DIGIT-AL Toolbox

Digital Transformation in Education for Democratic Citizenship

The Topic

Into Digital Transfor­mation

Digitalisation is an essential part of our lives across all dimensions. Many people think that it is a technological process, i.e. it is mainly about computer servers, algorithms, Internet and the like. But it is difficult to separate digitalisation from almost all activities in our lives. When we shop online, are we online or are we shopping? When we play computer games, are we playing or are we at the computer? And when we are active in social media, we are both social and active in an electronic medium. Moreover, our health system is already digitised, the pollution of the planet is, to a growing extent, caused by digital technology, and activities such as navigating a car or collaboration in civil society are increasingly facilitated by digital technology.

Digital Transformation is...

A social, cultural or economic process in which things are done seemingly differently made possible by information and communication technology.

Get a broader picture of digital transformation

Look at both the technology and the nature of economic, social and cultural activities, for example, what we do in different social roles as digital customers, digital activists, digital workers and digital citizens.

Understand the change

Take an interest in the difference that digitalisation brings to such activities. What is changing thanks to new technology? What impact does it have on society?

The Topic

The Role of Education for Democratic Citizenship

Democracy and rights-based education is empowering learners to exercise and defend their rights and responsibilities, and to co-create the society. Any successful democratic transformation requires citizens understanding the change and willing to involve in discourses and decisionmaking.

With a strong aspect of democracy and human rights in lifelong learning, we should lay the foundations for a democratic digital transformation in Europe and empower learners to find a constructive and active position in this transformation.

We need to widen the focus from digital learning to a holistic pedagogy of the digital: Learning with, for and about the digital transformation.

Digital Transformation Competence

What knowledge, skills, values and attitudes do citizens need to understand the digital transformation in their society and how it affects them in their different social roles?

Digital Rights

How are fundamental rights and ethical foundations related to the transformation? Where do they shift their nature, what weakens them and what kind of development strengthens their enforcement?

Active Citizenship and Co-Creation

What active civic competences do citizens need to contribute to the transformation, including participation in relevant public discourses and decisions, self-organisation and social engagement, and the development of social innovations?

Our Resources

Free and open materials

Our project explores digital transformation as a topic in education in all ages and under a lifelong learning perspective.Our focus is set on learning for democratic citizenship and the necessary digital transformation competencies. The materials are published under a Creative Commons License CC BY SA 4.0.

Easy introductions into selected aspects of digitalisation

For educators or teachers in different contexts of education

Online and App: Integrated in: Digital Toolbox Competendo

Handbook for Facilitators

Learning the Digital: Digital Competence and Educating Digital Competence.

Digital transformation and digital competence from the practice of Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education.

Our notions of digital competence must respond to the deep roots of digital transformation in our current society. We need a pedagogy of ‘the digital’ that does not focus solely on teaching technical skills, in order for citizens to be prepared for the societal debates about digitalisation, to be able to actively participate in them, and to develop their own informed attitudes toward the possibilities opened up by the digital transformation.

In particular, opportunities for learning democracy and strengthening social participation are needed to empower active citizens, to raise awareness among broader groups in the population, and to ensure that the digital transformation in Europe is people-centred and shaped along democratic rights and values and upholds human rights prinicples.

With this handbook for educators, we present training methodologies and examples of relevant practice and encourage digitalisation as a central topic in lifelong learning: Learning for digitalisation, learning about digitalisation and learning through digitalisation.

Learning the digital as a competence-based learning
Network(ed) cultures
Digital global dimension
Artificial Intelligence and algorithms
Activism and Participation
Digital Self

M. Oberosler, E. Rapetti, N. Zimmermann (ed.), 176 p. 
Details PDF

Reader Series: Smart City - Smart Teaching

Learn about certain aspects of digitalisation


N. Zimmermann (ed.), 52 p.

Work under Transformation

Reader: Smart City, Smart Teaching: Understanding Digital Transformation in Teaching and Learning

Platformisation of the European economy, automatisation, additive factoring and the (global) redefinition of value chains and collaboration processes are digital drivers of industrial transformation. Obviously, these developments also have an impact on concrete working conditions, although the differences among countries and also sectors are remarkable. Working spaces have also become more technologically enhanced. One result of digitalisation and rationalisation is job polarisation, an increase of high-profile and low-profile jobs while those in the middle vanish. On the other hand, platforms are creating a new kind of working environment. In particular this brochure also highlights how education policies and training strategies might respond to these challenges. It ends with scenarios in regard to (un)employment and labour and with the idea of a universal basic income, which has received increasing support thanks to discussions about digital transformation.

