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E learning Good Practice Guide


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E learning Good Practice Guide

  1. 1. IANIS+ e-Learning Work Group Guide to Good Practice in e-Learning Innovative Actions Network for the Information Society- Plus IANIS + is coordinated by The European Regional Information Society Association +
  2. 2. 2 Foreword by the Editors This Guide to Good Practice in e-Learning is based on thirteen case studies drawn from the e-learning developments and experience of the European Regions represented on the IANIS+ e-Learning Working Group. The case studies are indicative of the range of e-learning applications being developed by the regions and highlight the fact that there is a great deal of consensus on the potential benefits of e-learning. There is general agreement, for example, that:  E-Learning will become a major component of the educational delivery mix from schools through to higher education and lifelong learning;  E-Learning will enrich conventional education by making global resources available locally and facilitate discovery and activity based learning with the potential for much more learner control and choice;  Blended learning: creating an optimal mix of the best features of face-to-face and on-line learning, is favoured by the majority of practitioners;  The flexibility and accessibility offered by on-line learning addresses many of the difficulties faced by SMEs in maintaining and developing the skills of their workforces;  The flexibility and accessibility offered by on-line learning addresses many of the issues faced by European Regions with dispersed rural populations and skills deficiencies;  Regional collaboration between key stakeholders in the municipal, educational and business communities has been shown to deliver successful and sustainable e-learning solutions. Good practice in such a fast developing methodology is, of course, indicative only of the best as perceived today. The case studies are a snapshot of current work across the European Regions and their value is in the illustration they provide of the emerging benefits that e-learning offers, together with a glimpse of future possibilities that will guide the decisions of regional and national policymakers. The presentation of each of the case studies is structured to emphasise the lessons learned; in particular, the innovative nature of the work and the key outcomes that will be of use to practitioners. References are made to project documentation and other on-line resources that will allow access to greater levels of detail. The editors would like to thank colleagues on the working group for their input to the discussions, the production of the case studies and the construction of this document. Equally, we would like to thank the administrative staff at Eris@ for their assistance and support.
  3. 3. 3 Table of contents Foreword by the Editors 2 Preface by the Chairperson 4 1. E-learning as a tool for providing learning opportunities for all 6 1.1 ICT literacy and training programme – Piedmont – Italy..........................................................6 1.2 OPPINET Information Society – Kouvola – Finland.................................................................8 2. E-learning in Schools and Universities: models, systems and services 11 2.1 Interactive Library – Bremen – Germany...............................................................................11 2.2 Human Centred Design of Game Based Learning Environments - West Finland – Finland13 2.3 IT for US: Information Technology for Understanding Science - Malopolska - Poland ......15 2.4 BIGnet: the Eastern Finland Educational Network – North Karelia – Finland .......................17 2.5 Kursnavet: The Course Hub – Vasternorrland – Sweden......................................................19 3. E-learning & SMEs: challenges and opportunities 21 3.1 The South West Wales e-Training Network - Wales – United Kingdom................................21 3.2 DigOma: A Content Factory – Kouvola – Finland..................................................................23 4. E-learning and unemployment: meeting the demands of today's labour market 25 4.1 Solvesborg Learning Centre – Blekinge – Sweden ...............................................................25 4.2 MONEY – Kouvola – Finland .................................................................................................27 5. E-learning for specialists 30 5.1 EDU-Health – Abruzzo – Italy ...............................................................................................30 5.2 Blended learning Academy for network specialists - Vysocina – Czech Republic ...............32 Conclusions 35 Recommendations 37
  4. 4. 4 Preface by the Chairperson In March 2000 the EU Council at the Lisbon Summit embarked on a strategy to make Europe the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, with more and better jobs, and greater social cohesion by 2010: the so-called Lisbon Strategy. Most of European policies and programmes now follow the guide lines from the Lisbon Strategy: investing more in research and development to promote and support innovation. At the Lisbon Summit the European Council highlighted the key role of knowledge in the education and research process for the economic development, and invited the Education Council to undertake a general reflection on the concrete future objectives of education systems, focusing on common concerns and priorities while respecting national diversity. Following the mandate given at the Lisbon meeting, the Education Council in March 2001 presented a report at the Stockholm Council, adopting three main concrete strategic objectives: increasing the quality and effectiveness of education and training systems in the European Union; facilitating the access of all to the education and training systems; opening up education and training systems to the wider world. To catch up and achieve such goals requires Europe to increase its investment in research and development, to promote and support innovation, to exploit more fully the benefits of the information society, and to develop the knowledge economy. In recent years, the Commission has encouraged regions and member states to place a high priority on information society development in the Structural Funds programmes. Regions, in fact, have a key role to play in the development of processes that will lead toward an effective knowledge society. In most of the member states, regional and/or local authorities have specific responsibilities for primary and secondary education, as well as economic development. If it is true that the main source of knowledge comes from the regions, then bringing more cohesion and inclusion in Europe will require all European regions to share their knowledge and their competences. This is the reason why the European Commission stimulates the competitiveness of regions and supports partnerships between regional development bodies, regional authorities, universities, research centres, SMEs and other economic actors. Innovation is no longer possible without the use of Information and Communications Technologies: regions need to improve ICT infrastructure, applications and services in order to develop a knowledge- based society. In such a scenario the e-learning plays a key role. Since technology has become more and more important in everyday life, e-learning has also become an essential instrument for knowledge diffusion in many fields, such as school and university education, enterprises, research centres and public administration. E-learning is therefore a common transversal issue for e-business, e-government, e- health, e-inclusion and so on. In 2003 the European Commission approved the e-learning multiannual programme (2004 to 2006), with the aim to support and develop further the effective use of ICT in European education and training systems, as a contribution to a quality education and an essential element of their adaptation to the needs of the knowledge society in a lifelong learning context. The IANIS e-learning working group was set up as part of the IANIS+ program, with the mission to identify e-learning case studies or good practice case descriptions and to enhance competitiveness and innovation for the participant regions. This guide is the result of that process that included trans-national meetings, presentations, critical debate, forum discussions and case studies selection by the e-learning work group. The working group included 28 e-learning experts from 22 different European regions; it is coordinated by a chairperson, and has been assisted in its work by the IANIS+ Secretariat. IANIS+ e-learmimg work group members: Expert Name Region Expert Name Region Nello Ventresca Abruzzo Jana Minkkinen North Karelia Laurent Pierre Gilliard Aquitaine Raija Vurorenmaa North Karelia Eva-Lisa Ahnström Blekinge Eleonora Panto Piedmont
  5. 5. 5 Andreas Breiter Bremen Thomas Kornmilch- Bienengräbber Saxony Stefan Welling Bremen Marko Hren Slovenia Guy Desagulier Bretagne Francesco Pancheri Trento Uanos Lorenzo Castillala Mancha Monica Zampedri Trento Miguel Angel Mila Castillala Mancha Carolina Marco Bellver Valencian Community Anne Piccolo Kouvola Erica Sahlin Västernorlland Anna Sahanen Kouvola Vaclav Jachim Vysocina Michela Michilli Lazio Tony Toole Wales Guy Casteignau Limousin Hélèn Raimond Wallonie Barbara Kędzierska Malopolski Renaud Delhaye Wallonie Bruno Vanhille Nord Pas de Calais Päivi Fadjukoff West Finland As noted earlier, the importance of sharing knowledge and the idea of lifelong learning, together with the widespread use of technologies in everyday life, makes e-learning a vital instrument for knowledge diffusion not only in schools, but also in enterprises, universities and many other learning environments. This guide is therefore divided into five sections, focusing on five main e-learning application environments: e-learning for all citizens; e-learning for school and university; e-learning for SMEs; e- learning for the unemployed; and e-learning for specialists. Each section includes a summary of the issues involved, together with case studies from the work group regions experience. The aim of the guide is to share the group’s experiences and evidence of good practice in e-learning with other European regions. The key objectives are to help policy makers in their decisions about future e- learning development planning, to promote European interregional cooperation in those developments, and to make a positive contribution toward the goal of a dynamic knowledge-based economy.
