How BFH promotes digital skills among students

BFH has been offering the “Digital Skills Coaching” (DSC) initiative for a year now. BFH students act as coaches and pass on their knowledge of digital applications to their fellow students. Thanks to the success of over 200 registrations and six workshops, this programme will be continued for another year. This short article describes what the DSC is about and what is planned for this year.

In today’s society, digital competences are the skills that enable individuals to navigate, participate and contribute effectively in digital environments. They go far beyond mere software knowledge or navigating the internet and encompass a broader range of cognitive, technical and social skills. They are crucial for accessing, managing, evaluating and creating information through various digital media. Digital skills are essential for academic success, indispensable for efficient and innovative professional practice and fundamental for informed social participation. They are among the so-called “future skills” that enable lifelong learning and adaptability in a rapidly evolving digital world.

BFH is committed to preparing students for the digital future. In its strategic goals for teaching, the BFH management has defined six strategic fields of action, including future skills, and the DSC project is a concrete measure in this area.

What are digital skills?

In order to pursue a structured approach, we have modelled the DSC on the European Commission’s DigComp framework. The framework describes digital skills as the“confident, critical and responsible use of digital technologies and their use for learning, work and participation in society” Digital literacy is understoodas “a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes“. This framework defines the essential components of digital competence in 5 areas: Information and Data Literacy, Communication and Collaboration, Digital Content Creation, Security and Digital Problem Solving. The DigComp framework not only standardises the content domains, but also introduces a competence scale that allows an individual’s mastery to be assessed at different levels of competence.

(A fun exercise for readers: test yourself now: Do you feel comfortable creating and editing a video? Do you understand the different copyright licence models? Can you assess which of your digital activities has the most impact on the environment? If you can’t handle these fluently, you’re probably not at the top of the DigComp scale!)

How we are positioned

The DSC programme has evolved from a previous Digital Skills Tutoring programme first run in 2020, integrating many learning and other experiences. Thanks to funding from the Human Digital Transformation (HDT) Strategic Theme, our setup in 2023 included a diverse team of 8 coaches from different departments and three Servant Leaders (one BFH lecturer and 2 academic staff). The operational ethos followed a ‘one team’ approach, with team members working together as equals to offer possible approaches to coaching workshops and online counselling sessions.

The DSC project organised a series of workshops on topical issues such as AI with up to 50 participants. Individual counselling sessions enabled specific questions to be answered. One very significant result was positive, but not expected: We realised that the coaching role was more far-reaching than simply teaching digital skills. The self-responsibility of the student coaches in designing and leading their workshops had a noticeable impact on their learning and development. This responsibility significantly strengthened their skills and motivation. The coaches thus became learners and teachers at the same time, which encouraged their development and spurred them on to further commitment.

What comes next

Thanks to the one-year extension of the programme, we plan to continue the momentum. In fact, some of last year’s coaches will be back, although their graduation dates are approaching. But the programme is still in its infancy and there is still so much to learn: What are the exact needs or pain points we can address? What coaching strategies are most effective? Can other areas such as training also benefit? And even questions like language (would English be valuable?) need to be explored.


The DSC initiative serves as evidence of BFH’s proactive stance towards digital literacy. It is a strategic endeavour that uses a ‘students helping students’ approach to equip students not only with the necessary skills, but also with the confidence to apply those skills in a dynamic digital space. The extension of Digital Skills Coaching by one year represents a forward-looking commitment to the digital empowerment of our academic community.

More information

The public page on which information on Digital Skills Tutoring is documented is accessible outside the BFH here.

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AUTHOR: Joëlle Simonet

Joëlle Simonet is a research associate at the Institute Digital Enabling at BFH Wirtschaft.

AUTHOR: Tina Maurer

Tina Maurer is a research assistant in the Teaching Unit in the Office of the Vice-President Teaching at BFH.

AUTHOR: Philipp Wagenbach

Philipp Wagenbach is a Master's student and student lead for communication in the DSC project.

AUTHOR: Kenneth Ritley

Kenneth Ritley is Professor of Computer Science at the Institute for Data Applications and Security (IDAS) at BFH Technik & Informatik. Born in the USA, Ken Ritley has already had an international career in IT. He had Senior Leadership Roles in several Swiss companies such as Swiss Post Solutions and Sulzer and built up offshore teams in India and nearshore teams in Bulgaria among others.

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