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A framework for digital competences of lecturers

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Abstract

There is little consensus about the nature of lecturers' digital competencies in Higher education. Moreover, existing digital competence frameworks have largely been developed for teachers in secondary education. In response to this the current study focuses on developing and validating a framework of digital competences for lecturers in higher education. First, a review was conducted to determine the state of digital competence research regarding dimensions and definition of digital competence. In a next step, similarities and differences between existing digital competencies frameworks were identified. Based on the outcomes of the review and the frameworks comparison an initial framework was developed and validated through expert focus group discussions. Focus groups included policy makers, experts in the field of educational technology and practitioners. The new framework includes four dimensions of lecturers' digital competencies: 1) digital literacy, 2) designing, implementing and evaluating education, 3) equipping students for a digital society, and 4) professional learning. The resulting framework will provide guidance and clearer expectations of lecturers digital competency. Ultimately, improving lecturers’ digital competencies will contribute to improving the quality of digital competencies of the students.
A framework for digital
competences of lecturers
Facilitating professional
development of lecturers
Contents
1. Introduction 5
1.1 Background 5
1.2 Research design 6
2. The framework and the competences 11
2.1 Designing, implementing and evaluating education 12
Designing and implementing (innovative) education with IT 16
Facilitating and monitoring learning 17
Evaluating and modifying education 17
2.2 Empowering students for a digital society 18
Digital literacy for living, learning and working 21
Digital literacy for the profession/discipline 22
2.3 Professional conduct as an lecturer 22
The learning professional 25
Innovation with IT 25
Communication and collaboration 26
2.4 Digital literacy for lecturers 26
Basic IT competences 28
Information, data and media literacy 28
Computational thinking 28
3. In conclusion 29
References 31
Appendix 1 Consulted experts 36
 Expertsintheeld 36
Policymakers 36
The supervisory committee 37
Appendix 2 Comparison between this framework
and existing frameworks 38
3
Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
A framework for digital competences
of lecturers
Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
Zone Professional development
www.versnellingsplan.nl
iXperium/Centre of Expertise
Dana Uerz
Manon van Zanten
Marijke Kral
Pierre Gorissen
IVA Onderwijs
Irma van der Neut
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Jo Tondeur
Ulrike Nackaerts
University of Wollongong
Sarah Howard
September 2021
Published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.
Parts of this publication may be reproduced, providing the source is stated in
the form: Uerz, D., van Zanten, M., van der Neut, I., Tondeur, J., Kral, M., Gorissen,
P. & Howard, S. (2021). A digital competences framework for lecturers in higher
education. Utrecht: Acceleration plan Educational innovation with IT.
4 5
Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
4
1. Introduction
1.1 Background
The opportunities provided by IT are growing at an unprecedented rate. The challenge
faced by the education sector is to make good use of these opportunities. IT can be a
powerful tool for improving both the quality of education and student success. It can
enable student-centred and experiential learning, and can help to involve students more
in their learning process and improve their learning outcomes. However, as the Dutch
Education Council describes in its recommendations1, achieving ‘thoughtful digitalisation’
will be no easy task as it requires combining the right knowledge and support. Whether
or not digitalisation will improve the quality of education and students’ learning outcomes
will depend very much on the transformative power of educational institutions and the
abilities of lecturers to thoughtfully redesign their teaching using IT.
The digitalisation of education has increased in momentum since early 2020, due to the
lockdown measures taken in the Netherlands to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Universities have had to make the transition from largely physical teaching to fulltime online
teaching, and lecturers and students have had both positive and negative experiences
with various forms of online learning and supervision. It is yet to be seen whether, and
how, these experiences can be used to help improve the quality of education through a
mix of online and physical teaching. What is clear, however, is that educational innovation
that makes use of IT will continue to be urgently required in higher education, also once
the coronavirus pandemic is over2. Which competences, therefore, do lecturers in higher
education need if they are to achieve the required innovation using IT? Although much
research has been carried out into digital competences for lecturers in various sectors, an
overview of the competences required to achieve educational innovation with IT in higher
education has not yet been made.
Exploiting the opportunities the opportunities that digitalisation offers for higher education
and identifying what this requires of lecturers and universities are the main objectives of
the Acceleration Plan.
The Acceleration Plan is a collaboration between Universities of the Netherlands, The
Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences and SURF. The following
three ambitions for digital education are central to the Acceleration Plan:
A framework for digital competences of lecturers
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Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
1. better alignment with the job market;
2.moreexibleeducation;
3. smarter and better learning using technology.
The Facilitating Professional Development for Lecturers zone of the Acceleration Plan
(hereinafter: Professional Development zone) researches and develops strategies that can
be implemented by universities for the effective professional development of their staff
in the area of educational innovation with IT. Based on the professionalisation strategies
developed by the zone, universities can put in place an improvement trajectory to accel-
erate educational innovation with IT within their institutions. One of the questions often
asked by participating universities is whether, and if so how, digital education competences
can be incorporated into existing professional development plans, such as the basic
qualicationofteachingcompetence(BDB)orthebasicteachingqualication(BKO).To
answerthisquestion,itisrstnecessarytodeterminewhichcompetencesarespecically
required for lecturers in higher education in the area of educational innovation with IT.
To do this, the Professional Development zone has commissioned a review of the literature
and existing frameworks for digital competences of lecturers, to develop a common
competence framework for lecturers for the Dutch higher education sector that focuses
on educational innovation with IT. This literature review focused on the following questions:
· Whichcomponentsofadigitalcompetencyframeworkforlecturerscanbeidentiedin
the academic literature and educational practice?
