Not long ago the following question existed in the world of the abilities and competences: Are you a person of letters or numbers? With the rise of the so-called Third Industrial Revolution and the incorporation of the digital media into our society, maybe we should revisit the question and reformulate it as follow: Are you analogue or digital?
It is obvious that nowadays nobody can live in an analogue society and thus the answer is evident: We have no choice but to be digital. For that, we should have sufficient digital skills to be able to live in the society of the XXI Century, the co-called Knowledge Society.
The digital competence is based on basic ICT skills and it opens up a new field for professionals, consumers, education and the society in general. In 2006 The European Commission proposed 8 key competences for the Lifelong Learning and digital competences were highlighted as one of them.
Since the detection of this key competence, the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion at the European Commission and the JRC IPTS have developed and are continuously working on the DigComp: This was published for the first time by the European Commission in 2003. The DigComp, in its initial version, was conceived as a tool for the improvement of citizens’ digital competences by helping them to formulate policies that support the construction of the structure, educational planning and training initiatives that improve the digital competences of certain population groups. It also provides a common language for identifying and describing the key areas of digital competence and a common reference for the European level.
“Digital competence involves the confident and critical use of Information Society Technology (IST) for work, leisure and communication. It is underpinned by basic skills in ICT: The use of computers to retrieve, assess, store, produce, present and exchange information, and to communicate and participate in collaborative networks via the Internet” (European Parliament and the Council, 2006).
In its initial publication, the DigComp detects a total of 21 competences grouped into 5 areas. At the same time, these competences have several descriptors organized in three levels.
Under the motto: “A digital society needs citizens that are digitally competent” the European Commission elaborated in 2016 the DIGCOMP 2.0. This version updates the European framework of digital competences after becoming a reference in different initiatives of member states since 2013. The following are the European initiatives on the subject of digital competences carried out by the Member States.
In Spain, for example, the Basque Government has developed the project IKANOS, in the scope of the digital Agenda2015 (AD @ 15), to collaborate, share and disseminate what digital skills are and how to acquire them. Within the project, a self-diagnosis tool was also developed.
The Consorcio for the development of the Society of Information and Knowledge in Andalusia, “Fernando de los Ríos”, is an entity of public domain that has received the order on behalf of “Junta de Andalucía” (as well as the 8 Andalusian Provincial Councils) to develop and deploy throughout the Andalusian territory projects to spread the information and knowledge society among citizens. Furthermore, it has also developed through the portal Andalucía es digital, a tool for self-diagnosis in digital competences (http://www.digcomp.andaluciaesdigital.es) by adapting the Guadalinfo program to the European framework DigComp, as a way to achieve one of the specific objectives of the Digital Agenda in Spain, “Promote literacy and digital inclusion”. This tool detects the level of competences of the citizens and helps to improve it across a proposal of learning pathways.
We can see how, since 2013, the evolution of the framework on digital competences and its implementation has been developed by the European Commission and adopted by some Member States. Once the theoretical framework is evolved, new challenges arise: “New skills need new ways of accrediting them.
In this context, it becomes necessary to prove the digital competences of citizens in all areas of daily life, not only in the professional field. Traditional forms of recognition are no longer enough now that these forms are social, digital and global and therefore we need a new type of adapted credentials. As a solution to this requirement, the system of recognition was established.
What is a badge? A badge is a symbol or indicator of an accomplishment, skill, quality or interest. A “digital badge” is an online record of achievements, tracking the recipient’s communities of interaction that issued the badge and the work completed to get it. Digital badges can support connected learning environments by motivating learning and signaling achievement both within particular communities as well as across communities and institutions. (Source: Erin Knight’s White Paper)
Learning nowadays occurs everywhere. We are global and so is our learning; as a consequence of this, it is difficult to obtain a recognition of our skills, especially when training is conducted by e-learning mode, outside the scope of formal education.
This system of credentials can be used in learning projects, both inside and outside the classroom, offering anyone the possibility of obtaining digital certification in the acquisition of highly specialized skills and issued through an expert organization on the subject.
The credential system is seen as the reference for the assessment and certification of competences in the future; there are currently many open credential system projects that are aiming to be a homogeneous reference framework within the learning system. This open system of insignias must be in consonance with the digital era and thus should be easy to check and display in the digital world in which we live, affecting all areas.
One of the reference projects of accreditation of competences through the insignia system is the one designed by Mozilla. Mozilla Open Badges provides technical support to solve this problem, making it easier to those who want the emission, obtaining and dissemination of insignias across the web.
Taking advantage of the DIGCOMP 2.0 framework and the open system of Mozilla Badges we can open a new line of work on profiles of specific competences for the society of the future. Pathways for Employ is a project started at the end of 2016 under the Erasmus+ which aims to offer options for the accreditation of digital competences, using an updated system of lifelong learning through a system of badges. This will be focused on the study of two profiles of the current labor market: “Virtual office worker” and “Entrepreneur”. These digital profiles are constantly mentioned in all the surveys and studies about the future of job market. As a result, it is appropriate to analyze the levels and digital competences necessary for them (as a reference to DIGCOM 2.0) and an effective accreditation system (Mozilla Open Badges). (https://wiki.mozilla.org/Badges)