Understanding social and cultural aspects of teachers’ digital competencies

Bård Ketil Engen


Many European governments, including Norway, have ambitious educational policies regarding digitalisation. Many businesses and policymakers pay great attention to the use of digital technologies in education in order to meet the future demands for a competent and qualified workforce. Among researchers and policymakers, there is a general consensus that the professional teacher is a key figure for the successful implementation of digital technologies in schools. Many expectations have been placed upon professional teachers regarding the implementation and use of digital technologies. The professional teacher is, to a certain degree, supposed to independently decide how digital technologies should be used in the classroom. This paper discusses what the concept of a ‘professional digitally competent teacher’ may mean in the context of schools. It also argues the need for a greater understanding of professional digital competence, one which takes into consideration various social and cultural aspects with regard to technology, schools and the teaching profession. In unpacking the social and cultural conditions for implementing technology in a professional teaching context, I will draw on concepts from the constructivist understanding of technology, namely, the ‘domestication of technology’.

Literature review – Output 1

Our Output 1 – Literature review about the concept of Digital competence has been finalised by the Irish partner from Limerick.

The literature review deals with three key areas, namely:

  • The first part of the review aims to problematise the concept of Digital competence and unpack the many assumptions underpinning the term. Through this analysis the review aims to arrive at a robust working definition that encompasses the complex set of knowledge, skills and competencies encompassed by the term.
  • The second part of the review aims to examine what is recognised as digital competence in teacher education internationally. Specifically it aims to explore how other jurisdictions define the concept and what skills, knowledge and attitudes encompass digital competence for teachers in other countries, cognisant of their national socio-historical and cultural contexts.
  • The third section will explore research that has studied intervention programmes within teacher education that have evaluated the impact of different approaches to equipping pre-service teachers with digital competence. This section aims to explore the types of programmes offered, the mode(s) of delivery and how levels of digital competence was ultimately assessed and determined.

ECER 2018 – Bolzano, Italy

Dicte symposium

From the left: Greta Björk Gudmundsdottir (UiO), Tonje Hilde Gæver, Louise Mifsud, Bård Ketil Engen (OsloMet), Oliver McGarr (UoL), Ole Edvard Hatlevik (OsloMet), Adrian McDonagh (UoL).

The collaboration between the five institutions has so far resulted in a pilot survey in the autumn 2017 where 1463 first-year student teachers were asked to answer the same questions, in their local language, on self-reported digital competence, attitudes towards the use of ICT in teaching and learning and fincluding questions on cyber ethics.

In the symposium at ECER we gave a short introduction to the DICTE project, our objectives and methods.

Developing Student Teachers’ Digital Competence (DiCTE) An Introduction to the Project

This was followed by three paper presentations that each explored targeted areas of developing ICT in teacher education. These are all areas of general relevance for developing ICT in teacher education throughout Europe.

The first paper was based on the first output, a literature review of the concept of digital competence,  highlighting some of the current debates within the field as well as the historical roots of the concept digital competence. The review will serve as a foundation for the survey tool that is being developed.

Digital Competence in Teacher Education: Historical roots and current manifestations.

The second and third papers were based on a pilot survey from autumn 2017 in the participating countries Ireland, Norway and Spain. The second paper examined student teachers’ attitude towards ICT in learning, focusing  on discussing the validity of the questions on attitude toward ICT to ensure that variation in results across countries are not due to the existence of measurement bias. The last paper explored cyber ethics through a cross-country analysis.

Student teachers’ attitude towards ICT: An analysis of perceived usefulness

Student across teachers , ICT and cyber four European ethics countries