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  1. 1. DEVELOPMENT OF THE DIGITAL COMPETENCE prof. Oliver Buček, Primary school Breg, Ptuj - Slovenia ABSTRACT Incessantly development of the abilities, skills and knowledge of scholars has in the present, competitory and changeable world a key importance. Recently the interest for key competence is increasing. Key competences are urgently necessary for individuals to live free, reasonable, responsible and successful life. There is a question, which are the competences, which enable the accomplishment of this general goal. Inside the compulsory education, in which all citizens get common foundations of knowledge and skills, only the knowledge is not so important but also its use. Education for using ICT is becoming more and more outstanding need in a modern life. One of the most important competences in the twenty-first century is certainly the development of the digital literacy. Informational and communicational technology (ICT) is present everywhere: in the business world, general public service, education and at home. A competent digital literacy may be considered as the ability of a scholar, who is capable of depending on his own experiences, values and dispositions, which he can develop as an individual, through the educational practice and at the simultaneous critical thinking about the validity and the reliability of the information. It is therefore not enough if a scholar uses ICT technology and he is computer literate, because he must also include the advantages of the technology in his work. One of the objectives of the music education in school is inter alia the development of the reasonable usage of advance technology. For this purpose I have created a web classroom for music at the Mladinska knjiga, with the collaboration of Ministry of the Education and Sport and with the European Social Fund. I want to assure with it the shift from standard form of education and classical classroom to the creating the innovative and simulative educational environment for obtaining of knowledge, mostly e-skills and e-competences. Construction of digital competence is a process, which demands that the scholar is the entire time actively included into the asking questions, researching and finding answers, and this demands from the teacher a bigger commitment, more time and more knowledge. In my
  2. 2. opinion digital literacy is essential for the further education of scholars and in everyday life or free time. Keywords: ICT, digital competence, virtual learning, e-learning INTRODUCTION Electronic media offer a variety of ways of presenting or structuring learning opportunities which were not previously available on distance courses. They offer new ways to access and combine information and the possibility to keep in touch on a more regular and continuous basis, so that students need no longer to work in isolation, but belong to an electronic "community of learners". In our view of networked e-learning, the relationship between teachers and learners is based on collaboration and co-construction of knowledge rather than on that of expert and acolyte. Such a view of the relationship between learners and teachers is one that is supported by the idea of the learning community. Networked e-learning can contribute to the establishment of virtual learning communities and enhance existing face-to-face learning communities. Psychologists and educational researchers, building on the work of Jean Piaget, have come to understand that learning is not a simple matter of information transmission. No one, even the best computer, can put information into the head of the learner. Rather, learning is an active process in which learner construct new understanding trough different activities: exploring, experimenting, discussing and reflecting. Shortly, learners do not get information, they have to make it. Nearly the same is the true for computers. Of course, they are wonderful for accessing and transmitting the information. But for the education they are, in the first place, a new medium through which every learner can create and express their own ideas, experiment on them and create out of them whatever results. Indeed, computers and all digital technology connected with them are the best creating things ever invented: we can make music with them; we can draw our imaginations and blog about everyday life. Using this technology, we greatly expand what can be learned in a common learning process. Using digital technology efficiently learners have to have competence on how to use it. Unfortunately, such digital competence does not develop from books or when learners are shown how to look up for information on the web, how to use a word processor or how to send an e-mail. Even when
