Dr., Senior Lecturer in Chemistry and Physics Didactics,
University of Helsinki,
Adviser for Learning Environments and Principal Standards,
Learning Together project,
COVID-19 boosted digitalization in Ukrainian schools
The current COVID-19 pandemic has shown the vulnerabilities of the education systems around the world. To systematically address the existing gaps, the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science has drafted the Strategic Framework for School Education Digitization. The draft was shared with the Finnish Learning Together project and UNICEF Ukraine for technical input and support. The Learning Together project is a four-year co-operation that started between Ukraine and Finland in July 2018 and was joined by the EU in late 2018. As a result of technical partnership between the Learning Together project and UNICEF Ukraine, a joint proposal was delivered to the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science and Ministry of Digital Transformation. The proposal introduces a comprehensive digital literacy system “The ICT skills certification system” to support the implementation of the national digitalization strategy.
The overall aim is developing a system allowing assess teachers’ and principals’ ICT competences. The proposed system is an evidence-based digital literacy program with an embedded ICT skills certification system for the teachers and principals. The program empowers teachers and principals with needed digital skills and motivation to successfully facilitate distance and blended learning. The certification system could harmonize the repertoire of trainings currently available in the field, provide transparency for the competence recognition, and this way support the other ICT skills development projects launched in the field.
The key objective and greatest advantage of the certification system is to recognize and further improve teachers’ and principals’ education-specific digital competencies. The system provides the teachers’ with a clear roadmap for personal development in digital skills and contributes to the quality of teaching and learning practices in classrooms. To the principals, the system provides a similar roadmap for professional development and may bring efficiency to educational administration and management. Moreover, the system provides the stakeholders with a detailed record of the teachers’ and principals’ digital skills that could be used, for instance, for job recruitment and staff appraisal purposes.
The system is developed in line with European Digital Competence Framework for Educators (DigCompEdu) and the UNESCO ICT Competence Framework for Educators. Based on solid international quality standards, the system is adopted to the Ukrainian national standards for teachers and principal to meet the national policies and requirements.
Developing ICT skills certification system
In general, the certification is the end-point of a training process. The certification process begins with a diagnostic test where the candidate’s digital skills are evaluated. The certification continues via different trainings and testing to finalization. At the end of the certification process, an individual obtains a formal proof of attained knowledge, skills and competences required in the specific job or role in the educational sector. However, as the educational sector is in constant change and educational standards are changed time to time, the certification system is updated continuously to match with the prevailing expectations and needs of the working life.
Developing badging process
The Learning Together project team and UNICEF Ukraine are implementing the badging approach in the ICT skills certification system. The badging process consists of teachers and principals collecting badges on various ICT related topics, such as, ICT hardware and software as well as ICT in lesson planning, teaching and evaluation. The badge itself is a proof of knowledge, skills and or competencies in particular ICT related topic area.
The starting point in the badge acquisition process is to find out what the trainee already knows. The teacher and principal may have digital skills learned during working in the educational sector, during their pre- or in-service studies or they have self-studied the contents. The diagnostic test shows what the teacher or principal already know, which saves time and money because unnecessary repetitions of studying contents that are familiar to the teacher or principal is avoided. The results of the diagnostic are used to design the personal study program for the trainee.
The badges are grouped under six categories as per the UNESCO Framework and consist of three competency levels: The basic level, advanced level and master level ICT integrator. To reach each of three levels, teacher or principal have to obtain a number of badges. Each level corresponds to a level of credit points. As a result, passing the tests and colleting badges leads to the certification of teachers’ and principals’ knowledge, skills and competences in ICT. This way the teachers and principals may build their experience record, which could be connected to, if it seems feasible, to their professional growth programs, appraisal procedures, promotions, and/or salary incentives.
Long-term impact on the Ukrainian school system
The finalized and fully functionalized certification system and badging process can be used as a part of teachers’ pre-service, in-service training and volunteer teacher certification. Further, the system has the potential to be used for the VET teacher and principal training.
The long-term goal of the development task is to build the capacity of the teacher education institutions and in-service training centers to prepare the educators for better use ICT in a pedagogically meaningful way in schools. The continuous development of the system ensures that the teachers and principals may receive up to date training and deliver improved teaching and leadership in the school sustainably in the long future.
Expert article 2941
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