Feedback on the European Commission's roadmap concerning the upcoming communication on the European Education Area - Feedback on the European Commission's roadmap concerning the upcoming communication on the European Education Area
CSC supports the Commission’s ambition to create a European Education Area (EEA) by 2025 with a horizontal approach, taking into account EEA’s contribution to Europe’s socially and environmentally sustainable growth as well as recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and future resilience. CSC is particularly pleased to note that EEA will continue to emphasise the importance of lifelong learning as the ongoing rapid technological and societal transformations increase the need for continuous competence development in a way that presents a major challenge to the European education and training systems.
EEA must be firmly linked to EU’s digital policies in order to ensure, on the one hand, that Europeans have the necessary skills and competences for the increasingly digitalised world. On the other hand, education and training systems must be empowered to fully exploit the opportunities of digitalisation. These opportunities can range from various tools, platforms and materials for digital teaching and learning to the creation of digital services for lifelong learning and international mobility or systematic data-based quality assessment of education and training providers.
COVID-19 pandemic has forced education and training systems to digitalise themselves very quickly. It is of utmost importance that the lessons learned from this development are analysed and best practices shared. Some tentative conclusions can be drawn from CSC’s preliminary analysis of the impact of the pandemic on the Finnish higher education institutions. The necessary service infrastructure in terms of network and applications for remote learning was scaled successfully but what is clearly needed in the future is stronger interoperability and collaboration between organisations, shared assessment practices and free flow of information and data.
Considering that future learning and teaching will most likely combine onsite and distance learning, efforts must be made to make sure that learning remains accessible for all and that adequate support services are available for learners and teachers using digital solutions. It must be kept in mind that digitalisation of education is a multidimensional phenomenon that extends far beyond the technological aspects. Digital education must therefore be developed with a strong pedagogical approach and according to the same principles and objectives as education in general. This entails paying due attention to questions related to equity, privacy and data protection. For example, learners need to have an opportunity to determine how their data is used, according to the MyData principles (mydata.org).
Open educational resources play a key role in ensuring that inclusive education and training can be provided for all learners. The quality and availability of educational resources must therefore be improved at a large scale. While there have been successful implementations by frontrunners, there is a need for a modern platform for sharing and utilising materials effectively and ways to encourage both teachers and institutions to share their work. Another issue to be considered is assessment and recognition of competence; both prior learning as well as what is learned during training. Reliable and legally sound methods of identification of learners and remote proctoring of exams need further development. At the same time, there is a need to develop ways to validly assess competence remotely. Exams may be the norm but they do not cover all areas of competence.
Because of the vast potential that digital solutions can offer to education, EEA and Digital Education Action Plan need to be developed in close convergence. In addition, it is important to create tighter linkages between research and education, which will strengthen the competence base and resilience by putting focus on the competence development of future researchers. This requires closer links between related European bodies and policies (EHEA, ERA, EEA).