Background to the conference
Today, young people face a challenging situation. Whilst they have the opportunity to benefit from powerful digital technologies which open up new learning opportunities they also need to deal with handling and making sense of such devices in a complex and non-stable world. Consequently, we need to address the omnipresence of digital technologies, their increasing accessibility and power to shape action and perception, through the development of learners’ understanding and application of creativity, computational thinking, media literacy and digital citizenship. This endeavour is not simply about adaptation to a new technology and its associated culture. Digital technologies are not just a means of handling the given world, providing relevant learning experiences, enabling young people to more easily make connections with knowledgeable others and learn across boundaries. Digital technologies also enable young people to re-invent their world and society through being active creators and producers rather than passive consumers of knowledge and information. At the same time, the job market is shifting and young people now require a range of digital skills to meet employers’ needs. There is currently a lack of clarity regarding what those skills should be.
This complex situation gives rise to many tensions. Will employers place greater value on computer science skills (e.g. coding) or transversal skills? To what extent does (hidden) datafication surrounding online use undermine security and anonymity? How can we ensure that digital learning opportunities are available to all, irrespective of gender, ethnicity and social class? How can we scale up and sustain innovative uses of digital technologies in education when new technologies are constantly emerging?