· Whichcompetencescanbeidentiedinthisframework?
· Do differences exist between universities of applied sciences (HBO) and other
universities (WO)?
1.2 Research design
Four research tools were applied to answer these questions: a literature review, a comparison
of existing competence frameworks, interviews with experts and policy makers, and vali-
dation sessions.
The literature review was carried out in December 2020 using the Web of Science data base,
following guidelines provided by Petticrew and Roberts3, and Pascoe, Waterhouse-Bradley
and McGinn4. Only English-language, peer-reviewed articles written after 2010 were included
in the literature review.
Various search terms were used relating to three domains: IT, higher education and com-
petences for lecturers. These search terms resulted in 122 articles that met the criteria and
contained search terms from all three domains. Following further analysis, 21 articles were
found to match the search criteria. The articles that were excluded from the review were
either not relevant to higher education or focused on the level of lecturers’ digital compe-
tences, without describing what exactly the competences were. Using the 21 articles, an
overviewwasproducedofthecontext,theresearchaim,themainresultsandtheidentied
digital competences.
An inventory was made of existing frameworks relating to digital education, education
and IT and higher education. The components of these frameworks were analysed (e.g.
criteria, target group, dimensions and competences). The following frameworks were
included in the comparison (see framework reference list):
· The Digital Competence Framework for Educators (DigCompEdu)a,b;
· Competence framework teaching and learning with ICT (Competentieset Leren
en Lesgeven met ICT;
· The Digital Teaching Professional Framework (The Education and Training Foundation);
· JISCTeacherprole(highereducation);
· ISTE Standards for Lecturers;
· UNESCO ICT Competence Framework for Teachers.
The results of the literature review and the framework comparison were combined to
developarstmodeloflecturers’competences.Thismodelwasbasedonthefollowing
criteria(asdenedbytheProfessionalDevelopmentzone):
· The main theme is educational innovation with IT and the context is higher education.
· Thereisaspecicfocusonexibleandpersonalisededucation.
· Thereisaspecicfocusonimprovedalignmentwiththejobmarket.
· Thereisaspecicfocusondifferentlearningenvironments(e.g.physical,onlineand
workplace).
· Thereisaspecicfocusonempoweringstudentsforadigitalsocietyandtherelevant
job market.
· This includes a focus on digital competences for learning, living and working.
· Thereisaspecicfocusonaccessibilitytohighereducation(inclusion).
a DigComp2.1 was considered from the perspective of the digital literacy of students,
as part of the ‘equipping students for a digital society’ dimension.
b DigComp2.2, which is yet to be published, was checked for additional information
but did not result in changes to this framework.
A framework for digital competences of lecturers
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Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
· Thecompetenceprolemustberelevanttoandpossibletoimplementineducation
practice.
· Thecompetenceprolemustbeclearandconsistofalimitednumberofmain
dimensions, subdimensions and competences.
This draft model was presented to experts and policymakers (see Appendix 1), who pro-
vided feedback based on their expertise and on supplementary literature. This feedback
was subsequently incorporated into the research. In a series of discussions, the model
wasfurtherrenedbasedontheliterature,theframeworkcomparisonandexpertinput,
resulting in a comprehensive framework with main dimensions and subdimensions and
the underlying competences.
Finally, this framework was presented to lecturers and IT experts in education in a number
of validation sessions, to explore the relevance and usability of the framework and to
identify any differences between and within the universities. Where necessary, the compe-
tences were reworded based on feedback provided in these sessions. While the structure
of the framework did not change, the sessions did produce recommendations for the
practical implementation of the framework.
Intheremainderofthisreport,wediscussthenaldigitalcompetencesframeworkfor
lecturers in higher education.
Achtergrond
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Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
2 The framework and the competences
The framework for digital competences of lecturers in higher education consists of four
main dimensions that are further divided into subdimensions and underlying compe-
tences. The four main dimensions are: designing, implementing and evaluating education;
empowering students for a digital society; professional conduct as a lecturer; and digital
literacy for lecturers (see Figure 1). These four dimensions are not separate entities, but are
related to one another. For example, digital literacy for lecturers is a prerequisite for lecturers
to be able and willing to design and implement innovative digital education. The digital
literacy of lecturers is also related to the future skills of students in the digital society. After
all, lecturers need to be digitally literate if they are to teach students digital literacy for living,
learning and working5. A willingness to keep abreast of new technological developments in
theprofession/disciplineisimportantbothforlecturersandstudents,andisreectedin
two dimensions of the framework (‘professional conduct as a lecturer’ and ‘empowering
students for a digital society’).
One of the unique aspects of this framework is the explicit link made to the student’s
profession/discipline, as this is not always considered in existing frameworks (see Appendix 2).
This link is mainly seen in the ‘empowering students for a digital society’ dimension, which
considers not just digital literacy for living and learning, as do existing frameworks, but also
focuses on digital literacy for working.
The framework and competences are formulated in a way that is relevant to and
applicable in all universities, as well as a wide range of sectors and disciplines. Furthermore,
theframeworkdoesnotnamespecicITapplications,toensurecontinuedrelevance.
This is what experts say about the framework in general:
The experts recommend that the competences are aligned with the tasks of lecturers
wherever possible, to increase the relevance and usability of the framework for
lecturers. Furthermore, it is important that lecturers develop competences in the
context of their teaching activities..
In the remainder of this chapter, we discuss the four main framework dimensions.