  6. 6. 6 1. E-learning as a tool for providing learning opportunities for all The relevance of lifelong learning was an important issue to come out during the Lisbon Summit 1 . Since then, lifelong learning has become a guiding principle for the development of education and training policy; aiming to give to all members of society equal access to high quality learning opportunities and experiences. Lifelong learning includes learning for personal, civic and social purposes as well as for employment- related purposes. It can take place in different learning environments, both inside and outside formal education and training systems. The “resolution on lifelong learning” by the Education Council in June 2002 2 , stressed the need for Member States to transform formal education and training systems in order to break down barriers between different forms of learning: learning for anyone, at any time, at any place. The widespread use of technology and new tools has lead to greater flexibility, easier access to information and the opportunity to match learning to specific needs and circumstances. Whilst previously, formal learning was largely confined to institutions such as schools, colleges, companies and training centres; today, citizens can benefit from many different learning environments facilitated by ICT. Adults and young, students and teachers, employed and unemployed: all members of society can take advantages from e-learning. It should be especially remembered that e-learning can become a very effective learning tool for disadvantaged groups such as the unemployed, people with special needs and those in remote locations. With this aim in mind, regions should work to give to all members of society the opportunity to benefit from e-learning. In particular to:  promote the widespread use of technology and e-learning tools as knowledge instruments in everyday life;  involve the region and its citizens in e-learning initiatives and make people aware of the opportunities offered through e-learning services;  support the diffusion of e-learning through regional technology and infrastructure development, such as broadband connectivity, especially in disadvantaged areas;  encourage the use of e-learning services by citizens; providing e-learning and computer literacy courses when necessary, from public bodies to SMEs, from students to teachers, from workers to the unemployed. With ICT, learning can be made more accessible to every citizen, irrespective of age, education, social status. E-learning allows individuals to tailor their studies to meet their individual needs. The challenge facing society now is to provide teachers, pedagogues, service providers and the developers of course content with the skills needed to make available to everyone relevant, stimulating, affordable and high- quality learning services. The case studies in this section demonstrate how ICT skills can be made available to all the citizens of a region by providing accessible and flexible training and support with a ‘people first’ approach. Case Studies 1.1 ICT Literacy and Training Programme – Piedmont – Italy Background and local context The project was part of the Piedmont Regional Innovative Actions Programme From Industrial District to Digital District 3 , started in September 2004, and ended in May 2006. Through the RIAP, the Piedmont Region intended to asses the impact of ICT on the region’s social and economic development. The Programme focused on decentralised areas that historically are sound industrial districts, but have common issues to be addressed: the general lack of large road networks and rail infrastructure, complex morphology and widespread small residential centres. These areas are of little 1 European Council of Heads of State and Government, Lisbon, March 2000 2 Education Council Copenhagen Declaration, Copenhagen, November 2002 3
  7. 7. 7 attraction to the connectivity providers and therefore structurally at risk of a digital divide. The project sought to avoid such a divide by promoting the use of ICT. Three main areas were chosen: Alba, known for its growing tourism and food & wine sector, Biella, traditionally known for its textile sector, and Novara, concentrating several companies and research centres in the fields of new materials, chemistry and pharmaceutics. Aim and objectives The overall aim of the ICT Literacy and Training Programme was to develop a high level of ICT information, literacy and training in the population, in order to promote the use of ICT by small and medium enterprises, local public bodies and citizens. The activity was set within the more general framework of spreading digital culture and operated in synergy with regional projects aimed at the inclusion and participation of citizens in the modern ICT world. The objective of the project was therefore to create a widespread life-long learning initiative based on e- Learning tools for computer literacy (ECDL) and Professional training related to the main leading industrial sectors (i.e. weaving and spinning) as well as to civil servants and citizens. Overall issues The project included two main actions:  Trialling on-line distance learning and blended learning ICT courses with 1500 users;  Developing a “teachers’ teaching” course on the effective implementation of future e-learning courses. All the three regional project areas were involved, with the objective of progressing the computer literacy action in particular in two additional directions:  providing specific professional training programmes for the benefit of company and public sector employees;  providing personal training programmes to address the specific needs and aspirations of individual citizens that would benefit their daily activities and lifestyle. Therefore users came from different social, economical and professional levels: high school students, public Administration employees, local civil servants, private sector personnel, ordinary citizens, pensioners and the unemployed were all covered by the service. The courses were delivered by different mixes of distance and blended learning in the three districts: in the Biella and Alba districts only the Distance Learning was used, while in the Novara district Blended Learning was preferred (courses were held both in laboratories across the territory and also on-line at a distance). The laboratory based delivery was provided in order to guarantee participation by those citizens who didn’t have access to the necessary technical equipment. Additionally, the Blended Learning provision meant that tutors were available at the laboratories for users needing supplementary help. The project also involved:  An analysis of effective users’ needs in the specified project areas  A quantitative and qualitative evaluation about users’ satisfaction with the project Project partners Piedmont Region was the co-ordinator of the RIAP. The implementation of the RIAP was assigned to a Focused Limited-term Association (TAA) constituted by the following partners: Biella Intraprendere, Fondazione Novara Sviluppo (local economic and technology promotion bodies), APRO, Città Studi (training bodies), Stirano (environment development local body) and CSI-Piemonte (ICT regional public body). In particular, the ICT Literacy and Training Programme, in the main, was the responsibility of Città Studi while in each territory a partner was responsible for the local activities: Città Study for Biella area, APRO for Alba area and Fondazione Novara Sviluppo for Novara area. Finance The Piedmont RIAP From Industrial District to Digital District had a total budget of about € 7,397 million, 39% of which was covered by Structural Funds, 39% by National funds and 22% by private funds. The workpackage ICT Literacy and Training Programme had a total funding of about € 909,768.
  8. 8. 8 Degrees of innovation The ICT Literacy and Training Programme has been the most significant e-learning development that the areas involved have ever initiated. The Programme operated in synergy with regional strategies in this field, using Distance Learning (DL) tools already in use. Within the RIAP, the e-learning platform adopted by the Region was in fact used to organise the ECDL and specialist courses. Moreover, the experience acquired by the tutors in both the creation of effective educational modules for on-line distance training, along with the experience gained in delivering the courses during the project, will be the basis for developing future on-line distance training projects. Pedagogical issues Feedback from the on-line distance learning students showed that they enjoyed having personal control of their own learning when following the e-learning courses using their own ICT resources. To ensure the participation of the citizens who either lacked the necessary technology or were in need of additional support in their training programme, part of the programme was carried out in Blended Learning mode through classrooms spread across the Novara area. Students had a choice of on-line distance learning or classroom based provision. Tutor training was provided in the Distance Learning project in order to enable them to provide effective support and guidance and the resolution of problems for students studying on-line. Content issues The educational materials prepared for the Computer Literacy course and the Basic Computer Skills course included 7 specifically designed modules enriched with simulations and evaluation tests. The training programme covered a range of typical topics on the use of a personal computer: from the basic concepts of Information Technology to the use of desktop applications such as spreadsheets, word processing and database management. Technology issues The Docent Learning Management System (LMS) was used to support the delivery of the on-line distance and blended learning. The platform allowed the implementation of on-line e-learning courses through broadband and WiFi internet connection. In fact, one main objective of the Piedmont RIAP was the connection of the three “disadvantaged” areas of the programme, through a network architecture designed to offer broadband solutions supporting the usage of the RIAP platform’s basic and advanced services. Evaluation and monitoring: lessons learnt The monitoring of the ICT Literacy and Training Programme project was included in the RIAP monitoring action plan: specific operating units within the project were responsible for the process of result evaluation, analysis and dissemination. The analysis showed that users appreciated the e-learning course especially in terms of easy access to the learning materials through the delivery platform, the availability of simulations, and the help from tutors in Blended Learning delivery. The tutors encouraged the students throughout to continue to develop their ICT skills and benefit from the use of new technology. The positive result was that 65% of users involved in the Basic Computer Skills course expressed their intention to continue improving their computer skills. The key lessons learned were:  On-line Distance and Blended Learning is an effective way of allowing a broad range of citizens in a region to successfully develop their ICT skills;  Learners appreciate the access and flexibility provided by e-learning and enjoy the control it gives them over their study programme;  The project provided tutors with the opportunity to develop their skills in supporting on-line distance learners.
