Integrating distance learning into Higher Education Systems: discover SMARTEL

Thursday 16 December 2021

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In recent months, European Higher Education Institutions have been divided between those institutions that intend to return entirely to traditional face-to-face teaching, leaving distance learning a limited role, and institutions that see distance learning as a way of complementing face-to-face teaching.

In the midst of this debate, we cannot forget the positive impact that distance learning has had on categories who, before the COVID-19 pandemic, had never been able to access education and training because they were unable to attend a course of study in person. These categories include:

  • who have to continuously care for elderly, sick or disabled family members (caregivers)
  • students who are parents (especially women),
  • workers,
  • students with severe disabilities,
  • students with physical disabilities who are prevented by architectural barriers from reaching classes,
  • students who are immunocompromised, suffer from oncological diseases or from chronic degenerative and debilitating diseases,
  • students with anxiety problems and social phobia.

The complete dismissal of distance learning would imply for these categories that they would have to give up higher education, resulting in fewer opportunities for personal growth and well-being.

In this period of uncertainty, a partnership of Higher Education Institutions from Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina (Erasmus+ Programme Countries) started, together with CESIE and Higher Education Institutions from Slovenia, Malta and Spain (Partner Countries), project SMARTEL – Improving the process of education through the development of e-learning multimedia platform and smart classrooms, funded by the Erasmus+ Programme – Capacity Building for Higher Education. Capacity-building projects support innovation and reform of higher education institutions or national systems in Erasmus+ programme countries and eligible partner countries through international cooperation.

SMARTEL aims to improve the quality of education in Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina by developing an integrated distance learning system. In particular, it aims to support access to education and training for students with disabilities and/or economic and/or geographical difficulties. By giving students the possibility to follow courses in distance learning, it is possible to reduce the costs and difficulties connected to education (practical assistance, transport, rents & utilities, etc.), guaranteeing full enjoyment of the right to study.

In this first year of the project, the Higher Education Institutions involved in the project have carried out an internal research and comparative analysis of the ICT environment and of the organizational chart and related services existing within them in order to better understand the current state of development of digital learning environments, of the e-learning platforms already used, of the smart-lab models and of the support services and tools connected to the provision of distance learning, especially for disabled students. At the same time, through remote and face-to-face study visits, partners are exchanging good practices and suggestions related to setting up and deliver distance learning.

In the next phase, innovative pedagogical approaches and learning methodologies will be developed to be implemented in distance learning through multimedia learning platforms and smart-labs, also taking into account the different special needs of the student population. This will be followed by the development of the distance learning system within the institutions and the training of technical and teaching staff.

For more information, please contact Alessia Valenti: alessia.valenti@cesie.org

About the project

SMARTEL – Improving the process of education through the development of e-learning multimedia platform and smart classrooms is cofinanced by Erasmus+ programme, DG EAC: Directorate General for Education and Culture.

Partners

For further information

Read more about SMARTEL and visit the website https://smartel.pr.ac.rs/.

Contact Alessia Valenti: alessia.valenti@cesie.org.

CESIE ETS