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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Saturday, 23.10.2021, 04:04

Digital skills in teaching and education: Commission’s initiative and SDGs

Eugene Eteris, European Studies Faculty, RSU, BC International Editor, Copenhagen, 05.11.2018.Print version
European Commission suggested new education tools to help schools in the EU states and some neighbouring countries (e.g. Russia, Georgia and Serbia) using digital technologies for teaching and learning. In the EU alone, the new tool will be offered to 76.7 million students and teachers in 250,000 schools on a voluntary basis. Besides, universities have to activate inclusion of SDGs into their agendas and curricula.

The Commission’s new initiative is an integral part of a more general European Digital Education Action Plan. At the end of October, Commissioner for Education, Youth, Culture and Sport, Tibor Navracsics, unveiled some new tools in digital teaching: most important has been SELFIE (Self-reflection on Effective Learning by fostering the use of Innovative Educational Technologies), which is one of the 11 initiatives of the Digital Education Action Plan presented by the Commission in the beginning of 2018. The Action Plan aims at boosting digital skills in the member states and supporting the innovative use of digital technologies in teaching and learning.

European digital teaching: an action plan

The action plan has three priorities, setting out measures to help EU member states meet the challenges and opportunities of education in the digital age:


- Making better use of digital technology for teaching and learning (Action 1 to 3):

Action 1 - Connectivity in Schools;

Action 2 - SELFIE self-reflection tool & mentoring scheme for schools; and

Action 3 - Digitally-Signed Qualifications.


- Developing digital competences and skills (Action 4 to 8):

 - Action 4 - Higher Education Hub;

- Action 5 - Open Science Skills;

 - Action 6 - EU Code Week in schools;

 - Action 7 - Cybersecurity in Education;

 - Action 8 - Training in digital and entrepreneurial skills for girls.


- Improving education through better data analysis and foresight (Action 9 to 11):

- Action 9 - Studies on ICT in education;

- Action 10 - Artificial Intelligence and analytics;

- Action 11 - Strategic foresight.

About the plan at:


The Commission has worked in partnership with ministries of education and a community of experts on digital education from across Europe to develop the SELFIE tool. Partner institutions include the European Training Foundation, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) and UNESCO's Institute for Information Technologies in Education.

Note on CEDEFOP. To inform the design of VET and employment policies, Cedefop identifies and anticipates future skill needs and potential skill mismatches. It provides high quality evidence on trends in the labour market and skill needs by producing regular skill supply and demand forecasts for Europe and analysing the potential labour market mismatches and imbalances. Cedefop also investigates skill and competence needs in selected sectors, has collected its own European data on skills and jobs and is currently working on collecting and analysing data on skill demand using online job postings. All data and intelligence is delivered it to end-users in a fit-for-purpose and timely fashion via the Skills Panorama.

More on CEDEFOP in:

About the Center:


More on the EU education area in general at:


An early version of the tool was tested during 2017 in 650 schools in 14 countries; the trial-version produced 67,000 comments on further simplification and improvements. The official launch by the Commissioner of the digital teaching initiative took place in October 2018 in Warsaw at the e-Twinning annual conference. The Commissioner and the Polish Minister of Education, Anna Zalewska showed students and teachers how the school has been embedding technology in learning. The conference’s web-link at:


Cultural Heritage and teaching

According to Eurobarometer, “Nine out of ten Europeans think that cultural heritage should be taught in schools”. The year 2018 was the European Year of Cultural Heritage; citizens and educators have been encouraged to discover Europe’s diverse cultural heritage - at EU, national, regional and local level, and to reinforce a sense of belonging to a common European space. The Community for Schools in Europe (and e-Twinning) has a strong role to play in supporting this discovery. As a cornerstone for collaborative projects between classrooms across Europe, e-Twinning has enabled, in its 13 years of existence, more than two million pupils to work together, harness their cultural differences and develop their European citizenship.

During the annual e-Twinning Conference, which took place in Warsaw, Poland at the end of October 2018, more than 500 teachers from across Europe explored Cultural Heritage, and the intrinsic role it can play in both teaching and learning. With both a keynote address and over 40 different workshops led by experts in the field, participants were sharing new and effective educational approaches, methods and materials to introduce and reinforce Cultural Heritage education in schools.

In particular, the e-Twinning Annual Conference in 2018 supported schools to raise their capabilities to: = raise awareness of the common history and values; = reinforce a sense of belonging to Europe; and = demonstrate ways of better safeguarding, enhancing, but also reusing and promoting Europe’s cultural heritage as a shared resource.

More on the conference:

The seminar can be followed on the Commission’s audiovisual service’s website at:

General source: Commission press release in all EU languages and a factsheet at:


Universities & SDG



The task of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is beyond the capabilities and interests of governments; it means that universities have a unique role to play. According to world-renowned economist Jeffrey D. Sachs, the senior United Nations advisor, achieving the SDGs would be impossible without the leadership role of the university sector.

The “convening power of universities” as well as their knowledge and expertise were essential, he argued, cautioning against losing the ‘sustainable development storyline’ to politicians at the expense of experts in universities.

“It’s not that they lack interest, but governments lack technical know-how, he argued; they lack the knowledge and evidence-based research to understand how they meet challenges like rapid scaling of education or how to incorporate information technologies into e-governance, e-finance and e-health. 

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals which include to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”‚ were adopted as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by the United Nations in September 2015.


China’s example

China invested heavily in industrial development, mainly in six fields: business capital, infrastructure, in human, intellectual and social capital, as well as in financial sector. These investments, for example, helped to reduce extreme poverty in China from more than 80% in 1980 to about 5% presently.

Apart from physical infrastructure, China invested heavily in health and education, the latter being one of the “key explanatory factors” behind country’s remarkable growth, particularly as modern technology now makes possible broad societal transformation within a relatively short period of time. If states can substantially raise investment in these six areas in an intelligent way, then such states can double overall economic growth rate from 5% to 10% per year.

These investments could promote social inclusion, especially by ensuring adequate and quality education. Although universities had the basic skills required achieving the SDGs, these institutions would have to take a basic principle: “learning by doing”.

Global experts called for a series of national/international funds in the areas of education, health and energy. A global education fund, for example, would help poor countries to expand universal education and get internet connectivity. Also urgent is establishment of a global fund for health systems, especially community-based health delivery with wider use of ICT.  






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