Over the last few months, we have seen the COVID-19 pandemic radically reshape lives and livelihoods. People across the world have transitioned to remote work and education arrangements, increasing our reliance on digital technologies. In the education sector, students and teachers have had to quickly adapt to new models of learning and teaching from remote settings, a transition that has highlighted the importance of digital skilling and universal access to technology. At this moment of accelerated change, we at Dell Technologies remain committed to the task of transforming education through technology and addressing the need for greater digital access across communities and geographies.
As Chair of the Governing Board at the EU Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, I have been truly impressed with the proactive steps taken by policymakers and educators over the past few months to introduce online classes and ICT tools to minimize disruptions to students’ education and help teachers adapt to technology-driven classrooms. For instance, the European Schoolnet has released a wide range of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and curated online teaching materials to support teachers in conducting classes remotely. At the same time, this pandemic has exposed the uneven landscape of digital resources and competencies across many regions, which hinders students’ and teachers’ ability to transition to virtual arrangements. According to the European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), 42% of European citizens and 37% of people in the labor force lack sufficient digital skills. Meeting the current challenges of our time will require new collaboration across government, academia, and the private sector to modernize technology infrastructure for education and design student-centric learning models that develop the future readiness of students.
This theme is the primary focus underpinning Dell Technologies’ upcoming PolicyHack that will be held in association with STEM Alliance – an organization that brings together the European Ministries of Education with industry partners to promote STEM subjects across all levels of education. This August, Dell Technologies PolicyHack and STEM Alliance have launched a competition for teachers across Europe to submit policy recommendations on how ICT tools can be used to solve STEM education challenges faced at the local and regional levels. Our expert panel of judges will carefully select four groups of winning contestants, who will then each form a competition team with representatives from government, academia, and industry. These four teams will proceed to a hackathon held in November alongside the annual “Back to School Campaign” organized by STEM Alliance, which brings together schools, universities, libraries, and other academic institutions to celebrate studies and careers in STEM.
The teams will be challenged to come up with innovative ICT solutions that address four of the most pressing challenges faced in today’s classrooms: cultivating inclusion in classrooms, integrating constructivist and personalized teaching approaches, supporting inquiry-based learning, and building lifelong learning skills. Through this initiative, we hope to support collaboration among diverse perspectives and stakeholders while encouraging new ways of using ICT tools to enhance learning content and methodologies, build digital competencies, and encourage diversity in classrooms.
Dell Technologies believes in digital skilling and inclusion as critical factors toward empowering our future workforce, bridging societal divides, and providing opportunities for underrepresented communities. These extraordinary times underscore the importance of fostering digital skills among students and empowering educators to teach in new ways that promote digital literacy. Looking ahead, Dell Technologies will be committed to acting on the lessons learned from this rise in virtual education and work with stakeholders to leverage digital transformation and emerging technologies to help citizens thrive in an increasingly digital world.