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Vol. 5. No. 1. January 2016 pp. 51-56 ISSN: 2254-7399 DOI: 10.7821/naer.2016.1.152


Evaluation and development of digital competence in future
primary school teachers at the University of Murcia
Isabel Gutiérrez Porlán1*, José Luis Serrano Sánchez2
Dpto. Didáctica y Organización Escolar, Universidad de Murcia, Spain {isabelgp@um.es}
Dpto. Didáctica y Organización Escolar, Universidad de Murcia, Spain {jl.serranosanchez@um.es}
Received on 3 September 2015; revised on 11 September 2015; accepted on 23 September 2015; published on 15 January 2016.
DOI: 10.7821/naer.2016.1.152

The concept of competence is a complex one. It implies
RESUMEN putting into effect actions that may often be confused with
This paper presents the findings of a study carried out in the similar concepts, such as strategy, expertise and ability (Cebrián
academic year 2014-2015 at the faculty of Education of the & Junyent, 2015). One of the most complete definitions in our
University of Murcia with first year degree students in Primary opinion us that put forward by Escudero (2008) in whch
Education studying Research and ICT. The study started with the competencies are understood as “descriptions of students’
application of the DIGCOM questionnaire to analyze the digital learning that include multiple ingredients (cognitive resources of
competences of 134 students. The questionnaire served as an diverse nature - personal, social, values), and the capacity to
initial task to help students reflect on their digital competences. mobilize and integrate them in order to define and respond
The subject was developed around tasks which adopted a appropriately to complex situations and problems en relatively
transversal approach and used the nature of the contents itself to well defined contexts, taking into account established social and
direct and improve students’ digital competencies. Finally, the ethical criteria”. Competencies can be many and varied (Peklaj,
initial questionnaire was reformulated and run in order to ascertain 2015). In this paper we focus on digital competence because of
the students’ self-perception of their improvement in these its presence and importance at all levels of education, from
competencies through the tasks they had performed. compulsory education (where it is one of the 8 basic
Below we present the tasks carried out, the organization of each competencies) through to university. We agree with Levy (2010)
subject and the most relevant data regarding the self-perception that a feature of the labor markets is that technology advances
of digital competencies of the future primary school teachers faster than personal skills, and while we may not be sure exactly
enrolled at the University of Murcia. The data reveal, on the one how it will evolve, we can be certain that computers are key
hand, that the students participating consider themselves to be technology so we must invest in developing the appropriate
competent in the most basic aspects of digital competencies and, competencies.
on the other, their perception that the work done in the subject The concept of digital competence is one of the most dealt
has helped them quite a lot in improving their competencies. with in the literature, with many authors providing compilations
and approaches (e.g., De Pablos, 2010; Fraser, Atkins, &
PALABRAS CLAVE: FUTURE TEACHERS, DIGITAL Richard, 2013; Gutiérrez, 2011; Janssen, Stoyanov, Ferrari,
COMPETENCIES, DIGCOM, UNIVERSIDAD Punie, Pannekeet, & Sloep, 2013; Suárez, Almerich, Gargallo, &
Aliaga, 2013; Prendes, & Gutiérrez, 2013; Gutiérrez, Prendes, &
1 INTRODUCTION Castañeda, 2015). We also find various national and
international bodies and institutions which have addressed the
In the last decade training through competencies has become one issue (Association of College and Research Libraries
of the essential elements at all levels of education. Competencies Information Literacy Competency Standard, 2000; CRUE-TIC
are today the backbone of educational planning and action, from & REBIUN, 2009; ISTE, 2008; Chilean Ministry of Education,
the outset through to universities and in ongoing education or 2006; OCDE, 2011; UNESCO, 2004; VOX, 2008).
workers and areas of non formal education. The current Thus paper takes as its starting point the European
Education Act in Spain establishes in its third chapter that a part Commission publication in 2013 DIGCOM: A Framework for
of the curriculum is to include: “The competencies and Developing and Understanding Digital Competence in Europe,
capacities for the integral application of the contents proper to which aims to provide a framework for developing and
each teaching and education stage in order to ensure the understanding digital competence in Europe. The project took
appropriate performance of activities and the effective resolution digital competence to be users’ capacity to make safe, critical
of problems” (LOMCE, 2013, p. 10; our translation). and creative use of ICTs to fulfill aims related to work,
employability, learning, leisure, and inclusion and/or
participation in society (Ferrari, 2013). On the basis of
To whom correspondence should be addressed: DIGCOM work has been done to create a detailed framework
for the digital competence of all citizens using a detailed
Facultad de Educación. Campus Universitario de Espinardo.
description of the competencies that are needed to function in
Universidad de Murcia.
today’s society. This set of competencies, which covers various
CP: 30100. Espinardo, Murcia, Spain.