  9. 9. 9 1.2 OPPINET Information Society – Kouvola – Finland Background and local context When the OppiNet project began in 1997, the Kouvola Region, not unlike other regions in Finland, already had one of the highest PC-penetrations in the world. However, ordinary citizens had very limited knowledge, skills or access to the services of an effective Information Society. At the time ICT was taught with a very technological approach and with a lot of jargon by ICT-experts, which made the new skills inaccessible to the general public. OppiNet addressed this issue through peer-facilitators who offered ICT skills to people in a similar way as the other essential skills as reading, writing and arithmetic; thus implementing the Information Society Programme of the Kouvola Region Federation of Municipalities, City of Kouvola and Kymenlaakso Region. OppiNet was a localised application of the world-wide CyberSkills concept which sought to enable individuals, communities and organisations to take advantage of ICT by promoting a people first, technology second and hands-on approach. It combined awareness raising, training, consultation and NetCafe services. The main target was to introduce citizens to the concepts and technologies of the Information Society in a context relevant to their lives and to help them understand the opportunities, accept the challenge and realise the benefits they could gain. Aim and objectives The objective was to bring the opportunities offered by the Information Society to the knowledge of all citizens in this way enabling them to become active participants in the workforce and local democracy and thus preventing exclusion. The opportunities meant awareness, skills, facilities and access. The main target was to introduce citizens to the new concepts and technologies in a context relevant to their lives and as individual citizens, members of business or administrative organisations, SME’s or associations. OppiNet acted as a model for raising awareness about the potential about the benefits they could gain through the new technology and thus empowering them to control and manage their future in the emerging Information Society. Overall issues Project partners The project coordinator was Kouvola Region Federation of Municipalities and the implementation was carried out by Kouvola Vocational Institute and the Federation. Other major players were the Regional Council of Kymenlaakso and the City of Kouvola, active in supporting the setting up of the NetCafe. Finance The project was financed from European Union (DG 13) as well as from a combination of regional public and private funds. The courses for the unemployed were financed by the South-East Finland Employment and Economic Development Centre and the courses for teachers by the Ministry of Education. Degrees of innovation  the innovative core values of OppiNet were: the people first – technology second approach and the bottom-up developing of ICT skills;  technology was taught by specially trained facilitators who were peers to the participants, no ICT- jargon was used;  the innovative approach helped include special groups like the elderly, the unemployed and the handicapped in the creation of the Information Society;  OppiNet succeeded in bringing together SMEs needing ICT-skills for their business; joint projects with eg. Local banks promoted both the banks’ and their customers’ transition to electronic banking services thus benefiting both groups;  Information Society was introduced as a gateway to e-services and opportunities such as active participation in e-democracy;  the concept was localised to the needs of the region and implemented regional strategies;  media and decision-makers were made aware of the importance and value of the Information Society;  cross relation and synergies with other ICT-related projects were created.
  10. 10. 10 Pedagogical issues OppiNet-concept was based on a completely new kind of a pedagogical approach, very different from the traditional ICT–teaching. The aim of the project was not to “produce” ICT-professionals, but to raise awareness about “what the Information Society can do for you” and to promote computer-literacy. Hence the facilitators (Note: not ‘teachers’) were trained for their task and approved by the international CyberSkills Organization. Facilitators were validated and re-validated in itinere in order to guarantee the even quality from the start of the project to the end. The pedagogical approach can best be described with the following concepts: People First, Technology Second, Hands-on, Bottom-up and Peer Guidance. Content issues  Basic awareness-raising courses familiarised the participants with the possibilities of the Internet and the most common software and the e-mail;  Tailored courses were organised to meet the needs of various groups of professionals (eg. Teachers), organizations, companies, SMEs etc. Ranging from searching information in the Internet to the advanced skills of Videoconferencing;  Courses ranged from 2-4 hours to a whole day. Courses for specific needs or target groups could be longer. Most courses were open to all: citizens, the employed, unemployed or self-employed. The charge was more or less nominal for private citizens;  Access and hands-on guidance was available in the NetCafe, situated in the same premises;  The training was provided by 2-3 facilitators simultaneously, recruited and paid for by the project. Technology issues The OppiNet ideology was based on the concept of ‘forgetting’ the technology. The state-of-the-art equipment was set up specifically for the project by ICL Data Oy and support was always available. Specific arrangements were made for disabled people. Programmes mainly used were accessible to everyone MS Office, e-mail, Internet. The scope of courses covered a range of desktop and Internet skills, including; basic word-processing and spreadsheet tasks, job seeking in the Internet, net-banking and videoconferencing. Evalution and monitoring – Lessons learnt The project was systematically evaluated as a part of the European NET for Nets project and no problems were reported. Throughout the project the staff and the pedagogical methods were assessed and the CyberSkills Quality Assurance Handbook was strictly followed. The concept and the organised workshops/courses were tailored to the needs of the local users and it implemented regional strategies. This opened completely new opportunities for them to make use of the services offered by the new technology and the Information Society. The innovative approach helped include special groups like the elderly, the unemployed and the handicapped in the creation of the Information Society. OppiNet succeeded in bringing together SME’s needing ICT-skills for their business. Joint projects with local banks, for example, promoted both the banks’ and their customers’ transition into electronic banking services thus benefiting both groups. In retrospect the project was slightly ahead of its time. Professional ICT-experts and teachers realised too late, that a new approach to teaching/facilitating ICT-skills was needed and that the project did not threaten traditional teaching methods. The project lacked their support, which made collaboration difficult. Once the planned activities in the project were well established and helping the target groups the project ended and no further funding or resources were found despite the hard work. The key lessons learned were:  The provision of ICT skills and knowledge through a ‘people first, technology second’, peer- facilitated, approach was an effective way of providing citizens with access to the benefits of the Information Society;  The benefits were optimised when courses were tailored to the needs of the users, regions and businesses;  The sustainability of such development projects needs to be built into the planning if the benefits are not to be lost.
  11. 11. 11 2. E-learning in Schools and University: models, systems and services The European Commission, in eEurope 2005, stated that Europe’s future economy and society are being formed in the classrooms of today. Students need to be both well educated in their chosen field and digitally literate if they are to to take part effectively in tomorrow’s knowledge society. E-Learning – the integration of advanced information and communication technologies (ICT) into the education system – achieves both aims. The case studies in this section illustrate how this is being implemented. They describe e-learning initiatives that provide flexibility and accesibility in the delivery of school and adult education and demonstrate how e-learning has caused a re-think of pedagogical practices with learner-centred, interactive learning environments emerging as a key feature of learning design. The projects show how e-learning provides choice and access to learning resources for both learners and teachers in both schools and adult education. They include interactive library and collaborative learning resource developments that offer significant advantages:  Students find interactive on-line materials fun, and appreciate the ability to access them from home.  Collaboration in the development of on-line resources is cost-effective and means that small institutions in rural areas can offer high quality learning opportunities by using those resources  Teachers benefit from working in multi-disciplinary teams developing and delivering e-learning. The projects allow them to develop their skills in using new technology to facilitate learning. Models, systems and services involving teachers and learners from Kindergarten to University are described. Common themes of learner-centred, flexible, accessible, collaborative provision are clearly seen. The case studies demonstrate how e-learning is becoming embedded in educational institutions in the way the European Commission envisaged and point the way to the future when it will become a major component of the educational delivery mix. Case Studies 2.1 Interactive Library – Bremen – Germany Background and local context E-Learning can foster self-dependent learning and innovatively assist students to achieve their career goals. The Interactive library 4 (ilib) provides Bremian (high school) students with up-to-date online learning materials for different subjects. On the basis of a school/university cooperation, teachers from Bremian public schools developed the materials together with the assistance of computer science students. Adult school students face the problem that an increasing number of them have continually changing working hours, so they often miss classes. Others simply have to work so much to cover their living expenses, that they find it difficult to attend classes in the expected way. To solve such problems the local adult school’s board decided to offer e-learning classes, which were expected to provide students with more flexibility to cope with existing learning demands. Therefore the adult school was an appropriate test field for the ILIB project. Aim and objectives The broad aim of the project was to develop and collect e-learning materials for teaching purposes that foster self-dependent learning as an important component of school-based learning. The objectives were:  to transform existing teaching materials into ‘tailor-made’ E-Learning materials for every teacher;  to provide students with opportunities to experience self-dependent, action-oriented and independent learning;  to reduce time-consuming Internet research and relieve teachers from lesson preparation;  to provide permanent access to learning materials from every computer with Internet access. 4
