Open Thinkering


EBSN podcast series on EPALE: Re-thinking Adult Basic Skills in the 21st century

I was interviewed recently for the European Basic Skills Network (EBSN) podcast. The focus was on the ways our understanding of literacy is changing as we deal with various digital opportunities and challenges.

Adult literacy, and basic skills in general, have become central to many sectors of EU policy from education & training to employment and social policy. The use of the term ‘literacy’ is expanding, different stakeholders understand it with regards to their own context, which leads to parallel interpretations. The increasing technological development and digitalisation trends in all fields of our lives, the green transformation, and the current focus on sustainability all contribute to the changing understanding of the term and our expectations toward it too, not to mention the influence of the ongoing pandemics that speeded up the adaption of digital solutions in adult learning.

The title of the current session is Re-thinking Adult Basic Skills in the 21st century and we chose this topic to allow for reflection on the changing nature of basic skills provision in the light of certain global phenomena that we all experienced recently. Our intention is to see how the understanding of basic skills training might have been affected by these processes. We present our sessions in two parts, firstly, in this unit we are addressing the notion of digital literacies while in the forthcoming part we will look into basic skills research, policy and practice.

We are accompanied by innovative educational thinkers, researchers, policy experts who will be our partners in analysing the constituents of adult basic skills in general. Our guest is Doug Belshaw.


We discussed the following topics in this podcast:

  • The impact of COVID on our digital behaviour: what lessons can we draw from this period of time? Is there anything that we should keep / let go / be aware of?
  • How can we create a balance between making digital skills training directed to individual needs and still applying certain standards?
  • Basic skills’ role to democratic citizenship: Lacking the necessary skills to read and write, calculate and more numeric behaviour, and especially applying digital tools consciously is becoming a must for all who wish to keep up with disruptive changes, crises, newly emerging policies in technology, social life, employment, learning etc.
  • Microcredentials, open badges: A tool that could turn out to be promising in making learning outcomes, training choices and acquired skills determined by individual needs are microcredentials.

It was fun! Hopefully the resulting audio is of use to someone or some organisation. The audio is also on the Internet Archive if it for some reason disappears from SoundCloud.

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