  3. 3. they are active, they do not become competent and fluent in using digital technology. (Wechtersbach R. , 2009) What is e-learning The increased use of informational and communicational technology (ICT) in education brings important changes for students and teachers as well as educational institutions. ICT, especially the development of Internet, is improving the approach to education, changing processes of teaching/learning and processes of managing the educational institutions. (Sulčič & Lesjak, 2007) The positive effects of distance studies, especially in connection with used methods and forms of teaching, are encouraging the introduction of these kinds of methods in traditional teaching. Considering that learning can be performed through Internet or Intranet, we are not talking here about distance learning but electronic learning or e-learning. E-learning is a new concept that started appearing with the use of informational and telecommunicational technology for educational purposes. There are more definitions of e-learning. I will describe only some of them. I will also mention and describe some related terms and ideas. One of the definitions says that; e-learning is a way of education with help of new methods of knowledge transfer: • with computer networks, • with multi-presentational applications • with portals including study, bibliographic and informational contents • with »smart« search tools • with digital libraries • distance learning and • virtual study rooms. (Sulčič & Lesjak, 2007)
  4. 4. Virtual learning can enhance classroom learning with chat rooms, blogs, video files, PowerPoint presentations and email. These technologies can provide remediation or supplemental teaching, combine classroom and off-site learning, or allow students to learn entirely off-site. Virtual Learning Environments permit students more flexibility as they can learn at their own pace and on their own schedules; however, teachers and administrators must be proficient with the technology in order for it to be effective. (Bouchard, 2008) The terms related to e-learning are open learning, distance learning, flexible learning, online learning and virtual learning. Here are the explanations. Constructivist philosophy accommodates a family of closely related pedagogies, which optimize the potential of networked environments. The family includes collaborative learning (McConnell, 2001), activity-based learning (Macdonald & Twining, in press), resource-based learning (Macdonald, Heap & Mason, 2001) and problem-based learning (Ronteltap & Eurelings, 2002). (Macdonald, 2002) Open learning is a kind of un-traditional learning, that enables an individual a flexibility with choosing of study material, study speed, place, time and what way to learn through the internet. Its main characteristic is the open choice for the learner, who decides by himself about the previously mentioned things. Open learning is being used with short courses, workshops, seminars, conferences and certificate gaining programs. It is a way of learning that allows joining the process without limitations or with minimal age, gender and most importantly time requiremements. These characteristics are complemental to distance learning, but not necessarily its part. Distance learning is a method of learning where one does not need a physical presence of the learner. Sending of the material like handbooks, CDs, videocassettes and audiocassettes was originally done through mail. In the last years material is sent with the help of e-mails, internet and video conferences. The only condition is usually that the learners appear at a certain time and place for exam writing. Distance learning usually appears in all learning stages, but most commonly in university studies. Flexible learning is an approach which allows the use of larger number of learning sources in different learning environments. This is a way to satisfy different study forms, interests and needs of the learners in the learning process. Important with this learning is that the learners can study individually or in groups, without tutor's presence.
  5. 5. Online learning is based on learning through internet or intranet, which is a closed network that bases on using protocol TCP/IP. Networks enable communication and presentation of study materials. The concept of online learning has expanded in the middle of the nineties in the last century, mostly due to increased use of internet. Online learning is executed through internet, where the learners access study materials, solve tests and ask questions. Online learning is based on studying over the internet and represents only a part of technologically supported e-learning. E-studying means learning independently from time and place. There are several definitions what e-studying is. Often it is equalized with e-learning. E-studying is strongly technologically supported. It means that it includes a wide number of applications and processes, including computer supported learning, online learning and virtual learning. E- studying is interactive and multi-presentational. Virtual learning is related to teaching in educational environment where teachers and learners are separated by time or space. The teachers prepare the study materials with the help of multimedia sources, internet and video conference. The learners get all the materials and communicate with their teachers through telecommunicational technologies. A Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) refers to computer-based systems that deliver learning materials on the Internet, a concept also known as Online Education. VLEs combine web-based methods, such as chat rooms, blogs, video files, PowerPoint presentations and email to enhance learning. Types of online teaching and learning include supplemental teaching programs that offer remediation or expand on in-class lessons, hybrid courses that take place both on and off-site, or classes that occur entirely online. (Bouchard, 2008) Common VLE products include Moodle, Learnwise, Blackboard or Studywiz. These types of databases provide virtual storage space for teachers to upload learning activities, assessments and media files, all for students to access from any computer at home, school or anywhere that one can access the Internet. Teachers and students on VLEs are provided with email addresses and a forum for online chats or discussions available for students with disabilities. (Bouchard, 2008) Distance learning has developed together with the development of modern informational and telecommunicational technologies. E-learning has developed new terms that can be classified
