Digital kompetens: En utmaning för dagens skola och ett krav i morgondagens samhälle

Lars-Erik Nilsson, Stefan Pålsson


The school is in all its aspects - organization, goals, education and the kind of literacy it provides - a product of the evolution of society. In order to fill its societal functions, it must provide the students with the basic knowledge and skills that they will need in everyday life, at work and as citizens. Thus, when society is in transition from industrialism to post-industrialism, from standardized massproduction to customer-oriented production, from taylorism to learning organizations and from basic literacy to lifelong learning, the school must adapt accordingly.

In the coming decades, we will probably experience revolutionary changes on a global scale when the world discover ICT, the Internet and its immense possibilities. Governments and intergovernmental organizations are currently working intensively on plans of action that aim towards a swift and rapid transition. That brings important issues on the agenda: Who is to decide the necessary changes? Will the changes be beneficiary for the society as a whole? Most politicians belong to a generation with limited knowledge of the possibilities that the digital technologies can offer. That is also valid for those who educate the next generation. In other words, there is a risk that the changes of society might be more complicated than expected.

In the world of commerce, the process of adaptation started in the 1980's. Taylorism and behaviorism is abandoned and metacognition, the learning process, the production of knowledge and the learning of organizations have been put into focus. A lifelong learning at work and a learning leadership is considered essential. The Internet and ICT is also being integrated into this process. At school, there has been more moderate changes of goals and methods. Basic knowledge of reading, writing and arithmetic is still considered as sufficient literacy, and training of predefined facts and non-reflected skills is the main method. When ICT is being used at school, it is generally used in a way that strengthens the usual goals and methods.

There is undoubtedly a need for a new concept of literacy that gives a meaning and a structure of relevance to the usage of ICT and the changes of society. This new concept of literacy - digital literacy - is centered around learning and the social, communicative and reflective process of learning. It recognizes many different ways to knowledge, not only reading and writing, and does also include non-cognitive factors such as affective and social skills. If the school is to fill its function in society, it must change its way of working. This is of utmost importance for a fair and positive evolution of the post-industrial society.

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