Creating an education technology (EdTech) competency framework to promote new pedagogic approaches

Vikki Liogier, Head of Learning Technologies at the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), explains how the ETF is supporting the Further Education and Skills workforce to become digital citizens with the development of a pedagogic EdTech competency framework (EdTechComp).

My role at the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) involves supporting staff in the Further Education (FE) sector to use learning technologies and to improve their own digital skills by building and expanding on ETF programmes. This entails identifying how effective use of technology in teaching and learning is embedded within FE providers and developing the skills, culture and structures to support this.

The Professional Standards for Teachers and Trainers in England (2014), which the ETF holds on behalf of the sector, has an explicit Standard relating to digital (Standard 15), which promotes the benefits of technology and support learners in its use.

By way of delivering programmes that have a positive impact on overall standards and learner outcomes within the FE and training sector, I am currently working with Jisc - the digital solutions for UK education and research not-for-profit organisation, and together we will lead the development of a pedagogic EdTech competency framework (EdTechComp).

Our partnership with Jisc aspires to create the framework of skills which make up that standard and guide teachers to develop their expertise. The framework will not be limited to a digital skills categorisation and will instead focus on redefined pedagogic approaches which would not have been conceivable prior to digital.

Defining digital skills

Digital skills are widely acknowledged as being a future skills requirement, not only for employability but also for the economic performance of the country. However, their parameters are often difficult to define.

This is evident through the various digital skills frameworks developed, as reviewed by Angela Sanders in her study (March 2017). Other relevant frameworks include the more recent 2018 Tech Partnership’s Essential Digital Skills Framework, as well as the model devised by Diane Laurillard for the Blended Online Learning BLE programme funded by UFI.

Different pedagogic approaches

While there are clear commonalities between the various structures, all are focused on digital skills rather than responding to specific teacher and trainer pedagogic approaches. “One of the most fundamental issues in …CPD in the use of learning technologies is the disconnect between pedagogy and technology. This is a frequent refrain in the two most comprehensive educational technology reviews (Daly, Pachler and Pelletier, 2009; Attwell and Hughes, 2010), where acknowledgement of the apparently impressive extent of technology-based training is counterpointed with the observation that too much of it is skills-focused and fails to address pedagogy.” (Compton & Almpanis, 2018)

Technology advances, and more specifically the internet, facilitate a “shift from thinking about teaching as providing information to thinking of learning and creating learning environments.” (Orrill 2000). This in turns creates a relationship shift between teachers and learners, as the teacher is no longer the sole information holder and promotes an “evolution toward inquiry-based learning and toward the development of a learner-centred environment.” (Orrill 2000)

The teacher’s role is becoming the one of a coach and facilitator, guiding learners to take ownership of learning, though enquiries, interpretations, correlations and understanding. Learners no longer only need access to information, but also need to have the opportunity to develop the skills to interact with it.

“Koehler and Mishra (2009) argue that that digital technologies are mistakenly considered to be like other technologies used in classrooms, such as whiteboards and pens. However, they are ‘protean’ (multi-functional), ‘unstable’ (constantly evolving) and ‘opaque’ (ibid., p.61) (it’s not self-evident how they should be applied) and this means that alternative approaches for teacher development need to be employed.” Compton & Almpanis (2018)

Elements of digital capability 

Jisc has, across its broad research, informed curriculum transformation through digital and designed the Six Elements of Digital Capability framework, for which is a coherent and solid base for the work the ETF is planning on undertaking. The organisation has also developed the Discovery Tool, a digital capability self-assessment tool and has recently tweaked it to better respond to specific roles including the one of the teacher.

As the Head of Learning Technologies at the ETF, I am looking forward to supporting the sector in ensuring a common understanding of digital skills in the education sector and promoting a set of digital teaching professional standards. Our vision is for the FE and Skills workforce to become digital citizens, confident in using technologies safely, collaboratively and constructively to learn, live and work in a global society.

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