Citizens in a Knowledge Society: rethinking education from scratch

On April 12th, 2011, I was in Belgrade take part in the Quality standards in ICT education workshop, belonging to the Click to Europe, aimed at promoting and contributing to e-inclusion of people, businesses and communities in Serbia, thus improving quality of life, employability and social inclusion of citizens.

Knowing myself very little about quality standards, I was asked to provide the participants — mainly telecentre administrators and other related profiles — with a general framework where they could situate their own e-inclusion projects and, most especially, what was the importance and role of ICT skills in the whole scenario.

Keeping that in mind, and for something more than three hours, I began explaining what the digital revolution was about, that is, what was the outer framework, and went on zeroing in until I ended up talking about digital competence, e-portfolios and personal learning environments. The underlying idea — which almost became a mantra — was that it was not about e-inclusion, but about inclusion, inclusion in an always changing world that required the most valuable skill: being able to learn, to take control of one’s own learning process. And digital skills were there to help people in that.

The speech, Citizens in a Knowledge Society: rethinking education from scratch was structured as follows:

  1. In The digital revolution: citizenship and inclusion in a post-industrial society I explained how digitization implied the shift from an industrial to an informational, knowledge-based, network society, and how in such a society institutions (and intermediators in general) have seen their roles and sheer nature radically transformed.
  2. Policies for (e-)inclusion: from physical access to meaningful use depicted a comprehensive model of the digital economy and how each and every category of digital development was strongly related with other ones or with some indicators we generally use to measure development.
  3. In Netizens: towards a set of digital competences I tried to exemplify how ICTs have become general purpose technologies and are now embedded in the core of our daily lives. Thus, e-inclusion is definitely about inclusion in a very much broader sense.
  4. Lastly, New assessment frameworks for new skills provided a comprehensive definition of digital skills which I related, again, with daily experiences and, most especially, with the new ways of learning that Information and Communication Technologies have enabled.

The workshop provided me with two positive feelings.

The first one is that I got the sensation that there was an overall coherence and consistence in the work that I have been pursuing in the last years (I revisited and reused material of my own from, at least, the last four years). Thus, realizing that somehow you’ve been adding up or building around a core idea (and not just producing splattered thoughts) is pleasantly comforting.

The second one is that, at least, most of the theory I handle (of my own and, most of it, by third parties) seems to be having strong strings attached to reality and being ready to provide advice for policy making and project designing. The more feedback I get from people from the terrain, the more I think we’re going parallel (or converging) paths, which, again, is absolutely a good thing to be aware of.

Please see below the slides that I used.

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