The Generational Digital Gap within Dual Vocational Education and Training Teachers

October , 2020

Source: European Journal of Educational Research, Volume 9 Issue 4, Pages: 1557-1567

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The main objective of this article is to detect the alleged differences of Generational Digital Competence with the data provided by a study carried out between teachers of "Dual Vocational Education and Training" in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia.
Dual Training is a mode of teaching that is carried out simultaneously in two different places: the educational center and the real company, two places that are complemented by coordinated activities.
It is not simply based on internships in a company to put into practice what is learned in the school, but rather requires that the teaching-learning process is carried out both in the classroom, where the theoretical knowledge is acquired, and in the company, where the students can assimilate the practical concepts (Nowak, 2019; Molina, 2016).

A quantitative cross-sectional study (Hernandez et al., 2018) is presented.
The intention is to describe by means of descriptive and inferential statistical evidence the situation of education in relation to the digital knowledge of Dual Vocational Education and Training teachers.
Similarly, through techniques and regression modeling, it is intended to find out whether age is a predictor of the development of this competition.

Sample and Data Collection
A total of 1,568 dual-trained teachers from the Autonomous Community of Andalusia participated in the study.
The sampling technique employed was through convenience sampling.
The questionnaire was distributed through the digital platforms on repeated occasions to all the centres in Andalusia, obtaining this number of responses.
According to its main characteristics, the average age of the study sample was 33, the oldest 49 years old and the youngest 18.
In terms of gender, there were 745 women and 823 men.

To achieve the investigation, an ad hoc questionnaire based on the five areas of e-skills proposed by INTEF was set up.
In addition, a sixth area linked to the technology tooling domain was added.
The independent variables (features) were the age (Age) and the years of work experience (Exper); the dependent variables were based on the areas of knowledge raised by INTEF.

Results and discussion
Clearly, age influences the ICTs knowledge and there is no point in denying that younger generations have a digital culture that was not available to the elderly (Fernandez-Cruz & Fernandez-Diaz, 2016; Prensky, 2001).
However, the aim of the present study is to evaluate the level of digital competence of teachers.
The results found in the descriptive analysis made it clear that teachers do not consider themselves deep digitally literate in practically any of the dimensions of digital competence.
These results are similar to previous studies carried out at an international level (Amhag et al., 2019; Chandrasena, 2019; Li et al., 2019), which conclude by advocating the need for ongoing training for teachers, which would provide practical skills and abilities in digital matters to a teaching staff that increasingly needs to make frequent use of these tools and that, currently, does not see the teaching opportunities that these resources offer.
As for digital generational gap, the degree of qualification at the user level of ICTs knowledge by the teachers is understood, and the present study, in its only hypothesis, does not detect significant differences in age, which coincides with previous ones, such as those of Romero and Minelli (2011).
In spite of this, the statistical study "partially" accepts null hypothesis 1, i.e. some differences are detected in certain areas of knowledge of the study.
This could indicate that in certain aspects of e-skills, the age of the trainers is a determining factor.
There is mainly a significant difference in PS 1, which consists of the statement:
"I try to individually solve basic technical problems that arise on my individual devices by helping me with tutorials".
This means that younger teachers dare to personally solve the basic incidents that arise in the day-to-day without having to ask for help, while the older ones require more help, i.e. the older the teacher is, the higher is his dependency to solve technical problems individually.
This difference can be caused by the insecurity of digital immigrants to try to solve problems, which make them choose to ask experts or other younger colleagues (Garrido-Lora et al., 2016).
It should be noted that the study detects other age differences in the area of "Degree of Information and Digital Literacy" and "Level of Communication and Collaboration of Digital Resources", but that they are scarcely significant enough to indicate the existence of an age gap, because their consideration is not excluded.
However, these differences could indicate that younger people are better informed and digitally literate, and that they have a greater use of ICTs.
On the other hand, it should be noted that, according to the study, the values of digital competences in all areas are low, (around 2.4 out of 4), indicating that teachers of all ages need better ICTs knowledge to implement digital tools in the classroom.
In short, although the adjustment of the elaborated models does not explain a great amount of variance, they provide interesting ideas regarding the state of the issue about the generational digital divide at the Dual Vocational Education and Training stage, a stage of which the investigative landscape is aware of little statistics, and therefore it might be relevant to provide quantitative approaches to the situation of its teachers.

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Updated: Mar. 17, 2021