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Last Wednesday 27th of May, between 10:00 and 16:00 CET, the EPALE international community took part in a very interesting discussion on the exploitation of digital skills as a way of accessing learning opportunities. With 162 comments posted by the EPALE users, the discussion was a valuable opportunity to share good practices and concerns about topics such as digital inclusion, barriers to digital access, the effectiveness of distance learning and how to reshape education during the period of Covid-19. In fact, the recent lockdown has brought to light all the positive and negative aspects of distance learning. It has opened the door to co-design and experimentation of new educational approaches and inclusion strategies, generally aimed at improving and widening accessibility of learning opportunities in adult education.
Below is a summary of the main topics proposed during the discussion and links to projects, educational practices and online resources that can inspire you:
Digital Inclusion of low-skilled adults and elderly people
- Juhani Pörtfors and Matti Sarviranta from Finland explain how they managed to reach and engage the older generation via Skype with a thematic EPALE community story that you can find here
- The University of Ulm in Germany is leading an Erasmus+ KA2 strategic partnership entitled “Discovering European Neighbours in the Third Age" (DENTA), which aims to find out more about the daily lives of people aged between 60 and 90 in different European countries, including their digital habits.
- Virtual simulation environments proved to be very effective in the development of digital skills for low-skilled adults and older people. This is the case, for example, with Evaldo – the simulation tool developed as part of the Digikatalog project in the Czech Republic – and Les bons clics – a French platform for e-learning, designed to facilitate access to the digital services which are essential for everyone.
The key role of basic digital skills
- It seems that in many EU countries the Covid-19 crisis has provided to be an opportunity for the digitally literate to improve their skills, while those with limited digital competences and economic resources have suffered and continue to struggle in a state of almost total exclusion.
- Slovak students, teachers and adult citizens can assess their level of digital skills by taking an online test (IT Fitness Test, the tool is in Slovak) that assesses their capacity to select the right tool or service to solve a problem or answer a question.
- The Digilit project – Empowering Digital Literacy – has allowed for the creation of a Wiki focusing not only on the technological aspect, but also on the social and political dimension of digitalisation. The Wiki also contains ideas and methodological suggestions for an “analog” learning of this topic.
Continuous and permanent training of trainers
- Open-AE is an Erasmus+ project aimed at promoting access and learning through open educational resources (OER). The project is particularly aimed at adult trainers working in the non-formal educational sector to reinforce their digital skills and competences.
- For three years now, Serbian teachers have been following online courses aimed at furthering their professional development. This solution has proven to be very useful during the state of emergency caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
- Many libraries across Europe have the potential to become reference points for the development of digital skills in adult learning. The BIBLIO project is now investigating what needs to be done in terms of training for actual and future librarians to become real factors for change in strengthening the capacity of local (and especially rural) communities to actively respond to the challenges of digital transformation.
- The EPALE National Support Services for the UK and Ireland are collaborating in the organisation of a webinar on “Digital Challenges and Opportunities for Community Adult Educators” that will take place on the 17th of June.
Generally speaking, the participants at the EPALE discussion seemed to agree that it is more important to recognise distance learning as an opportunity to empower adult education offers and practices, by making them more accessible (especially to those target groups who would struggle to benefit from them normally), rather than try to substitute what is already producing successful results in a face to face context.