  • Rationalization and Job Polarisation
  • The Crowd Working in the Cloud
  • Transformation of the Working space
  • Toward Upskilling and Lifelong Learning
  • A Future without Labour?

V. Vivona, N. Caranti (ed.), 44 p.

Media & Journalism

Reader: Smart City, Smart Teaching: Understanding Digital Transformation in Teaching and Learning

Digitalisation has changed journalism in the last two decades. The digital revolution has created a high-choice media environment, and one of the consequences has been (paradoxically?) news avoidance. Another appearance in recent years has been so-called "fake news" or "disinformation" which we discuss under the topic "information disorder", which has a wider meaning. Next, we examine new information models as possible ways out, including investigative journalism, explanatory reporting, solutions journalism, constructive journalism, and data journalism. Finally, we focus on media literacy as an educational response to cope with the new media environment.

  • Two decades of extreme turbulence
  • Information disorder
  • What ways out? New information models
  • Media and information literacy

N. Zimmermann (ed.), 60 p.

The Digital Self

Reader: Smart City, Smart Teaching: Understanding Digital Transformation in Teaching and Learning

The question of how digitalisation instigates changes to our body, our social identity and our self-image is becoming apparent. This chapter describes the conditions and aspects constituting a digital identity. One important aspect is the machine-human relationship and its underlying constructive conditions. Another is the identificatory aspect of digital technology - the tension between privacy and identifiability (and for whom), and also we need to explore mechanisms of exclusion and inclusion. Therefore, digital transformation has an impact on the ideas of privacy and autonomy and how they might be achieved in the digital social reality, especially under the conditions that big data and datafication create. The second part tackles the question of how the exposure to and embeddedness in digital interaction affects the abilities and attitudes of us as individuals.

  • Into the Internet of Everything
  • Mentally controlled by data?
  • Our Creepy Lines

S. Valdmaa, M. A. Udikas (ed.), 48 p.


Reader: Smart City, Smart Teaching: Understanding Digital Transformation in Teaching and Learning

The digital transition in regard to governments has made all societies focus on security, democracy and data protection issues. In some countries, digitalisation has moved more quickly and is more wide-spread than in others. However, digitalisation has become an unstoppable process, and it is most useful to analyse all kinds of threats and risks and evaluate already existing experiences and achievements in e-government. Estonia is considered to be one of the pioneers and pathfinders in the digital transition of public services and infrastructure, as it was one of the first to start developing e-governance with wide digital possibilities. We introduce, how Estonia has established its e-society and changed also the understanding of people as (digital) citizens with access to tools and platforms that have become essential to participate in society. In consequence, everybody today needs digital citizenship skills to fully participate in the social life of their communities.

  • Public Services under Transformation
  • How it all came about in Estonia
  • Through the lens of democracy and human rights


N. Zimmermann (ed.), 68 p.  

The Internet, Big Data & Platforms

Reader: Smart City, Smart Teaching: Understanding Digital Transformation in Teaching and Learning

The current digital transformation is rooted in earlier digitalisation in different parts of society. In particular, the emergence of the non-centralised internet, globalisation, networked technology, technical advancement, new ways of networked collaboration and the vision of ubiquitous computing have abetted the transformation toward the dominant topics in discourse around digital transformation today. Topics like the platform economy, big data and artificial intelligence. But the Internet has also helped other ideas break through, in particular, new open and non-centralised models of creation, communication and collaboration. As a global infrastructure, there is also an environmental impact associated with the physical network of cables, satellites, data centres, and antennas. In this publication, we introduce some of these fundamental topics.

  • From the Microchip Revolution to the Internet
  • The Machine Room behind the Internet
  • What is Big Data? Accelerating the Human Cognitive Process
  • Platforms and the Decentralised Internet
  • Openness
  • Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence

R. Martinez, D. Kolarova, G. Pirker (ed.), 88 p. 

Education & Learning

Reader: Smart City, Smart Teaching: Understanding Digital Transformation in Teaching and Learning

Digital transformation has an impact on learning in all ages and situations and is influencing the education and training sector. Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education can play a specific role in this transformation and this focus might also affect what kind of digital competencies education is aiming to facilitate. Certainly the education sector itself is a space where digital instruments are more and more included. Therefore the brochure is asking what characterizes digital didactics and digital learning describe, especially in relation and complementary to "analogue" learning spaces. It ends with an outlook to the new practices in the field of recognition of learning - open badges and micro-credentialing.