© NAER New Approaches in Educational Research 2016 | http://naerjournal.ua.es 51

2015. Gataullina. understanding and good use of social carry out each one.0. Andreeva. Castañeda. were expected to reflect on a series of educational questions Each group had to put the poster of their dynamic on its blog proposed by Bartolomé & Grané (2013) in their article together with the evaluation it had made of another group. Storify. 2013). Padlet. The subject is had to visit and comment on the work done by at least three worth 6 credits and it is pat of Basic Training. & Shestakova.0. The tasks were designed taking into account key topics related Apart form the base text. the groups were required to individual while attempting to act at all times as an emancipator. among others. In face to face classes the groups took turns to put The aim of this task was for the students to learn about the their ideas into operation. they then represented the person in a concept map. The images could be PLE and its implications in professional teacher development.it. Personal Learning Environments (PLE) for teacher training. & O’Brien. they had to information on Creative Commons Licenses.. Podvoiska. Unhangout. to look up these terms prior to designing the dynamic in reading Below we detail the five tasks proposed and carried out by the materials provided to them (Castañeda.Gutiérrez Porlán. 2015. Kolomi- ITCs in teaching-learning processes. The work was planned so as to be carried out in groups of 3 or Students got to know social network tools and how to use them 4 students. Each group was required to include on their blog the interviews. edited provided the license permitted this. Each group had to content sand concepts worked on in this task were online social maintain a blog during the course where they periodically networks and digital identity. and students were recommended published the results of the tasks they had performed. Woodruff. presentation of the tasks carried out. When they had gathered the information on their Task 2: Web 2. The aim in this area of the Moovly. Lito- how the various cognitive processes that students use when vchin. lamova. classmate. In this task the groups built a digital artifact (of 3 minutes max. Web 2. indicating object of study and a means of expression. L. on the primary school teaching degree course.0. 52 . as set out in the teaching guide. 2010). Yesina. with their fellow students acting as knowledge today’s society has of ICTs and education. & Is- learning can be enriched by ITCs. the students could draw on resources to ICTs that today’s primary school teacher should master. Social Networks and Task 4: Dynamics for safe use of social networks. Each group had to find an image (under Creative Commons Task 5: Discovering our PLE license) that significantly illustrated and represented each question and add a key word or idea that fostered a better The final task sought to help students to discover the concept of reflection of the question represented. The proposal was to have a duration of approximately 30 Task 1: Educational questions in the knowledge society minutes and instructions were printed in a poster made using an online tool. Scoop. integrating ITCs into the primary school classroom. students at the centre of process. and materials about how to design oral and visual presentations. Gutiérrez & 2015). The aim was to consider ets.com). proved to be the most suitable in recent years for developing In this task the groups were fully committed to the integration of students’ competencies (Aslan & Zhu. so providing description of the comments made to other groups. The main time. These included the knowledge society. Our starting point was a text by Prendes. Students participants and assessors. Maltseva. Thinglink. J. Didactics and School organization. so each group first year degree course in Primary Education. degree is for the students to study in depth gain the criteria for As a final product of the task each group had to include the integrating ICTS into teaching and the methodological tools and URL of the digital artifact made in its blog along with a brief strategies commonly used in teaching and learning. / New Approaches in Educational Research 5(1) 2016. The production had to indicate the importance of Web 2. I. Glizerina. Kurochkina. The tasks were introduced and explained in class by safely. & Gutiérrez. To help the students Once students had been introduced to the idea through in this task. Thus the proposed working methodology places the Castañeda (2015) “Educación conectada en un mundo 2. in the classroom. 2015.0. 2015.0 offers and to try approach the digital competence knowledge of first year students to convince other teachers of the advantages of using Web 2. they were given a text to work with and basic recommended texts (Castañeda & Adell. Tools assigned to the groups were experience (8 weeks) is the responsibility of the Department of Mendeley. tools. Serrano Sánchez.0 in the educational sphere and explain the use that could be made 2 DEVELOPMENT OF THE SUBJECT of a Web 2. 