  6. 6. with regards to the way the knowledge is transferred between the participants of the process. That way we get two new roles in the learning process: mentor and tutor. Comparing e-learning to traditional way of learning The main change in e-learning is in dismissal of time and place restrains with the use of informational and communicational technology. It is typical for e-learning that it is executed through internet. The participants are connected through network or internet. That enables instant distribution of study materials and simultaneous communication between them. Characteristic for e-learning participants is active learning from multiple sources that are available on World Wide Web, in contrast to traditional learning which is mostly based on prescribed study handbooks. E-learning enables the adjustment of time and place, which means learning anywhere and anytime. This is the opposite of traditional learning where the teacher and learner have to be in the process of learning at the exact same time and on a specified location. With e-learning a tutor can lead the class through World Wide Web regardless of the location and time of the learner and the tutor. Also the learner can access educational materials regardless of time and location. Because learning is without time and location limitations, it can become much more attractive and fun. It is carried out in a creative environment that is created by tutors and learners. The environment is creative because it offers instant access to different sources of studying materials, digital libraries and enables direct communication with tutor and other participants. The participants have reviewed computer based learning much better than the traditional way of learning. Benefits of e-learning E-learning offers various benefits. Some have been mentioned previously and some will be discussed here into more detail. One of main benefits of e-learning, which cannot be carried out without the use of informational technology, is the fact that the learning can happen anywhere and anytime. The learners can learn at home, in work, on travels or can access study materials at the moment they need the knowledge. These benefits are welcome for the participants that due to lack of time cannot take part in traditional learning. It is also connected to flexibility of learning with
  7. 7. regard to one’s needs. That is why the speed of learning is adjustable, which reduces stress and increases pleasure in learning. Another benefit is that with use of informational technology at learning, participants develop technical abilities that are needed for working in modern environments. Educational environment and study materials are easily reachable in e-learning. Online learning pushes students to take more responsibility for their education rather than relying on teachers to supply them with information. Students must learn to set priorities, manage time, research information and participate in discussions. The use of online learning in the classroom has even helped students become stronger readers due to e-books and the vast amount of information they sift through on the Internet. (Bouchard, 2008) VLEs encourage students to become self-directed learners, which is essential in adulthood in order to succeed in college as well as in the workforce. (Bouchard, 2008) The learner is an important aspect of e-learning. They are the ones that define time and place of learning, which encourages independent organized learning. At any desired moment they can look up for needed study material on the internet, take part in internet debates with the tutor or in groups, solve tests or exercises and answer questions. The learner can ask the tutor directly for explanation of a study content that he does not understand. An active role of the learner in the process of e-learning encourages and stimulates the participant to take bigger responsibility for learning and success. It has been proven that the versatility speeds up learning, because the learners have to follow changes all the time. That means the learners are more active and hence they learn the study material faster. That is why we can say that e- learning encourages learners to faster understanding and remembering of information. Weaknesses of e-learning E-learning has some bad characteristics, both from the aspect of the learner and the teacher as well as from the aspect of an educational institution. From educational institution’s point of view the biggest problem are higher beginning costs. The organization needs to invest resources into infrastructure development, which enables e-learning. That is why they need to do an analysis, cost calculations and realization plan. First they have to check the already existing infrastructure and hardware and software compatibility with the new equipment. When the existing infrastructure would deviate on a larger scale from the new one, the costs would rise accordingly.