  12. 12. 12 Overall issues Project partners The project was conducted by the State Institute for School Development (Advanced Training Section), the University of Bremen, and the Institute for Information Management. The materials have been extensively used at the local adult school and, to a smaller degree, at two regular high schools. Extension to other schools is now taking place. Finance The project had a budget of 100.000 €, and was 100% regionally funded. Degrees of innovation This e-learning project was unique because it allowed teachers to prepare individually tailored e-learning units for teaching. Since only technical standards had to be met, participating teachers enjoyed didactical freedom while creating their units. They could also adapt existing materials to their individual needs. The second innovative aspect of the project was the assistant/team model. Computer science students assisted teachers to transform their existing conventional teaching materials into technical feasible e- learning solutions. The ilib team assured editorial support, regular updates and quality assurance. A testing stage was carried out with the local adult school and the approach shown to be successful. Pedagogical issues The ilib materials help students to learn at their own pace and provide teachers with a new opportunity to support student’s individual learning process and learning needs. In addition to the learning materials, the development also provided students with additional resources such as work sheets or helpful Internet resources. The ilib structure followed the standard subject structure of the German school system to increase familiarity for teachers. Special subject teams, consisting of students and subject teachers team up for material development for selected subjects. The materials are used extensively at the adult school’s e- learning classes for supporting and maintaining the learning process throughout the distance learning periods and to prepare for the delivery periods. For participating students the project provided a hands-on experience about how their acquired knowledge can be practically applied. For teachers, the transformation process provided an opportunity for them to redesign and improve existing teaching materials. Content issues Teachers often complain that Internet resources frequently disappear in cyberspace. Ilib e-learning materials have a fixed URL and every unit is easy to find and use again. Currently, as an outcome of the project, individual materials are available for 11 different subject areas. Materials under development in the project were published on a Wiki, allowing everybody who wanted to contribute to the improvement and development of those materials to do so. To assure a constant quality level, a quality assurance unit was established by the ilib team that put every unit through a quality testing process before publishing. Technology issues The interactive library (ilib) holds all available e-learning units and hosts it using open source web server software (PLONE). This assures cost-effectiveness and enables adaptability to changing needs. The materials can be used within any learning platform that allows to link from a virtual classroom to particular materials. Because all ilib materials meet the requirements of accessibility, they can also be used by learners with disabilities. A common navigation structure and identical technical standards for each unit improve usability. Bigger system changes and unsolved questions of access rights to the server that carries ilib have been causing some problems in the past. Such issues are continuously being addressed and improvements sought. The same is true for accessibility issues to avoid delays and unwanted problems. Evaluation and monitoring – lessons learnt Surveyed students in the e-learning classes of the adult school rated their participation experience positive and considered that learning with the computer and the Internet was fun. They also found it beneficial to work on exercises at home with more flexibility from time and space. All students asked, would participate in an e-learning class again. The cooperation with the computer science students turned out to be of particular value for the project because it was (1) cost-effective, (2) allowed very close
  13. 13. 13 cooperation between teachers and students, and (3) provided students with a valuable hands-on experience for their professional development. Additionally, it had been highly rewarding for participating teachers as they had e-learning units available, tailored to their teaching, didactical needs and concepts. This unique form of unit development also fosters identification with the project through participating teachers. The key lessons learned were:  The provision of on-line learning materials provided students with flexibility and control over their study schedules. It also allowed them to access their materials from home as well as at school;  Teachers had access to on-line learning materials through the interactive library that they could adapt to their own teaching programmes;  The development approach, where teachers were assisted in the development of e-learning materials by computer students and quality assured by the ilib team, was shown to be very effective;  A major benefit of the project was the skills development for the teachers in the use of e-learning and reflection on pedagogic methods. 2.2 Human Centred Design of Game Based Learning Environments – West Finland – Finland Background and local context This project 5 was designed to develop understanding and application in the use of computer games as part of the pedagogic process and to evalate their effectiveness in facilitating learning. The project had the following goals: 1. Strengthening the use and effectiveness in the area of so-called serious games in the region. 2. Responding to the need of quality learning tools and pedagogical practices for different educational levels. 3. Responding to the need to find positive ways for the use of digital games in the lives of children and young people. The project beneficiaries were school children, students, teachers, SME’s, as well as researchers. Aim and objectives The overall aim was to develop good pedagogical practices and tools for use at different educational levels. Prototypes of learning games were designed, and a quality process for the design of game-based learning environments was developed. The crucial aim was also in the development of user-centred and multidisciplinary design process for game-based learning environments. Overall issues Project partners The project was organised by the Agora Center and Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä. The partners included a number of schools in the region, Jyväskylä Science Park, Telia Sonera, Inc., Veikkaus Inc., State Forest Enterprise, and Association of Finnish Peat Industries. Moreover, the involvement of students from various University faculties had a significant role in the project. Finance The total budget was 488000 €. About 30% of the finances were from regional structural funds, 40% from national public funds (National Technology Agency) and 10% from regional public funds, and 20% were private sector investments. Degree of innovation 5
  14. 14. 14 The project applied innovative ways and methods for the intense multi-level collaborative work. It developed new prototypes for e-learning tools and a quality interdisciplinary design process for game- based learning environments, found new ways of involving children and teachers in mutual partnership in different phases of game design process, and succeeded in building a novel combination of partners in the field of e-learning, attracting funding from various sources. Pedagogical and Content issues There were several pedagogical and content issues in the project. Firstly, the design of game-based learning environments required strong emphasis on pedagogical and content design of the prototypes. Several sub-projects were established to develop innovative prototypes and applications of different game-based learning environments. The main prototypes were a children’s board game design environment, a game-based learning application for scientific phenomena, and a virtual peat land learning environment (see the example below). An objective of the prototypes was that they could be utilized, not only in several school subjects, but also in informal learning contexts. Children’s design session The first page of the Virtual Mire –learning environment Secondly, the suitability of the game-based learning environments in actual school contexts was ensured through the participation of students and teachers in different design phases. Principles of user-centred and participatory design were applied and each sub-project was carried out in collaboration with end users (i.e., the children and teachers of different schools and/or kindergartens) throughout the project. An essential pedagogical issue was on getting different participants to learn collaboration in the design of e- learning prototypes. With the aid of user-centred design methods (e.g., design workshops, field trials), the users took part in the idea generation for the requirements of the applications, as well as in the evaluation of the prototypes. Each design process served as a case study or a field for the development of the game design process. As an end result, a model for a quality, interdisciplinary design process of game-based learning environments was developed. The design process was determined as interdisciplinary in nature, combining educational sciences, content areas sciences (e.g. natural sciences), game design, software engineering and computer sciences. Technology issues Methods, tools and concepts for the interdisciplinary design of game-based learning environments (i.e. for participatory design, game design, software engineering, pedagogical design and assessment of learning) were developed. Evaluation and monitoring – lessons learnt As noted above, both teachers and learners were involved in the evaluation of the project outcomes at all stages. Those involved have been very satisfied with the results, and the developed game-based learning environments will be in further use not only by the partners but also in other contexts – for instance, other schools and kindergartens. The key lessons learned were:  The design of game-based learning environments is a complex issue and requires multiple parties.
  15. 15. 15  It was possible, although challenging, to convince funders of the need to focus on the content, not only the technology, of e-learning. When combining funding from several sources, different expectations regarding reporting and usage of funds are a challenge.  Future users of game-based learning environments, i.e., children and teachers at schools, should be actively involved in the design and take-into-use of game-based learning environments. 2.3 IT for US: Information Technology for Understanding Science - Malopolska – Poland Background and local context The project “Information Technology for Understanding Science” (IT for US) started in January 2005 in Malspolska, Poland, and is still ongoing. The project was set up as a result of evidence that showed that there was an unfulfilled need in the region for teacher training materials to promote the implementation of ICT tools in teaching the practical aspects of science in secondary schools. The proposal demonstrated a need for teacher training materials to cover ‘Constructional’ ICT tools involving data-logging, simulation and modelling: the processing of information in which ICT serves as a tool for constructing new information and understanding. The other ‘Informational’ ICT tools training needs identified featured the use of Internet, Multimedia and Visualization: the presentation of information in which ICT facilitates novel methods of examining ready accumulated information. The ‘Constructional’ wing was chosen as the main focus for this project. It put emphasis on experimental, hands-on activity in science laboratories. There was evidence that the majority of teachers who use IT in their lessons tend to use the new tools to solve traditional problems in traditional ways. However, the successful implementation of ICT in Science Education required more than just an increase in the number of computers. The key to success depended on teachers knowing how to optimally use the available ICT based educational resources. Hence, this project attempted to highlight the pedagogical aspects of ICT applications. The project proposal was in response to the Interim Report of Working Group D ‘Math, Science and Technology’ of the European Commission. This report addresses the problem of the increasing interest and attainment in science education and, in a survey covering 20 countries, identifies the examples of good practice in achieving this. The project also fitted with the strategy for the development of educational systems, adopted by the ministers of education from EU countries together with the European Commission (February 2002), whose aim was “the increase in recruitment within science and technology education”, and which aimed to lead to the design of modular in-service training courses for science teachers and to create the supporting courseware materials. Aim and objectives The IT for US project aimed to design a modular course for in-service training featuring the integration of ICT for science teaching that could be used in different countries. The intended outcomes of the project were to:  Produce a report with guidelines on using ICT for better science teaching,  Produce the curricula and coursework featuring the integration of data-logging and modelling for science teacher training to be used in different countries,  Develop the competence of professionals involved in the project,  Plan the preparation of teacher trainers to implement the course in different countries. Overall issues Project partners The following universities are among the partners of the project : Pedagogical University of Cracow, Universiteit van Amsterdam, New University of Lisboa, University of Leicester, University of Cyprus. Finance The total funding of the project amounted to 330682€ and 65,66% of it (217135€) was from Structural Funds.
