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In the European Union 60% of the students below the age of 9 do not encounter digital educational equipment during their studies, while, at the same time, it is expected that the high level of digital skills will count as basic requirements at most workplaces by 2020.
This is the challenge that the Opening up Education action plan of the European Committee tries to answer. It sees the solution of the problem in the digitalisation of education.
Under the digitalisation of education, we mean that more learning materials, complementary materials or educational games will have to be made accessible electronically and online, but at the same time, the change poses challenges for higher education. Universities will have to complement their traditional methods with digital tools: with the increase in the number of students, besides courses that require personal attendance, they will have to be ready to provide courses that are available online. However, many universities and colleges are not ready for this yet and most professors employed in public education are not confident in using digital tools either – 70% of them would opt for further trainings in the field.
Androulla Vassiliou, the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth made the following declaration about the reason why the developments described in the Opening up Education action plan are necessary:
„The education landscape is changing dramatically, from school to university and beyond: open technology-based education will soon be a 'must have', not just a 'good-to-have', for all ages. We need to do more to ensure that young people especially are equipped with the digital skills they need for their future. It's not enough to understand how to use an app or program; we need youngsters who can create their own programs.”
The Open Education Europe website was created to support the initiative, where students, educational experts and institutions can share educational materials that are made available for everybody. On the website, the material can be listed according to key words, languages, sciences or even according to institutions – with a little bit of luck, one can even download all of their university course materials. In Hungarian – at the moment – there is nothing available, however, there are some materials related to Hungary.
For the successful implementation of the Opening up Education programme, the concrete suggestions of the group responsible for the modernisation of higher education are expected for next summer. The initiative is related to the satisfaction of the needs of the labour market and the current deficiency in the field of information and communication technology (ICT). The programme is looking for a solution for the problem that by 2015, there will be around 900.000 unfilled positions in the field of ICT.
Written by Kamilla Drubina
Translated by Judit Molnár