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Making digital tools work for young people, now and in the future

| Social Policy

Ecorys’ recent work has shown how the Covid-19 pandemic has brought out the best, and worst, in terms of utilising digital technology for young people. 

Digital tools offer educational and social opportunities, yet online risk and a lack of resources, motivation, or ability to learn remotely has led to safeguarding concerns and hours of lost education for many. 

Ecorys understand the key role that teachers play in ensuring that young people get the most out of digital tools. This ranges from helping parents keep students safe online, to giving all learners the best teaching experience to meet a diverse range of needs. This is achieved every day by teachers who are acute to the safeguarding and welfare needs of young people and can blend pedagogy and digital technology to deliver across different teaching environments and platforms.

Yet, with rapid changes to the application and sophistication of technology, Ecorys recognise that teachers need support to do these things effectively. Findings from our recent European Commission research into teaching and learning of languages, for instance, emphasises that “teachers need training on effectively using innovative, inclusive and multilingual pedagogies in the classroom, including digital technologies”. 

Coinciding with world teacher day, Ecorys’ is this month launching its #FOOTPRINTS project to support teachers and schools in helping young people stay safe online while enabling them to realise the benefits. Applying our specialist understanding of participatory research methods to our expert knowledge of child and adolescent risk, this project seeks to create an evidence informed toolkit, co-produced between young people and adults, to equip young people with the skills needed to stay safe online. Supporting classroom practice, Ecorys has just been awarded a contract by the European Commission for a major new study looking to understand the use of digital tools in compulsory education. This important project looks at how digital tools are used across the EU27 to support learners, with an emphasis on fostering inclusive practices through the use of technology. 

Across all of our projects cited above there is a recognition that Covid-19 has changed the digital landscape for young people, both in terms of their education and their social and emotional wellbeing. We at Ecorys want to play our part in making sure that teachers are equipped with the knowledge and resources to make evidence-informed decisions about what works, for whom and in what contexts, so that the negative impact of digital tools can be reduced, and the wealth of benefits can be harnessed for the future.