SCORE’s mission is to work with the Higher Education sector to realise the benefits of Open Educational Resources in all aspects of academic life. SCORE provides support and advice to individuals, projects, institutions and programmes, helping them to create, publish, re-mix, re-use and redistribute OER.
În ultimii ani ideea că Internetul ar contribui la deschiderea unei noi epoci de democraţie participativă a devenit dominantă însă există un adevărat risc ca această unealtă a democraţiei să devină un factor de marginalizare socială pentru aceia care nu stăpânesc pe deplin procesele de citire/scriere. Pentru evitarea acestui risc este necesar ca instituţiile educaţionale şi sociale să ţină seama de problemele şi dificultăţile pe care le întâmpină persoanele cu handicap atunci când folosesc tehnologia modernă şi să le pună la dispoziţie instrumente specifice, de pildă programe de formare şi programe informatice.
Numai în acest fel tehnologia poate fi considerată, daca nu soluţia, cel puţin o parte din procesul de reducere a impactului dislexiei asupra oamenilor, de promovare a incluziunii sociale, oferind astfel asistenţă în ceea ce priveşte dificultăţile, anxietatea şi problemele cu care dislexicii se confruntă în situaţii de zi cu zi.
The study, carried out by Cedefop, was initiated to address to the priorities of the revised Lisbon strategy and the Maastricht communiqué. The Lisbon Strategy, relaunched in 2005 by the European Council, states the necessity to concenter among others on productivity, social cohesion and innovation. Lifelong learning is seen indispensable in this process to meet the objectives. In the Maastricht Communiqué (2004), 32 European countries agreed on the future priorities of enhanced European cooperation in vocational education and training.
The aim of the study is to contribute to the Commission policy development of ICT in the Integrated lifelong learning programme and to help to prepare the ground for identifying the needs for further investigation of ICT for innovation and lifelong learning for all.
The study reports the current state of e-learning within the context of lifelong learning in five Member States of the EU (Germany, Spain, Slovakia, Finland and the United Kingdom).
In the research it was take into consideration the perspectives of individual learners, education and training organisations, and work organisations.
The primary questions of the study were:
- What are the national policies of e-learning in lifelong learning?
- How is e-learning organised in lifelong learning?
- How does networking enhance e-learning in lifelong learning?
- What are the relevant issues in future developments?
Various resources (e.g. published research and studies, European e-learning projects, conferences and seminars) were used to collect information for the study.
European e-learning policy developments
E-learning is one corner stone in the European Union's strategy of becoming by 2010 ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion’ (Lisbon Agreement, 2000). The Commission’s e-learning initiative in 2000 has four main lines:
- Training at all levels,
- The development of good quality multimedia services and content, and
- The development and networking of centres for acquiring knowledge.
Furthermore the Commission's eLearning programme (2004–06) aims at effective integration of information and communication technologies (ICT) in education and training systems in Europe. The four action lines of the programme are:
- Promoting digital literacy,
- European virtual campuses,
- e-Twinning of schools in Europe, and
- Promotion of teacher training and transversal actions for the promotion of e-learning in Europe.
According to the information gathered and analysed in the five Member states, the study shows the promoting factors for e-learning in lifelong learning. These factors include among others:
- Broadband connections
- Supply of courses in a number of languages
- Initiatives to improve the low level of digital literacy
- Encouraging cooperation between training instituations and SMEs
- Blended learning initiatives at universities
On the other hand some inhibing factors are:
- Lack of programmes and information available in the vocational sector despite of considerable volume of training opportunities
- No quality standards set for private e-learning providers
- Lack of governmental support to promote the availability of e-learning for continuing personal development
- Culture of learning develops slowly
Furthermore, the following areas were concluded to point out the critical and important factors to enhance the use of e-learning in lifelong learning in the next few years:
- Technology: mobile e-learning; faster speeds via broadband and satellite; improved computer power and affordability.
- Courseware: improved delivery systems that are compatible across computer platforms.
- Networks: universities and SMEs creating bigger networks for the development, exchange of information and software systems.
