Friday, 21 July 2017

DigComp Update

Back in June 2015 I wrote a post about the announcement from the then Welsh education minister, Huw Lewis, about the introduction of a new Digital Competence Framework (DCF) for schools in Wales. As many of you will know, that framework has since been written and is beginning to be implemented in schools across Wales. In the post, I provided a list to several digital literacy or competence frameworks already in place across many countries, highlighting to the digital pioneer schools who were writing the framework that they didn't have to start from nothing and that they didn't necessarily have to 'reinvent the wheel'. Therefore it was interesting to see this morning an update to one of the frameworks mentioned.


The European Digital Competence Framework for Citizens, also known as DigComp, was first published in 2013 and "consists of detailed descriptions of all competences that are necessary to be proficient in digital environments and describes them in terms of knowledge, skills, and attitudes." DigComp 2.1, published in May 2017, now focuses on expanding the initial three proficiency levels to a more fine-grained eight level description as well as providing examples of use for these eight levels. Note that this particular framework is not necessarily aimed at schools, but are competencies that are applicable for all people. Examples are highlighted for school and the workplace. The framework is split into these five competencies (I've also included the Digital Competence Framework strands and elements as a comparison):


Digital Competence Framework - Wales DigComp 2.1
Citizenship
Identity, image and reputation
Health and well-being
Digital rights, licensing and ownership
Online behaviour and cyberbullying
1.0 Information & Data Literacy:
1.1 Browsing, searching and filtering data, information and digital content
1.2 Evaluating data, information and digital content
1.3 Managing data, information and digital content
Interacting & Collaborating
Communication
Collaboration
Storing and sharing
2.0 Communication & Collaboration
2.1 Interacting through digital technologies
2.2 Sharing through digital technologies
2.3 Engaging in citizenship through digital technologies
2.4 Collaborating through digital technologies
2.5 Netiquette
2.6 Managing digital identity
Producing
Planning, sourcing and searching
Creating
Evaluating and improving
3.0 Digital Content Creation
3.1 Developing digital content
3.2 Integrating and re-elaborating digital content
3.3 Copyright and licenses
3.4 Programming
Data & Computational Thinking
Problem solving and modelling
Data and information literacy
4.0 Safety
4.1 Protecting devices
4.2 Protecting personal data and privacy
4.3 Protecting health and well-being
4.4 Protecting the environment
5.0 Problem Solving
5.1 Solving technical problems
5.2 Identifying needs and technical responses
5.3 Creatively using digital technology
5.4 Identifying digital competence gaps

A quick comparison highlights similarities between the two frameworks, especially around Interacting & Collaborating /Communication & Collaboration; Producing / Digital Content Creation. In fact, if you look at the variety of frameworks mentioned in that previous post, these are very common to all and not surprising that they were included in the DCF.

One thing I do particularly like about the DigComp framework is that the competence descriptors, similar to the Citizenship elements of the DCF, are spread out between the competencies. This in my opinion provides a better context for the learning of these increasingly important skills. Currently schools are being encouraged to use a range of resources from the South West Grid for Learning and Common Sense Media to support the Citizenship strand. As many people are saying (including myself), "You don't even need to use a computer to teach the Citizenship strand." This is because these lesson plans from Common Sense Media, very much have a PSE approach in their class delivery. However, as I go on to explain to schools, what is the point of learning about this strand if you're not going to then model what you've learned in context? For example, '3.3 Copyright and licenses' relate closely to the 'Digital rights, licensing and ownership' element of the DCF. However, the DigComp framework places this within the '3.0 Digital Content Creation' competence, arguably the natural place to learn about ownership and digital rights. Likewise 'Online behaviour and cyberbullying' and 'Identity, image and reputation' from the DCF could be developed through the 'Interacting and Collaborating' strand of the DCF. Here, while using a variety of communication and collaboration tools, pupils can look at how they are managing their identity, netiquette and engaging in citizenship through digital technologies. In my opinion it would be more helpful to teachers to have placed those Citizenship elements into the other strands. DCF could then look something like this:

Interacting & Collaborating
Communication
Collaboration
Online behaviour and cyberbullying
Identity, image and reputation
Storing and sharing

Producing
Planning, sourcing and searching
Creating
Digital rights, licensing and ownership
Evaluating and improving

Data & Computational Thinking
Problem solving and modelling
Data and information literacy

Mmm....not too sure where 'Health and well-being' would go.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Digital Competence / Computer Science - Refreshing Views

