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The project assessing and certifying the digital competences of more than 40,000 students across Europe

  Foto:   UOC

Foto: UOC

Anna Snchez-Jurez
Almost 270 schools in Spain are participating in pilot tests aimed at boosting digital skills among primary and secondary school students.

A total of 42,636 students and 2,389 primary and secondary teachers from 545 schools across Europe are participating in pilot tests led by European Commission project CRISS. In Spain, 264 schools joined the initiative, which aims to contribute to the development, assessment and certification of digital competence in all European schools. The CRISS consortium was created to spearhead the initiative, and comprises 15 institutions. The five Spanish partners are the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC); Documenta Creaciones Multimedia Avanzadas S.L. (MyDocumenta); the Regional Government of Andalusia’s Sociedad Andaluza para el Desarrollo de las Telecomunicaciones S.A. (SANDETEL); the Government of Navarra, and the Escola Pia de Catalunya.

In 2013, the European Commission declared digital competence one of the eight key competences that every young person should develop before finishing compulsory education. The goal is to aid young people’s entrance into the workforce without risk of exclusion. Most schools today are still in need of integrating and innovative methodologies to guide them, providing criteria and indicators to facilitate the assessment and certification of students’ digital competence. "After developing a conceptual framework based on the European Digital Competence Framework (otherwise known as DigComp) and a methodology for assessing competence, the CRISS project is now able to offer an innovative educational ecosystem that helps to integrate digital competence into the school curriculum and assess it in an interdisciplinary way", explained Lourdes Gurdia, professor at the UOC’s Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences.

Financed by the European Commission with a budget of 4,872,336 euros, the initiative has worked with MyDocumenta to design a platform that offers a digital portfolio of ICT tools for assessing students’ acquisition of digital competence. The platform provides a number of learning scenarios that students and teachers alike have been able to experience since the end of last year. Students, who access the platform via the internet, can work on their digital skills in the classroom or at home for curricular courses such as geography, history, computer science, mathematics, art and social sciences. "Digital competence is necessary across a wide variety of fields, so it should not be fostered solely in computer science classes. It can be blended into a history class, for instance, where students could be asked to write a news article or create a newspaper by compiling information from the internet and looking through social networks", said Carles Fornas, teacher at the Pia Balmes School.

"Digital literacy is a key, cross-cutting competence in the world of work. It goes beyond accessing and employing ICT and is related to people's abilities with and attitudes towards technologies. Students must be educated at school and become digitally competent. And this doesn’t only mean using tools and apps. It involves handling and organizing information (finding it, contrasting it and choosing it), creating a personal work environment, communicating and collaborating with a diverse range of people, protecting one’s digital identity and acting civically", said Elena Oss, coordinator of the CRISS project in Navarra.



"The Eportfolio ecosystem allows students to have a profile on which they can gather and present academic results, proof of what they have learned (publication of results and samples of completed activities), their preferences, and their activities and social interests within the domain of digital competence, among other aspects", explained the founders of the company MyDocumenta, Cristina Casanova and Andrea Contino. The online environment allows teachers to choose between different learning scenarios, which offer activities and practical experience related to different school courses that can be carried out inside or outside of the classroom. "Teachers can decide how much time they want to invest in each scenario, meaning they can adapt the proposal according to the educational needs of their classes, and never the other way around", they added.

Students that pass the programmed activities obtain a certification of digital competence from the CRISS consortium. The document recognizes that students have the necessary skills to make the transition to university or join the workforce.


Successful participation in Spain

In Spain, 34,975 students and 1,329 primary and secondary teachers are taking part in the CRISS experience. The initial pilot tests last anywhere from six to eight months, ending together with the school year in June. A total of 264 schools have joined in: 183 from Andalusia, 34 from Catalonia, 24 from Navarra, six from the Basque Country, five from Extremadura, two from Valencia, two from the Balearic Islands, two from Murcia, two from Galicia, two from Asturias, one from Castile and Leon and one from Madrid.


Advanced methodology and technology

The platform, which is accessed via the internet, keeps information updated at all times thanks to a permanent connection to the cloud. Its structure allows the collection and presentation of samples as proof of learning, permanent dialogue between teachers and students, as well as monitoring, assessment and certification. The environment also contains flexible learning scenarios, with activities aimed at increasing student motivation and improving the results of their studies. Overall, the infrastructure allows for education that is adapted to the needs of students and schools.

With the pilot tests, and in typical learning conditions, it is possible to see how the system responds and to identify strategies to scale this technology to any school and for the development, assessment and certification of any other cross-curricular competence. The aim is for the platform to adapt to the size of any school and be compatible with its technological infrastructure.

"In order to optimize the educational experience, teachers and schools participating in the CRISS project have received prior online training on the theoretical framework of digital competence and the use of the CRISS platform, through a MOOC", said SANDETEL’s Consulting and Corporate Development Director, Fernando Cornello. Since 2018, the MOOC has been carried out three times: October-November, December-January and February-March. "The course has been offered through a training platform for teachers of Andalusia’s Ministry of Education", he added. If a doubt arises during the pilot test, teachers can rely on a support service via chat and email throughout the process.


The consortium

Apart from the five Spanish institutions, the European organizations that are part of the consortium are EXUS Software LTD (United Kingdom) at the project’s helm; EDUCATION4SIGHT GmbH (Germany); Diginext SARL (France); the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Organization and Informatics (Croatia); the Hlsingland Education Association (Sweden); the Regional Directorate of Primary and Secondary Education of Crete (Greece); the Croatian Academic and Research Network, CARNET (Croatia); the Hallgarten-Franchetti Center for Studies Villa Montesca (Italy); Arad County School Inspectorate; and UCL Knowledge Lab, University College London (United Kingdom).

After completing the pilot tests and analysing the data confidentially, the results of the project will be published by the end of 2019.


* This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 732489.



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