  16. 16. 16 Degree of innovation The distinctive feature of this project was that it brought together teacher trainers, science education researchers and curriculum developers with extensive experience in innovations with ICT. It included three groups who, as pioneers in the fields of data-logging and modelling, had successfully developed and disseminated distinctive software and curriculum materials (Coach, Insight, Modellus) which have enjoyed wide acceptance across Europe. The Coach software which developed in the Netherlands contained a system for capturing and analysing video data, particularly useful for studying motion. The Datalogging Insight software, which was developed in the UK, contained an interactive tutorial facility for training teachers and pupils to adopt new strategies for analysing and interpreting data collected in practical laboratory activities involving data-logging devices. The Modellus software, which was developed in Portugal, offered a toolkit for creating animated simulations of phenomena for a wide range of science topics. The following aspects also contributed to the innovation of this project:  engaging teachers in using ICT activities in their science lessons  promoting cooperation and collaborative work between science teachers  educational modules across science subjects (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) with examples of cross-specialisation  educational modules which integrate data-logging, modelling, video measurement, simulations for enhancing practical science Content issues The project embraced: the survey of the current situation of ICT in science education in different countries; case studies of best examples, designing a modular course for in-service training of science teachers; the development and adaptation of courseware materials and seminars and study visits for developers. The pilot version of materials was designed to be used to conduct a workshop for teacher trainers from participating countries. The activities of the project were supported by a project website and open source CMS software (Moodle) Pedagogical issues In the earliest stage of the project a Survey of ICT use in Science Education was conducted to establish the most common types and methods of the use of ICT activity in science, the curriculum organisation for ICT, the teacher training provision for ICT and the assessment of ICT. At the same time a brief literature survey was conducted to review the use of ICT in science education, discuss the theory of constructionism and its implications in the transformation of learning and teaching through ICT. It was also designed tod provide an overview of the educational potential of three types of constructionist tools: modelling, data logging, and video measurement tools. Finally, findings from the literature on the role of teachers’ beliefs and attitudes on their practices in the classroom were presented. The results of the survey carried out in 5 countries among secondary school science teachers have shown that the great majority of teachers follow a non-constructional approach to teaching science. The conclusion was that there is no need to support teachers in moving towards a more constructionist way of teaching. The next stage was to design a teacher training course and create the necessary materials to exemplify innovative pedagogy, which exploited the unique qualities of ICT. The course materials that resulted illustrate the integration of different ICT activities for enhancing practical work in biology, chemistry and physics and emphasised investigative (constructivist) teaching methods. The material is presented in 10 modules, each devoted to a single science topic. Technological issues The ICT focused on four types of software application related to practical science: data-logging, video measurement, modelling, and simulation applets. Each module demonstrated the integration of two or more of these types of software application. It consisted of materials for the teacher as well as exercises for the pupils. Pupil activities drew on existing curriculum materials (Coach, Modellus, and Insight software), which were adapted and augmented to amplify the pedagogical discussion and integration of methods. Evaluation and monitoring: lessons learnt
  17. 17. 17 There were several aspects of the project that contributed to its success: The right people were involved and interested in using ICT in teaching science subjects; The standardization of methods of education in Europe; The effective dissemination via seminars for participating teachers, general presentations on the project, workshops to test out the multi-disciplinary modules, conference presentations, conference papers, and general marketing leaflets and the a website. The following things were perceived as particularly successful about the project: Firstly, it has been found that if people working on the project understand and are able to show the proper direction of needed changes in educational process, teachers will adopt it and do it continuously in their schools. What was also vital was the transparency of the new technologies which meant that the didactic aim assumed greatest importance and that the modern technologies were only the means to achieve it. The standardization of preparing natural subject teachers in partner countries (in the range of innovative didactic methods) was needed for the same level of teaching in schools, which is a basic for different kinds of mobility in Europe. Another factor of vital importance is the effective dissemination; crucial for the adaptation of educational process to new socio-technological conditions. The key lessons learned were:  The effective use of ICT in the teaching of science subjects could be facilitated by teacher training in both the technologies involved and the best pedagogic ways to exploit them;  The techniques could be successfully transferred between partner countries with the same curriculum objectives;  Effective dissemination through a range of events and methods was essential to stimulate the adoption of new socio-technological educational processes. 2.4 BIGnet: the Eastern Finland Educational Network – North Karelia – Finland Background and local context The BIGnet project was established to scale up and develop further the well-designed activities constructed in previous small-scale regional e-learning projects in Finland. The project arose from a clear need for a larger (more schools and more teachers) regional educational network to address the fact that Eastern Finland has a falling population and many schools are in risk of closure. Also the new national curriculum and changes in matriculation exam increased demand of shared expertise in secondary education in Finland. Aim and objectives The aim of the BIGnet project was to develop a significant level of networked e-learning resources including learning objects, on-line course templates and administrative systems. It also aimed to develop collaborative training models and provide staff development in effective e-learning. The objectives were to:  Support small upper secondary schools by providing on-line resources and new methods of delivery;  Establish a permanent model for the Eastern Finland Educational Network;  Provide individual, flexible and regionally covering educational services for all kinds of learners;  Support the adoption of new teaching concepts and a changing educational operational culture. Overall issues Project partners The BIGnet project has a Project Manager and three Coordinators. In addition, it has on-demand technical help capacity available and works in close co-operation with University of Joensuu. The City of Kuopio is responsible for project administration. Finance
  18. 18. 18 Total funding (2004-2007) is 2640000 euros. The European Social Fund provides 45,45 %, national public funds 33,60 %, regional public funds 11,86 and private sector investment 9,09 %. Degree of innovation The BIGnet project is thoroughly innovative. Most of the BIGnet development activities have either been constructed as original initiatives or have developed significantly from existing initiatives. New innovative operational models are continuously under development and the whole project is based in a virtual organisational environment. Examples of the innovative activities include:  A new co-operative training model to get new teachers familiar with online learning and teaching;  A learning content pool: ie, a bank of shared learning objects;  ready-to-use and modifiable online course templates for secondary education;  shared chargeable online course supply;  web-based systems for enrolling and reporting (online courses);  training for school managers (Innovative Network Leadership). Pedagogical issues BIGnet project has had a significant influence on pedagogical thinking regarding e-Learning in Finland. It has trained around 1000 teachers and increased substantially their knowledge of online teaching. Online course templates have offered excellent pedagogical guidance models for the teachers. Content issues During the BIGnet project, teachers from all around Eastern Finland have produced and saved approximately 3500 learning objects to the project shared Content Pool. In addition, some 160 ready-to- use and modifiable online course templates were constructed for free use by teachers. Also, a web-based system for delivering (and enrolling and reporting) online courses was constructed and at the current time there are 130 chargeable online courses available. Technology issues During the project, a number of technology related issues were addressed. For example, web-based registration and reporting systems for online courses were developed. Similarly, new media servers enabled the sharing of multimedia learning materials. Evaluation and monitoring: lessons learnt A clear, realistic and well-designed project plan made it possible to achieve excellent results and a significant regional (and also, partially, a national) impact. The process clearly demonstrated the importance of school principals in encouraging teachers to utilize BIGnet services. This management influence was essential and fundamental to successful staff involvement. Also, visits to schools and personal contacts with teachers played an important part in successfully achieving project goals. The key lessons learned were:  Large scale regional collaborative networking in the production of e-learning resources and infrastructure can be very effective and beneficial;  The use of technology in education can directly address the issues created by changing population demographics;  Successful implementation of new collaborative and innovative systems of educational management and delivery requires the support of institutional management. 2.5 Kursnavet: The Course Hub – Vasternorrland – Sweden Background and local context The sparsely populated regions in northern Sweden do not have enough demand amongst adult learners for all courses that they can offer. However, if well designed online courses were available to students over a wider area, this would provide the access needed for students wanting to take part in courses that the local adult study centre could not afford to offer f2f. Such online courses have the potential to meet
