Eila Burns & Piia Kolho
Digitalization is transforming education and working life everywhere. It is ubiquitous, influencing the ways in which we work, learn, and communicate with each other. People are more digitally connected than ever (Caena & Redecker, 2019). Subsequently, teaching professionals who are dedicated to facilitating learning are required to obtain a high level of digital competence to be able to effectively use digital technologies in a pedagogically sound manner. In a recent report published by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture (2022), one of the basic competences for teachers is the management of pedagogy in diverse learning environments and digitalisation, as well as socio-emotional interaction and collaboration skills. The drive towards future work calls for, so-called, soft or general skills that are highly sought-after among all employers (e.g., Binkley et al., 2012). The current understanding is that, despite the benefits of digitalisation, some tasks and situations in the teaching profession still exist which require authentic human presence and interaction and, thus, cannot be replaced by technology.
Studies and reviews in the field of business and management (e.g., Harvard Business Review, 2021) have discovered that emotional intelligence (EI) is increasingly recognized as a competitive advantage for companies that want to cultivate a purpose-driven workforce for the future. The studies have indicated that the more demanding work or the situation is, the more emphasis is put on emotional intelligence. Subsequently, one can consider how the education sector can answer this need and develop learners’ emotional intelligence whilst most of the teaching occurs in online environments.
The digitalisation of education is expected to enhance the traditional learning experience. The fast development of technology and the use of different digital facilities have been seen as key to education transformation. Over the recent decade, we have witnessed educational technology offering more complex and personalized digital learning environments that adapt to learner activities and provide real-time analytics about learning for teachers and learners (Kaarakainen & Saikkonen, 2021). This in turn requires more advanced and updated digital skills from teachers (Falloon, 2020). Studies have indicated that the level of teachers’ digital competences is an indicator of how they adopt new pedagogical practices and integrate technology into their teaching. Teachers with advanced digital skills are likely to use digital technologies more frequently in their practices than those with weaker skills (Kaarakainen & Saikkonen, 2021). Thus, updating teachers’ digital skills and, in particular, the pedagogical use of educational technologies are crucial skills for future teachers to obtain (Falloon, 2020).
In this paper, we offer a brief description of the above-mentioned teachers’ crucial skills and competences i.e., digital competences (e.g., Redecker, 2017) and social-emotional competency (e.g., Virtanen, 2013) within the concept of emotional intelligence. The article aims to provoke more discussion of the phenomenon and critical thinking when planning online teaching courses or sessions. To further strengthen our own viewpoints, we explore the findings of a survey conducted among student teachers. Our overarching question is: Is there a risk that focusing only on teachers’ digital competences diminishes discussion on teachers’ socio-emotional competences?
Digital competence frameworks for teachers
A number of digital pedagogical competence frameworks have been developed to support teaching professionals in developing meaningful criterion-based skills and competences (Falloon, 2020). As early as 1986, Lee Shulman introduced the pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) framework, which was further developed in 2006 by Mishra and Koehler in a teacher knowledge framework for technology integration called technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK). This framework emphasizes complex interaction among three bodies of teacher’s knowledge: content, pedagogy (including emotional skills), and technology (including digital skills) (Koehler et al., 2013).
The European Digital Competence Framework for Educators (DigCompEdu) has a scientifically sound background based on the work carried out by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC). The DigCompEdu framework introduces a set of digital competences specific to the teaching profession at all levels of education (Redecker, 2017). Being a digitally competent educator not only requires teachers to operate in varied teaching and learning environments, but also to enable learners to actively participate in life and work in a digital age. This means teachers have a set of didactical and technological knowledge, skills, and attitudes to use digital technologies in communication and collaboration, searching for information, digital content creation, problem-solving and critical thinking as well as taking care of data security issues (Redecker, 2017). The DigCompEdu framework is accompanied by an online self-reflection tool for teachers (SELFIEforTeachers) to use when analysing their own skills. Furthermore, not only individual teachers are able to analyse and reflect on their digital skills, but also educational organisations can find support in their digital capacity building by using the European framework for digitally competent educational organisations (DigCompOrg). The latest edition of the series of EU frameworks is DigComp2.2 focusing on the updated skills needed for citizens (Vuorikari et al., 2022). It stresses that some current phenomena, for example, Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and disinformation, require enhanced digital skills. Thus, the document is worthy of note for teachers.