In each section, we describe a dimension based on the literature, supplemented where
necessary with expert input and points that arose during the comparison of the existing
Designing,
implementing
and evaluating
education
Empowering
students for a
digital society
Digital literacy
for lecturers
Professional
conduct as
a lecturer
Designing and implementing
innovative education with IT
Facilitating and monitoring learning
Evaluating and modifying
education
Digital literacy for living,
learning and working
Digital literacy for the
profession/discipline
Basic IT competences
Information, data and
media literacy
Computational thinking
The learning professional
Innovation with IT
Communication and
collaboration
Figure 1 A digital competences framework for lecturers in higher education
A framework for digital competences of lecturers
12 13
Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
frameworks. We also discuss the subdimensions and underlying competences. A table is
presented in Appendix 2 of the comparison between this framework and existing frame-
works.
2.1 Designing, implementing and evaluating education
This rst dimension of the framework concerns the competences that are required by
lecturers to design, implement and evaluate education. The redesign of education using
IT requires specic competences of lecturers, especially when this also involves redesigning
the lecturer’s own teaching practice to achieve more exible education that better reects
the needs of students and is more aligned with the job market6. The literature emphasises
that, in the context of educational innovation, it is very important for lecturers to be able
to clearly justify how and why they want to implement IT in a specic context and for a
specic target group, while ensuring alignment between learning objectives, learning
activities, learning resources and assessment7. However, they can only do this if they follow
the design process, which is to design, implement and evaluate the education8.
This is what the experts say about designing education:
DThe design process should be recognisable in the framework, for example
based on the ADDIE (analyse, design, develop, implement and evaluate) model.
The experts also emphasise the importance of constructive alignment in instructional
design, and urge the use of a broad denition of constructive alignment. A narrow
denition is often used in higher education, where constructive alignment is taken
to mean alignment between learning objectives, learning activities and assessment,
in agreement with Biggs9. However, a broader denition is applied in other education
sectors, where it is taken to refer, at a minimum, to alignment between educational
vision, teaching content, learning objectives, learning activities, learning resources
(including IT tools) and assessment.
The literature pays a lot of attention to lecturers’ abilities to design and implement inno-
vative education with IT, and various studies highlight the importance of designing higher
education teaching programmes with a high IT component10-14. While education is the
perfect setting for ensuring that all students have the necessary digital skills for our infor-
mation, or knowledge, society, IT can also be important for education itself. It can be used
to support existing learning processes, but it also acts as a catalyst for the design and
implementation of new forms of learning and education.
The literature also states that it is not only important for lecturers to be able to create
new digital educational resources, but also to be able to modify and reorganise existing
resources11,15,16. Furthermore, lecturers must also take the needs of students into account
when designing and implementing education6,11,17,18,toensuremoreexibleandpersonalised
learning and greater student self-regulation in higher education.
As the literature shows, there are still many challenges when it comes to the competences
of lecturers if we are to achieve a ‘thoughtful’ blend of learning. Wu, Hu, Gu and Lim19 state
that lecturers in higher education need to know how to design and implement an online
course in a blended context. To do this, they need to know the correct pedagogical
approaches for blended learning. After all, didactics are even more important in the online
context than in the classroom20. Experiences during the coronavirus pandemic show that
many lecturers and universities have faced problems with the mix of online and face-to-face
learning21,22. As these problems make clear, a continued focus is required on the opportunities
provided by blended learning.
Onderwijs
ontwerpen,
uitvoeren
en evalueren
Studenten
toerusten
voor de digitale
samenleving
Professioneel
handelen
als docent
Digitale
geletterdheid
van de docent
Ontwerpen en
uitvoeren van (innovatief)
onderwijs met ICT
Faciliteren en
monitoren van leren
Evalueren en bijstellen
van onderwijs
Digitale geletterdheid
voor leven, leren en werken
Digitale geletterdheid
voor het beroepsdomein/
vakgebied waarvoor
wordt opgeleid
ICT-basisbekwaamheid
Informatie-, data- en
mediageletterdheid
Computational thinking
Lerende professional
Innoveren met ICT
Communiceren en
samenwerken
A framework for digital competences of lecturers
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Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
This is what the experts say about competences for designing
and implementing digital education:
Lecturers in higher education must be able to teach in a variety of learning
environments: not just online and face-to-face, but also combined with learning
in the workplace.
‘Implementing education’ should also take into account the various roles of lecturers
in the light of future developments. Student learning takes place in various settings:
physical, online and in the workplace, which has implications for the roles of lecturers,
who may take on a more coaching role. New forms of education, such as challenge -
based learning, also require a new role for lecturers.
When designing and implementing education, lecturers must also take into account
student well-being and social inclusion. This is an aspect that receives very little attention
in the literature on lecturers’ digital education competences, but is mentioned in several
frameworks(seeAppendix2).Lecturersneedtobeabletoassesstherisksandbenets
of using IT in education with regards to student well-being, and react accordingly (The
Digital Teaching Professional Framework). Lecturers should also ensure the accessibility
of digital education (JISC), taking into account possible differences between students
(DigCompEdu). Recent experiences with online teaching during the coronavirus pandemic
highlight how important it is to pay attention to student well-being. Lecturers report that
theynditdifculttorespondtonon-verbalsignalsfromstudentswhenteachingonline,
and that the interaction with students is not as good as in a face-to-face context21,23.
When using IT to facilitate and monitor student learning, lecturers make conscious use of
the possibilities offered by IT to improve or support student learning11,24-26. Their teaching
needs to be aligned with the needs of students24,27 and with the teaching objectives18,27,
so that lecturers can improve student self-regulation11, collaborative learning13 and active
learning17.
