Improving Inclusivity in Digital Education Requires a Systemic Approach that Addresses Teaching & Learning at Different Levels 

Today, ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, responded to the European Commission’s Call for evidence on digital education and digital skills. You can read it in full here. 

The European Commission recently issued two calls for ideas and evidence on ensuring equal access to digital education and promoting digital skills. The feedback will be used in the preparation of a Commission proposal for a Council Recommendation on the enabling factors for successful digital education and for one on improving the provision of digital skills in education and training. The proposals are part of the Commission’s initiatives under the European Union’s Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027). 

In response to this call, ALLEA’s Working Group on Science Education, with Professor Timo Leuders as principal author, prepared a statement with recommendations on improving inclusivity in digital education and the effective provision of digital skills, built on a robust foundation of scientific evidence.  

The statement contends that a systemic approach that addresses teaching and learning at different levels – policy, research, curriculum design, teacher education, and practice – is necessary for the proposed actions to be implemented efficiently and effectively. The statement also calls for greater emphasis to be placed on interdisciplinarity, the integrated nature of digital technologies within STEM education, and the critical roles of empirical educational research, initial teacher education (ITE) and teachers’ professional learning (TPL).  

Some recommendations from the statement are highlighted below:  

Interdisciplinarity – Closing the digital gap requires interdisciplinary expert groups that reflect on the technical, educational, social, and ethical issues in relation to digital education, and that can advise on political, administrative, and curricular decisions in a coherent manner.  

Evidence-based reformsEvery decision about a technical or structural innovation in digital education must be tested against the latest scientific evidence on teaching and learning, including curricula,pedagogies,ITE and TPL.  

Initial teacher education and teachers’ professional learning Too little emphasis is currently being placed on the roles of ITE and TPL. A coherent picture of digitalisation-related teacher professionalism is critical to all efforts of systematic development in educational institutions. Teachers need to be supported so they develop the requisite Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) and skills needed to critically evaluate and implement technology-based innovations.   

The ALLEA statement encourages the European Commission to support national governments and individual teachers by identifying best practices in digital education across Europe so that they have access to an evidence-based roadmap towards a technology-driven educational landscape.  

You can read the statement by the ALLEA Working Group on Science Education in full here.  

Read more about the ALLEA Working Group on Science Education and its members here.


Watch Recording: Expert Workshop on Current Challenges for ILSA

Last January, the ALLEA Science Education Working Group organised an expert workshop on current challenges for international large-scale studies of achievement (ILSA). Chaired by WG member Maksym Halchenko of the National Academy of Educational Sciences of Ukraine, the meeting addressed the role of ILSAs as well as current and emerging challenges related to these studies.

A dedicated introduction to PISA (Programme for International Assessment) was presented, and participants discussed examples of assessment discrepancies when applied to heterogenous countries where school systems are very different.  This webinar was recorded and is now available to the wider public.

  • Introductory Remarks | Watch
    – Meeting chair Dr. Maksym Halchenko, National Academy of Educational Sciences of Ukraine
  • The impact of PISA on the development of educational research and evidence-based decision-making | Read abstract | Watch
    – Prof. Benő Csapó, Professor of Education, University of Szeged, Hungary
  • Circulation of a mediated artefact. Questioning the consequences of PISA for education – the example of Poland | Read abstract | Watch
    – Dr. Piotr Zamojski, Assistant Professor, University of Gdańsk, Poland
  • Use and misuse of international large-scale assessments: Why it matters to science education and policy | Read abstract | Watch
    – Dr. David Rutkowski, Associate Professor with a joint appointment in Educational Policy and Educational Inquiry, Indiana University, USA;
    – Dr. Leslie A. Rutkowski, Associate Professor of Inquiry Methodology, Counselling and Educational Psychology, Indiana University, USA, Professor of Educational Measurement, University of Oslo, Norway
  • Education as a global race – or for democracy and solidarity? The side effects of PISA testing | Read abstract| Watch
    – Prof. Svein Sjøberg, Professor Emeritus in Science Education, Oslo University, Norway
  • Plenary discussion  | Watch

The ALLEA Science Education Working Group is committed to supporting the further progression of science education throughout Europe to ensure students develop the necessary knowledge, skills and motivation to participate as active citizens and to pursue careers in science. Since June 2019, the group is chaired by Dr Cliona Murphy of the Royal Irish Academy.

Workshop: Current Challenges for International Large-Scale Studies of Achievement

Workshop organised by the ALLEA Science Education Working Group in cooperation with the National Academy of Educational Sciences of Ukraine

Climate Change Education Webinar

On 24 November, ALLEA and the Royal Irish Academy, held a webinar entitled “Can Climate Change Education save the planet? European perspectives” to address the role and importance of climate change education within both the European and the Irish context.

If you missed it, now you have an opportunity to watch the recording on YouTube:

Key speakers at the webinar included:

  • Dr Cliona Murphy, Dublin City University and ALLEA Science Education Working Group Chair
  • Professor Paweł Rowiński, Vice-President of the Polish Academy of Sciences and ALLEA Board Member
  • Dr Philippe Tulkens, acting Head of the Climate and Planetary Boundaries Unit in Directorate “Healthy Planet” of the European Commission
  • Professor Pierre Léna, Emeritus Professor at the Université Paris-Diderot
  • Dr Agata Gozdzik, Head of the Science Communication and Education Unit, Polish Academy of Sciences
  • Dr Michael John O’Mahony, Director of Environmental Education Unit, An Taisce – The National Trust for Ireland

Can Climate Change Education save the planet? Programme of the webinar is on-line

On 24 November, ALLEA together with the Royal Irish Academy organise a webinar exploring European perspectives on climate change education.

Findings from a recently published ALLEA report A snapshot of Climate Change Education Initiatives in Europe: Initial findings and implications for future Climate Change Education  will be a starting point for discussing  climate change education initiatives in Europe which will consider successes, challenges and the future of climate change education throughout Europe. A recent Royal Irish Academy Briefing Paper prepared by Dr Cliona Murphy, Chair of ALLEA’s Science Education Working Group and the Royal Irish Academy’s representative, discusses this report and its implications for Ireland and will be included in the discussions.

Programme of the webinar and the registration can be found on the event’s page. 

Current issues in science education; three ALLEA webinars

ALLEA and its Science Education Working Group invite to three upcoming webinars related to current issues in science education:

  • Public Webinar on Climate Change Education, co-organised by ALLEA and Royal Irish Academy  on 24 November 2020;
  • An expert roundtable discussion on International Large-Scale Studies of Achievement (by invitation only) on 21 January 2021;
  • Public  webinar entitled  “From STEM to STEAM Education ” in Spring 2021.

These events forerun a physical conference which was initially planned for January 2021 but was postponed due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The conference is envisaged to be held later in 2021 if conditions allow, and will be hosted by the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, the Junior Academy of Sciences of Ukraine UNESCO Center for Science Education and the National Academy of Educational Sciences, supported by the Polish Academy of Sciences via its Representative Office in Kyiv.