Teachers’ social-emotional competence
In this paper, we weave teachers’ socio-emotional competency into the theoretical framework of emotional intelligence. The literature on emotional intelligence (EI), is varied and multiple conceptions and models of EI have been developed by researchers. The model developed by (Mayer et al., 2008) proposes EI consisting of four competencies (1) perceptions of emotions in self and others, (2) use of emotions to conduct cognitive reasoning, (3) understanding of emotions to identify why and how emotions are generated, and (4) management of emotions in self and others. The EI model by Goleman (1996) conceptualizes emotional intelligence as a set of emotional and social competencies affecting the behaviours and performances of people. His model has four domains: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management, of which the first two represent personal competences and the latter two social competences (Goleman, 1996).
Despite the theoretical divisions, each model notes some common facets, such as emotional self-awareness; emotional awareness of others; emotional reasoning; emotional self-management and emotional management of others (Virtanen, 2013). Teachers’ socio-emotional competency has been defined as an ability to understand one’s own and other’s emotions, regulate emotions, demonstrate empathic behaviour towards self and others, and develop positive relationships during the teaching career to drive pedagogical decision-making (Asrar-ul-Haq et al., 2017). Central to teachers’ work are social contacts and an understanding of learners and their needs. Studies have shown that socio-emotionally competent teachers are more often able to create a positive atmosphere in their classrooms and are able to model and support students in their competence development (Durlak et al., 2011).
Both, digital and socio-emotional, competences needed
These two crucial competencies expected from teachers may be problematic to combine and manifest successfully when working in digital learning environments. Teaching in digital learning environments requires educators to make pedagogically sound choices concerning digital tools and methods. However, this alone is not enough, as deep learning requires, amongst other things, collaboration and interactive communication with others (Fullan, Hill & Rincón-Gallardo, 2017), which can be limited in online settings. Interaction and non-verbal communication are further diminished if web cameras are not used in the learning sessions. Thus, online teaching and digital learning environments pose challenges to teachers on how to increase interaction and students’ engagement, and how to support the development of socio-emotional competency among their students. To support the discussion and presented background, we offer a small glimpse of a survey conducted with Finnish student teachers (n=256) in 2020. We used the Webropol online platform and asked student teachers to self-assess using a Likert scale of 1–5 some aspects of their digital and emotional competences. The voluntary-based survey was conducted at the end of their teacher education studies. The answers were quantitatively analysed using the SPSS programme and some of the initial results are shown in Table 1 below.
|Likert scale 1–5|
|Student teachers’ self-assessments||All||Only face-to-face||Both F2F and online||Only online|
|Skills in implementing teaching and learning|
|I can implement teaching using various pedagogical models (e.g., experiential learning, inquiry-based learning)||2.8||2.6||2.9||2.9|
|I can use digital tools and programs to support students’ learning||3.2||3.1||3.0||3.5|
|I can apply digital tools and programs that support learning (in a meaningful manner during teaching)||3.1||3.1||3.1||3.3|
|I can apply diverse teaching methods in an online environment||2.9||2.9||2.8||3.2|
|Teacher’s interaction skills|
|I can plan collaborative and interactive classroom teaching sessions using diverse teaching methods||3.3||3.3||3.3||3.4|
|I can plan collaborative and interactive online teaching sessions||3.1||2.8||3.0||3.3|
|I can work interactively in online environments||3.1||2.8||3.1||3.3|
|I can listen actively and continuously||3.5||3.3||3.5||3.4|
In general, we discovered that there seem to be differences in how the student teachers experienced the implementation of the teaching sessions i.e., contact vs online teaching. Student teachers who studied the whole teacher education programme online, self-assessed having learned a number of different digital skills compared to those who participated in the contact sessions. Student teachers who only studied online also assessed being able to apply digital skills in their own teaching. Although our initial results indicated slightly improved skills and competencies in the implementation of teaching and learning among those who studied only online, the development of their social-emotional competencies is questionable, requiring further study. The online group members were assessed to have developed their social-emotional skills, such as active listening, treating everyone equally and interaction and collaboration skills, but so did the group who studied in contact (face-to-face) sessions. However, these are initial findings as the analysis of the results remains ongoing. More research is therefore required on how to continue developing teachers’ digital and social-emotional skills in teacher education.
We started the article by questioning if there is a risk that focusing on teachers’ digital competences diminishes discussions on teachers’ social-emotional competences but found that the answer is not self-evident. In the teaching profession, both competences are highly crucial and required, however, their proficiency and application to actual teaching are not easy to measure.
Teacher education organisations should pay special attention to developing both digital and emotional skills in their students, and, particularly when studying and working in digital learning environments. It appears that a lot of emphasis has been put on measuring and developing teachers’ digital competences, for example, with the help of digital competence frameworks, whereas analysing and assessing teachers’ social-emotional competences has received less attention. It can be postulated that assessing teachers’ digital competences is easier than those related to socio-emotional competences. Nevertheless, both broad competences are required to equip teachers for the new educational eras.
