Together with the Vision for a European Education by 2025, the European Commission published on 30 September 2020 a Communication on the further development of the existing Action Plan for Digital Literacy (2018-2020) in a new period from 2021 to 2027.

Digital change is one of the European Commission's priorities, as expressed in its flagship initiative A Europe for the digital age. In the updated Action Plan, the Commission takes up the lessons learned from the pandemic and sets out a long-term vision for digital change in education and training in the EU.

The two strategic priorities of the plan are

  • the use of digital technologies in education
    ("A high-performing digital education ecosystem")
  • the training of the necessary skills
    ("Digital skills and competences for the digital age")

The objectives of these long-term priorities include improving the digital infrastructure in the education sector, improving the quality of learning resources for online learning, increasing the efficiency of learning processes and making learning outcomes easier to demonstrate. Fourteen concrete activities or initiatives are identified to achieve these objectives. The fourteenth initiative proposes the development of a "European Digital Education Hub". This should enable EU-wide exchange in digital educational cooperation, network national authorities, disseminate the results of EU-funded projects, enable the exchange of digital learning content and develop appropriate policies to promote digital literacy. This hub will also build on the results of the OpenU project, funded under Erasmus+, in which the DAAD is a project partner.

Further plannings of relevance to the higher education sector

  • Updating the European framework for digital educational content
  • A feasibility study on a possible European exchange platform (for sharing certified online resources - e.g. MOOCs - and for linking with existing education platforms)
  • Proposed recommendations to the Council of EU Education Ministers
    • on the factors enabling successful digital literacy by 2022
    • on the improved provision of digital skills (including the use of EU instruments to invest in teachers' professional development and cooperation with industry to identify and update skills needs)
  • Development of a European digital literacy certificate
  • Support for digital transformation plans at all levels of education and training through Erasmus+ cooperation projects
  • Support for digital pedagogy and expertise in the use of digital tools for teachers through Erasmus+ teacher academies
  • Ethical guidelines for teaching and learning about artificial intelligence
  • Increasing the number of IT specialists/experts and the proportion of women in IT degree programmes and professions
  • Promoting greater participation in the International Study on Computer and Information Literacy (ICILS), which collects transnational data on learners' digital skills

Financing

Generally, all key actions of the future Erasmus+ programme will provide more targeted support for the implementation of the renewed DEAP. The planned measures will also be financed by other funding programmes such as Digital Europe, the Connecting Europe Facility, InvestEU, the Cohesion Fund and Horizon Europe. Financing is also available through the new recovery and resilience facility under the EU reconstruction plan "Next Generation EU".

Prior to the publication of the new Action Plan, the European Commission carried out a survey with particular reference to the current Covid-19 situation.

Results of the consultation

  • Almost 60% of respondents had not used distance or online learning before the crisis.
  • 95% believe that the COVID-19 crisis marks a "point of no return" for the way technology is used in education and training.
  • Respondents call for online learning resources and content to be made more relevant, interactive and user-friendly.
  • Over 60% felt that they had improved their digital skills during the crisis and over 50% of respondents want to continue doing so.

In addition to 2700 responses received and 130 written contributions, the DAAD also submitted its proposals during the consultation. It calls for a focus on mobility and inclusion, virtual exchange formats, digital capacities and the interoperability of systems and data. The full position paper can be viewed here: Download: DAAD-Positionspapier zum DEAP (pdf, 190.65 KB)

The German EU Council Presidency has made digital education a priority in its work programme and intends to adopt Council Conclusions with the EU Education Ministers on the topic on 30 November.

The Action Plan will also feed into the 3rd European Education Summit, which the Commission will host online on 10 December. Ministers and key stakeholders will discuss how to prepare education and training for the digital age.