Digital competence

Digital competence is the ability to solve problems encountered in the learning process with digital technology (source: Digital technology dictionary, 2021). Estonian national curriculum (2014) for basic schools and upper secondary schools outline digital competence as one of the general competencies, which is defined as the ability to:

  • use digital tools to search and manage information and evaluate its relevance and reliability;
  • develop, integrate and re-elaborating digital content, including the creation and use of texts, images and multimedia;
  • creatively use digital technologies for problem solving and communication on various digital platforms;;
  • be aware about the digital safety issues concerning protection of personal data, privacy and digital identity; and
  • follow the same morals and values in the digital environment as in everyday life.

Therefore, digital competence is an important general competence, which every teacher has to integrate into their subject syllabus and/or work plan.

Have you thought about the following?

Every school has a different approach. In some schools, digital competence is developed in computer studies or computer science classes, and in others digital competence is integrated into subject teaching. Overall, this means that there is a plan and a mutual agreement between teachers and the school management on who develops which digital skills in their subject – this helps to avoid a situation where teachers focus only on certain digital skills, but other skills in the digital competence model are neglected. Find out what the system is like in your school.

If you chose an area, write down its sub-competences and assessment criteria:

  • information and data literacy
  • communication and collaboration
  • digital content creation
  • digital safety
  • problem solving


The digital competence task force of the Education and Youth Board has developed a digital competence model and assessment criteria*, which you can use to analyse your activities.

If you are developing digital competence in your subject, add it to your lesson goals. Emphasis should be on the meaningful and purposeful use of technology to create learning conditions for the subject content. Remember that technology is not a goal in itself – its purpose is to support subject learning. Therefore, think about whether and how the implementation of a digital solution or technology helps to improve students’ learning skills and knowledge of the subject.

Teachers often only give feedback on or assess subject competences, but you should also think about ways to assess the achievement of digital competence. Self-reflection questions** or assessment models that include more precise metrics (ratings or verbal levels) to assess the listed criteria might help. Assessment models help students understand what kind of work or performance is expected of them.

Think about what you need to teach and whether these devices are available in your class. If necessary, book devices for yourself or students. Each school has its own system for lending devices. You should also think about whether the device is appropriate for the planned activities and whether you need an internet connection. If the task is to be finished at home, students must have the opportunity to do it at school if they do not have the devices at home. Practical work should rather be continued in the next lesson. In that case, think about where to save the unfinished work.

When it comes to programs and digital platforms, it is important to know whether they are new or familiar to students and whether they require creating an account. Keep in mind that new applications require more time and instructions. When choosing programs, take into account the General Data Protection Regulation (see section ‘Copyright and GDPR’). Good practice sets out that It is important that schools teams have discussed their needs and compile a list of programs and digital platforms that are safe to use.

*Students’ digital competence model and assessment criteria are available here: Assessment criteria – Digital competence (Google Translate link)
**Self-assessment questionnaire for students (Google Translate link)


Just like all other competences, developing digital competence requires  specific focus and activities. This is why a digital competence model for students was created to establish  a common basic level of competence. In addition, when using any digital solution, it is important to  specify the clear need and purpose that support the content of the subject being taught. Digital technology can be used to support the development of students who excel in self-directed learning. It also provides tools for learning analytics to collect and analyse data about students and their learning to get more results. It would be wrong not to use these opportunities.