• Opinion
  • 24 de May de 2024
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  • 7 minutes read

What Does It Mean to Digitalise Education?

What Does It Mean to Digitalise Education?

THE GREAT SCAM. Opinion Section by David Cerdá

What Does It Mean to Digitalise Education?

Lotta Edholm: “digitalisation in schools has largely been an experiment”

alexmogopro. / Pixabay

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David Cerdá


What the legislator refers to as “digitalisation” is a blend of empty promises and obvious points, with little or no practical application: trivial milestones like the “hyper-classroom” serve merely as distractions to cover up deficiencies in computing and critical thinking.

The LOMLOE (Organic Law for the Improvement of Educational Quality) mentions “digital competence” fourteen times, making it the most frequently cited term. It asserts that “it is necessary for the educational system to respond to this social reality and include a more modern and comprehensive approach to digital competence.” Digitalisation, along with employability, forms the core of the latest regulatory proposal in education. Curiously, it is rare for a teacher to know what this competence entails, let alone the average citizen. This is largely inconsequential, as the aim seems to be to jump on the latest attractive bandwagon, following the latest trend, without ever proposing a republican education in the Condorcetian sense: public, individually emancipatory, and civically empowering.

How is it possible that we continue to discuss “digitalisation” in educational contexts without addressing its real issues? We need someone to bell the cat and tackle these fundamental problems head-on. This is facilitated, in part, by this law: “The educational administrations will regulate […] a subject for the development of digital competence,” says the LOMLOE, in one of its customary futile gestures, concluding with this remarkable statement: “Emphasising the digital gender gap,” of whose existence, I must confess, I was unaware. Since when do girls have less access to the internet than boys, or teenage girls than teenage boys? The National Observatory of Technology and Society (ONTSI) itself stated in March 2023 that “92.8% of Spanish women aged 16 to 74 use the internet at least once a week, just two-tenths below men”; but ONTSI must be one of those entities that, like the teachers themselves, the legislator never listens to, adhering to Walter Matthau‘s principle in Billy Wilder‘s film The Fortune Cookie: “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story”.

If one examines the framework for this digital competence in primary education (“critical and responsible use of digital technologies,” “information and data literacy, communication and collaboration, media education”), it becomes clear that its core is critical thinking, which is, of course, not addressed at these ages; nor is it tackled in secondary education, except in a superficial, supposedly cross-curricular manner. They also talk about learning to program, which is not done either, except in secondary education for those who choose an elective subject (which barely touches on some basic concepts). The list of the arcade terms includes “digital well-being” (could this mean not being bullied online, or something else?), and, remember, we are talking about primary school, “digital citizenship, privacy, intellectual property, problem-solving, and computational thinking”.

There is also mention of the need to develop “a digital culture in schools and classrooms,” which goes no further than the obvious fact that we live in a world interwoven with digital gadgets. So, this is the proposed digitalisation: a catalogue of noble intentions devoid of real content alongside a careful avoidance of teaching people to think—logic, dialectics, cognition, and other trifles. While we get entangled in this pretentious verbiage that has nothing to do with true digital creation—a world I know professionally—we end up with young people reaching adulthood without basic computer literacy and without any ability to tackle computational problems (wouldn’t that be a truly modern and valuable way to enrich their mathematical endeavours?) Other countries, such as Sweden recently, are making reducing students’ screen time one of their educational priorities.

As Lotta Edholm, the Swedish Minister for Schools (an admirably modest title), stated, our current actions reflect an “uncritical attitude towards digitalisation in schools,” adding that “digitalisation in schools has largely been an experiment”. She expressed this being really concerned about data: the loss of 11 points in reading comprehension among the youth of her country, as announced in the PIRLS 2021 Report.

We are surely missing the most basic element: forming digital creators starts with making them computationally skilled. As early as 2006, the European Parliament and the Council stated that digital competence relies on “computer skills to retrieve, evaluate, store, produce, present, and exchange information.” He avoided saying that the average eighteen-year-old Spaniard today knows less about computers than they did twenty or thirty years ago.

But we are not preparing creators; we are preparing consumers, and, above all, subjects. We buy gadgets like digital whiteboards—which can be very useful, no argument there—and consider ourselves digitalised; we destroy culture while pretending to establish a “digital culture” that amounts to nothing. We focus on what needs no reinforcement, as teenagers spend most of their free time on mobile phones, apps, and social media, while the Intelligence Quotient drops for the first time in decades; not to mention social skills. If we taught them to think and reason about what is right and wrong (we call this “ethics”), things would be different.

Source: educational EVIDENCE

Rights: Creative Commons

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