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A digital competency analysis will further explore the curricula of the degree programmes

Digital competencies in education are becoming more and more important. But what does it mean to be digitally competent? What criteria must be met? And how do degree programmes provide their students with the necessary digital skills?

At Aarhus University the students’ digital competencies is a strategic focus area. The CED offers collaboration targeted programmes at AU that want to take a further look at their curriculum. Photo: Lars Kruse, AU Foto.
Mads Ronald Dahl is one of the special consultants at the CED that oversees the digital competence analyses. Photo: Mads Ronald Dahl.

Society is in the process of rapid digitalisation, which impacts research, education, and the labour market. Therefore, Aarhus University has decided to make students’ digital competencies a strategic focus area. Through the digitisation strategy, AU has set a number of goals designed to ensure that the university can keep up with the digital developments.

A shared language for digital competency

In 2006, digital competence was selected by the EU as one of eight key competencies for lifelong learning. Among other things, digital competence is described by the EU as the ability to use information and communication technology in a confident, critical, and innovative manner to achieve goals related to work, learning, and participation in society.

As digital competence has been put on the agenda in the vast majority of European businesses and educational institutions, the demand for a common language for what digital competence actually is has risen.

In 2013, the EU published the first framework for digital competence, called the Digital Competence Framework for Citizens (DigComp). In 2022, an update was published, which you can read here

According to the DigComp, five main areas of digital competence are:

  1. Information and data literacy
  2. Communication and collaboration
  3. Digital content creation
  4. Safety
  5. Problem-solving

Digital competency analysis at AU based on the EU framework

On the basis of the EU framework for digital competence, the CED offers collaboration targeted programmes at AU that want to take a further look at their curriculum. The purpose of the collaboration is to analyse the curriculum and course descriptions to identify whether the students are given the opportunity to achieve the necessary digital competencies within the five main areas mentioned above.

“We continuously develop the analysis in cooperation with the degree programmes. No programmes are the same and we want to make sure our work is anchored in the reality that the local teaching staff are working within. Thus, we do not have a fixed approach for how the analysis will be put into practice afterwards. It varies a lot which measures are necessary,” Mads Ronald Dahl says. He is one of the special consultants at the CED that oversees the digital competence analyses.

Consequently, the analysis of the curriculum and the subsequent adjustments are an iterative process in collaboration with the degree programmes. It often consists of the following four parts but can be adjusted if needed.

  1. Mapping of the academic regulations
    In a dialogue with the heads of degree programmes, it is visualised how the current distribution of ECTS credits is within the five main digital areas. This is illustrated by the CED in a diagram reflecting the extent to which digital competencies are incorporated into the programme. Below, we have created an example of how the result of this mapping might look:
    Chart, line chart Description automatically generated
  2. Workshop on subject-specific competencies in the degree programmes
    In step two, teaching staff from the programme can place various subject-specific digital competencies on a scale from 'not applicable' to 'highly relevant'. A specific example could be the importance of skills in using the Python programming language, meaning that the relevance of the specific competencies varies from programme to programme. At the workshop, the programmes will achieve a sense of which digital competencies are significant in the specific academic context and how they support one another throughout the programme.
  3. Report from the CED
    The CED will summarize both the mapping and the workshop and prepare a report with suggestions for points that merit special attention. The report is sent to the head of the degree programme.
  4. Evaluation and potential revisions of the curriculum
    The report from the CED can be included in the programmes’ ongoing work on clarifying the students’ digital competency development. The CED also offers consulting and collaboration, workshops, and courses in connection with revisions of the curricula or competency development of the teaching staff.

A part of the project Digitally Competent Graduates

Digital competency analyses are part of AU’s strategic project Digitally Competent Graduates (Digitalt Kompetente Kandidater (DKK)), which will unfold in the next few years with expected completion in 2025. The initiative is locally anchored in the programmes and is coordinated by the vice-deans. Therefore, you should contact your vice-dean if you wish to participate in a digital competency analysis with the CED.

Several programmes are already in the process of having digital competency analysis conducted in collaboration with the CED. You can read a case from the programmes in molecular biology and molecular medicine here.

You are also always welcome to contact the CED for consulting and collaboration. We can help you with your digitisation efforts through inspiration on how to use learning technologies (educational IT) in teaching. We also offer consulting and collaboration on how digital competencies can be used in the programmes both in connection with the work on curricula and in the design of teaching activities.