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The Digital Competence Framework without technology?

Darllenwch y dudalen hon yn Gymraeg


Since the Digital Competence Framework was released in Wales, the Digital Pioneers have been impressed and inspired by the uptake and schools’ eagerness to become involved.

One of the most common questions asked to Pioneers is ‘Do I need to buy new equipment to meet the skills in the Digital Competence Framework?’. Well if schools were able to meet all of the previous National Curriculum Skills, the likelihood is that they do not need new kit. However, what schools may need to do is work smarter with what they already have or consider long term options for updating what they have. As so much of our world is now online it is essential that learners are able to access the internet. So before buying kit, schools should look carefully at their infrastructure and consider whether investment first needs to be spent on developing internet and wireless capability and reliability.

The Welsh Government has provided Hwb as a place to support schools in developing their digital skills. Through the use of tools such as Office 365, J2E and Britannica, schools can meet most online skills without having to purchase additional software or licenses. As Hwb continues to evolve and develop, updates will ensure that new and refined areas of Hwb support an increasingly wide range of skills.

Much of the Digital Competence Framework does not even need technology. This may seem like a strange concept to some, but the higher order skills, particularly in computational thinking, can be completed on paper. For example, when planning a presentation, the plan can be just as effectively laid out on paper as if a tablet was used to write it out.

Sometimes, when technology is involved, lessons become all about the tech, rather than the learning. For that reason much of the Digital Competence Framework has been written so that learners place as much value on the planning and evaluation aspects as on the product or resource that they are creating. Value needs to be put on these two aspects so that the lessons are as meaningful as possible and that this reflects what we do in real life; we plan, we carry out and we evaluate.

When planning activities, learners should be given the choice of whether to use technology or not. In a Digitally Competent school, learners should be presented with a variety of tech and non-tech options and decide and evaluate for themselves what their preference is. This can lead onto excellent discussions about why different learners have different preferences and the reasons for choosing different methods. Of course, the learners need to have initial input on how to use the technology so that they can have a discussion on whether its use is appropriate in the situation.

This is not to say that schools should not be investing in technology. We must prepare the learners of Wales for the future and schools need to have long term plans to regularly update their hardware and infrastructure so that learners are not left using outdated tools. Technology moves at an incredible pace and schools need to be organised and forward thinking so that they are moving forward too.

– Ian Timbrell, St Gwladys Bargoed School


  1. Clare Jones on

    Supply teachers and supply support staff need access to all that HWb can provide ! Currently acces is via bring based in a school. This is not acceptable – get it sorted WG. Access to hwb should be via EWC registration . Not hard really ! Otherwise you disenfranchise a significant part of the education workforce and treat them as second class citizens .

  2. Peter Thomas (Senior Online Engagement Manager - Hwb Team) on

    Supply teachers do have access to Hwb. Please click the sign up button on the Hwb home page to request your account or follow this link:
    We are currently looking into managing access for supply support staff.

  3. mrshawkinsusw on

    Do / can student teachers have access to Hwb?

  4. mat6453 on

    The issue with highlighting Hwb as the solution is that it does not exist outside of a school so there is an issue around competence of skills that are needed in the workplace, children could just become used to Hwb as a platform, the same as our generation seem to be fixated in Windows.
    Hwb has a lot to offer but is just one of many tools.
    If children are to be truly digitally competent they need to have access to choice, creativity and the chance to share.

    • Peter Thomas (Senior Online Engagement Manager - Hwb Team) on

      Many thanks for your comment. We agree fully that in order for children to become digitally competent they must be confident and able to choose appropriate tools for the job, to be creative and to share and collaborate with others.

      Hwb is a centrally-funded platform which provides all maintained schools in Wales with access to a consistent range of digital tools and resources. Schools are free to select other tools and resources which they feel will enhance teaching and learning.

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