Developing new practises for digital empowerment of adult learners as competent, creative and critical co-creative participants in a sustainable societal change

Mie Buhl, Maria Hvid Bech Dille, Asbjørn Kårstein

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This presentation reports from the Nordic project Lifelong learning’s role in the digital transformation and digital inclusion, 2021-2022 .The project took its point of departure from reports mapping the paradox that Nordic countries are at the forefront with regard to access to digital infrastructure and offering digital skill courses, and at the same time a considerable part of the Nordic population become excluded due to lack of digital competencies (Slåtto 2020). The aim of the project was to identify current Nordic challenges and develop new practises that lead to digital empowerment of adult citizens as competent, creative and critical co-creative participants in a sustainable societal change. The RQ was: How can excluded groups and hard to reach learners be reached and motivated for learning in a digital society and how can new adult learning practises promote and improve digital competences among adults?
The methodology drew on design-based research (DBR) (Amiel & Reeves 2008), where the problem identification was conducted in co-creation with essential actors in the field: citizens, front face professionals, and managers and in close collaboration with the Nordic Adult Learning network digital (NVL digital). These stakeholders were further involved in the phases of designing for solutions and intervention.
Output from this problem identification phase was analysed drawing on insights from socio-material theorising (Orlikowski 2007; Alldred & Alldred 2015), which revealed how diverse social and material actors organise situations that may prevent citizens from developing digital empowerment. Arising from these findings, a design based on principles of a citizen and stakeholder perspectives as resources was created. The principles concern, everyday life as the turning point, relation-chains as drivers for engaging professionally in digital problem identification and -solving, motivation as the crux of change and the creation of diverse participation opportunities. The design was developed through methods of personas and scenarios which were tested by the stakeholders. This led towards new framings for approaching digital exclusion in the Nordics, and materialised in the shape of a digital toolkit for conversation. Based on project findings, we suggest that by involving essential actors, and in particular citizens, we are provided with an opportunity to develop adequate and sustainable initiatives for participation in a digital society that are based on perspectives that view citizens and relevant others as critical resources for digital inclusion.
Alldred, N. & Alldred, P. (2015). New materialist social inquiry: designs, methods and the research-assemblage. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 18(4), 399-414.
Amiel, T., & Reeves, T. C. (2008). Design Based Research and Educational Technology: Rethinking Technology and the Research Agenda. Educational Technology & Society, 11(4), 29–40.
Orlikowski, W. J. (2007). Sociomaterial Practices: Exploring Technology at Work. Organization Studies, 28(9), 1435–1448.
Slåtto, T. (2020). Learning for everyone in a digital society. Nordic Network for Adult Learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2 Jun 2022
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2022
EventNordic Educational Research Association 2022: Education and involvement in precarious times - Reykjavik, Iceland
Duration: 1 Jun 20223 Jun 2022


ConferenceNordic Educational Research Association 2022
Internet address


  • Digital Inclusion
  • Citizen empowerment
  • Learning
  • Adult learning
  • Life long learning
  • DBR
  • Digital transformation


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