  19. 19. 19 individual needs, whilst remaining financially viable, and radically raise the quality and quantity of the course programmes offered. Although online learning provides a cost effective solution for course delivery, the costs for designing and producing these online courses have been and remain very high. This means that only very few adult education organisations would have the funds to produce such courses. However, a joint venture involving many different units sharing their products (both whole courses and small learning objects that build into bigger learning resources) would make it possible. Through joining the forces of regional authorities with a national educational player located in the region and private interests this all could be organised and financed. The Course Hub project was set up to achieve this outcome. The project beneficiaries would be school children, students, adult learners, teachers and researchers. Overall issues Project partners The project was co-ordinated by the National Agency for flexible learning. Partners were WM Data AB and Contento AB. This demonstrated the good co-operation between public and private players in the venture. Aim & objectives The Course Hub Project 6 was initiated in order to promote e-learning and online work in adult education. The general idea was to make up for the fact that students at upper secondary school level adult education are able to choose between over 800 different courses. It is a very difficult for individual adult education organisations to offer all these courses and the sharing of learning objects and online delivery was the solution. The broad aim of the project was to share the development of learning objects between education institutions in order to reduce development costs and to deliver courses online to reach greater numbers of students. The project objectives were to:  Make learning accessible through online tools in order to provide learning opportunities regardless of time, place and pace of study.  Encourage adult learning institutions and practitioners to produce and share learning objects with each other.  Use online learning to make course delivery viable by including students over a wider area. Finance The project benefited from sufficient funding for the expensive development work. The total funding was € 1,290 000 49.55% or 638.000€ was from regional structural funds, 40.55% from national public funds and 9.91% was private sector investment. Degree of innovation The key innovation in The Course Hub was the clear strength of the project. It catered for the needs of many players and interest groups and it promoted substantial, hands on use of online resources in many different and flexible learning situations:  The way of sharing these resources on an equal basis using packaging tools like Contento was very innovative.  It allowed all interested teachers to search through meta-data, selecting and including small online course objects into whatever learning situation they were creating.  It could used be in a blended learning situation or in a course that was completely online.  The tool allows the teachers themselves to embed learning objects into whatever kind of course they regard suitable for the student. Pedagogical and content issues 6
  20. 20. 20 The most successful part of the project was the way in which it addressed the needs of teachers who had very specific needs for special situations linked to their classroom activities. The Course Hub made it possible for them to provide online course components mixed with their classroom learning activities and learning materials and activities in digital learning environments (or LMS). Through this process, the teachers could feel that this new and innovative way of working and the use of digital course elements did not threaten or compete with their normal teaching practice. Indeed, it was seen to offer better quality and a flexible and varied teaching/learning situation. Other aspects have been less easy to achieve. Educational radio and TV has a long history in Sweden and many high quality productions have been made by UR, the Swedish Educational Broadcasting Company. However, it has been very difficult to gain access to these products in order for them to be downloaded into the Course Hub. The main reasons have been the IPR issues connected to productions, sometimes made partly abroad, and also slow communications with the contacts in UR. Technology issues The project developed technical solutions allowing teachers to access the packager tool by Contendo AB and embed the learning objects in their own course design and progression. Evaluation and monitoring – key lessons learnt The first phase of the project has been evaluated by researchers at the Midsweden University. Most of the targets have been met. The project has created great interest among practitioners, researchers, school managers and policy makers. The key lessons learned were:  The idea of complete openness in terms of production and access to the produced resources has attracted great interest among teachers and practitioners. The methodology is an important contribution the learning design tools available to the teacher.  Quality assurance of the course created from the shared course components cannot be the responsibility of anybody but the teacher her/himself. Teachers are sometimes uncomfortable with using other peoples work, but having confidence in a shared ethos of high quality is part of the culture change needed for this kind of collaborative arrangement to work.  IPR questions need to be addressed. It is important to be quite clear what intellectual property rights are connected to a course component, whether it be produced by a Swedish teacher in his/her line of duty or sourced from elsewhere. The Course Hub builds on free access but there are still some uncertain IPR issues that will need clarification.
  21. 21. 21 3. E-learning & SMEs: challenges and opportunities Education and lifelong learning are crucial for the competitiveness of companies and for the empowerment of their personnel in todays knowledge based society and in the increasing globalization of the marketplace. For people active in modern business the maintenance and development of professional skills as well as the fostering of the ability to learn are decisive for success. This is as true for SMEs as it is for larger companies. The majority of companies in the European regions are SMEs, often as key supply chain companies, contributing to the health of the local economy. However, a consistent message from SMEs is that the demands of the business mean that it is very difficult to spare time to allow staff to attend training courses. The eEurope e-business policy statement confirms both the benefits and the difficulties for SMEs: An ‘eCommerce enabled’ Single Market could provide European firms with a critical boost to their competitiveness. This is particularly the case for Europe’s Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), which normally find it difficult to trade beyond their region or country, and can also face difficulties adopting new technologies. Hence flexible and accessible learning environments and architectures are required that allow skills development to be achieved with minimum impact on the operation of the business. On-line distance learning that is accessible at a time and a place that suits both the SME and the individual employee has the potential to achieve this crucial balance of business priorities. The design and delivery of e-learning for continuous, performance-based capacity building, however, is potentially complex. Employees in SMEs are likely to be building on a substantial base of existing skills and experience and, as such, may be regarded as ‘expert learners’. Additionally, work-based learning occurs in a vocationally specific context, often with a substantial non-formal component where learning on the job and peer mentoring make valuable contributions. The formal design and delivery of digital content and professional pedagogy needs to integrate with the broader non-formal learning suport in the workplace. It needs to take into account the existing skills profile of both the individuals and the company generally, and to provide the flexibility and learner control required to balance learning with the demands of the business. Case Studies 3.1 The South West Wales e-Training Network – Wales – United Kingdom Background and local context The Wales e-Training Network 7 involves all Higher and Further Education institutions in the region collaborating in the creation of on-line training solutions for SMEs. It has successfully delivered over 4,500 hours of training at NVQ levels 3 & 4 to employees in a range of small companies. The level 3 content has been validated as a nationally recognized Further Education qualification and the level 4 content is being validated at Foundation Degree level for delivery during 2007. In addition to developing and delivering e-training courses, the Wales e-Training Network is also developing the e-learning expertise and experience of staff in the participating institutions. It is doing this through regular e-learning master-classes, conferences and lunchtime research seminars. It has also developed and is delivering a postgraduate on-line course in e-moderation for staff in all institutions. Wales is a predominantly rural region where the majority of companies are SMEs. The region has a GDP below the EU average, partly due to the difficulty in developing the skills of the workforce to keep pace with modern technology and business methods. The SMEs in rural Wales have difficulty in accessing campus-based skills training and on-line learning was seen as a possible way of providing the access and flexibility that they needed in order to participate and improve business performance. The Wales e-Training Network is a collaboration between all Further and Higher Education institutions in Wales developing on-line training solutions for SMEs. This case study describes how the collaboration has successfully provided on-line training solutions for SMEs, achieved significant cost benefits in development process and scalability benefits in the on-line delivery model. Aim and objectives 7
  22. 22. 22 The broad aim of the project was to develop high quality, cost effective e-training solutions which accurately addressed the needs of SMEs. Additionally, the project aimed to build capacity within the Network institutions to optimally deliver those e-training solutions. The objectives were:  To use subject specialists across the network to develop e-training solutions for SMEs, in consultation with companies and business support agencies  To use a core team with learning design, graphics design and web programming skills to work with the content producers to optimise the e-training materials  To pilot, evaluate and improve the delivery of the training solutions in SMEs  To provide development opportunities within the Network institutions to broaden experience and capacity in the areas of e-learning  To inform the regional Government and the Education policy makers about effective e-learning support for work-based learning Overall issues Project partners The Wales e-Training Network is a sector-wide collaboration enabling all Higher Education and Further Education institutions in the region to participate. 13 institutions contributed modules for the Foundation Degree to be delivered to SMEs in 2007 and the same institutions will provide on-line tutor support for those modules during the delivery phase. The lead institution is the University of Glamorgan. Finance The total funding of the project amounted to 500.000€ of which 50% was from Structural Funds. Degree of innovation The main innovation in the approach taken by the Wales e-Training Network was the sector-wide collaboration. Logic dictated that high quality training solutions, once available on-line, did not need to be replicated by different institutions. Sharing the development cost was a clear benefit for the institutions, the education funding bodies and the taxpayer. Sharing the delivery across the sector yielded significant capacity and scalability benefits. Instead of being restricted to the limited number of subject specialists in any one institution, the Network had access to specialists in all institutions. The implications for widening participation across the region and potential for international delivery are clear. The key feature of the management of the Wales e-Training Network is that it operates independently of any institution. It is a sector-wide project that delivers significant economic and operational benefits that would not be achieved if all institutions developed and delivered their own on-line training solutions. Pedagogical issues The pedagogic approach used in this project recognized the diversity of experience and expertise of work-based learners. It provided multiple routes through the learning activities and materials to suit a range of different learning styles and preferences. The pedagogic approach was based on social constructivism, tutor supported, with negotiated learner control of the process. Wherever possible the learning activities take place at work and are aligned with business objectives. Content issues The content provided on-line was developed by academic authors from a range of different institutions across Wales. It was important, therefore, that a consistent pedagogic approach was applied, that the content had a consistent structure and means of navigation and that all intelectual property rights (IPR) issues were resolved. All content was quality reviewed, piloted with SMEs and their experience evaluated before validation. Technology issues The technology to be used by the learners in engaging with the content and the learning activities was planned to be as transparent to the user as possible. All learning resources were made available on-line, accessed through a web browser on a typical specification personal computer. Because over 50% of
