The Belgium Perspective on the Ethnography of Digital by Digital
Did you know that 40% of Belgians have poor digital skills and lack access to the Internet? Education shouldn’t be limited by these issues, and that’s why we’re exploring e-learning options.
Have you ever thought about merging education with the online world? This is strongly what we’re aiming for. Between lots of questions and uncertainties, we decided to get some evidence of online learning in Belgium.
Although Belgium has very similar education systems, it appears to be quite autonomous when the subject of “e-learning” is addressed. Inside this frame, we perceive that in Wallonia (WBF) they display multiple online courses in different subjects for French-speaking people. In Flanders, the Flemish Department of Education is the one responsible for the development of e-learning and the corresponding training. Because of Covid, the need to use the Online Education System grew quickly.
In 2020 the King Baudouin Foundation conducted a study that showed 40% of Belgians have poor digital skills, and 29% revealed a lack of financial opportunities to access the Internet. Concerning this matter, these studies show the issue of equality of access to education. When referring to Brussels we witness large regional disparities. In 2021 the digital inclusion charter was signed and a commitment to promoting digital inclusion in Belgium was made.
With Covid, remote teaching contributed to the identification of gaps in digital skills in education. The French-speaking community reviewed its digital strategy promoting, organising and training digital technology. The German-speaking part has no strategy but an improvement of info and media competences has developed. The Flemish-speaking community is the most active in curricular reform and media literacy innovation.
Another study carried out in the French-speaking Community proved that the physical distance during lockdown constituted difficulties for students to get feedback from their teachers and colleagues, which led to a lack of motivation. Flandres developed a project called Bednet that provides sick and chronically ill children to follow lessons and interact with their class through video conferencing. This project is very important not only for a pedagogical purpose but for a psychological purpose too, providing interaction in class, participation and inclusiveness of distance education.
From all these studies we can conclude that internet connection and technological devices should be available for all; strengthening digital skills, cooperation and exchange of good practices between the 3 language-based communities should be pivotal, and the focus should be aimed at students’ and teachers’ physical and mental being.