We understand that both competences should be addressed and applied in authentic situations as reading about and/or discussing them is not enough. Thus, teacher educators’ own competences need to be current as they offer examples to student teachers in developing digital and social-emotional competences in online learning environments. In teacher education, it is important to offer both face-to-face and online teaching sessions wherein these skills can be practised in a safe environment. When learning emotional skills in digital learning environments, it is important to strengthen students’ mutual trust and sense of community by using different pedagogical activities in online sessions. We argue that teachers who have pedagogically grounded digital skills and competences combined with social-emotional competency will have an advantage in developing quality teachers for the Education 4.0 and 5.0 eras.
We hope we have managed to raise some curiosity around these issues and recommend further explorations and studies on how social-emotional competency can be developed in digital learning environments during teacher education.
The teaching profession, like many others, is faced with continuous discussions of identifying crucial skills and competencies that are expected to be obtained to face current and future challenges. The Covid-19 and post-pandemic era have challenged teachers globally in unpredictable ways, obliging them to find technological solutions to support students’ learning and professional development. Subsequently, this experience has further highlighted the necessity of teachers’ digital skills and competences. However, as the teaching profession is characterised by human interaction and collaboration, teachers’ social-emotional competency has been less emphasised when discussing teachers’ digital competence development. Is there a risk that focusing on the development of teachers’ digital competences diminishes discussions on the need for teachers’ social-emotional competences when working in digital environments? This paper aims to prompt further discussion of this phenomenon. It explores some aspects of teachers’ digital and social-emotional competency as skills required to equip teachers for the Education 4.0 and 5.0 eras. To support the discussion and background of the article, we offer a small glimpse of a survey conducted with student teachers.
Eila Burns, Senior researcher, Ph.D., JAMK University of Applied Sciences, School of Professional Teacher Education
Piia Kolho, Head of teacher education programme, M.Ed. Ph.D C., Häme University of Applied Sciences, School of Professional Teacher Education
Asrar-ul-Haq, M., Anwarb, S., & Hassan, M. (2017). Impact of emotional intelligence on teacher’s performance in higher education institutions of Pakistan. Future Business Journal, 3, 87–97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbj.2017.05.003
Binkley, M., Erstad, O., Herman, J., Raizen, S., Ripley, M., Miller-Ricci, M., & Rumble, M. (2012). Defining Twenty-First Century Skills. In: P. Griffin, B. McGaw, & E. Care (Eds.), Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills. Springer.
Caena, F., & Redecker, C. (2019). Aligning teacher competence frameworks to 21st century challenges: The case for the European Digital Competence Framework for Educators (Digcompedu). European Journal of Education, 54(3), 356–369. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejed.12345
Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta‐analysis of school‐based universal interventions. Child development, 82(1), 405–432. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01564.x
Falloon, G. (2020). From digital literacy to digital competence: the teacher digital competency (TDC) framework. Education Tech Research Dev, 68, 2449–2472. https://doi-org.ezproxy.cc.lut.fi/10.1007/s11423-020-09767-4
Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. (2022). Opettajankoulutuksen kehittämisohjelma 2022–2026 [Teacher Education Development Programme 2022–2026].
Fullan, M., Hill, P. & Rincón-Gallardo, S. (2017). Deep Learning: Shaking the Foundation. Ontario, Canada: Fullan, M., Quinn, J., & McEachen, J. Retrieved from http://npdl.global/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/npdl-case_study_3.pdf
Goleman, D. (1996). Emotional intelligence. Why it can matter more than IQ. Bantam.
Harvard Business Review. (2021). Virtual EI (HBR Emotional Intelligence Series) by Harvard Business Review.
Kaarakainen, M.-T. & Saikkonen, L. (2021). Multilevel analysis of the educational use of technology: Quantity and versatility of digital technology usage in Finnish basic education schools. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 37, 953–965. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12534
Koehler, M. J., Mishra, P. & Cain W. (2013). What is Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)? Journal of Education, 193(3), 13–19. https://doi.org/10.1177/002205741319300303
Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., & Caruso, D. R. (2008). Emotional intelligence: New ability or eclectic traits? American Psychologist, 63(6), 503–517. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.63.6.503
Redecker, C. (2017). European framework for the digital competence of educators: DigCompEdu (No. JRC107466). Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
Virtanen, M. (2013). Opettajan emotionaalinen kompetenssi. Doctoral dissertation. Tampere University Press, Finland.
Vuorikari, R., Kluzer, S., & Punie, Y. (2022). DigComp 2.2: The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens – With new examples of knowledge, skills and attitudes, EUR 31006 EN, Publications Office of the European Union. htpps://doi.org/10.2760/490274