Digitalisation: support for education providers

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The European Education Area, EEA idea has been to assist the member states’ efforts and facilitate the EU-wide cooperation in order to create more resilient and inclusive education and training systems. The EEA strategic framework provides a guideline to structure collaboration among the EU institutions and the member states education provides in formulating a collective vision in dealing with modern challenges. 

The idea to create a European Education Area, EEA was first endorsed by European leaders at the 2017 Social Summit in Gothenburg, Sweden; then, two first packages of measures were adopted in 2018 and 2019.
In September 2020, the Commission outlined a renewed vision for the EEA with the concrete actions to achieve its goals. In February 2021, the Council of the EU adopted a resolution on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training for the period 2021-2030. Finally, in November 2022 the Commission published a progress report on the EEA’s achievements; it underlined the work accomplished and the challenges to be addressed; in 2025 a full report on the EEA is foreseen.
The EEA goals are to be achieved by the following framework: – supporting and strengthening national education policy and closer cooperation among the member states and the Commission; – enhancing synergies with other relevant socio-economic policies, as well as research and innovation (including the European Research Area and the Bologna Process); – identifying targets and indicators to guide work and monitor progress towards achieving the EEA’s goals; and – fostering the integration of education and training into the European Semester process.
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European Semester
While the responsibility for the EU-wide education and training systems lies with the member states, the EU institutions are having vital roles in supporting and coordinating national efforts to improve and modernise education systems. In a globalised and knowledge-based economy, and at times of rapid technological and societal changes, the member states are required to prepare a highly skilled workforce to ensure that national economies can compete in terms of productivity and innovation. The Commission acknowledged, that “recent evidence suggests that there is a growing mismatch between employees’ skills and the needs of the labour market, factors which contribute to unemployment and limit economic growth”.
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In line with the Commission’s political guidance, the EU’s priorities in this field include three main spheres: a) aligning skills with the national labour market needs, b) reducing the number of early school leavers to below 10 percent, and c) increasing the share of graduates from tertiary education to at least 40 percent.
The Commission carries out through the European Semester analyses of national growth strategies across a range of policy areas, including in the fields of education and training: e.g. a series of country specific recommendations are prepared in the first half of the year as part of the European Semester to help the states tackle the most urgent challenges. In addition, each year the Education and Training Monitor provides an updated analysis on the challenges, based on a set of benchmarks; the Monitor also contributes to the EU’s drive for evidence-based policy-making.
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Digitalisation for teachers: new tools
“Selfie for teachers” is one of the 13 actions of the Digital Education Action Plan, DEAP covering about six years of development (2021-27) and aimed at supporting education systems in the member states and their adaption to the digital changes. The DEAP’s key goal is to support the effective use of digital technologies for teaching in general and for education providers, in particular; it is central to the general idea of empowering educators to use technology in their practice.
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A new online tool to support teacher’s digital skills has been created recently: thus, on the occasion of World Teachers Day in 2021, the European Commission launched an online tool to help teachers to review and get feedback on the ways to use digital tools and technologies in education and training. The tool, called “selfie for teachers” was designed to support primary and secondary teachers to understand their current situation regarding the use of numerous available digital technologies in their work and identify their needs for further training and support. The tool was launched in Ljubljana, Slovenia in cooperation with the then Slovenian Presidency of the EU Council. Initially in English, French, German and Slovenian, the versions of the tool are presently available in all official EU languages.
On inaugurating the toolkit, the Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth said in October 2021: “Like all professionals, teachers need to understand how, where and when digital tools and technologies can help them in their work. The public health crisis has given teachers a new understanding of the potential, benefits and challenges of using technology. They are keen to keep on improving and to help their students to use technology in critical and creative ways. The created toolkit can help teachers to take a snapshot, a ‘selfie’ of where they stand with technology use and get feedback and advice on leveling up”.
Teachers can use the tool either individually or as part of a team: e.g. with a group of teachers within their school or with a team of subject teachers in their region or country. This can help planning within a school, network of schools, teacher education institution or local education authority.
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Main toolkit’s components
At the end of 2022, the European Commission adopted a “digital supplement for teachers”, i.e. the toolkit to assist education providers with necessary digital qualification. By the start of 2023, the “selfie for teachers” (see below) has been used by over hundred thousand users, and presently there are over 180.000.
The first section of the toolkit introduces the idea behind the self-reflection tool, provides the relevant policy context and explains some of the key terms. It clarifies that the tool encourages teachers to act as reflective practitioners, who are responsible for their own professional learning.
The second section describes the tool’s key elements and outlines its links with the European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators, i.e. Dig-Comp-Edu.
The third section is a step-by-step guide for individual and group users on how to use SELFIE for TEACHERS, from choosing the language version and setting up one’s profile to viewing and downloading feedback reports.
The last section gives concrete examples of use cases, making it possible to link the tool to a concrete situation at a school or training centre. Users can consult each section independently.
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Green education initiatives
The EU institutions and bodies are encouraging and supporting the education and training sector to take action for a greener, more sustainable future, and building the sustainability competences of learners. Supporting green and digital transitions is both the EU-wide priority and an area of actions for the European policy cooperation and coordination in education.
he move to a climate-neutral EU will have significant social, economic and employment impacts. A socially just transformation needs people to have the knowledge, skills and attitudes to shape and cope with profound change. Education and training systems and institutions can act as catalysts and support a shift to a more sustainable society.
A wide range of initiatives and actions on the environment and sustainability are taking place in education and training across Europe. They reflect progress and growing public interest, but more needs to be done so that learning for sustainability becomes a systemic feature of education policy and practice in the EU.

The EU actions in “green education” include:
= the Education for Climate Coalition as a growing community of pupils, students, teachers and organisations active on climate change and sustainability.
= Council Recommendation on learning for the green transition and sustainable development supports the states in embedding sustainability in education and training. In June 2022, the Council of the European Union adopted a Recommendation on learning for the green transition and sustainable development; this policy statement sets out how sustainability can be integrated into all aspects of education and training.
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= the European sustainability competence framework which sets out the knowledge, skills and attitudes learners of all ages need to acquire for the green transition.
= a dedicated working group on sustainability in school education, which regularly produces input papers and key messages. The working groups on Vocational Education and Training, Adult Learning and Higher Education also deals with the green transition and sustainability.
= Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps established to support a variety of initiatives related to sustainability in education and training, including student and staff exchanges, research, volunteering.
= the Horizon Europe program partially dedicated to climate change and sustainability education.
= the InvestEU program to enable the states to access funding for sustainable education infrastructure and the development of necessary skills.
= the “researchers at schools” initiative aimed to connect young researchers with teachers and pupils on climate change and sustainable development.
= the Erasmus+ DiscoverEU Green route’s program to inspire young people to plan and discover Europe in a sustainable way.
= the 2022 European Innovative Teaching Award which selected 50 outstanding projects focused on sustainability.
= the EU Learning Corner which includes teaching and learning materials on sustainability, as well as on climate and environmental crisis for primary and secondary schools.
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Erasmus+ Teacher Academies
The academies represent a flagship action of the current Erasmus+ program with the goal of creating the EU-wide partnerships of teacher education and training providers and boosting the European and international dimensions of teacher education’s perspectives.
Three of the Academies, started in 2022 and running for three years, are focusing specifically on sustainability:
= EduSTA will create learning pathways where teachers can develop and demonstrate their sustainability education competences with digital badges.
= The TAP-TS project will produce, test and validate packages of resources relating to sustainability for schools and teacher education.
= CLIMADEMY is focusing on helping teachers to better understand climate change drivers, impacts and mitigation options and will create a network of teachers on climate change education.


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