriate or not for a particular situation. I mean, being aware of this should contribute to the user’s digital competence. As far as I know, the instrument hasn’t been finalized yet; it’s going to be translated into more languages and piloted with users in different countries, then the feedback (from the last section you had to fill in) will be used to refine it. I hope you included your comment in there. 🙂

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With the score of 36/88, I reached the B1 level – Integrator. It describes me pretty accurately, I think, even though my initial guess was A2 – Explorer.

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Do you think you’re going to try and do any of the things they suggested to aim for a higher level in some of the areas? I guess what I’m trying to ask is if there’s an area in which you’re less than happy with the level you’re at. 🙂

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