- Literacy: governments will increase efforts to raise the basic literacy levels of EU citizens.
- Digital literacy: greater investment in opportunities for people to step on to the e-learning platform.
- Vocational training: an overall increase in the investment of developing e-learning packages for the vocational sector and especially people in SMEs.
After a transition phase that e-learning has been going through it is establishing its place in education, training and lifelong learning. However, e-learning opportunities varies in quantity, quality and accessibility in the countries studied.
An important factor when introducing lifelong learning is encouraging people to participate and “selling” the idea to the individuals directing them to realise the benefits of such learning to themselves personally. Therefore, governmental support is important and each Member State should develop a policy to promote learning for individuals and providing easy access to courses.
Apart from university courses which are widely available, there seems to be a short of accredited courses in the vocational area. The SMEs tend to hold back most the training possibilities. Thus, several pilot networks try to change this situation allowing them to share resources and reduce costs and labour. These networks can work in collaboration with universities as well.
It has not been possible to evaluate the true level of digital literacy skills. Digital literacy is actively promoted by the Commission through several projects. Key factor for digital literacy is the competence of the lecturer/teacher. This can be addressed for example with staff development programmes and introducing a standard system that would allow an easy courseware transition from one system to another.
One problem with courses available in the Internet is that there is no quality guarantee, except the ones organised by recognised organisation. One example of a standardised course is the European Computer Driving License (ECDL). The situation can be improved with the development of higher education standardisation, VET qualifications and European qualifications framework.
“eTwinning represents a new and complementary approach to European action in education”, said Jàn Figel’, Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture, and Multilingualism. “The eTwinning action differs from our other education programmes because instead of funding individual projects, it provides an infrastructure, tools and services, to make it as easy as possible for schools to form all types of partnership, from short term projects to longer term cooperation, in any subject area. The service is free, and there are no burdensome administrative procedures. It is a very effective way to foster the use of ICT, language and intercultural skills in school education.”
eTwinning brings innovation into teaching and motivates pupils to learn. Pupils, teachers, headmasters, librarians and other school staff use eTwinning to add a European dimension to school life. Using the Internet, they work together in many varied ways with peers in other countries: they chat, send emails and exchange ideas and learning materials. Thérèse Hagberg, a teacher at lower secondary level in Sweden said, “eTwinning has contributed to increasing our European contacts and has opened our school to the surrounding world”.
Prizes for the best eTwinning projects will be awarded for the first time in January 2006. Schools wanting to compete for a prize are invited to submit their project results before 27 November via the eTwinning portal. The prize-giving ceremony will then take place at the eTwinning conference on 13 January 2006 in Linz, Austria.
For further information about this action, please consult the European Commission eTwinning portal.
The goals established, which must be met by the year 2015, include the following: reducing by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day or who suffer from hunger; ensuring that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling; reducing the mortality among children under five years of age by two thirds and the maternal mortality rate by three quarters; halting and beginning to reverse the spread of AIDS and the incidence of malaria; reducing by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water; in cooperation with the private sector, improving access to new technologies in the developing countries; and addressing the problem of Third World debt in a flexible way.
One of the key questions about progress towards meeting these goals is how New Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can contribute to the process. There is no doubt that there are areas in which extending access and use of ICT can be of assistance to information, prevention and training campaigns and to promoting practices designed to improve living conditions amongst risk populations. These areas including combating the spread of AIDS and other diseases, decreasing child mortality and reducing the risk of women dying in childbirth.
While it is true that improving access to and use of ICT helps to decrease the risk of exclusion in the information society, it is also apparent that the expectations generated by these new technologies may become excessive on occasion.
Given that ICT is a tool that can contribute to growth and development, investment in education and infrastructure is crucial to improving living conditions amongst the most vulnerable sectors of the population in developing countries. In this context, the Human Development Report 2001 puts forward a number of proposals aimed at promoting access to new technologies in these countries. The following are some of the key measures proposed in this report, produced with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP):
- Establishing partnerships between different sectors, such as public organisations, universities and private companies to expedite access to new technology.
