The study demonstrates the need to develop a digital technologies training plan that is adapted to the needs of social education professionals and advantageous to their work with young people. (Photo: Creative Christians, Unsplash)
Joan Antoni Guerrero
A survey shows that educators have limited knowledge of digital skills
The results also point to an interest among educators in incorporating digital tools into their daily work
The pandemic has accelerated the use of digital tools in most professional fields, including social education. In this field, the digital element has become important for working with young people, with what had previously been just an option becoming a necessity due to the health crisis.
An interdisciplinary study from the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), developed by researchers from the Learning, Media and Entertainment research group (GAME) and the Laboratory of Social Education (LES) – and which is part of an ongoing PhD thesis within the Doctoral Programme in Humanities and Communication– has recently highlighted the level of social education professionals' digital training and competencies. Its authors are Pedro Fernández de Castro, Eva Bretones, Jordi Solé and Víctor Sampedro. The study is part of the R&D project "EsDigital: Digital Social Education", from the state programme for the generation of knowledge and scientific and technological strengthening of the Ministry of Science and Innovation's RDI system.
The study, titled Educación social digital: una exploración de la formación y las competencias digitales de los profesionales de la educación social (Digital Social Education: an exploration of the training and digital competencies of social education professionals), includes a survey carried out among 150 social educators in Spain (7 out of 10 of whom were women), which provides data clarifying the current situation. The results, published in the International Technology Science and Society Review this year, cannot be extrapolated to a general level, but they show a trend and pattern in this area.
The data show that most of the respondents are inclined towards using technologies and that they have a basic level of competency with digital tools. This includes, for example, using content management platforms to produce multimedia publications, recording, editing, and uploading content to digital platforms and sharing and distributing content over networks. On the other hand, they admit that they have fewer critical digital competencies, which means knowing about the basic features of digital services, about the use of personal details by companies and the current legislation relating to the internet and digital technologies, among other aspects.
More than half of respondents, 53.1%, say they have received digital training. However, a large majority say that they were was self-taught. The other means of acquiring competencies have been through family and friends, professional activities, the educational system and academies. For the authors of the study, the results of the survey reinforce the need to develop "a training plan for digital technologies adapted to the needs of social education professionals," in line with what has already been done in the UOC 's Bachelor's Degree in Social Education.
The study indicates that the results "point to a predisposition" among these professionals "to acquire the digital competencies necessary to incorporate digital technologies into their professional practice". According to the survey, when professionals do incorporate the tools, they do so because there is a daily use, both personally and professionally, and it is a self-taught effort. For this reason, they also value the training they receive in the workplace.
In summary, the study shows that surveyed professionals have a limited command of digital competencies. Although they handle technological devices, tools and services, they are limited when it comes to incorporating them into their professional practice. Consequently, the authors of the study believe that this is "an incentive for the development of training schemes in digital technologies in the field of social education, especially those that promote outreach to young people and their civic participation".
In fact, the initial hypothesis of the research project is based on the assumption that certain uses of the internet and digital media could enhance active citizenship and the political participation of young people. To that end, the authors of the study consider it necessary to develop frameworks and tools to understand and use ICT critically through participation in its design and implementation. The study aims to "explore the role and opportunities for social education in the use of the internet and digital technologies among young people and, more specifically, in the development of their digital competency to stimulate active citizenship".
This UOC research supports Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, Quality Education
Fernández-de-Castro, P., Bretones, E., Solé, J., & Sampedro, V. (2022). "Digital Social Education: An Exploration of the Training and Digital Competencies of Social Education Professionals". TECHNO REVIEW. International Technology, Science and Society Review, 11(1), 13–27. https://doi.org/10.37467/gkarevtechno.v11.3113
The UOC's research and innovation (R&I) is helping overcome pressing challenges faced by global societies in the 21st century, by studying interactions between technology and human & social sciences with a specific focus on the network society, e-learning and e-health.
The United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and open knowledge serve as strategic pillars for the UOC's teaching, research and innovation. More information: research.uoc.edu #UOC25years
Pedro Fernández de Castro
Phd student in e-Learning at the UOC
Jordi Solé Blanch
Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences