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Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have been playing an increasingly significant role in education during the last years. There is a set of abilities that students need to develop in order to succeed in the information age. These abilities, defined as 21st century skills, are: critical thinking, problem solving, good communication, collaboration, information and technology literacy, flexibility and adaptability, innovativeness and creativity. In order for teachers to be able to teach these skills to their students they must possess themselves the appropriate digital competencies. Digital Competence can be broadly defined as the confident and creative use of ICT to achieve goals related to an activity. Many frameworks that defined ICT competencies have been developed and used in European countries.
UNESCO, in the context of “Education for All” (EFA) program, has developed the UNESCO ICT-Competence Framework for Teachers (UNESCO, 2011)1. This framework outlines the competencies that teachers need in order to integrate Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) into their professional practice. The framework aims to provide guidelines and a basic set of qualifications to develop courses for pre-service or in-service teachers, in order to enable teachers to integrate ICT in a pedagogically effective way. The required competencies are defined as the intersections of the three approaches to teaching — technology literacy, knowledge deepening, and knowledge creation — with the six aspects of a teacher’s work, namely, understanding ICT in education, curriculum assessment, pedagogy, ICT, organization and administration and teacher professional learning. Therefore there are 18 modules defined, as the following table (UNESCO, 2011) shows:
UNESCO ICT-Competence Framework for Teachers has the potential to play a unified and very important role in teacher professional development, since it can be equally applied in different economies and in different aspects of everyday teaching practice. For example advanced economies may focus on Knowledge Creation while low-income countries may start with the Technology Literacy approach. Also each national policy can choose to leverage different aspects, according each time to its own educational conditions, i.e. curriculum, pedagogy, assessment. Each national educational policy can follow its own individualized path towards educational reform, based on the nation’s economic and social development goals and the educational priorities.
The UNESCO ICT-CFT is a powerful framework that can be used not only for surveys to compare the teachers’ competencies in different countries but most importantly, to analyze and develop educational programs and training courses of teacher professional development (at national or regional level). It is important not to forget that the quality of teachers and their continuing professional development plays a critical role to the achievement of the quality education and sustainable development.
1 UNESCO. (2011). UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002134/213475e.pdf
Article written by: Stavros Nikou, Scientix Deputy Ambassador