Identifying, developing and attesting digital competencies requires the definition of a competence framework. Despite empirical validation, competence frameworks remain historically contingent and need to be adapted and reinvented as time evolves and societal needs change. Needless, to say that current societies demand digitally skilled citizens. But, also institutional contexts precondition definitions and value of competence. Thus, digital skills of higher education teachers had to be reframed according to current societal demands, pedagogic criteria, and institutional settings. Based on research, we developed a framework that is also informed by the institutional context of Swiss Distance University: exclusively blended learning conditions, students’ intersectional lifestyles, teaching staff’s poly-institutional commitment, and Swiss education landscape. These contexts defined our research methodology to develop a framework of professional competency reorganizing technology and digital skills within professional action fields. The research project includes four methodological steps:
- extensive empirical and theoretical literature survey,
- analysis of institutional practices,
- development of a new competence framework,
- and empirical validation.
Our literature survey showed that new technologies –the same as old ones– have to be pedagogically meaningful. Thus, digital skills for higher education teachers cannot be seen as a value for themselves and isolated from their teaching and learning potential. Also, higher education teachers’ profile is more complex than others due to their high professionalization level. Higher education teachers are engaged in multiple settings in which their professionalism plays a role. They are not only engaged in research and teaching, but also in management, non-institutional professional groups, community work, etc.
Inspired by other frameworks and institutional practices, we identified five domains of professional competence within which digital skills need to be identified, developed and attested:
- teaching and learning including evaluation,
- students empowerment,
- participating in research and education academic communities,
- institutional commitment,
- and professional commitment.
This framework is founded on a concept of profession that based from personal professional fields of action directed towards students, communities and oneself as professional. Such a framework allows higher education teachers’ self-positioning and institutions to develop pedagogical engineering settings, continuous development offers and comprehensive attesting of digital skills based on a concept of an institutional taxonomy of digital practices.
- Helfenberger, M., Durán Cuartero, M. & Prendes-Espinosa, P. (2019). Attesting and Certificating university teachers’ professional and digital competencies. Conference Proceedings, 25-35.
- Helfenberger, M. (2019). Towards a taxonomy of digital skills and competencies of university teachers – a guide for institutional accreditation practices. Conference Proceedings, 367-378.
also see Validaton of edumedia