Europe has been fighting the global COVID19 pandemic, which has had dramatic effects on people’s lives and society in its entirety. Besides the enormous economic consequences, due to repeated lockdowns in protection of the health of the population and health services, the educational sector suffered in particular.
VET centres and schools were repeatedly closed to the day and educational processes disrupted. As a first response, remote schooling was introduced and became fundamental to ensure the continuity of learning in situations where in-person classes are suspended.
Online educational platforms enable students to learn at their own pace and give them more flexibility during the day, but students with special educational needs (SEN),, were partly excluded due to the lack of accessibility. These include students in need of customised methodologies and technical foresightsA significant number of learners and teachers were not substantially prepared for successful, accessible and well-balanced remote schooling. The digital gap was quite visible during the lockdown with the closing of educational institutions across europe for up to 24 months. This resulted in a manifold of issues on different levels, which need to be addressed urgently, which include:
- At an ddministrative level, each individual VET centre and school need to facilitate the process of getting digitally ready,
- Methodological level, teaching staff were/are not prepared to tackle digital education, due to the lack of digital skills,
- At the learner’s level, not being able to cope with digital education, due to a lack of knowledge in using digital educational methodologies and instruments. Even though they are experts in using technologies in other fields, e.g. gaming, social networking, phoning etc.
- At a social level, families were not always able to address their children’s educational needs, e.g. access to computers, tablets or suitable internet connections were not always available.
In addition to that, learners with special needs or other disabilities were forced to stay at home without the specialised support that they would otherwise have access to at school or other structured facilities. had significant consequences on various levels, which include: a risk of isolation; interruption of educational pathways; loss of daily habits, especially relating to social spaces; stress and frailty behaviours; family's difficulty in reconciling work and care needs.
The above mentioned needs, which arose during the ongoing COVID19 pandemic in educational settings with a special focus on the SEN and accessibility will be addressed in this project. The project is going to provide short-, medium- and long-term solutions, innovative approaches and instruments for VET educators and decision makers with a clear focus on the educational environment and accessibility especially for learners with special needs for a good, well-balanced, inclusive digital education, by:
- roducing a DIG-i-READY Good Practice Catalogue, with a special focus on implemented solutions during the COVID19 crisis;
- Developing a DIG-i-READY Handbook providing carefully designed Digital Competence indicators and guidelines for “going digital”, a collection of accessible and inclusive digital tools, recommendations for a systemic change for a “new and inclusive normal” and producing a localised version of the DIG-i- READY handbook in the 6 partnering countries ;
The outcomes can be immediately used to face the COVID19 emergency but also will be a useful resource incase of other crisis situations like earthquakes, floods and epidemics.
All activities are divided into different phases that are interlinked with one another. Work within the different activities will be distributed among partners according to their field of expertise.
- Phase 1: Development of all activities will be focussed on the development of the proposed Project Results. The DIG-i-READY Good Pactice Cataloguethat will sum up the results of the Mapping of Existing and Good Practices, the DIG-i-READY Handbook will be developed, consisting of 6 chapters focussing on short, medium-term solutions, and will be created on the basis of a framework that will be derived from the Good Practice Catalogue.
- Phase 2: A peer review will be conducted. All training partners that participated in the different development activities will be asked to provide feedback at different stages of the project reuslts., They will usetheir experiences and their network of local, regional, national and international partners along with an advisory board that will be set up for the lifetime of the project. The Advisory Board will review the project results and provide feedback that will be used to optimise the final products.
- Eventually, a Learning Teaching and Training activity will be conucted to ensure the correct transfer of the main findings and results included int PR2s Handbook to local VET Educators/Decision makers being key player in the production process of the six local/national versions of the Handbook (Chapter 6) after the LTTA. Participants will be informed, trained and prepared, so they can train others in using the Handbook. By exploiting the approved transfer process, more national versions are easily producible after the life-time of the project and can be added at a later stage.
