On one hand, digital education strategies have typically been designed with all learners in mind, without sufficient attention to the specific barriers faced by disadvantaged learners. By requiring periods of distance learning, the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed all European VET institutions to challenges, in particular regarding digital education and training. Undoubtedly, the Covid-19 crisis has widened the digital gap among leaners at risk as Cedefop notes in its Digital gap for learners at risk study since the very beginning of the pandemic.
On the other hand, inclusive education measures have not always included a clear ‘digital’ dimension. For this reason, it is necessary to link the aspect of digitalisation with that of inclusion to support vulnerable VET learners by enhancing their access to and use of digital means.
Cedefop’s VET toolkit for tackling early leaving gives tips as advice and guidance to policy makers and VET practitioners involved in the design and delivery of e-learning, blended learning and the use of digital devices and methodologies in vocational education and training. These tips are grouped as follows:
- raise awareness on the potential of digital tools for inclusion;
- prioritise overcoming language barriers to access digital technologies and content;
- provide teachers with training and guidance to develop their digital skills;
- develop a monitoring and evaluation system concerning the use of digital technologies;
- change attitude and create a supportive environment;
- provide mental health support and psychological assistance in the context of remote learning and teaching;
- develop blended learning approaches;
- foster intersectoral partnerships; and
- consider ethical issues associated with the use of information and communication technologies in education and training.
Find out more about how to apply these tips and policy advice to enhance inclusive education and training through digital technologies by reading our latest intervention approach on digital inclusion here.
Continued professional development for teachers and trainers in digital education and digital teaching methodology is a sine qua non when it comes to ramping up IT-assisted content delivery.
Cedefop’s work on tackling early leaving from VET points to the need for VET teachers and trainers to develop digital skills for inclusion. Despite the many benefits digital technologies bring to teaching and learning, vulnerable learners (e.g. migrants, refugees, with low socioeconomic background) can become even more vulnerable online without tailored support to navigate safely; while learners with special educational needs may have different learning paces while using ICT technologies and are at greater risk of facing difficulties during the learning process and eventually dropping out.
Ongoing and specific training is fundamental to provide VET practitioners with necessary digital competences and skills for inclusion to feel confident in including technology in the teaching practice and profiting from it. To this aim, the creation and use of networks for teachers to share good practices, methods and digital skills for inclusion is effective. Another important aspect is to ensure the availability of staff with technical competences at school / institutional - level to strategically support VET teachers in bridging technical and pedagogical uses of different tools and platforms tailored to the needs of individual learners. Finally, guidance should be offered to teachers, trainers and VET providers on the use of EU frameworks (DigComp, DigCompEdu, DigCompOrg), and self-reflection tools (SELFIE, SELFIE for work-based learning, SELFIE forTEACHERS, and TET-SAT) designed to establish common definitions and standards for digital competences.
Stay tuned, as soon, we will have available a new intervention approach on the continuous professional development of VET teachers and trainers with a view to strengthening and systemically building up teachers and trainers’ digital education skills.
Check out here our VET toolkit’s related resources.
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