51-56 levels is the starting point of our study and it has enabled us to to explore the educational possibilities Web 2. González. “Interrogantes educativos en la sociedad del conocimiento”. communication and the cognitive processes that would be set in motion in each case. which meant that all the They then prepared a PechaKucha (oral presentation work performed could lead to improving the digital accompanied by a visual presentation of 20 slides of 20 seconds competencies as well as enabling the student to develop duration each) which they uploaded to the Internet and presented competencies proper to the subject itself.0 tool that each group had been randomly assigned. Martin. prepare an interview in order to ascertain the PLE of one of their classmates. One of the possibilities of VoiceThread is tha tit allows Our study was performed within the Research and ICT subject commentaries to be left on the publications made. The aim here was after seeing their own PLE drawn up by a classmate. They made use of class time and self-study networks with a certain group of users (4 or 5 people). The work was based on group tasks as this methodology has Task 3: Enriched cognitive processes with ICT. them with a richer preparation as future primary school teachers. making each of them an active After reading and analyzing the text. Valeyev. Students were provided with basic documentation taught jointly by two departments. Avilova. using assessment rubrics provided. select a topic from the Primary Education curriculum and study Due to the very nature of the subject. Sanaiey.. The subject is other groups.0”. ICTs were both an how they would work with it with and without ICTs. & Serrano.) concept maps and a reflection on the PLE of each component using VoiceThread (https://voicethread. The task consisted of the groups’ designing an original the teachers and the students were given a week and a half to dynamic for awareness. and this ICT centered on the concept of Web 2. students: 2011.

and 20% did not understand the question. Furthermore. 64% of the students considered they were able to do this and 89% stated they could 4. Together with the area sites and online communities and can transmit or share indicated. the following statement: “Task X has helped 94. as was the mode. and 6% said they did not understand the question. The figures change when feeling confident about Below we present our main findings after analyzing the data sharing information and collaborating digitally frequently. In relation to this. 79% were critical of the information they find and  Design and implement a series of tasks aimed at improving stated that they were able to compare and evaluate its validity students’ digital competence. while 49% were able to retrieve. knowledge and 4. When asked if they were able to create contents in collaboration with others who use simple digital tools. When contents. neither agree drops (85% of those who claimed they were able to) when asked nor disagree.5% are able to share files questionnaire. totally disagree. included for each task. sought and to a specific audience. 64% of the students said they were  Ascertain the opinions of the students as to how their digital able to screen and control the information they receive. Drive. the large majority of said they did not understand the question. both questionnaires were administered through Google platforms. 77% 4 RESULTS considered themselves able to do this. disagree. 94% and 23% affirmed that they had developed strategies to discover of the sample stated they were able to use search engines online. The figure changes a little when it first was the DIGCOM. contents and resources actively To facilitate the administration of the questionnaire and later through online communities. instant messaging.5%) stated that they were able to interact with others through As stated earlier. communication. communication. Finally.2 Questionnaire on self`-perception of digital manage the various types of communication they receive.7% declared that they can participate in social networking to improve my competence in area X”. and contents with others using simple technologies. while 50% said they could their computers. we included a summary of its essential elements and knowledge. while the maximum age to adapt the communication and the digital media to the aim was 39. 53 . management.2% of the students said they can collaborate with others their digital competence made at the time of the first using traditional technologies and 98. Below we present the most significant data for each of the Although most students are aware of these basic rules. which comprised 89 items grouped into comes to advanced functions of communication. competence as measured by the DIGCOM questionnaire As regards their confidence in the information on the Internet. creation of stating that they used them and 14% saying they did not. The figure with five response options: “totally agree. creation of content. only blocks. and in relation to the five blocks making chats. inappropriate behaviors online. two questionnaires were administered. almost all the students information sought. the methodology proposed is quantitative knew who to follow in order to share information online. organize and manage after performing the tasks. Evaluation and development of digital competence in future primary school teachers at the University of Murcia 3 METHOD AND INSTRUMENTS When surfing the Internet for information and searching for information online. networks and collaboration analyses. This overall highlight also that 91% of the students declared that they were aim can be broken down into: able not only to select information but also to compare different  Describe the students’ perception of their digital sources of information. social networks) and up the DIGCOM.1 Ethnographic data contents. safety and problem solving. (98. 