Panel F.04 — Educating for Responsible Digital Transformation

Convenors Cathrine Edelhard Tømte (University of Agder); Silvia Zanazzi (Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Italy)

Keywords Responsible digital transformation, critical thinking, active citizenship, social justice, education


«In the information regime, being free does not mean acting, but clicking, liking, and posting» (Byung-Chul, Infocracy: Digitization and the Crisis of Democracy, 2022). In this critical vision, humanity lives in an environment transformed by digital media without understanding them, and so becomes a swarm of individuals crushed in a collective and depersonalizing dimension.

There is no doubt that the ubiquity of digital technology is profoundly changing our behavior, perception, sensitivity, thinking, and living together: technology interacts with the world, with our world, to transform it. Education has the responsibility to help us understand this paradigm shift to ensure that the scenario of a “digital panopticon” (Byung-Chul, The Transparency Society, 2015) does not become a reality and that digital technologies can, on the contrary, encourage active participation in society and the development of critical thinking. From this perspective, every activity aimed at understanding digital media is an activity in the search for freedom.

Digitization in education and schools comes with opportunities and challenges and calls for awareness from teachers, school leaders/principals, students, and parents. Digital technologies must be used for training with pedagogical sensitivity and awareness of how knowledge construction processes occur. Promoting the conscious, critical, and creative use of digital technologies means resisting the idea of knowledge consisting solely of data, devoid of theoretical foundations. It means knowing how to filter information with critical awareness and distancing oneself from easy and superficial interpretations of reality. It means resisting reductionism with its simplifications and realizing the authoritarian danger that hides therein.

Children and young people’s everyday lives include many forms of digital activity – regardless of age. Many of these activities are entertainment-oriented and occur in the home sphere, such as games, films, and social media. Students may take these media habits with them to school. This can be a good starting point for teachers since they can use the students’ home-based media experiences. Many young people are, for example, very good at making short film recordings, which can be used as a resource in multimodal media productions under the auspices of the school/teacher. Furthermore, some studies suggest that students who are gamers in their spare time may demonstrate good collaboration skills, and some proficiency in English. Nonetheless, children’s and young people’s media habits may also impact everyday school life less advantageously. Social exclusion, harassment, and bullying take on different forms online, and often the activities can be kept hidden from teachers and parents for a long time and, in the worst case, develop into very destructive actions.

How can teachers deal with this?

The panel intends to solicit reflections on the role of education in building, supporting, and strengthening in students, educators, and teachers, a digital competence that is a lever for the development of critical thinking, the ability to read the complexities of reality, active citizenship, and social justice.

We welcome theoretical reflections, contributions based on empirical/experimental research, and analysis of educational and training experiences.

Keywords: digital transformation, critical thinking, active citizenship, social justice, education


Guidelines and abstracts submission