  • Impact of Digital Transformation on (Adult) Education and Training
  • Competences for the digital transformation
  • The Teacher as an Adult Learner
  • There is no digital didactics
  • I know how to teach, do I know how to do it digitally?
  • Blockchain and micro-credentialing in the digitalisation of education
  • Open badges as a Tool in Non formal Education
  • Avenues for self assessment and structured learning: Appraiser

E Rapetti, R. Caldas (ed.), 52 p. 

Activism & Participation

Reader: Smart City, Smart Teaching: Understanding Digital Transformation in Teaching and Learning

Social movements' transform (digitally) and also the idea and ways of active participation. The authors underline the relevance of both online and offline forms of participation in a world where (hack)tivists and movements play an increasingly major role in local communities and in the global processes. From the tech universe to social feminist organizations, they highlight movements that have mapped out an important path in empowering citizens and brought citizens' voices into the public. The brochure concludes with some reflection about how participation will change in the future and about the necessary competences for participation of citizens under the conditions of the (digital) transformation age.

  • New on/offline behaviours & hacktivism
  • Plural forms of participation
  • Trust and Participatory Governance
  • Citizenship Competence

G. Pirker (ed.), 72 p. 

Arts & Culture

Reader: Smart City, Smart Teaching: Understanding Digital Transformation in Teaching and Learning

Digital Transformation impacts the field of arts and culture, but how do artists understand and explore digitalisation? The brochure explores how artists and art research are discussing the transformative process and to what initiatives and new dimensions of culture it could lead. On example of various practices it investigates the arts undergoing a change far beyond the field of production and "consumption", exposing us to new philosophical frontiers of our understanding of nature and culture. Furthermore, it explores deeper what kind of questions and approaches arts and culture could offer also for civic education.

  • The Internet Cultures
  • Work between URL and IRL
  • Inside and Insights of the Cultural Industry
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Gaming

DIGIT-AL Paper Robot

Create artficial intelligence and give life to DIGIT-AL, our paperbot. Please print the PDF on stronger paper or cardboard.

App and Online-Toolbox:

Competendo - Digital Toolbox for Citizenship Education

Competendo offers and shares experience, methods and inspiration for (digital) competency based learning, especially non-formal learning.

Good practice, tools and methods
Creative Commons
Online and as an app
Check Competendo


Policy Recommen­dations: Learning the Digital Lifelong

Positions and reflections from the perspective of Education for Democratic Citizenship/­ Human Rights Education

Human rights and democracy in the digital world
Aims of learning the digital.
Digital transformation through lifelong learning
Processes, methodologies, structures and quality
Download Summary

Published: 01/09/2021
G. Pirker, D. Kolarova (ed.)
58 pages, Brussels 2021

The Project DIGIT-AL Digital Transformation in Adult Learning for Active Citizenship



European organisations

8 Brochures about digitalisation
1 Facilitator Handbook (2021)
1 Digital Toolbox & App
1 Policy Recommen­dation


The Partners

Arbeitskreis deutscher Bildungsstätten

Berlin, Germany

DARE Network

Brussels, Belgium

Jaan Tõnissoni Instituut

Tallinn, Estonia

Rede Inducar

Porto, Portugal

Partners Bulgaria Foundation

Sofia, Bulgaria

Izglītības attīstības centrs

Riga, Latvia

Centro per la Cooperazione Internazionale

Trento, Italy


Contact Us


Arbeitskreis deutscher Bildungsstätten
Mühlendamm 3, 10178 Berlin, Germany

Nils-Eyk Zimmermann

Coordinator DIGIT-AL
+49 30 400401 21

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    This series "Smart City, Smart Teaching: Understanding Digital Transformation in Teaching and Lerning" is an Open Educational Resource (OER) supported by the European Commission and published under a CC Creative Commons License.


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    More Privacy?

    Our Digital Toolbox Competendo provides information about privacy and highlights books, websites and apps dedicated to support your privacy. Competendo: Privacy Protection


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    Compiled using the disclaimer of Lawyer Sören Siebert