This is what the experts say about designing innovative digital
education:
Regarding lecturers’ competences for designing innovative digital education
and developing more exible and personalised teaching, the experts point out that
lecturers are largely dependent on university policy. For example, lecturers can only
implement personalised curriculums if this is supported by the university. Lecturers
can however be expected to evaluate the possibilities within a certain context and
identify what they need to provide the required teaching.
Lecturers also need to be able to implement IT for student assessment, and several studies
refer to assessment strategies that lecturers can develop using IT11,14. This can increase
the diversity and effectiveness of assessment strategies, which can be better adapted to
the individual student18. For example, lecturers can use combinations of summative and
formative assessment, and can give feedback or encourage peer review28,29. The data that
is generated by the various systems can be used to analyse and optimise the learning pro-
cess (learning analytics)10,30. A review by Viberg et al.29 shows that there is much potential
for using and analysing this data to improve the learning process, but that this rarely takes
place in practice.
This is what the experts say about competences for facilitating
and monitoring learning:
Assessment should be an integral part of education (e.g. formative assessment,
assessment as input for differentiation). Assessment can also be used to evaluate
education (e.g. using test results to evaluate teaching, possibly supported by IT).
A framework for digital competences of lecturers
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Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
As well as assessing students’ learning processes, lecturers need also be able to evaluate
the instructional design using IT, and modify their teaching based on this. To do this,
lecturers can use data from IT systems and digital learning resources31. Lecturers should
alsobeabletoreectontheirowndigitalpedagogy7,32,33 and, based on this, design and
implement improvements to their teaching31.Inadditiontoreectingontheirownteaching
practice,lecturersshouldalsobeabletoreectonthebenetsofITfortheeducational
process, and in particular the suitability of IT for improving student learning. They should
then use this to modify their use of IT10,34,35.
This is what the experts say about competences for evaluating
digital education:
When developing digital education, it is important to evaluate the educational
design and implementation and modify these if required. It is also important to
collect data on the effectiveness of the teaching. Research skills are therefore
an important competence.
The experts also emphasise the importance of weighing up the benets of IT,
as well as the presumed benets of implementing the IT tools. It is important that
lecturers are able to evaluate and justify whether and how these benets are
realised in their teaching practice.
Based on the above, we have developed the following lecturers’ competences for the
‘designing, implementing and evaluating education’ dimension. Appendix 2 provides an
overview of other frameworks that also include this dimension.
Designing and implementing digital education
The lecturer…
1. is able to design innovative education that is consistent with the lecturer’s own
concept of teaching and learning using IT and with the institution’s educational vision;
2. is able to design and implement innovative education that makes use of IT to improve
students’ ownership of their learning process and respond to the individual needs
of students;
3. knows how to support, combine and coordinate the learning process in a variety of
learning environments (e.g. face-to-face, online and in the workplace);
4. is able to take the well-being of students and inclusion into account in digital learning
processes;
5. is able to select, modify, organise and create digital resources and learning materials.
Facilitating and monitoring learning
The lecturer…
1. is able to monitor and support the students’ learning process using formative and
summative assessment, making effective use of IT;
2. is able to use IT to collect, analyse and report on student data, to understand and
improve the students’ learning process;
3. is able to use IT to provide timely and personalised supervision and support.
Evaluating and modifying education
The lecturer…
1. is able to evaluate and optimise their design for innovative education, making effective
use of IT;
2.isabletoreectonthebenetsofimplementingITineducationalprocessesand
modify its use accordingly;
3. is able to consider their own digital pedagogical-didactic conduct and adapt this
to individual, institutional and societal needs.
A framework for digital competences of lecturers
Onderwijs
ontwerpen,
uitvoeren
en evalueren
Studenten
toerusten
voor de digitale
samenleving
Professioneel
handelen
als docent
Digitale
geletterdheid
van de docent
Ontwerpen en
uitvoeren van (innovatief)
onderwijs met ICT
Faciliteren en
monitoren van leren
Evalueren en bijstellen
van onderwijs
Digitale geletterdheid
voor leven, leren en werken
Digitale geletterdheid
voor het beroepsdomein/
vakgebied waarvoor
wordt opgeleid
ICT-basisbekwaamheid
Informatie-, data- en
mediageletterdheid
Computational thinking
Lerende professional
Innoveren met ICT
Communiceren en
samenwerken
18 19
Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
2.2 Empowering students for a digital society
The second dimension in the framework concerns empowering students for living, learning
and working in a digital society. The rapid changes taking place in society and the job market,
and the accompanying technological developments, require students to acquire new IT
competences, both as citizens and as future employees36,37. Developing the digital literacy
of students is one of the ambitions of the Acceleration Zone, and is being worked on in the
Strengthening Digital Human Capital zone.
This is what the experts say about empowering students for a digital
society:
The experts believe that ‘empowering students for a digital society’ should be included
as a separate competence domain in the framework. However, not all lecturers are
aware of the need to train students in digital literacy, for example to equip them for
lifelong learning, employability and participation in society. Although some people
believe that students are sufciently digitally literate, and that it is the lecturers who
can learn from the students, research shows that there are large differences in digital
literacy between students.
The experts believe that it is important to identify which aspects can be inuenced
by lecturers, and which cannot. What, therefore, is the task of individual lecturers,
and what is the responsibility of the team or the university as a whole? When applying
the framework, the experts recommend distinguishing between the micro, meso
and macro levels of the competences in this dimension.
Much attention is paid in the literature to the importance of developing the digital literacy
of students for living, learning and working, and the role that lecturers in higher education
can play in this. Lecturers need to create and implement learning activities that enable
students to develop information, media and data literacy and computational thinking11,38-41.
