ECDL Foundation Launches New Position Paper on Computing and Digital Literacy in Schools at Event in European Parliament

Speakers and participants at the e-Skills at School EventECDL Foundation launched its newest position paper this week, dealing with the issue of e-skills at school. The paper, titled, ‘Computing and Digital Literacy: Call for a Holistic Approach’, explores the different approaches to teaching computing and digital literacy in schools, recommending that all students should have the opportunity to learn the basics of computing, including coding, in addition to digital literacy skills.

The paper has been launched in the context of EU Code Week, and the wider debate around coding in schools, but calls for a balanced and holistic approach, arguing that computing education in schools should not become fixated on coding. The launch took place during an event at the European Parliament, hosted by Catherine Stihler MEP, with contributions from Fiona Fanning, of ECDL Foundation, and Miles Berry, of the UK organisation, Computing in Schools.

Quote by Miles Berry

During the event, Miles Berry, who has extensive experience of computing education as a former school head-teacher in the UK and a current principal lecturer at Roehampton University, as well as being a member of the management board of Computing in Schools, gave an insight into the way that the computing curriculum in England has evolved. As is discussed in more detail in the position paper, the English approach has been to ensure that there is both teaching of computer science and digital literacy. Miles Berry said, “It would be wrong to see England’s Computing curriculum as being just about coding, or even just about computer science – it’s much more inclusive than that. As Britain’s Royal Society recommended, our curriculum now includes elements of computer science, information technology and digital literacy.”

Fiona Fanning, EU Affairs Manager of ECDL Foundation presented the position paper, highlighting its key message that a holistic approach to computing and digital literacy in schools is essential to preparing students for future study and the workforce.

Catherine Stihler MEP moderated the event, giving her insight to the issue from a policy-maker’s perspective, saying, “We, as politicians, have a moral responsibility to ensure access to digital skills education.” Participants, including MEPs, staff from several departments of the European Commission, and representatives of organisations and institutions including the European Economic and Social Committee, DigitalEurope and CEPIS, engaged in an informative discussion, raising a number of points regarding how e-skills can be taught in schools.

Quote by Catherine Stihler

Discussing the paper earlier, Damien O’Sullivan, CEO of ECDL Foundation said, “We need to see an approach to e-skills at school that ensures every student will become digitally literate and will also have the opportunity to explore computing and coding, which will deepen their understanding of digital technology. For some students, this approach will provide a clearer pathway to a career in ICT. For all other students, the approach will prepare them for a career using ICT. While some students are being provided with valuable learning opportunities in various areas of computing, there is much diversity in approach and inconsistency in availability across Europe. Our paper calls strongly for a standardised approach that makes sure that both computing and digital literacy are taught as significant areas of digital skills.”

The paper is available to download on our website at ecdl.org/eskillsatschool


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