2. What does it mean to be digitally competent today?

DigComp 2.2 background

The Digital Competence Framework for citizens (DigComp) (2) is based on Key competences for lifelong learning recommendation (3) which was updated in 2018. Competences are composed of concepts and facts (i.e. knowledge), descriptions of skills (e.g. the ability to carry out processes) and attitudes (e.g. a disposition, a mindset to act) that everyone needs for self-fulfillment and development, employment, social inclusion, and active citizenship. 

DigComp is considered as one of the main digital policy-making tools of the European Digital Strategy including initiatives such as Skills Agenda, the Digital Education Action Plan, the Digital Decade and Compass, and the Pillar of Social rights and its action plan. The target of 80% of the population with at least basic digital skills is also based on DigComp. 

Updated in March 2022, the DigComp 2.2 (4) framework provides more than 250 new examples of knowledge, skills and attitudes that help citizens to use digital technologies confidently, critically and safely for participation in society. The update was necessary because new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), virtual and augmented reality, robotisation, the Internet of Things, datafication, or new social media challenges such as increase of mis- and disinformation, have led to a change in digital competence requirements for citizens.

What is new in DigComp 2.2?

DigComp 2.2 includes more than 250 examples highlighting new and emerging themes that have arisen since the last update (2017). The new examples will become useful, for example, for those who are responsible for curriculum planning and updating. They can use these examples to address themes that are relevant in today’s society, the following are taken form DigComp 2.2:

  • misinformation and disinformation in social media and news sites (e.g. fact-checking information and its sources, fake news, deep fakes) 
  • media literacy skills as part of understanding the role of media 
  • the trend of datafication of internet services and apps (e.g. focus on how personal data is exploited) 
  • citizens interacting with AI systems (including data-related skills, data protection and privacy, but also ethical considerations) 
  • environmental sustainability concerns

DigComp knowledge, skills and attitudes examples can be used as a basis for developing explicit descriptions of learning objectives, content, learning experiences and their assessment, although this will require more instructional design and implementation.

A deeper look into DigComp 2.2 examples

Information literacy examples

In DigComp 2.2, new examples of applying Information literacy competencies in digital environments have been added as part of the framework. At the heart of this lies general literacy competences. According to the aforementioned recommendation on Key competences for lifelong learning, literacy includes “the ability to distinguish and use different types of sources, to search for, collect and process information”. As an increasing amount of information and content is made available online, these skills are needed to critically assess the credibility and reliability of sources, information and digital content that are found online. 

In the following, a set of illustrative examples are given related to a competence or a theme. The numbering refers to the examples in the DigComp 2.2 publication.

Participatory citizenship through appropriate digital technologies

One aspect of the DigComp competences defines civic participation through digital technologies. Citizenship competence is defined in the Key competences for lifelong learning as “the ability to act as a responsible citizen and to participate fully in civic and social life”. Citizens should be, for example, able to participate in society through the use of public and private digital services. Participatory citizenship is also intrinsically linked to media literacy, as it “requires the ability to use, critically understand and interact with both traditional and new forms of media and to understand the role and functions of the media in democratic societies” (ibid). 

One concrete example of attitudes in this area is citizens being proactive about using the internet and digital technologies to seek opportunities for constructive participation in democratic decision-making and civic activities (e.g. by participating in consultations organised by municipality, policy-makers, NGOs; signing a petition using a digital platform).

Media literacy competences & AI

Part of the media literacy competence is understanding the role that Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays in online environments and digital tools when they are used for interacting, communication and collaboration. Citizens  interacting with AI systems should have knowledge about AI and its role in society as well as ethical considerations about its use and implementations in different parts of society. A specific appendix including more than 70 examples is part of DigComp 2.2 (see p. 77 in DigComp 2.2).

Focus on digital identity and personal data

Data-related skills and privacy issues related to one’s digital identity form a core of new DigComp 2.2 examples. They focus on helping citizens safeguard their personal data while mitigating risks related to safety and privacy in digital environments. For example, it is important that online users understand how to use and share personally identifiable data and information while being able to protect oneself and others from damages. Importance of understanding the key terms of EU’s regulations such as Right to be Forgotten and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are highlighted in examples too.

Active citizenship and environmental concerns

DigComp 2.2 also contains examples of citizens’ agency linked to environmental sustainability concerns. Today, becoming aware of the environmental impact of digital technologies, both their fabrication and their use, and being aware of the impact of one’s choices on the environment, become a crucial part of digital competence. Digital tools and services can also be used to improve the environmental and social impact  through various citizenship actions.

Supporting adoption of digital competence building 

So what does it mean to be digitally competent today? As is seen above, DigComp provides the language to identify and describe the key areas of digital competence, a clear and understandable conceptual framework and a technology-neutral basis for a common understanding of concepts. This commonly agreed vocabulary has now been updated with relevant examples that fit today’s digital world. The next steps are up to users, for example education and training organisations, to take advantage of the framework for setting educational objectives, updating training syllabus, and for evaluating and monitoring learning outcomes. An important part of this process is adapting the framework to their own needs, e.g. taking into account the local context and its requirements. Learning from one another in this process will be important in order to support confident and digitally competent citizens in the future. 

References:

(1) DigComp 2.2.  https://europa.eu/!cKrmj6

(2) https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/FI/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32018H0604(01)&from=EN

(3) https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=1223&moreDocuments=yes

(4) DEAP https://education.ec.europa.eu/fi/focus-topics/digital-education/action-plan

(5) https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/europe-fit-digital-age/europes-digital-decade-digital-targets-2030_en

(6) https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/economy-works-people/jobs-growth-and-investment/european-pillar-social-rights/european-pillar-social-rights-action-plan_en\

(7) Neuvoston suositus elinikäisen oppimisen avaintaidoista (2018) https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/FI/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32018H0604(01)

(8) https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/FI/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32018H0604(01)&from=EN

Riina Vuorikari worked as a senior research fellow at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (2013-2022). Her work focuses on citizens’ digital competence, recently she led the DigComp 2.2 update and contributed to EU’s Digital Skills Indicator 2.0. Vuorikari has degrees in education (M.Ed in 1998 in Finland), hypermedia (DEA in 1999 in France) and her PhD is from the Dutch research school for Information and Knowledge Systems (2009). Since 1999, she has worked in the field of digital education.

Kari Kivinen, PhD, is an Education outreach expert at EUIPO.   He has over 30 years of experience in international education. Since 2017 he has led the pedagogical development work at Faktabaari EDU digital information literacy service building on fact-checking methodology and co-authored and piloted the learning materials with fellow teachers around Finland and abroad. He is a member of the Commission expert group on tackling disinformation and promoting digital education. The author works for EUIPO and agency of the EU but the views expressed are purely personal and cannot be taken as being official statements of either the EU or the EUIPO. 

Artwork: Lumi Pönkä

Download the Digital Information Literacy Guide (PDF).

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