Thesecouldbeactivitiesthatrequirestudentstondinformationandlearningresources
online and analyse and interpret the information and evaluate its reliability. They could
also be activities that encourage students to create their own content or use IT to collabo-
rate and communicate with others or solve problems using IT tools. Students should learn
thesafeandresponsibleuseofIT,thebenetsandrisksoftheinternetandsocialmedia,
and the rules and regulations governing copyright and the reuse of digital content5,42.
This is what the experts say about competences for digital literacy
for living, learning and working:
The experts recommend that attention is paid to the ethical aspects and the
normativity of IT, as lecturers are continuously faced with issues such as constant
availability, whether or not to switch the camera on, and so on. This also concerns
the ‘dark side’ of the internet: weighing up the benets of using IT versus the impact
that it has on our private lives, the misuse that can be made of learning analytics,
the implications of algorithms, and the privacy issues associated with big data.
Students need to be able to learn how to regulate their own learning process43, for example
using IT tools to plan, follow, evaluate and record their learning process. Students also
need to know how to make effective and responsible use of learning analytics, and to
have the necessary self-regulation skills to be able to learn in a blended learning environ-
ment44. They need to be able to set goals, structure their learning environment, develop
strategies, manage their time, seek help and evaluate their learning process.
A framework for digital competences of lecturers
20 21
Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
Research shows that there are large differences in the digital literacy of students,
particularly when it comes to using IT in their own learning process21,45. Lecturers should
be aware of these differences and design the learning process so that students are able
to develop these skills11,38-41.
Lecturers in higher education can be expected to contribute to the digital literacy of students
forliving,learningandworking.Thismeanstheyshouldalsofocusonthespecicdigitalskills
that students will need in their profession or discipline. Professions and professional activities
will of course change with the further digitalisation of society, which means that future
professionals will need to be able to develop the necessary competences to continue to
train and retrain throughout their careers37. More attention should therefore be paid in
highereducationtothespecicdigitalandsoftskillsrequiredinaparticulardiscipline37.
This is what the experts say about digital literacy for the profession/
discipline:
The experts recommend making a distinction between generic digital literacy and
digital literacy specic to a profession/discipline, which must be included in this
framework. This currently receives insufcient attention in higher education although,
according to the experts, it is crucial for ensuring alignment between education and
the job market. As it also receives less attention in most of the other frameworks,
this framework can distinguish itself in this area.
The IT tools that students should be familiar with and capable of using vary widely, depend-
ing on the profession/discipline. Furthermore, IT tools undergo continuous development37.
Taking into account the usability and durability of the competences framework for lecturers,
we focus here on the more general meta-cognitive skills that lecturers should be teaching
students. For example, lecturers should support students in learning how IT tools are used
in the profession/discipline, and teach them to critically assess the suitability of IT tools
for the profession/discipline. The lecturer must be able to design learning activities that
achieve these learning objectives, and Diaconu et al.38 state that lecturers should align
their use of IT with the future job market of their students. Because of the rapid changes
taking place in society, the Digital Teaching Professional Framework also stresses the
importance of empowering students with the competences that they need for continued
employability35,37.
This is what the experts say about competences for digital literacy
for the profession/discipline:
Regarding the use of IT tools, the role of the student is often overly passive. Rather,
university students should be expected to lead the way in the use of IT tools, to be
able to distinguish useful from less useful tools, and to be able to creatively combine
and modify IT tools, contributing to the development of the tools for the profession/
discipline. This also concerns an effective component and attitude: encouraging
a willingness among students to be an expert in and continue to develop their IT
skills, which is crucial for their future employability.
Based on the above, we have developed the following lecturers’ competences within the
‘empowering students for a digital society’ dimension. Appendix 2 provides an overview of
other frameworks that include this dimension.
Digital literacy for living, learning and working
The lecturer…
1. is able to develop and implement learning activities to teach students digital literacy;
2. is able to guide students in making rational use of the internet and social media;
3. is able to teach students to effectively manage and protect personal data and learning
analytics;
4. is able to guide students in the regulation and monitoring of their own learning process
using IT.
Digital literacy for the profession/discipline
The lecturer…
1. is able to ensure that students are familiar with new technological developments in
the profession/discipline;
2. is able to encourage students to actively contribute to technological innovations within
the profession/discipline;
3. is able to help develop the digital communication skills of students to ensure continued
employability.
A framework for digital competences of lecturers
22 23
Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
2.3 Professional engagement as a lecturer
To be able to design, implement and evaluate innovative education for more personalised
and exible teaching6, lecturers need to continue to develop professionally16. Learning
and innovation competences are important explanatory factors for the ability to develop
education46, and these competences are therefore part of the professional skill set of
lecturers47,48. The ability to keep up with technological developments both in society and
in the relevant profession/discipline requires an inquisitive attitude and a readiness to
share and collaborate with others. An ability to reect on the own professional engagement
and the role of IT in education are also essential components of this49.
The competences of the lecturer as a learning professional are often included in the
‘professional conduct as a lecturer’ dimension. The professional development of lecturers
is therefore an important requirement for educational innovation50. Lecturers need to
beabletocontinuetodevelopprofessionallyinamannerthatreectstheeducational
context and their own professional identity48. This starts with a vision: lecturers should
develop their own vision on digital education, and stand behind this vision in order for it
to be expressed in their teaching51. It is also important that lecturers work together with
colleaguestodevelopashared,wellthoughtoutvisionandknowledgebasethatreect
the vision of the team, the degree programme and the university. For Almerich et al.,10 this
also means that lecturers should take part in research projects that focus on digital educa-
tion.Lecturersthereforeneedtohaveaninquisitiveandreectiveattitude,applyscientic
knowledgetotheirownteachingcontext,andreectontheimpactofinnovationonthe
learning process.
