An Overview of the Frameworks for Measuring the Digital Competencies of College Students: A European Perspective

An Overview of the Frameworks for Measuring the Digital Competencies of College Students: A European Perspective

Vladimir M. Simović (Institute of Economic Sciences, Belgrade, Serbia) and Ivana S. Domazet (Institute of Economic Sciences, Belgrade, Serbia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4993-3.ch012
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Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to analyze the options for measuring the digital entrepreneurial competencies the college students acquire during the course of their formal education. The chapter examines the key aspects of various digital competence-related frameworks and proposes the development of a new methodology that will be focused on the digital entrepreneurial competencies of the students. This chapter proposes the development of the corresponding online assessment tool which could serve to measure the level of the acquired competencies by the students. The findings presented in this chapter may apply to other areas as well. The goal is to develop a set of competence assessment tools that could effectively determine the level of competencies the students acquire during the course of their formal studies and enable the formulation of adequate corrective measures in the curriculum plan.
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Introduction

Improving micro competitiveness through the implementation of modern information technology, including new models of information architecture, databases and data warehouses, data protection, data management, computer communication, modern statistical software, and other IT tools (Domazet & Neogradi, 2018), represents a kind of leverage for a profitable business. It is important to understand the depth of changes in business processes and strategy, resulting from accelerated technological changes and digitalization. In doing so, it is equally critical to define new digital environments for entrepreneurship (Domazet, 2018).

The advancement in information technology created extensive space for digital entrepreneurship to evolve. Early technology adopters under Everett Rogers's diffusion of innovations theory (Diffusion of Innovations, by Everett Rogers (2003) use the possibilities provided by new technologies to create new opportunities and to start their entrepreneurial projects among other things. The fact that over 4.5 billion people are using the internet according to relevant sources (Internet World Stats, 2020) represents a substantial opportunity for those in possession of entrepreneurial potential and relevant entrepreneurial skills and competencies (Simović & Markovic, 2018).

Competences are a combination of knowledge, skills, and attitudes which are appropriate to the context. The digital competencies refer to the confident and critical usage of the full range of digital technologies for communication, information and basic problem-solving in all aspects of life (School Education Gateway, n.d.). Digital competencies are similar to digital literacy, which is a critical survival skill in our digital era (Eshet-Alkalai, 2004). It is important to emphasize the difference between digital skills and digital competencies. As per Hatlevik and Christophersen (2013) the digital skills focus on dealing with technical conditions whilst digital competencies are broader term, that emphasizes what kind of skills, understandings, and critical reflections students learn.

The digital competence represents one of eight key competences for lifelong learning as proposed by Reference Framework for lifelong learning (Official Journal of the European Union, 2006). Under this framework, there are some essential knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to be digitally competent. The knowledge includes the understanding of the functioning of main computer applications; of the risks of the internet and online communication; of the role of technologies in supporting creativity and innovation; of the validity and reliability of online information; of the legal and ethical principles behind the use of collaborative tools. The skills refer to the ability to manage information; the capacity to distinguish the virtual from the real world, the ability to use Internet-based services and to use technologies to support critical thinking, creativity, and innovation. The attitudes are associated with critical and reflective behavior towards information, responsible use and interest in engaging in online communities and networks (Ferrari, 2012).

The competencies in various fields can be acquired during the course of a person's education from an early age. As per Corbin (1993), competence is what a person knows and in terms of electronic services use they are preconditioned by the following elements: personal characteristics, basic skills, general knowledge, and special knowledge. The same author outlines that all of the four competence categories are impacted by formal education.

Entrepreneurship as competence is defined as the capacity to act upon opportunities and ideas in order to create social, cultural or financial value for others. Entrepreneurship competencies combine creativity, a sense of initiative, problem-solving, the ability to marshal resources, and financial and technological knowledge (OECD, 2018). The best way to develop entrepreneurship competencies is through entrepreneurship education and training which emphasizes entrepreneurship mindset and behavior. Available sources of data (OECD, 2018) suggest that a problem-based approach in teaching and assessment of entrepreneurship education is particularly successful. In regards to public policy, the following are the priorities in the process of strengthening the entrepreneurship competencies through the process of formal education: a progressive approach to entrepreneurship education, specialized entrepreneurship training, and support for teachers and strengthened business start-up support in vocational and higher education institutions (OECD, 2018).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Attitude: The ‘cognitive and relational capacity’ (e.g., analysis capacity, synthesis capacity, flexibility, pragmatism, etc.) plus the motivation to do something. Skills and knowledge are the main components of competence, whereas attitudes are the glue, binding them together.

Knowledge: The ‘set of know-what’ (e.g., programming languages, design tools, etc.) and can be described by operational descriptions.

Skills: The ‘ability to carry out managerial or technical tasks’ – which are components of competences and specify some core abilities that form a competence.

Digital Entrepreneurial Competence: A specific combination of knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for starting a digital entrepreneurial project.

Digital Competence: The confident and critical usage of the full range of digital technologies for communication, information and basic problem-solving in all aspects of life.

Information Literacy: A series of cognitive skills and abilities, and cultural and social practices associated with the way information content is handled. Includes information literacy skills, a reflective attitude toward information and its uses, and an understanding of and critical distance from information issues

Entrepreneurial competencies: A series of skills enabling an individual to enhance a concept, idea, or product; take risks; and demonstrate initiative and leadership in order to complete a project.

Competence: A combination of knowledge, skills, and attitudes in various life situations.

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