It was interesting to read this on the BBC news website a couple of weeks ago, 'Computing in schools - alarm bells over England's classes.' At the heart of the report is that experts are concerned that since the introduction of the computing curriculum in England, there has only been a modest rise in students taking the new computer science GCSE. By 2020, the British Computer Society warns that the number studying for a computing qualification could halve. The other major concern is that only 20% of the entrants were girls, down from around 40% taking the previous ICT qualification. There were those at the time who were concerned with the change in focus of the curriculum and talked of, 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater'.  As Drew Buddie says in the BBC article, he felt that ICT was unfairly maligned and was far more creative than its critics assumed, and that "it is clear that many 14-to-17-year-old students, particularly girls, are not attracted to such a specific and narrow course." To be fair, digital literacy and ICT elements are still in the English curriculum but all the emphasis appears to have gone into the coding aspect. This was pretty apparent during my recent visit to the Computing at Schools conference in Birmingham, where the overwhelming majority of keynotes and workshops were focused on coding, with little input on the other aspects of the computing curriculum.

"Learning Computer Science is surprisingly hard." - CAS Conference, Birmingham 2017.
I've written a some of posts over the last couple of years mentioning my concerns with the pressure that I could see coming from different quarters (including the BBC) for the introduction to coding. I have no problem with its introduction but wanted a sensible balance between it and digital literacy (see The Balance Between Coding and Digital Literacy and Restoring The Balance). Yesterday I listened to a presentation by a teacher who was involved with the development of the DCF (digital competence framework) and who is one of the digital pioneers working on the new curriculum. It was refreshing to hear him express similar views to myself. He talked about the importance of DCF for all our students, that being digital competent was an essential part of all our lives. He explained to attendees that coding is not mentioned in the DCF (although Computational Thinking is) and that computer science will be part of the new Science and Technology area of learning and experience. I precis what he said somewhat, but basically being digitally competent is essential for all our young people, whereas computer science only appeals to a small number of students who then hopefully go on to become coders. If his views are similar to the rest of the digital pioneers, hopefully we will have the right balance in Wales.

Friday, 7 July 2017

NDLC Minutes Provide Glimpse of Hwb+ 'Future'

Update to my last post Hwb+-Another Nail in the Coffin? As I've said previously, I do like to read through the agenda and minutes of the National Digital Learning Council meetings. These are freely available to the public on the Hwb website. Below you will find a section from the minutes dated 4th April, 2017:

5.7 The Hwb+ / provisioning contract with Learning Possibilities ends on 31 August 2018 and there is no contract extension option. Officials are already exploring exit strategy arrangements to ensure continuity of service specifically around the provisioning service which underpins the user authentication for all Hwb services.

5.8 CO (Chris Owen, Welsh Government) outlined the current thinking around the next phase of the provisioning, authentication and user management for LiDW users. NDLC members stressed the importance of ensuring the replacement service offered high-availability levels as this is such a pivotal element of the programme. CO confirmed that this was fully understood and already part of the planning.

5.9 The other aspect of the contract with Learning Possibilities is the delivery of Hwb+, the individual school’s learning platform. Statistics indicate that there are low numbers of schools in Wales demonstrating embedded use of Hwb+ (e.g. 30 learners logging in once a day).

5.10 It was agreed that a sub-group of NDLC members would be established to explore options for engaging with stakeholders over their use of the Hwb+ platform. This information would be used to inform the next steps and to present options to the Cabinet Secretary for Education.

5.11 Any change in provision needs to be carefully managed and the Welsh Government will work closely with schools to minimise any disruption at the end of the current Learning Possibilities contract.

5.12 NDLC members queried whether a learning platform was required as blending the centrally offered services such as Hwb, J2e and Office 365 now potentially provides a range of suitable options. This will be considered as part of the engagement with stakeholders.

5.13 A draft stakeholder survey which would seek to find out what worked well and what didn’t work so well with Hwb+ is one option to engage.


What have we learned from these minutes?
- No contract extension option for Hwb+ or their provisioning tool and officials are exploring exit strategy options. *The provisioning tool is the software (owned by Learning Possibilities) that sits in each local authority and creates the user accounts from schools SIMS data.*
- The NDLC noted how pivotal that provisioning tool is to the success of the programme. Any change needs to be 'carefully managed' to minimise disruption at the end of the Learning Possibilities contract. *This provisioning tool is in my opinion, certainly core to the success of the programme. I mentioned in a comment exchange on my last post that I felt the real success of the programme had been to get all users accounts set up for staff and pupils across Wales. If WG are not careful, any disruption to that 'continuity of service' could/will damage Hwb's reputation.*
- A low number of schools using Hwb+. *As I've said, it's a platform that certainly hasn't been at the top of my 'top 10 learning platforms', but it's been interesting to observe the way support to schools in its use, appears to have been withdrawn over the last couple of years. It's been a slow death.*
- Survey to seek what worked well and what didn't work so well. *We now know that a survey is one option and the regional workshops are another.*