30% of the sample is able to create their digital identity online 97% declared that they were knew how to save and store files and contents. asked the students to review first their first reflection regarding 93. with 86% five categories: information.2% of students are able to use a wide range of tools (e-mails. we found that The second questionnaire was an adaption of the first and 93. and descriptive and a questionnaire is used to collect the Regarding the area of communication. The mean age was 19 years and the One essential aspect of online communication is the capacity youngest age was 18. These referred to access. 26% consider themselves able to apply the various aspects of online etiquette to the different digital communication spaces In the area of information various aspects were rated. of information. 97% claimed they were able to do this and The aim of our study is to ascertain the perception of first year 94% stated they were able to select appropriate information from Primary Education degree students about their own digital that available on the Internet. and 98% were able to retrieve contents saved in and monitor their digital fingerprint. and credibility. safety and problem solving. only half of the sample stating that they collaborate with others in the production and distribution of resources. The basic communication tools. content stored by others. we would competence before and after taking the ITC subject. agree. texts. administered at the beginning of the ICT block. while 23% stated they were not. we found that 35% of students Given these aims. contents and information. competence (DIGCOM) As for the rules of net etiquette and appropriate online This questionnaire comprises 5 blocks in which students were behavior. about sharing information. Elsewhere. they did not know them. 60% knew the basic rules of behavior when asked about their self-perception of different aspects of their communicating with others through digital tools. 91% stated that all the information found is reliable. The second questionnaire comprised 25 items. asked about their use of communication tools. search. The blocks were: information. blogs. 34% stated digital competence. whom were female (76%). 63% competence has changed in terms of the areas of considered themselves able to use a wide range of search competencies considered in the DIGCOM questionnaire strategies. not. compared to 40% who did not do this and 10% who 134 students participated in the experiment. etc. with from the two tools used.

5%. As for advanced modifications of configurations. antivirus. Finally. with As for safety and privacy. with 95% of the devices. with the highest percentage of students agreeing totally or The majority (95%) are aware that technology can affect their agreeing that the tasks that helped them with problem solving health when used incorrectly and 87% understand the positive were tasks 4 (89. but only 37% actually put them safety and digital identity. Serrano Sánchez. change or write source code. where 24% were indifferent regarding its usefulness in The last block of the questionnaire referred to problem improving their relation with online safety. problem solving. classroom. shared online. while half declared that they can remix area in which students felt their digital competencies had existing content elements to create new ones. tables. Task 3. 3 (90%) and just 20% declared that they knew how to apply them. Just over half (56%) could DIGCOM questionnaire. When asked about In general. When asked about their basic knowledge of the knowledge where 77% expressed total agreement or agreement differences between authors’ rights and copyright or authors’ that it had helped them to improve. the students. nevertheless. 51-56 When looking at the area creation of contents we find that in 4. where 95% totally agreed or agreed with its knowledge of licenses and author rights.3 The DIGCOM questionnaire and the tasks general the percentages are somewhat lower than in the previous performed areas First. passwords.. and that they were also able The results from the DIGCOM questionnaire on students’ to use new technologies to solve routine tasks (92%). images and improve their competencies in all aspects included in the audio) 88% said they were able to.5% answering totally adjustments). task 5 (on PLEs) with copyright and authors’ rights. on ICT integration in the into practice. 65% stated that they knew how to all the areas. information.. 55% said they were not. 65% negatively and the remaining asked students about safety. we find that 94% of the students state they can use increases (levels 2 and 3). information. with 92. students also reported a clear languages. 42% said that they were The third area had to do with creation of contents. answered affirmatively. As expected.) 94% said that they were.5%).5% and finally task 1. appears as that which helped the students least. social networks and digital identity. task 4. create contents in different formats and for different platforms Focusing on each of the areas. was also rated as they were able to manage the simplest fuctions (apply basic having been positive highly. improvement in their digital competence. with they knew how to apply different tyoes of licenses to 89. 