The new national portal, Learn Digital With Google, sees Malta’s newly-established National Skills Council, and the eSkills Malta Foundation, offer Google Digital Garage courses as part of a portfolio of accredited, open-access, online learning designed to foster the country’s 21st century skills.
Addressing the Google Digital workshop to launch the event, Dr Alex Grech (above), 3CL Executive Director spoke of the disconnect between the traditional delivery of most compulsory education and the needs of 21st century learners. With figures showing that some 57 per cent of teachers in the EU require further digital and ICT training, it was evident that even when there was a will to provide 21st century skills, there remained a shortfall in the ability to deliver up-to-date skills, he said.
According to European Commission, almost half of the EU population (47%) is not properly digitally skilled, yet in the near future 90% of jobs will require some level of digital skills. Some 756,000 jobs are likely to go unfilled by 2020 because of this skills gap.
In Malta, according to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), 21.3% of the population has never used the internet (EU average: 14.5%) and when it comes to digital skills, only 49% individuals have basic digital skills, decreasing from 52% in 2015 (EU average: 56%).
Connected learning that is social, participatory, interest-driven and relevant to the opportunities of our time is imperative in preparing people, both students and those of working age, for life-long, flexible learning. Malta has recently championed several initiatives, at national level as well as at EU level – in particular during its current EU Presidency term – to push for greater availability and flexibility of learning options and platforms.
The partnership with Google falls squarely within this drive and sees Google assist Malta in bridging the divide between workplace and education, and that of traditional education and flexible 21st century skills. Malta continues to experience a disproportionate rate of early school leavers over the past decade; a trend which echoes the findings of the Connected Learning Alliance which states: “Traditional education is failing to engage many students as they enter their middle school, high school, and college years. The culture clash between formal education and interest-driven, out-of-school learning is escalating in today’s world where social communication and interactive content is always at our fingertips. We need to harness these new technologies for learning rather than distraction”.
Google Digital Workshops in Malta are therefore aiming to provide a different type of engagement, offering open-access digital skills’ courses that are learner-centric and self-paced and have real-world application. Malta joins some 25 other European countries in the Google Digital Garage initiative, which sees the communications multinational partner national entities to train various groups such as start-ups, young graduates and the unemployed as well as help individuals learn the tools and skills to grow their businesses, careers, knowledge or just gain confidence.Commenting on the partnership with Google, Dr Grech said that it presented Malta with a locally-focused yet truly international learning platform. Among its first actions as new entity, The Commonwealth Centre for Connected Learning is focusing on three major strategic areas – action research, praxis and advocacy on open education. The Google-Malta partnership in Digital Workshops addresses some of these areas. Dr Grech said that the 3CL was keen to monitor it for best practice and its potential elsewhere in its community of nations.
Photo [main]: courtesy Google Digital Garage, Malta.