  8. 8. For certain learners the biggest problem is the fact that for successful e-learning one needs considerable use the technology. Some have a problem with it, because they have a certain dislike for technology or are even afraid to use it. In some environments the access to the technology can already be a problem. That is why slow network access, unsuitably efficient computers and similar represent a big obstacle during the learning process. This is the reason why it is important to correctly plan the usage of technological capacities and simplicity in using them. Technology must be helping the learner and not stopping the chance to obtain certain knowledge. Teachers also have to learn how to use the modern informational and communicational technology in the learning process, which can be quite hard for some. The problems can appear during the transfer of study materials into the e-learning environment. This is the environment teachers have to get to be acquainted with. They have to get to know the new way of working, which involves the new technology, and new approaches to guiding and leading as well as teaching the learners. During the teaching itself they do not have such control over the participants as with traditional teaching, because they are not in direct contact with them. (Sajovic, 2006) What is a competent e-learner? Courses using electronic networks make certain demands on the students who study them. Inevitably, using a networked computer as a study tool involves basic ICT skills which need to be mastered, and this eventually leads to a familiarity with the relevant hardware and software tools. Beyond this, students need to learn how to use the computer as a study tool. They may need to accommodate screen based study, with its limitations on flexibility, and the implications for time management; in addition to learning how to manage files effectively. Approaches to writing and sharing information in electronic form offer enhanced possibilities for the re- drafting of scripts, as well as the use of information from a variety of sources. (Macdonald, 2002) Students need to recognize the gaps in their knowledge, in order to establish what they need to find out, and Hill (1997) underlines the significance of subject knowledge, in providing the framework for further exploration and research, in addition to confidence and metacognition.
  9. 9. It is clearly not enough to teach students searching techniques, and then to assume that they will be competent investigators. In short, I have argued that the competent e-learner will have developed communicative and interpretive ability using electronic media. This involves the use of computers as an effective study tool, but also implies the development of critical and analytical abilities to work as a self-directed learner, together with the communicative abilities to work with, and learn from peers. In other words, competence in e-learning has many parallels with competence in learning, and is probably acquired as a developmental progression, alongside developing confidence and metacognition, and a growing understanding of a discipline. However, the use of online media for study, and the ready availability of information rich resources on the web, means that students may need to develop competence and self direction at an earlier stage in their undergraduate career than they would in more conventional distance courses. Course design and outcomes will need to reflect and support these needs. (Macdonald, 2002) Developing digital competency in Slovenian Education Using digital technology has a very long tradition in Slovenian Education. Computer science became an optional subject in Slovenian secondary schools in the school year 1971/72. It became compulsory ten years later in all middle schools in Slovenia. Carrying out students learn about computers and programming in program language Fortran (later Pascal). With the development of computer science and fact that more and more computers were coming into the schools, the curriculum on computer science changed many times. Major methodological and content changes in the digital technology curriculum have been made in the year 1995. The subject in the middle school has been renamed to “Informatics”. Its main goal became developing a higher level of information literacy. The “Computers” has become an optional three years subject with names Dataprocessing, Multimedia and Computer Networks in the last three years of basic schools ( link=predmet&tip=6&pID=24&rID=291). It became an important point in developing basic information literacy. Developing computer literacy moved down and was integrated in different subject of basic schools. In the year 1991 The Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills – SCANS, under the Ministry of Labour, published a research (Secretary's Commission on Achieving
