Development and Assessment of the Digital Competence in Primary and Secondary Education: An Innovative Approach For Cross-Curriculum Implementation

The Digital competence has been acknowledged by the European Union as one of the key competences for lifelong learning. This competence has a well established framework, the DigComp,  that serves as a basis for a comprehensive conceptualization of what is required for any citizen to be actively involved and productively contribute to the knowledge society. Digcomp has inspired other initiatives and the development of more specific frameworks, such as the DigCompEdu, that establishes what it means for educators to be digitally competent and improve their teaching.

But there are still few formalized developments regarding the other side of the equation, the digital competence for students. We know that the Digital Competence in K-12 education must address several critical issues that directly impact students’ preparedness for the 21st century. To begin, it is essential for education success, enabling students to access, navigate, and utilize digital resources for learning and research. Moreover, it has the potential to foster the development of crucial skills such as critical thinking and information evaluation, empowering students to discern credible information from misinformation in an age of digital abundance. Digital competence also plays a pivotal role in facilitating collaboration and communication, preparing students for the collaborative basis of the modern life and work environment, regardless of the field. And above all, digital competence is essential to promote responsible citizenship by teaching students to use technology ethically, responsibly, and safely.

We present the results of the CRISS project, an H2020 project awarded by the EU and listed in the Innovation Radar EU, that recognizes distinguishably innovative results. In this project, members of the Edul@b research group developed a Digital Competence framework for K12 articulated through two main interrelated components: a DC operational concept and a Competence-based assessment model integrating DC development and assessment leading to certification. The project also contributed to the development of an ePortfolio solution supporting main teacher and student activities, which was a distributed collaboration among all members of the consortium. In this project have participated 42,636 students, 2,389 teachers and 545 European schools.

We introduce hereafter main publications deriving from the project that present and describe the achievements. We encourage their reading to all those interested in adopting and implementing the approach.

The Digital Competence operational concept is the result of an analysis and mapping of seven European digital competence frameworks and schemes applied in schools and on the basis of the DigComp. It consists of five areas (digital citizenship, communication and collaboration, search and manage information, content creation, and problem-solving) and 12 sub-competences, each subsequently divided into performance criteria and indicators. You can read more about here:

Guitert, M., Romeu.  & Baztán, P. (2021). The digital competence framework for primary and secondary schools in Europe. Eur J Educ. 2021, 56, 133–149. 

The Competence Assessment Model is based on the pedagogy of integration, where DC is embedded into subjects or disciplines. It proposes the development of Competence Assessment Scenarios (CAS) where learners actively engage in solving problems, developing projects or searching for solutions in meaningful situations. The model was subjected to an internal validation (Maina et al., 2023) and external validation (Guàrdia et al., 2023). Moreover, teacher design practices of CAS were studied under the lens of open educational practices, as a way to ensure collaborative and participatory teacher development in the adoption of competence-based learning (Maina et al., 2020). 

Maina, M. F., Guàrdia, L., Mancini, F., & García, C. (2023). Development of a Model for Transversal Competence Assessment in K-12: an Internal Validation Study for the Digital Competence. Interaction Design & Architecture(s), 57, 47-64. 

Guàrdia, L., Maina, M., Mancini, F., & Martinez Melo, M. (2023). Key Quality Factors in Digital Competence Assessment: A Validation Study from Teachers’ Perspective. Applied Sciences, 13(4), 2450. 

Maina, M. F., Santos-Hermosa, G., Mancini, F., & Guàrdia Ortiz, L. (2020). Open educational practices (OEP) in the design of digital competence assessment. Distance Education, 41(2), 261-278. 

Practical documentation on the application of the DC operational concept and assessment model, together with examples of CAS developed collaboratively by teachers from six different EU countries are openly available. You may download them all from the UOC O2 open repository.

CRISS toolkit:   

CRISS Booklet:


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