This is what the experts say about competences for the learning
professional:
Learning professionals should actively keep themselves informed of developments
in IT in education, both in research and in practice, and familiarise themselves with,
evaluate and implement these developments where relevant. It is important that
lecturers are able to critically reect on such developments and identify their
advantages and disadvantages.
Because this concerns the competences of lecturers in the context of educational
innovation using IT, competences relating to learning and innovating using IT are also
important. This also means actively following developments in digital education and
applyingresearchresultsandbestpracticesfromtheeld52. These are named explicitly,
as research carried out among lecturers in higher education shows that such competences
cannot be taken for granted21,53. Lecturers therefore need to familiarise themselves with
innovativepracticesbyexperimentingwiththemandreectingontheirpossiblebenets
in their teaching. The idea that lecturers should be innovative in their use of IT is also
supported by the literature10,17,18,54.
Onderwijs
ontwerpen,
uitvoeren
en evalueren
Studenten
toerusten
voor de digitale
samenleving
Professioneel
handelen
als docent
Digitale
geletterdheid
van de docent
Ontwerpen en
uitvoeren van (innovatief)
onderwijs met ICT
Faciliteren en
monitoren van leren
Evalueren en bijstellen
van onderwijs
Digitale geletterdheid
voor leven, leren en werken
Digitale geletterdheid
voor het beroepsdomein/
vakgebied waarvoor
wordt opgeleid
ICT-basisbekwaamheid
Informatie-, data- en
mediageletterdheid
Computational thinking
Lerende professional
Innoveren met ICT
Communiceren en
samenwerken
A framework for digital competences of lecturers
25
Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
This is what the experts say about competences for innovation
using IT:
Crucial competences for both IT and education are: an interest in continuing
professional development, an inquisitive attitude and a willingness to experiment,
in particular because our knowledge of IT is constantly developing. This framework
focuses on the competences of lecturers for digital education. Lecturers therefore
need to be open to continued professional development and to new ideas and
ways of doing things. Such an open attitude and willingness to experiment require
courage: daring to experiment and innovate are crucial components of a lecturer’s
professional conduct. It is important for lecturers to be able to consider new per-
spectives on learning and critically evaluate change. To do this, lecturers must
keep up to date of the latest developments in their profession/discipline.
Educational innovation using IT is a complex process that requires lecturers to critically
reectonandmodifytheirideasaboutdigitaleducationandtheirrolewithinit.Thiscanbe
stimulated by collaborating with other professionals who may have a different perspective
on certain issues. Such collaborations create scope for innovation55,56.
Communication and collaborationwithotherprofessionalsareidentiedbyvariousauthors
in the literature as components of the digital competence of lecturers12-14. For example,
lecturers should participate in online learning networks and be able to communicate
online with the wider education community10,12,18,54. This is in keeping with other research
that concludes that multidisciplinary collaboration is necessary to achieve educational inno-
vation using IT8,57.Aspecicformofsuchcollaborationisthedesignofdigitaleducation
in multidisciplinary design teams, learning communities or communities of practice58-60.
This is what the experts say about competences for communication
and collaboration:
Lecturers should not just collaborate, experiment and share with their colleagues,
but also with the wider professional eld. Educational innovation with IT cannot be
achieved alone, so lecturers need to invest in good relationships and collaborations
with their team and the wider professional eld, and be willing to learn from their
students.
The experts emphasise that experimenting with and evaluating innovative digital
educational practices should take place in a balanced and scientic manner.
They therefore recommend that lecturers are supervised by or work together with
researchers in this eld.
Based on the above, we have formulated the following lecturers’ competences for the
‘professional conduct as a lecturer’ dimension. Appendix 2 provides an overview of other
frameworks that also include this dimension.
The learning professional
The lecturer…
1. is able to identify areas for personal professional development with relation to
educational innovation with IT and to actively work on development in these areas;
2. is able to work with colleagues to develop a vision for innovative digital education and
empowering students for a digital society that is aligned with the vision of the university;
3. is able to evaluate their own vision on innovative digital education and modify this
based on research results, developments in society and educational practice.
Innovation with IT
The lecturer…
1. is able to analyse and critically evaluate innovative digital education practice and
implement it in their own teaching practice;
2. actively follows innovative digital education practice in their profession/discipline and
isabletocriticallyreectonthebenetsofthisfortheirownteachingpractice;
3. is able to actively follow and experiment with developments in educational innovation
with IT and discuss these with colleagues.
24
A framework for digital competences of lecturers
27
Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
Communication and collaboration
The lecturer…
1. is able to collaborate in the design and evaluation of innovative digital education;
2. is able to participate in professional online networks or communities to strengthen
professional ties relating to educational innovation with IT;
3. is able to use IT for communication with students, the university and others.
2.4 Digital literacy for lecturers
If they are to improve the digital literacy of students and design and implement educational
innovation with IT, lecturers themselves also need to be digitally literate5. In this framework,
therefore, the digital literacy of lecturers is described in parallel to the digital literacy of
students. Research shows that the digital literacy of lecturers is directly related to the quality
of their teaching using IT61,62. Lecturers who are unsure of their own digital competences
consider themselves to be less skilled in using IT in the educational setting and less suited
to teaching students in digital literacy, and are therefore less likely to use IT in their teaching.
