L. Luić 

University North (CROATIA)
The rapid increase in the number of different strategies, methods, models, and tools for research and identification of digital competencies in recent years has fueled the growing presence and popularity of this topic in research projects and papers arguing for the need to assess digital competencies of higher education teachers and their students. Highly motivated teachers to improve their work have a publicly available EU tool "Higher Education SELFIEforTEACHERS" which allows them to self-assess digital competencies through 7 thematic areas, and which was used in the research "Digital Competences of Teachers - Higher Education" within the project "” (2020 - 2023) which addresses the needs of the development of digital competencies as one of the key competencies of modern society. The project is implemented in Croatia, co-financed by the European Union from the European Social Fund, and the University North participates in it as a partner of the Network for the Development of Digital Literacy under Objective # 2: Development of Digital Education. What activities, tools, and digital technology higher education teachers use as part of their digital competencies in working with students in order to enable the development and direction of students' digital skills, is the subject of this paper. Whether there is a harmonization of digital competencies of teachers, as one of the skills of the 21st century, and their teaching practice with the EU Action Plan for Digital Education 2022-2027 in Croatian higher education institutions, is the research question of this paper the aim of which is to design the information model of the development of digital competencies of higher education teachers. The research was conducted using the desk method and the standard tool "Higher Education SELFIEforTEACHERS" by applying the self-assessment test technique in the implementation of which 411 teachers from 75 higher education institutions teaching in different scientific fields participated. For the purpose of this paper, the results of research related to Area 5. Student Empowerment and Area 6. Development of digital competencies of students were considered, the analysis of which determined the correlation between the development of digital competencies of students and the level of digital competencies of teachers. Most teachers consider themselves digitally competent enough to develop students' digital competencies, with social science teachers being considered more competent to develop students' digital competencies than teachers teaching technical, biomedical, and natural sciences. The results of this research will be used to create national recommendations in terms of structuring lifelong learning programs for higher education teachers in the field of developing and improving digital competencies, but also as an empirical starting point for the second phase of scientific research in which, in addition to teachers, their students will be involved, and the aim of which is to design a causal model for validating the impact of digital competencies on learning outcomes.