3 and 5 (82%) and. Although the responses were fairly students claimed not to understand the question. when asked if they are able to create simple digital Below we present the results form the second questionnaire. When they had made least improvements. Moreover. They were 5 (86. the tasks were positively avoid cyber bullying.g. given its asked if they were able to take basic precautions to protect their content. and problem solving. y and task 1.g. with 77%. and negative effects of using technology for the environment. Tasks 2 and 4 (on web 2. (e. / New Approaches in Educational Research 5(1) 2016. The highest rated task The creation and editing of contents is closely related to was for number 4. with 94% did not understand the question. L. the students perceived that the tasks helped to creating contents in various forms (e. students were asked if 4 (91%) and 5 (90%).0 and social networks and digital identity. agree/agree. was the most highly rated. The list continued with tasks 1 (92%). which is the most crosscutting of while 38% said they did not. In task 2 continue to fall when editing content. 62% said that they understood privacy issues and where 31% showed themselves to be indifferent. Almost all perception of their digital competence reveal that they consider the students (95.0 in depth. contents. technologies to perform creative activities and solve problems. had basic knowledge about gathering and using their data online. organizing. this was. I. 26% The fourth aspect evaluated with the DIGCOM questionnaire. 75% claim they can learn something new from them. finally task 1. information and resources that they created and used. general aspects (level 1) but this falls as the level of complexity Lastly. students starting total agreement or agreement that the task had Just over half (56%) knew how to protect their digital devices served to enhance their digital competence in relation to online and how to update strategies. positive. These were followed by task 3. 90% stated that they were aware 35% declaring neither agreement nor disagreement regarding the that only certain types of personal information and others can be usefulness of the task. since just 36% said they students had to study the concept of 2.5%. The figures improved most with each if the tasks performed. modify. respectively) were 54 . solving and seeking help. 81% of the students said they can take decisions they rate their competence quite highly in the most basic and when choosing a tool for a routine practice.Gutiérrez Porlán. then task 3 (on integration of said they were aware that some contents were protected by ICT tools in the classroom) with 89. 2 (89%). etc… digital also asked if they were able to edit (open) programs. Something similar occurs when saying they totally agreed/agreed that the task has helped them. write code and program in various In the area of communication. text. 91% said they were able to ask for specific help when technologies did not work or when using a 5 CONCLUSIONS new device. Elsewhere. Most students (93%) usefulness. while 7% said that they were 83. program or application. did not understand the question. communication. copyleft and Creative Commons. The tasks familiar with these differences. on educational issues in the society of unaware of this. J. editing software. 43% said they could not and 21% said they improved their digital competence in information. the area in which students felt The fourth area in the questionnaire covered safety. This was the were able to use a variety of digital tools to create original activity that the highest number of students considered had multimedia outputs. 30% stated that they could. accessing. Almost half the students (47%) indicated that Task 4. The tasks used in this experience were rated very positively by Moreover. A similar situation occurs with task 5. As in the previous areas. 92% answered affirmatively. and 3% that most students answered totally agree or agree were 2 (94%).5%) are aware of their limitations when using themselves to be competent mainly in aspects related to new technologies. rated.5%). analyzing. with all the tasks helping to improve their digital competence to a large degree. rights. Finally. Next was task 2 (91%). we find that information is the and environments.

A. Martin. Ferrari. & Grané.. 97-110. Pre-service teachers’ perceptions of ICT integration education and it is a clear commitment in line with education in teacher education in Turkey. Martínez & I. disseminating and employing personal data. González. education. revista de Psicología.. Retrieved from: twofold importance. 11-27). A. Castañeda & J. Although the other tasks sought to envisage all designing and applying a series of tasks directed at improving the above.rebiun.. we understand that the individuals www.). as well as the responsible use of technologies now arrive at the second part of our study in which. Retrieved from: http://ftp. Universities and Knowledge Society Jour- We therefore agree with Gisbert & Esteve (2011) whose study of nal. In L. (2015). 2013). We would highlight the transversality of this the intellectual endeavor of educators. 31 (1). 2015. In L. in other words. these can of digital competence. 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