In order for this digital development to be achieved however, there needs to be a systematic and wholescale investment in teacher competency.
What is the relevance of building digital skills capabilities among UK educators?
The digital revolution is art of the landscape of UK education, from preschool through to postgraduate education, yet there remains a skills gap among educators as well as in wider UK civil society (BBC, 2016). There are deficiencies noted in the provision of specialist ICT educators, in the general skills level of teachers, and in the quality and appropriateness of hardware available to educators and pupils alike in the UK education sector (BBC, 2016). The UK government’s current digital skills strategy acknowledges such deficiencies, as well as the centrality of education in delivering digital competencies to business and to the wider civilian population (HM Government, 2016).
In order for this digital development to be achieved however, there needs to be a systematic and wholescale investment in teacher competency to ensure that learners can be taught be professionals and in environments which are appropriate for the digital needs of the 21st century. In addition, confidence with digital technologies in teachers promotes confidence in learners across subject areas, including ones where digital technology has been comparatively slow to take hold (Paddick, 2016). This may mean a range of initiatives and approaches, including the adoption of gaming and computer programming skills and techniques across curricula (Livingstone and Saeed, 2016). Educators at all levels of teaching, and at all stages of their career, should not be assumed to be competent through reliance on their existing digital skills, but be developed to use digital technologies in educationally-informed ways, to best harness the potential of their learners (Savage and Barnett, 2015). At the digital and the physical worlds become increasingly interrelated, there is an ever-pressing need to work to ensure that formal education not only acknowledges this, but that pedagogy is informed and proactive in leading rather than lagging behind wider society for it to remain relevant.
BBC (2016) UK facing ‘digital skills crisis’ warn MPs. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36510266 (Accessed: 11 October 2016).
HM Government (2016) Digital skills for the UK economy. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/492889/DCMSDigitalSkillsReportJan2016.pdf (Accessed: 11 October 2016).
Livingstone, I. (2016) Hacking the curriculum: how digital skills can save us from the robots. Edited by Shanella Saeed. London: John Catt Educational.
Paddick, R. (2016) Teachers key to delivering digital skills. Available at: http://edtechnology.co.uk/Article/teachers-key-to-delivering-digital-skills (Accessed: 11 October 2016).
Savage, M. and Barnett, A. (2015) Digital literacy for primary teachers. London: Critical Publishing.