A quality education for all: SMARTEL enters its final stage

Tuesday 1 August 2023

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The advent of e-learning systems has impacted higher education environments to the point they now represent a unique way to provide equal opportunities and access to quality education for all. Specific groups of students who are unable to attend a course of study in person may now pursue higher education.

A conscious use of e-learning by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) needs to be accompanied by specific institutional strategies, purchase of educational software and other tools for content management and communication and interaction during classes, as well as training of teacher and designed staff for IT or technical support.

In 2020 CESIE joined project SMARTEL aiming to improve the quality of education in Region 1 (Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina) through the implementation of e-learning platform for distance learning and the development of modern pedagogical approaches related to it.The 6 Higher Education Institutions in this region involved in SMARTEL saw e-learning as the solution to create a more equitable and inclusive educational experience, empowering students to overcome limitations; specifically, they recognised that:

  • E-learning eliminates geographical barriers opening doors for students from remote areas to access course materials, lectures, and participate in discussions with their teachers and peers, removing the need to relocate or travel long distances. The rising cost of living in university cities poses a significant financial challenge for students and/or their families, while long commutes can be physically and mentally draining, impacting learning.
  • E-learning provides immense opportunities for students with visual impairments. By leveraging assistive technologies such as screen readers, audio descriptions, and captioning, these students can engage effectively with course materials. Digital platforms enable the integration of accessibility features, ensuring content is available in alternative formats. Furthermore, e-learning platforms can foster inclusive learning environments by promoting collaboration and interaction through discussion boards, virtual classrooms, and video conferencing, where students with visual impairments can actively participate and engage with their peers.
  • Moreover, e-learning systems offer flexibility in terms of scheduling and pace of learning. Students can access recorded lectures, pause and rewind, allowing them to grasp concepts at their own pace. This flexibility accommodates diverse learning needs, enabling individuals to review materials as needed and providing an opportunity for effective comprehension and retention of information.

In the last months, SMARTEL partners from Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina had the possibility to visit Programme countries partner institutions and get training about e-learning platform maintenance and building interfaces between different components of distance learning. After a first training in Malta in June 2022, partnership headed to Palermo in September, where CESIE delivered training sessions focused on practical tips for using Moodle in study courses and Gender & Diversity Sensitive Curricula. In November 2022 a study visit and training was organised at the University of Ljubljana and IT developers of HEIs could benefit from training about IP security, Moodle and BBB environment, Lecture capture, User interface design.

Following these train-the-trainers activities, other administrative and teaching staff was trained in all partner HEIs from Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina while equipment is being purchased and installed in all these institutions. Next steps of SMARTEL include preparation of teaching contents and exchange of content between these HEIs, which will support internationalisation of their whole institutions.

For further 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.

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