According to a recent Eurostat report on the digital skills of young people in Europe (16-24 years old), those in Romania rank last in the EU. 56% of them have basic digital skills, compared to the EU average of 80%. Romania ranks last in the general population, only 10% of Romanians have superior digital skills (vs. 33% EU average), while 43% have low skills (vs. 28% EU average).
UiPath Foundation together with Brio®, ed-tech platform for measuring educational performance approved by the Ministry of Education and Research, launches for the first time in Romania the first tool for diagnosing and evaluating digital literacy among students in Romania. After more than 10 months of development, the two entities make available to the public a series of digital literacy tests (digital literacy) that are addressed to students in grades I-XII, available free of charge on brio.ro. The tests are first launched as the beta version, the final version being scheduled for April 2022. The implementation partner of the project is Banca Comercială Română (BCR).
The tests measure students’ skills related to interaction with different digital devices and programs, taking into consideration various scenarios: school, home and family, friends and hobbies. Digital literacy can be observed, measured and developed through pedagogical interventions, therefore this tool also comes to the aid of teachers, who can use it in the classroom to assess students’ abilities. The tests are developed in accordance with the regulations of the European Framework for the Assessment of Digital Competences issued by the European Commission and include several levels of difficulty, corresponding to the digital competences that each child should have, for each age level.
“The launch of the beta version of this standardized tool marks a key moment of our partnership with Brio®, through which we set out to measure, at national level, students’ digital skills. This tool will be available free of charge, to over 2.8 million students in Romania. In order to remain dedicated to our goal of supporting children from disadvantaged backgrounds, our efforts will go towards ensuring the visibility and accessibility of this tool to students and teachers in vulnerable areas and communities, where existing educational and social gaps have been amplified by the pandemic context,” says Raluca Negulescu-Balaci, Executive Director, UiPath Foundation.
The tests were developed by a complex team of experts in psychometrics, educational sciences, IT as well as experts in the digital field, the instrument being a valid scientific one and being able to provide extremely relevant information both at the individual level and at the level of data analysis of the Romanian education system.
„Digital competence is one of the eight key European competences according to which the Romanian education system also works. The lack of digital literacy in Romania is not determined by the lack of access to the gadget, but by the lack of application of a national strategy on digitizing the education and training system, but also by the interest and poor training of all actors involved in this process. Through these tests that we have developed with the help of the UiPath Foundation, we therefore cover the digital competence and ensure the evaluation and monitoring component, in order to have a current image on the situation and on the intervention modalities. But our approach does not stop here, we plan to initiate a National Program for the Assessment and Development of Digital Competences of children and teachers in Romania. We are confident that this program will bring us together with other partners from the areas of education and business to support our initiative,” says Dragoș Iliescu, CEO, Chief Scientist and founder of Brio®.
The test methodology is based on a psychometric model called Item Response Theory (IRT), which calculates for each question a number of three parameters: “difficulty”, “discrimination” and “probability that the correct answer is guessed”. At the end of the test, the student will receive a report detailing the results, containing the total score obtained and its description, in terms of behaviors, knowledge and attitudes.
“Education is one of our priorities, through which we take an important step in shaping a future for which children and teachers are prepared. Digital literacy tests put students face to face with questions about searching for information on the Internet, creating digital content (texts or presentations) as well as relating to other people online. We are talking about an area of digital education essential for life, about basic skills that students need access to. Through this tool we find out the level at which students use technology and, thus, we come to them with adapted solutions to help them increase the level of performance,” says Nicoleta Deliu-Pașol, Communication Director BCR.
The competency model underlying the Brio Digital Literacy tests considers five major areas: informational and data literacy (the ability to accumulate information and data from the online environment), communication and collaboration (all situations in which socialization is transposed into the environment digital content creation (including programming knowledge), security (the ability to protect devices, content, personal data and improve physical and mental health), problem solving (the ability to identify needs and solve practical problems in digital media).
Of all the countries in the European Union, only Bulgaria, Denmark, Malta and Romania, all students in upper secondary education must take a national test to assess digital skills. In addition, in the vast majority of education systems in Europe, students receive a certificate at the end of secondary education, which provides formal proof of their level of education and can allow access to higher education.
However, digital competence occurs in only half of education systems and, in most of them, only applies to a small number of students. Of the education systems that include information on digital skills in the certificates awarded at the end of secondary education, only three (Bulgaria, Malta and Romania) record this information in the certificates of all students.