- Phase 3: Dissemination and Exploitation All project phases and activities will closely be linked to disseminate the findings and results to a wider public. All members of the consortium, the AB and AP will be ambassadors of the project`s key messages. Beside that, a variety of different activities and measures will be implemented focussed on dissemination and exploitation of the project results, laid down in the Dissemination Plan & Exploitation Strategy. All activities in phase 3 are designed to provide information to all relevant target groups (including the media and the public), in a strategic and effective manner. 4 TPMs including members of the targeted groups and local experts and others. Another key element of the activities are the three rounds of MEs through the project’s life time: Local Round 1: raising awareness for the Good Practice Catalogue (PR1) and the Handbook Chapter 1-5 (PR2) and to consult with stakeholders about how best to introduce all Products locally. Local Round 2: raising awareness for the DIG-i-READY entire set of products with special focus on Chapter 6 of the Handbook containing the adapted localised version of the findings for instant use and will raise awareness for the need of a systemic change towards a “new inclusive normal”. European Round as part of TPM4: will additionally focus on Chapter 5 of the Handbook containing the recommendations for a systemic change toward a “new and inclusive normal”. All three phases are accompanied by a series of ongoing transversal activities, throughout the entire project, such as project coordination, quality and risk management and a coordination and supervision of all dissemination and exploitation activities in order to ensure a timely implementation of all project measures.
The project is going to develop short-, medium- and long-term solutions to support the by the COVID19 pandemic accelerated process of digitalisation of educational processes. The following results will be produced during the project lifetime be available aftr tis completion: - PR1: DIG-i-READY Good Practice catalogue of promising practices on inclusive Digital Readiness Summing up the findings and conclusions of a call for Good Practices covering the EU27 about already existing tools and methodologies under the umbrella of digital inclusive education practices with special focus on analysing and mapping solutions implemented recently in the COVID 19 crisis will be collected in order to extract the key success factors for inclusive digital readiness. - PR2: DIG-i-READY Handbook It will consist of 6 DIG-i-READY Chapters and will take the findings of PR1 to the next level and provide short-, medium-term solutions and long-term recommendations.
- Chapter 1 – Digital Competence Framework (short-term) Building upon the Digi Comp Framework, necessary Digital Competences for Students and Educators (Leaders, Teaching Staff, Parents) will be mapped and compiled. Special attention will be drawn to Assistive Technology (AT)/accessibility features and requirements.
- Chapter 2 – Indicators (short-term) Using scientific methodology, grass-root experience from partners and based on a digital skills and a needs analysis, the findings in PR1 and Chapter 1, a set of indicators for a good, sustainable, accessible, wellbalances, inclusive digital education in a school/home environment including ethical aspects of digital learning, will be developed.
- Chapter 3 – Guidelines (short-term) Using the indicators of Chapter 2, practical guidelines for “going digital” for the VET community (school leaders, teachers, students and parents) will be developed, respecting the digital infrastructure in a VET centre/school and home environment, social and digital skills of students with/without special needs and teachers. The guidelines will facilitate the management of the “emergency process” of transitioning into and out of a digital learning environment.
- Chapter 4 – Tools collection (medium-term) Common digital tools and methodology collected in PR1, taken from the daily practice of all project partners, will be evaluated by using the indicators of Chapter 1, showing their pros and cons, feasibility, accessibility and potential for adaptation, improvement and upgrade.
- Chapter 5 – Recommendations for a systemic change (long-term) Taking the Lessons Learned Section of PR1’s Good Practice Catalogue and the results of Chapter 1-4 of the handbook, recommendations will be provided for decision makers on local, regional, national and international level, school leaders/teacher for the initiation of a development process towards a “new inclusive normal” in order to facilitate the Digital Readiness of VET centres/schools.
- Chapter 6 – Local (mediumterm) partners together with their local experts and APs will develop a ready to use local version of the Chapters 1-4, to enhance the impact and improve the usability of the handbook on local and regional level. The project results will be developed for the initial use in VET centres/schools and meet the criteria of accessibility and easy-to-use. An added value of the products will be their transferability to educational institutions of HE and regular school education. Beside the those 6 / 133 Call 2021 Round 1 KA2 KA220-VET - Cooperation partnerships in vocational education and training Form ID KA220-VET-2E74067A Deadline (Brussels Time) 20 May 2021 12:00:00 EN PRs, all partners and their AP will ensure the promotion and further development through a number of dissemination and exploitation measures, like maintaining the multilingual project website, continuous use and further development of the PRs and promoting further awareness raising via EASPD's & AAATE’s and other partner’s VET networks, conferences & websites and by bringing together experts and partners around a the theme of "Readiness for Digital Education" to produce better digital educational results in difficult and less difficult times.