Digital competence for emergency remote teaching in higher education: understanding the present and anticipating the future

Publication Name

Educational Technology Research and Development


Higher education has increasingly adopted online and blended models of teaching. Guided by institutional policy and digital competence frameworks, the integration of digital tools and competences is perceived as essential. The pivot to emergency remote teaching (ERT) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic increased the use of digital technologies and the need to deploy and support digital competences. Researchers captured a range of remote teaching practices in higher education across this period that highlight the adaptability of teachers despite a lack of preparation for such an event. This study reviewed empirical studies of ERT from the past 2 years to derive a conceptual frame for ERT digital competence, which was then applied as a lens to analyse teaching or digital competency frameworks from Australian universities. The findings of this paper demonstrate the pre-pandemic teaching and digital competency frameworks captured digital competencies relevant to ERT in varied ways. Practically, the findings provide a starting point for understanding digital competences needed for ERT to ensure future preparedness in responding to a crisis that disrupts educational provision. We also suggest universities can better support the development of teachers’ digital competence through practical operationalisations that connect technical and pedagogical knowledge, make digital possibilities across modes of delivery explicit, and acknowledge the need to protect wellbeing of educators.

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