Digital competence in teacher education: comparing national policies in Norway, Ireland and Spain

Oliver McGarr, Louise Mifsud & Juan Carlos Colomer Rubio

This paper explores the development of policies dealing with teachers’ digital competence in Norway, Ireland and Spain. Using a documentary research approach, the study analysed relevant policy documents from each country over a thirty-year period to the present day. Analysis of the documents highlights historical differences and similarities in how technology in education policies developed during that period and differences in how teacher education was addressed. Despite these differences, the analysis indicates a convergence in recent years towards a common understanding and the importance of teachers’ digital competence influenced by supranational frameworks. The paper discusses the potential influence of these supranational frameworks and examines the opportunities and challenges of this policy convergence.

Exploring the digital competence of pre-service teachers on entry onto an initial teacher education programme in Ireland

Oliver McGarr & Adrian McDonagh


This study aimed to explore the digital competence of recent entrants into a pre-service teacher education programme in an Irish University. The participants were drawn from a cohort of 208 undergraduate teacher education students. The study employed an online survey that captured both self-reported levels of digital competence and knowledge of key areas of cyber ethics and digital technology. The respondents were active users of technology and very frequent users of social media but reported levels of skills in the use of other digital technologies were lower. In addition, their knowledge of cyber-ethics and associated practices varied. The study also found that they were positively disposed to technology in teaching. The paper argues that, while there are limitations to surveys that aim to capture one’s level of digital competence, they can help guide teacher educators in responding to pre-service teachers. However, digital competence is an evolving concept and care must be taken to ensure that frameworks and tools used to assess it do not stifle teachers’ autonomy in relation to their utilisation of technology.

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.