  10. 10. Necessary Skills, 2009) in which they defined five competences which have to be developed by the students when they are educated for effective work and satisfactory life: • working with sources (organizing time, money, material, place and employed), • inter-personal skills (cooperation in groups, teaching others, leading, negotiating, intercultural manners), • working with data (searching, acquiring, assessing and usage of data, organization and maintenance of documentation, knowledge presentation, use of informational technology), • understanding of systems (understanding of social, organizational and technological systems, accompanying and changing of productivity, designing and improving systems), • use of technology (choice and use of suitable technologies for particular tasks and their maintenance). The mentioned competences are based on: • basic skills (like reading, writing, arithmetic and maths, speaking expression and listening), • mental skills (like creative thinking, solving problems, knowing the laws of learning, searching and accepting decisions), • personal characteristics (like personal responsibility, self-image, sociability, self- organization and integrity). In accordance to these demands, the education should change as well. Lessons should be subject to these competences and should be based on applicable knowledge. (Wechtersbach R., 2009) To survive, hopefully to prosper in an ever changing world, digital curators must be agile. They must be able to address not only the problems of obsolescence, but also the two sided challenges of new technology. In appraisal, ingest and preservation, they have to be able to deal with formats and also with hardware and software they have never seen before, but they also have to be able both to recognize and capitalize on opportunities offered by new
  11. 11. technologies. Most importantly, they will have to be able to aquire and often to produce new knowledge and new skills. Professional digital curators should be able to apply their knowledge and skill in a variety of different contexts, in interactions with various communities. (Thibodeau, 2007) The community of practice must be a learning community. Critical role of formal education is to prepare pupils to be life-long learners, not simply accretion, expansion or deepening of knowledge or skills learned in schools, but even and especially to learn new skills to be able to adapt and replace previous knowledge. Computer Literacy, Information Literacy & Information Technology Literacy Having computer literacy means that a person has enough understanding of computer applications (including their limitations) to use them correctly. A person with computer literacy can complete information-based tasks using a keyboard, software, and hardware correctly. The student creating a PowerPoint presentation is considered computer literate, for example. A person is said to have information literacy when he or she can determine which resources are needed and can access them easily. For example, a person with information literacy can distinguish which applications and resources are best for use in different situations, like knowing that a scholarly journal is a better resource than a magazine when writing a master’s thesis. Information technology literacy (ITL), on the other hand, maintains that a person is capable of utilizing a variety of technologies, like digital electronics, data storage components, and advanced computer applications: writing HTML, for instance. The IT literate person understands how technology changes from day to day and how those changes can be applied to various tasks. (McMahon, 2008) Foster (2006) may be right, as many people are computer literate and never move beyond the need for using basic computer applications. However, universities and employers are changing their requirements to include the utilization of computer functions beyond what is considered basic computer literacy. Without advanced technological experience, some students will not be accepted into the colleges of their choice and will not be hired for positions for which they would otherwise be qualifed. As a result of this shift in expectations, many higher education institutions are making technology one of the courses of study for all of their students. (McMahon, 2008) CONCLUSION
  12. 12. It is in the detail, and in implementation strategy that differences of emphasis emerge. In some countries, ICT skills training is integrated with other learning objectives, while in others, ICT skills are taught separately. However, education and training in basic ICT skills is no longer sufficient to meet the requirements of Europe, or to prepare young children to engage with the information economy. The main feature of today’s information infrastructure is the emphasis on services. E-services of increasing complexity, from ringtones to blogs, from Myspace to YouTube, are now routinely used by young children, and the education programme for 4 to 12 year old children must change to reflect this. This means that a new programme of digital competence is needed for young children. Such a programme will build on basic ICT skills, but also explore the safe and secure use of global ICT services. It will focus on developing good practice, and highlight the negative consequences of e-services misuse and abuse. REFERENCES 1. Bouchard, J. (2008). Virtual Learning in the Public Schools. (R. S. Education, Ed.) Retrieved July 2009, from vid=7&hid=105&sid=932102f4-4429-47b7-ad58-c99f9506325d%40sessionmgr108 2. Macdonald, J. (2002, August 28-30). Developing competent e-learners: the role of assessment. Retrieved July 2009, from 3. McMahon, M. (2008). Information Technology Literacy (ITL). (R. S. Education, Ed.) Retrieved July 2009, from vid=9&hid=105&sid=932102f4-4429-47b7-ad58-c99f9506325d%40sessionmgr108 4. Sajovic, P. (2006). E-izobraževanje. Prevzeto Juny 2009 iz http://rc.fmf.uni- 5. Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills. (2009). Retrieved July 2009, from 6. Sulčič, V., & Lesjak, D. (2007). Uporaba e-učilnice v terciarnem izobraževanju: študija primera. Prevzeto July 2009 iz
  13. 13. 7. Thibodeau, K. (2007, April 20). Critical Competencies for Digital Curation: Perspectives from 30 Years in the Trenches and on the Mountain Top. Retrieved Juny 2009, from 8. Wechtersbach, R. (Junij 2009). Developing digital competence in Slovenian education. Pridobljeno iz WS/Vol-310/paper04.pdf 9. Wechtersbach, R. (2009, Januar). Digitalna kompetenca in njeno izgrajevanje. Retrieved Juny 2009, from article/view/920/784