Is it time for agile pedagogical digital competences?

Image: Dirk Wouters /

Pedagogical digital competence is the ability to consistently plan, conduct and apply teaching supported by digital technology. It is not a fixed set of attitudes, knowledge and skills – we learnt that fast (maybe even hard) in the previous school year. So, how can teachers build resilience against future crises? Digital education expert Lidija Kralj shares her views.

All teachers are more or less familiar with pedagogical digital competence. However, it is important to evaluate and revise it on an ongoing basis, based on theory, current research, and proven experience, while always prioritising student learning.

Agile approach in education

The Agile Manifesto talks about better ways of software development, which we could apply to education too. The main ideas of the agile approach are (translated to an educational context):

  • individuals and interactions over processes and tools;
  • working activities/approach over comprehensive documentation;
  • collaboration with students over learning outcomes;
  • responding to change over following a plan.

Applying a similar approach to the development of teachers’ pedagogical digital competence means that teachers need to acquire digital competence, try it in their classroom, reflect on the activity, discuss it with students, decide how to improve, and use it again. Just as agile methodology suggests: do, get feedback, improve, repeat.

The recent European Commission proposal for a Council Recommendation on blended learning further supports teachers’ digital competence development as a way towards the recovery and preparedness of education systems. It recommends upskilling courses, pedagogical modules and resources based on teachers’ experience and feedback. It also encourages teachers’ participation in exploratory projects and use of digital technology to support learning in different environments. In all these measures, the agile approach will come in handy.

Digitally competent (and resilient) teachers

Building resilience against future crises also means that teachers should not limit themselves to an “either/or” mentality. As the world is not just black or white, so education should not be just face to face or remote – there are so many levels in between. Blended learning, as described in the proposed Council Recommendation on blended learning, happens when a school, educator or learner takes more than one approach to the learning process, blending different learning tools and learning environments.

Pedagogical digital competence for blended learning includes:

  • knowing how to express oneself in digital forms;
  • clearly and understandably setting out our expectations and making sure that students have seen them;
  • using electronic communication tools and repeating messages several times through different communication channels;
  • sharing learning resources in different forms to make them accessible for all students;
  • being aware of different features that digital resources have to empower students and help disadvantaged learners;
  • encouraging students to effectively use all forms of communication to share their thoughts and opinions.

Agile pedagogical digital competences could be developed through staff exchanges and peer learning, networks, collaboration projects, and communities of practice, or build on successful innovations introduced or tested during the pandemic, as suggested by the proposed Council Recommendation on blended learning.

As the previous school year showed us, pedagogical digital competences are not a fixed set – we need to learn them fast and apply them even faster. But we still need to reflect consciously and intentionally on the competence and experience gained, developing the ability to explain why something works or does not work in a given educational context. That also means teachers’ digital competences have to evolve significantly – because it is definitely time for agile pedagogical digital competences.

If you would like to read more about the agile approach in education, you could start with the publications listed on the Agile Research Consortium for Schools webpage.

Lidija Kralj

Lidija Kralj is a senior analyst in European Schoolnet, as well as an eLearning and project manager, and a lecturer in Mathematics and Computer Science with 30 years’ experience. She is also an expert in the European Commission’s working groups on AI in education, digital education and safer Internet, and in the UNESCO working group on AI in education.