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ACM Europe: Informatics education report

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Executive Overview

  1. All of Europe's citizens need to be educated in both digital literacy and informatics.
  2. Digital literacy covers fluency with computer tools and the Internet.
  3. Informatics covers the science behind information technology. Informatics is a distinct science, characterized by its own concepts, methods, body of knowledge and open issues. It has emerged, in a role similar to that of mathematics, as a cross-discipline field underlying today's scientific, engineering and economic progress.
  4. Informatics is a major enabler of technology innovation, the principal resource for Europe's drive to become an information society, and the key to the future of Europe's economy.
  5. European countries are making good progress in including digital literacy in the curriculum. The teaching of this topic should emphasize the proper use of information technology resources and cover matters of ethics such as privacy and plagiarism.
  6. Informatics education, unlike digital literacy education, is sorely lacking in most European countries. The situation has paradoxically worsened since the 70s and 80s
  7. Not offering appropriate informatics education means that Europe is harming its new generation of citizens, educationally and economically.
  8. Unless Europe takes resolute steps to change that situation, it will turn into a mere consumer of information technology and miss its goal of being a major player.

Based on an analysis of the current situation and of experiences in many countries, this report makes four key recommendations:

  • Recommendation 1. All students should benefit from education in digital literacy, starting from an early age and mastering the basic concepts by age 12. Digital literacy education should emphasize not only skills but also the principles and practices of using them effectively and ethically.
  • Recommendation 2. All students should benefit from education in informatics as an independent scientific subject, studied both for its intrinsic intellectual and educational value and for its applications to other disciplines.
  • Recommendation 3. A large-scale teacher training program should urgently be started. To bootstrap the process in the short term, creative solutions should be developed involving school teachers paired with experts from academia and industry.
  • Recommendation 4. The definition of informatics curricula should rely on the considerable body of existing work on the topic and the specific recommendations of the present report (section 4)