  23. 23. 23 SMEs in Wales do not have high speed Internet connections, content was designed for modem connectivity. A technical helpline was made available to learners. Evaluation and monitoring – lesson learnt The rationale for sector-wide collaboration by the Wales e-Training Network was based on compelling logical and economic grounds. However, the innovative nature of the approach required a re-think of vocational educational management, quality and financial systems. A benefit of the project was the information provided about how systems need to change to best support on-line distance learning in the future. The project has demonstrated that large-scale collaboration is both possible and effective. It has successfully developed on-line training solutions that have satisfied the training needs of SMEs and the quality requirements of national validating bodies and institutions. The key lessons learned were:  There are significant economic benefits from large scale institutional collaboration in the development of on-line distance learning courses;  Multi-institutional collaboration in on-line distance learning course delivery greatly increases the number of on-line tutors available and hence the scalability of delivery;  E-Learning can provide the accessibility and flexibility SMEs need to participate in essential skills development without affecting their ability to run the business effectively;  The primary requirement for SMEs in any training is that it should be relevant, timely and focussed on achieving immediate improvement in business performance. 3.2 DigOma: A Content Factory – Kouvola – Finland Background The DigOma initiative is a continuation of a regional VERMO project 8 for creating a comprehensive model for the production of on-line learning materials: digitising conventional content and creating new multi- media materials. The initial project resulted in more than 20 learning products for different teaching and learning purposes at the Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences. The DigOma project continued the development of the model from the points of view of business, business development, tailored course- ware and IPR issues. The project was divided into two main parts: a technological study of eLearning standards (learning units and content production specifications such as SCORM) and a study of successful business models for the creation of multi-media learning products. Aims and objectives The main objective of the project was to determine the critical success factors that would optimise the production of digital learning materials. The initiative tried to enhance the efficiency of the content production as well as to anticipate the business opportunities in the learning world. It focused on tailored materials for targeted users and aimed to produce re-usable materials by utilizing up-to-date techniques and methods. A further objective was, whilst benefiting from the specialist roles of the different organizations participating in the production, to achieve an overall integration of those roles in producing consistent and coherent learning content. Overall issues The overall issue addressed by DigOma was the holistic research of digital content production processes from a business point of view. This was done by using case-studies and interviews. The results of DigOma were intended to be primarily used in the future development of digital materials by the partner organizations. It was hoped that the results could also help the learning community generally by highlighting effective methods for digital learning material production as well as in the future re-use of the digital learning materials. Project partners 8 2002-2003, contact:
  24. 24. 24 The project was managed by the Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences in Kouvola Region, in the South-East of Finland, together with a range of partner organisations. Finance The project was mainly financed by The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation. Additional financing was provided by the Kouvola Region Federation of Municipalities as well as some private companies. Degrees of innovation DigOma tried to enhance the digital learning material production process in general as well as to point out both the advantages of using digital material and the problems that may arise during the material production and implementation process. The project also tried to establish an on-going dialogue between the different organizations (producers, software makers, system developers, designers, teachers, end- users and pedagogues) participating in modern digital content production. Furthermore, it also wanted to initiate interaction between the material users and producers in order to gain important evaluative feedback on the effectiveness of the learning materials. The new partnership between research and the public and private sectors was one of the key innovative aspects of this project. Pedagogical issues Pedagogy was central to the work of this project. A detailed evaluation of pedagogic effectiveness is being conducted in cooperation with experts on the field as part of the project plan. The outcomes will inform future development and business models and will be disseminated within the community of practice. Content issues The Content issues are connected to the previously described features: A model for the content production of multi-media and multi-channel (internet, intranet, etc.) learning materials combined with the study of the technological conditions for truly re-usable materials. Technological issues The technological issues addressed in this case study can be characterized through key words: e- learning content design standards, systems, learning objects, content data specifications, SCORM, meta- data specifications. Material production and business processes were evaluated throughout to ensure quality, cost effective deliverables. Integrated with the production and technology considerations were the pedagogic design issues and messages coming from learner feedback. For each aspect, the identification of good practice and how it contributed to the overall success of the programme was documented. Evaluation and monitoring – lessons learnt The project had the objective of enhancing the whole digital learning material production process. In particular, it had the aim of bringing together all the different companies/organisations involved in digital learning material production and ensuring that the integration of their efforts resulted in high quality learning materials, whilst meeting their individual business objectives. The key lessons learned were:  The creation of a strong business case for digital learning material production that meets the expectations of all commercial contributors is essential for success;  Pedagogic design has to be central to the digital material production process and that learner evaluation should inform the design process at all stages;  Practical and legal issues such as IPR, accessibility, interoperability, re-usability and the different design criteria for schools, colleges and universities, all need to be part of the design specification.
  25. 25. 25 4. E-learning and unemployment: meeting the demands of today’s labour market The European e-learning Conference ‘Technology Enhanced Learning – Catalyst for Change and Innovation’ highlighted the labour market as a key driver of European Regional macroeconomics. It noted that: There are a number of changes which are putting the development of learning and skills, and elearning at the forefront of national and international debates. Within the EU the population is getting older. This has two major implications. Firstly, the skilling of older people to use and work with the new technologies. Secondly, the smaller numbers of younger people means that there is an opportunity and indeed an urgency to upskill more young people into higher level skills, qualifications and jobs. It also commented on the need to: create potential and progression of unemployed people through acquiring IT skills and career support. Employability issues include:  Changing business environment e.g. upskilling/re-skilling  Re-training long-term unemployed  Facilitating mobility  Ageing workforce  Providing for the disabled  Matching industry’s skills needs  Reading difficulties  Preparing students for life and work The member states are deploying comprehensive programmes to support employment and employability. However, there are very few cohesive and broad based learning strategies backing up the traditional employment policies and practices. E-learning can be a relevant support for some of employability issues, especially for unemployed training. Adult jobless people need to rejoin the labour market. They usually need to update their skills and their competences, in order to enhance their employability profile. E-learning can be an important support for the up-skilling and re-training process, especially because of its time and place flexibility. Moreover, e- learning courses help adults to improve their computer skills, bringing added value to their curriculum vitae. Similarly, it is important to provide learning opportunities for younger people to prepare them for work. On-line learning, including distance and blended learning, can provide the flexibility and accessibility needed to allow young unemployed people to enter the job market. The case studies in this section describe projects offering new ways of developing work-skills and opportunities to move from unemployment to a new career. 4.1 Solvesborg Learning Centre – Blekinge – Sweden Background and local context Sölvesborg is a small municipality with 16 000 inhabitants. The average level of educational attainment is low and the municipality has no university of its own. The local trade and business consists nearly exclusively of small business with very limited capacity to invest time and money in competence development. The aim of the Learning Centre project was to provide the technical infrastructure required for distance studies (broadband, videoconference system etc) and to support students in their use of different e- learning platforms and other programs, such as the Marratech video conferencing system. The support provided was intended to facilitate and encourage groups that were normally reluctant to enrol on higher education courses, such as women, immigrants and the unemployed. A great benefit was the fact that the Learning Centre was integrated with the local library, providing a smooth gateway to university level studies.
