E-ruralnet addresses e-learning as a means for enhancing lifelong learning opportunities in rural areas, with emphasis on SMEs, micro-enterprises, self-employed and persons seeking employment.
Previous research of the European e-learning market (www.euracademy-observatory.org) identified important constraints not allowing the rural workforce to take advantage of ICT-enabled learning, mostly related to infrastructure or low personal motivation. Building on this experience, e-ruralnet aims to investigate further the demand for and supply of e-learning in rural areas, including 11 European countries in this endeavour, both old and new member states. It also seeks to link innovative approaches to e-learning and new media for its delivery with the prospect of widening and strengthening the use of ICT for lifelong learning in rural areas.
The project seeks to build on the previous Observatory research aiming to:
- Improve and expand the documentation of e-learning supply and demand in rural areas, as valid tool for informing policy and demonstrating best practice.
- Expand the networking of key stakeholders (training providers, policy makers, social partners) involving them in a constructive dialogue.
- Launch a campaign of awareness raising in the participating countries and the EU more generally, emphasising the benefits of e-learning for rural development and suggesting alternative options for addressing the constraints operating in rural areas.
- Introduce new methods of guidance addressing the learner to help practitioners reach out to rural inhabitants more successfully.
- Transfer experience and best practice among the participating countries and the EU more generally regarding innovative e-learning pedagogies for adults.
The main results and products of E-ruralnet are accessible through the website of the project and include:
- E-learning demand and supply statistics in 11 countries, collected from online surveys of e-learning providers, learners and potential learners. The aim of the surveys is to map the e-learning field in all the 11 participating countries and present a picture of the supply and demand of e-learning in rural areas which will be useful to practitioners and policy makers. The survey questionnaires in 11 languages are accessible online.
- Case-studies of best practice, coded and reported. The case studies aim to transfer best practice across all European countries and are part of the qualitative data of the surveys. 55 case studies have been so far uploaded online in the Library of Best Practice Examples.
- Inventory of innovative e-learning provision coded for easy use. The aim of the inventory is to cover innovative solutions that are directly relevant to the needs of rural SMEs and micro-enterprises. The inventory is organized as an easy-to-use database and is continuously updated with new material. 112 products have been so far uploaded online in the Inventory.
- A review of innovative e-learning provision and best practice, focusing on transferable elements across national contexts. The aim of the review is to relate e-learning national markets to ICT and rural development policies, pointing out lessons that can be learned regarding the outreach capacity and effectiveness of e-learning products.
- A study of alternative media for e-learning delivery and new pedagogies (such as GBL) aiming to improve the attractiveness and accessibility of e-learning to the rural user. The report aims to address the issues of improved accessibility of rural areas to e-learning and of innovative learning and teaching approaches.
- Creation of a user-friendly and attractive e-learning Guidance Tool, based on the Learning Pathway model, using Games Based Learning (GBL). The Guidance Tool aims to familiarise inexperienced learners with e-learning environments, demonstrate the benefits of e-learning and help the user to select the e-learning providers that can best satisfy his/her needs.
- Holding national-level workshops in the 11 participating countries to promote networking, awareness raising and interaction among policy makers, e-learning providers and social partners. Reports of the workshops are available online.
- Stakeholder Networks are formed in the 11 participating countries and across Europe including e-learning providers, policy makers and social partners representing SMEs and workers in rural areas. An Advisory Forum has been set up, consisting of 3-5 network members per country who are more closely involved with the activities of the project. The list of netwmork members is available online.
- An International Conference is planned to be held in Brussels as a major dissemination event, in October 2011.
- Multi-language website, project brochure and 6-monthly Newsletters form part of the dissemination and networking effort of the project.
Extracted from E-ruralnet