Digital transformation, digital and green transition, artificial intelligence, data, fourth and fifth industrial revolution, society 5.0 etc. – these concepts are all commonly found in documents and strategies at the national, EU and other international organisations (IO) level, but rarely thoroughly understood by the wider population.

 

The COVID-19 crisis led to an unprecedented shift to online learning and digital technologies. Only 39% of teachers in the EU feel well prepared for using digital technologies in their daily work[1]. Almost 60% of respondents to the open public consultation on the Digital Education Action Plan had not used distance and online learning before the crisis and 95% of them consider that the coronavirus crisis marks a turning point for how digital technology is used in education and training. With the conference, we would like to address the responses to specific lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis and, on the other, a more long-term opportunity to work positively toward the aims of the European Education Area (also on improving inclusion) and the implementation of the Digital Education Action Plan 2021-2027 (DEA).

 

The way Europeans will embrace this digital change will greatly depend on education and research. The digital transformation will provide new, better, improved and more advanced educational instruments, learning methods, approaches and environments. But, we also need to be aware of the risks and the challenges that this change will bring. Keeping in mind the numerous roles education plays in the life of individuals, education will have to grasp opportunities of digitalisation, artificial intelligence (AI) and data is bringing. Only in this way we will be able to prepare competent individuals for society and to qualify them for work and integrating them into the labour market. It has to be noted however, that AI is reliant on data, which brings it's own implications in terms protection, ethics and privacy and questions about who collects, controls, selects, interprets and uses the data. It also brings major risks connected to fundamental rights such as the right to non-discrimination, including gender equality.



[1] OECD (2019), TALIS 2018 Results (Volume I): Teachers and School Leaders as Lifelong Learners, TALIS. Paris: OECD Publishing