  26. 26. 26 Another aim was to connect local enterprises in Sölvesborg with universities and to develop suitable courses in cooperation. The Learning Centre operates in different networks and is a participant in regular meetings with the local business society. The Learning Centre offered access to e-learning from all providers but due to the cooperation with Blekinge Institute of Technology (BIT) it has also been possible to develop and market courses specially suited for local business. When the local group of prospective students is big enough BIT has been able to give lectures on site in Sölvesborg as a complement to e- learning, thus providing a blended learning approach. BIT has also used the facilities for traditional campus education as evening classes. Thanks to the Learning Centre network BIT can easily reach the local business with direct marketing and get feedback from local business in order to develop the required education courses. BIT, the Learning Centre and the Local Business Society thus has formed a fruitful and effective joint collaboration. Aim and objectives The aim of the project was to improve the average level of educational attainment among the adult community in the municipality of Sölvesborg and to enhance competence among local trade and industry, in order to attract new business and new inhabitants. The role of the Learning Centre is to support students and broaden the possibilities for the inhabitants to partake in higher education. This is done in close cooperation with local trade and industry and universities. Overall Issues 1. To market the Sölvesborg Learning Centre and promote the use and benefits of e-elarning among the inhabitants of the region. Few people really understood what e-learning was about at the beginning of the project. 2006 was a year of marketing efforts with the help of funding from the municipality. 2. The cultural gap between university and local business. This was addressed through, for example, breakfast meetings with a less academic touch than usual. Dialog seminars have also been arranged between Small Business and University representatives. 3. The lack of e-competence in the society and among Small Businesses. The Learning Centre was able to offer traditional campus education specially designed to meet the needs of Small Businesses. The staff can introduce e-learning and work as tutors when the students start to use e-learning platforms, scanners, mail and other facilities. Project partners The project partners were: Blekinge Läns Länsstyrelse, County administrative board Blekinge Institute of Technology Municipality of Sölvesborg The Swedish National Agency for Education Campus Sölvesborg: a society formed by local trade and industry, the municipality of Sölvesborg and Blekinge Institute of Technology Finance 434,000 € for the phase of the Learning Center that is described here. 29,5% came from structural funds. Degrees of Innovation The Learning Centre is marketing courses with special interest for local trade and industry. The complete integration of the Learning Centre in the local library is a novelty. It gives the benefits of no extra costs for the municipality, a smooth and less frightening gateway to university courses, staff with high competence in information literacy that are available as tutors daily from 8 am to 7 pm during the week and on Saturday between 10 am and 1 pm. Pedagogical issues The pedagogical issues with netbased education are, together with content issues, perhaps the most interesting to explore at present. On-line education can lead to a feeling of isolation. It is possible to communicate with teachers and fellow students on the web, but sometimes face to face discussions and
  27. 27. 27 concrete hands-on help can be very beneficial. The Learning Center environment provides such blended learning opportunities. Web-based courses need to be specifically designed for the on-line environment and are not just digitised versions of campus-based courses. Blekinge Institute of Technology is working with tutors to make net- based learning pedagogically effective and to improve understanding how to satisfy the needs of on-line learners. The further development of this methodology is seen to be a very important issue. Content Issues During the project it became very clear that local development or adaptation of courses is a key factor for success. This was especially true when it came to specially designed short courses for SMEs. The cooperation with Blekinge Intstitute of Technology enabled the Learning Centre to be able to successfully develop relevant courses for specific target groups. Based on questionnaires, followed by interviews, the Learning Centre representatives and the education planners at BIT could create specially designed short courses on subjects suited for Small Business in the local community. The demands for education thus triggered the development of adequate courses. University courses, both short courses and full programmes, are now available via the internet. This broad spectrum is of content is also available for those studying at the Learning Centre. Technology Issues Netbased courses with elements of IP-based videoconferences (the software Marratech,, has been used). The technology in itself is quite mature, but guidance by professionals at the library was necessary especially for newcomers. Evaluation and monitoring: lessons learnt Collaboration in a small community and region can be informal and the time between idea generation, decision making and implementation can be very short. Company management can see the result of their involvement in the education boards and the creation of specially designed courses. They can benefit from the lifelong learning among their employees which in the long term will make them more willing to invest in internal education. The number of students enrolled at the Learning Centre has increased ever since the project started. Through marketing, the Centre is continuing to involve more inhabitants in Sölvesborg in higher education. Future planning recognises that e-learning education is evolving and new technology must be implemented. It is planned that the cooperation with the Society of Trade and Industry will continue and new ideas will be formed and educational demands will be met. The Department for Trade and Industry of the Municipality of Sölvesborg has made an evaluation of the call for education among small businesses. This has in turn led to new types of courses designed by BIT. The new education will be given as short (2-3 days) courses of intensive e-learning open to persons with qualifications through work experience only. The Library is an established institution with a permanent staff. The integration of the new project into an established structure helps the innovative development run smoothly. The institutional competence was available from start as lifelong learning has historically always been a public library issue. An important success factor is the availability of skilled staff that are able to assist the learners. Also the facilitation of informal learning between individuals is important. Those studying at the Learning centre quickly get to know one another and support each others in technical issues as well as giving tips on good resources. The development of locally adapted courses is a core issue for the Learning Centre in Sölvesborg and the further development of an already successful methodology is a key aim. To do that in cooperation with actors in other regions countries would be an interesting task to take on. The key lessons learned were:  Collaboration between learning providers, libraries, municipal authorities and small businesses can provide effective lifelong learning opportunities and improve the workforce skills of small businesses;
  28. 28. 28  Blended learning; combining the flexibility and accessibility of e-learning with face-to-face provision can make training for SMEs cost-effective;  The Learning Centre, integrated with the local library system, made higher education easier to access and less threatening. 4.2 MONEY – Kouvola – Finland Background and local context The Business Laboratory of Multilingual Network Communication (MONEY) aimed to introduce a new concept for training and research programmes. It offered students new ways of learning, skills needed in working life, contacts to the business world and an opportunity to prepare for entrepreneurship, and more. The project was looking to develop new kinds of synergy through its innovative lab-concept. Three different project participants worked in the MONEY-lab: the students from the Dept of Translation Studies (translation and interpretation), those from the Kymenlaakso Polytechnic (media communication) and unemployed translators/interpreters/ICT-professionals. They shared their knowledge, expertise and experiences while working together in the lab and with state-of-the-art technology on assignments from local and national companies and organisations. They also studied together in all three partner institutions. The project idea was initiated in discussions between representatives of the Department of Translation and the Polytechnic about the graduation and employment situation of their students. Also involved was the City of Kouvola as well as the Expertise Centre of the Kouvola Region Federation of Municipalities who saw it as a suitable project to supplement their strategic operations. Aim and objectives The main aim of the project was to train students to meet the demands of today’s labour market and to create new links between the local institutes of higher education and local companies. The intention was to strengthen the interaction between the institutes in the Kymenlaakso region and the local business and economic community in creating job opportunities for students. The project objectives were to:  Provide students with training in network communication, project work, marketing and entrepreneurship.  Provide the students with skills needed in today’s labour market and a chance to cooperate with local companies (potential future employers) through real-life assignments.  Encourage and prepare students for starting a business of their own through entrepreneurship training. Overall issues Project partners The Business Laboratory of Multilingual Network Communication was a cooperative project involving the Department of Translation Studies of the University of Helsinki, The Palmenia Centre for Continuing Education of The University of Helsinki, the Media Communication Department of Kymenlaakso Polytechnic and the Kouvola Region Expertise Centre, all of these located in South-Eastern Finland, in the City of Kouvola. Finance The project was financed through a combination of EU structural funds, national and regional public funds and private sector investment totalling €332.315. Degrees of innovation The key innovative outcomes of the project were:  The enhancement of cooperation and joint use of resources between universities and polytechnics located in the same region.  Direct contact with the companies and working in real-life assignments giving the students and the educational staff a chance to pilot the working-life orientation of the Bologna-process.
  29. 29. 29  The ability of students to attend courses not included in their own curriculum, but which are crucial for a modern skilled professional.  An innovative combination of both university and polytechnic students with their latest academic know-how and the unemployed with their working experience, studying and working together. Pedagogical issues Working together on real-life assignments, students could apply their skills and create contacts in the business world. In all assignments the pedagogical viewpoints were carefully considered before accepting them as part of the work of the lab. The challenges of each assignment were discussed in groups prior to realisation. The joint discussions with company representatives acquainted the students to their future work methods in the real world. Content issues Working on the assignments, students could apply their skills and create contacts with the business world. Typically, an assignment would be to design and create a multilingual website for a company. Translation, interpretation and language consultation services were made available for companies. Companies could buy services from the laboratory, hire professional graduates who had participated in the MONEY training programme, and create new contacts to the research and educational organizations of the university and the polytechnic. The laboratory provided contracted research services in the fields of multilingual communication and digital learning environments. Interaction with companies produced real- life ideas for master’s theses thus speeding up graduation. Technology issues Students worked together in the MONEY-laboratory at Helsinki University using state-of-the-art technology. ICT education was provided by Kymenlaakso Polytechnic. Evaluation and monitoring: lessons learnt The project was formally evaluated while in progress by the officials from the Employment and Economic Development Centre of South-Eastern Finland. No problems were reported about the project methodology and operation. However, an issue that arose was that each partner (particularly the educational institutions) had their own specific culture and it took a lot of time to find policies and working methods that suited everyone. The project succeeded but the organisation of meetings, resources and other aspects could have been more efficient. The key lessons learned were:  Encouragement: the project lowered the students’ threshold of marketing themselves straight to the companies and of thinking of entrepreneurship as one employment alternative;  Interaction: the project started the interaction between the partner institutions and the translation and media companies in the region thus enabling information exchange about the latest developments and trends in the fields in question as well as about the employment and recruiting situation;  Cooperation: the business/economic life of the region learned that the partner institutions are truly a part of an interactive society and contacts cold be made mutually.