- Offering incentives to organisations playing an active role in this process.
- Establishing different tariffs for access to technology according to the particular country’s purchasing power.
- Stimulating research and development in the least developing countries to enable people to acquire the necessary skills not only to use these technologies, but also to play an active role in production and innovation.
- Make access to new technology a goal of public policies and international agreements.
By contributing to economic development in some countries, these measures could have a direct impact on such specific goals as eradicating poverty, making primary education universal and decreasing the proportion of people suffering from malnutrition.
European Commission initiatives such as the eTen, eContent and @lis programmes, the UNESCO Chair in Distance Education and the Virtual Educa conferences have all made important contributions not only to thought about the Millennium Goals, but also in terms of launching specific action to help achieve them.
With a view to exploring the possibility of making new progress towards meeting the goals set out in the Millennium Declaration, the elearningeuropa.info portal proposes a debate on the potential contribution that ICT can make to this process, which has now reached the halfway stage. The following are some of the questions aimed at guiding this discussion on the elearningeuropa.info portal: does the introduction of ICT increase or decrease the digital divide? In what ways can ICT use help vulnerable sectors of the population? Are we sufficiently informed to achieve effective, efficient use of ICT, ensuring that the new technologies do not increase inequalities? The discussion will revolve around articles by experts, forums and interviews by portal users during August and September. We should therefore like to invite all those interested in taking part to put forward any ideas and suggestions they may have.
EDEN, the European Distance and E-learning Network, which associates several educative institutions from 38 countries, will be holding in Helsinki (Finland) the EDEN 2005 Annual Conference, which will take place from 20-23 June. In this edition, the Conference will be focused on e-learning from the perspective of lifelong learning.
Since education is a fundamental and permanent process that is not restricted to educative institutions, lifelong learning must be a key issue on the agenda of all institutions, organisations and communities. But lifelong learning situation in Europe is still far from being satisfactory. The European Commission considers that there are “Too few adults participating in further learning”. Despite the progress made, the rate of adult participation in continuing training in the European Union in 2002 has been estimated at 8.5%, while the objective is to achieve a 12.5% rate by 2010. This objective seems far away, particularly because that figure, which had been steadily rising since the mid-1990s, has been stable over the last years, according to the Commission Communication “Education and Training 2010 – The success of the Lisbon Strategy Hinges on Urgent Reforms”.
Other indicators show a similar path. For example, not enough people is qualifying through higher education: on average in the European Union, 23% of males and 20% of females in the 25–64 age range hold a higher education qualification, a figure well below that for Japan (36% of males and 32% of females) and the United States (37% for the overall population). And, at the same time, Europe attracts less talent than its competitors, although the Union "produces" more university qualified persons and doctors in sciences and technology than the USA or Japan (25.7% of the total number of higher education graduates for the Union compared with 21.9% and 17.2% respectively for Japan and the USA). But the percentage of researchers in the active population is much lower in the Union (5.4 researchers per 1 000 in 1999) than in the USA (8.7) or Japan (9.7), and particularly in private companies.
The importance of lifelong learning
The acquisition of knowledge and competences allows the individuals to develop a role in the life of their communities. This is why an engagement regarding lifelong learning contributes to the inclusion not only of those who are currently excluded of scholar and labour system, but also to different sectors in risk of exclusion —immigrants, handicapped people, older adults and people who live below the poverty threshold—.
Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) represent an opportunity to the acquisition of knowledge and the development of competences, which means that it is necessary to improve the access to and the use of them in the mentioned sectors in order to facilitate their social inclusion as active and participative agents.
To evidence the importance of lifelong learning, EDEN and the elearningeuropa.info portal have recently made a shared newsletter in order to diffuse in a wider context some contents regarding this subject. During the next days the portal will highlight some contributions and documents about lifelong learning issues in order to expose from different perspectives the key aspects of this field.
We have also opened the Forum Competences and Methods for Lifelong Learning. We invite our users to share their ideas and to follow the debate through this open platform.