Digital literacy can therefore be regarded as a prerequisite for educational innovation with
IT. The digital literacy of lecturers is also referred to as a separate competence in various
frameworks (see Appendix 2).
This is what the experts say about digital literacy for lecturers:
The experts recommend that explicit attention is paid to the digital literacy of
lecturers. Although it can eventually be integrated into the competences for the
other dimensions, lecturers are not necessarily digitally literate and able to use IT
in their teaching.
According to the articles analysed in the literature study, basic IT competences are an
essentialcomponentofthedigitalliteracyoflecturers.Someauthorsareveryspecic
about the types of applications and tools that lecturers should be able to use12,24,39,63. For
example,ArdıçandÇiftçi24 state that lecturers should have the following basic skills: word
processing skills, spreadsheet skills, database skills, electronic presentation skills, internet
navigation skills and graphic tools skills. As far as the framework is concerned, it is less
importantthatlecturersareabletousespecicITtools,andmoreimportantthattheyknow
how to familiarise themselves with new tools5,64. Lecturers should be aware of the IT tools
availableintheireldandtheirimplicationsfortheirownteachingpractice,sothatthey
can identify which IT applications they need, based on their vision on digital education16.
The second subdimension named in the literature is the information, media and data
literacyoflecturers.Thismeansthatlecturersareabletondinformationanddigital
content on the internet, process10,14,54, analyse and compare this information, and evaluate
its reliability and trustworthiness65.
Lecturers,likestudents,mustbeabletocriticallyevaluatetheinformationthattheynd
on the internet and social media42,66. They should therefore be able to critically assess the
impactofsocialmediaonpeople’slivesandoftechnologythatisusedtoinuencepeople,
and be aware of the opportunities that these provide in education.
Lecturers also need to be more data literate because of the increasing availability of data
about students and their environments (see Section 2.1). They therefore need the necessary
competences to actively, creatively and critically use and understand large volumes of
data12,67.
Lecturers in higher education sometimes use digital learning resources, which they adapt
to their own purposes. They therefore need to be aware of the various licences and possi-
bilities for reusing resources, to prevent copyright infringements68,69.
26
Onderwijs
ontwerpen,
uitvoeren
en evalueren
Studenten
toerusten
voor de digitale
samenleving
Professioneel
handelen
als docent
Digitale
geletterdheid
van de docent
Ontwerpen en
uitvoeren van (innovatief)
onderwijs met ICT
Faciliteren en
monitoren van leren
Evalueren en bijstellen
van onderwijs
Digitale geletterdheid
voor leven, leren en werken
Digitale geletterdheid
voor het beroepsdomein/
vakgebied waarvoor
wordt opgeleid
ICT-basisbekwaamheid
Informatie-, data- en
mediageletterdheid
Computational thinking
Lerende professional
Innoveren met ICT
Communiceren en
samenwerken
A framework for digital competences of lecturers
29
Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
3 In conclusion
Universities have the important task to prepare students to live, learn and work in a digital
society. Lecturers working at universities are therefore expected to support students in
the development of the necessary digital competences, and to act as a role model in this
where possible. Lecturers are also increasingly expected to be able to implement IT to
increasetheexibilityoftheirteachingandtoadapttheirteachingtotheindividualneeds
of students.
Thisisacomplexprocessandrequiresthedevelopmentofspecicskills.Animportant
question is therefore which competences lecturers in higher education require in order
to achieve this.
The Professional Development zone in the Acceleration Plan for Educational Innovation
with IT has therefore commissioned the development of a competences framework for
lecturers that focuses on educational innovation with IT. This framework has been devel-
oped based on a literature review, a comparison of existing frameworks, interviews with
experts and validation sessions with educational professionals in higher education. The
framework consists of competences in four main dimensions: designing, implementing
and evaluating education; empowering students for a digital society; professional conduct
as a lecturer; and digital literacy for lecturers. Each of these dimensions is further divided
into subdimensions and the underlying competences. A generic approach was chosen,
based on the literature and state-of-the-art knowledge on higher education in the Nether-
lands. This generic approach ensures that the framework is relevant and applicable to
all higher education institutions, as well as all sectors and disciplines.
The interviews and validation sessions showed that the framework provides an effective,
balanced and theoretically grounded overview of the competences that lecturers in higher
education require in order to innovate their teaching using IT and to equip students to live,
learn and work in a digital society.
What is the next step?
To translate this research into educational practice, additional steps are required that
go beyond the scope of this research. Drawing from the interviews with experts and the
validationsessions,thefollowingfocusareascanbeidentiedforthesefollow-upsteps.
Discussions with lecturers, IT professionals in education and policymakers highlighted
thefactthattheynditdifculttousetheframeworktodevelopavisionandstrategyon
28
Finally, the literature on digital literacy increasingly references computational thinking as
a relevant competence5,70. Lecturers need to know what computational thinking is and
when it can be applied. This means that they are able to break down a complex problem
into steps and processes that can be solved using IT and apply these solutions in the original
(pedagogical) context70.Computationalthinkingisrelevantineveryeldandprofession71,72,
making such skills increasingly important both for lecturers and students in higher
education.
Basedontheabove,wehavedenedthefollowinglecturers’competenceswithinthe
‘digital literacy for lecturers’ dimension. Appendix 2 provides an overview of other frame-
works that also include this dimension.
Basic IT competences
The lecturer…
1. is able to effectively implement IT in educational processes;
2. knows which IT tools are available or should be available in a certain context,
and what their impacts are on the use of IT in the educational setting;
3. is able to select and quickly familiarise themselves with new IT tools, actively keep
up with technological developments and experiment with new tools.
Information, data and media literacy
The lecturer…
1. isabletond,analyseandinterpretdigitalinformationandresourcesandevaluate
their reliability;
2. takes a critical approach to the use of internet and social media;
3. understands the rules regarding copyright and plagiarism, the different types of
licences and can properly cite digital resources;
4. is able to actively, creatively and critically use and understand data, and manage
and protect the personal data of students.
Computational thinking
The lecturer…
1. is able to formulate a problem in their profession or discipline in such a way that
it can be solved using IT;
2. is able to develop a solution to a problem using IT;
3. is able to apply the solution in their profession or discipline.
A framework for digital competences of lecturers
31
Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
who should be able and willing to develop which competences, when and how. There is
therefore a need for more concrete descriptions with practical examples, such as behavioural
indicators that describe what exactly lecturers should know and be able and willing to do
in order to master a certain competence. Providing concrete examples can also help the
lecturertoplacetheframeworkintheirspeciceducationalcontext.Arststeptowards
achieving this could therefore be to translate the framework into behavioural indicators for
newlyqualiedlecturers.
Whatshouldnewlyqualiedlecturersknowandbeableandwillingtodointermsofdigital
education?Basedonthis,theimplicationscanbeidentiedforprofessionaldevelopment
programmesfornewlyqualiedlecturers,suchasthebasicqualicationofteachingcom-
petence(BDB)andthebasicteachingqualication(BKO),aswellasforotherfollow-up
programmes.
Both the experts and the education professionals would therefore like more examples
of what the competences will look like in practice, and tools or guidelines to integrate the
framework into the university’s professional development policy.
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34
36 37
Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
Appendix 1
Consulted experts
Experts in the eld
· Erik Barendsen, Professor of Science Education Research, Radboud University
· Jeroen Bottema, senior researcher in Teaching, Learning & Technology, Inholland
University of Applied Sciences
· Bert Bredeweg, Professor of Science and Mathematics Education, Amsterdam University
of Applied Sciences
· Gerton Cazemier, senior researcher in Teaching, Learning & Technology, Inholland
University of Applied Sciences
· Barend Last, Specialist Blended Learning, Maastricht University
· Jeroen van Merriënboer, Professor of Educational Development & Research, Maastricht
University
· Fleur Prinsen, Professor of Digital Didactics, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences
· Robert Schuwer, Professor of Open Educational Resources, Fontys University of Applied
Sciences
· Jan Vermunt, Professor of Learning and Educational Innovation, Eindhoven University
of Technology, Eindhoven School of Education
· Joke Voogt, Emeritus Professor of Educational Sciences, University of Amsterdam
· Brenda Vos, education adviser, Acceleration Plan
Policymakers
· Nieke Campagne, policy adviser for education, VSNU
· Johanna de Groot, Acceleration Plan programme manager and strategic project
manager, SURF
· JuriaanvanKan,seniorpolicyadviserforhighereducation&studentgrants,Ministry
of Education, Culture and Science
· Jaap Mulder, coordinator staff development higher education, University of Groningen
· Josephine Verstappen, policy adviser for educational innovation, VSNU
The supervisory committee
· Wim Berkers, senior HR policy adviser, Inholland University of Applied Sciences
· Wieteke Boulogne, Professional Development zone project leader, Acceleration Plan
· MarianKat-deJong,ProfessionalDevelopmentzonecoordinator,AccelerationPlan,
education team coordinator, Avans University of Applied Sciences
· ChristineKemmeren,ProfessionalDevelopmentzonemember,AccelerationPlan,
researcher/senior lecturer, Saxion University of Applied Sciences
· Caroline van de Molen, Strengthening Human Capital zone project leader, Acceleration
Plan, Dean, Saxion University of Applied Sciences
· KimSchildkamp,ProfessionalDevelopmentzoneprojectleader,AccelerationPlan,
professor of data-informed decision making for learning and development, University
of Twente
· Ronald Spruit, Professional Development zone project leader, Acceleration Plan,
Learning and Innovating adviser, Avans University of Applied Sciences
· Josephine Verstappen, policy adviser for educational innovation, VSNU
A framework for digital competences of lecturers
38 39
Acceleration Plan Educational Innovation with IT
Appendix 2
Comparison between this framework and existing
frameworks
Main
dimension Subdimension
DigComp-
Edu18
iXperium
Compe-
tentieset
Leren en
Lesgeven
met ICT31
Digital
Teaching
Profes-
sional
Frame-
work35 JISC64 ISTE17 UNESCO73
Designing,
implemen-
ting and
evaluating
education
Designing and
implementing
innovative digital
education
Facilitating
and monitoring
learning
Evaluating
and modifying
education
Empo-
wering
students
for a digital
society
Digital literacy
for living, learning
and working
Digital literacy
for the profession/
discipline
Professional
conduct as
an lecturer
The learning
professional
Innovation with IT
Communication
and collaboration
Digital
literacy for
lecturers
Basic IT
competences
Information, data
and media literacy
Computational
thinking
Referenties
For more information and our publications, visit
www.versnellingsplan.nl
The Acceleration Plan for Educational Innovation
with ICT is a four-year programme focused on bringing
initiatives, knowledge, and experiences for digitalisation
together. The programme is an initiative of SURF,
the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied
Sciences, and the Association of Universities, and is orga-
nised in eight acceleration zones. In the zone Facilitating
professional development for lecturers, 16 institutions are
working on improving the professional development
of lecturers in Dutch higher education.
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