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Working with minors deprived of liberty in IEDA

As part of the teachers that met at the Meeting of Lifelong-education Schools placed at penitentiary centres or working with students deprived of liberty, that took place on April 10th in Seville, Spain, we were able to share our experience with those of other schools.

We all came from different kinds of schools and realities and this fact enriched the meeting: there were teachers from penitentiary centers, from CIMIs ( Centros de Internamiento de Menores or Juvenile Detention Centres in English) and from different kinds of educational centers for lifelong-learning (CEPERs, SEPERs, and IPEPs). There were also professionals related to this reality but not teachers, like penitentiary and law authorities.

Our school, IEDA, shared the experience we have in this field, based on providing Adult Secondary Education to students who are under eighteen in some CIMIs in Andalucia.

Both in the Decree 359/2011 and in the Order of June 21st 2012, that created and organized the blended and online teaching systems in our region, it is established that IEDA, the Andalusian public online school can enroll teenagers under eighteen as an exception, but, at the same time, with priority. These students must be, as said before, under eighteen with difficulties to attend classes at a normal physical school, and specifically, in this case, these difficulties come from the deprivation of liberty.

We provide these teenagers in the CIMIs with a team of teachers and with adapted online materials that are displayed in the specific online classrooms in our Moodle plataform. These classrooms are special for two main reasons: first, they are deprived of liberty and second, they are minors in a virtual school meant for adults.

The classrooms that IEDA offers them are closed, only for these students and their teachers and they do not include any hyperlink to external webpages. This measure guarantees the

the penalties and custodial measures ordained by the judicial authorities in respect to the deprivation of liberty. Moreover, within the Moodle platform, these students are given a special role with some constraints, like the fact that they cannot have access to fora or any other virtual meeting points of our school, they cannot have their photo in their profile and they cannot send mails to somebody except their teachers. Finally, IEDA offers specific, complete, self-contained materials that do not require external surfing on the Net apart from our platform.

In addition, there must be some commitment on the part of the CIMI center. They must have computers with Internet connection to have access to our virtual school. This commitment implies a frequent access to the platform -this is not something occasional- and the help of the educational staff of the CIMI, who must work in constant coordination with IEDA team.

When talking about how we work with these students, we need to talk about the methodology at our school. IEDA follows these principles:

‘Learn by doing’: our model is very practical, based on Project and Task-based learning. Students must solve problems and questions with the help of our free online materials and the web tools proposed.The teacher is a ‘helper’, someone who facilitates and promotes the autonomous learning. He/she also provides the possibilities for collaborative learning, based on sharing.The use of multimedia didactic materials, which combine texts with other elements such us graphics, audio files, videos and animations.Different rhythms and kinds of learning with personalized sequential plans.A model of weighted evaluation that takes into account the basic assessed elements.

An adaptation of the content has been made for these students deprived of liberty. It does not consist on the simplification of the content, but just in the tackling with the deprivation of free online communication, as said before when we talked about the design of the virtual classrooms.

That is the reason why we offer OERs adapted from those we create at the IEDA for Secondary Education in life-long learning. These free online materials are revised every year by the staff at the IEDA, and are offered for anyone under a Creative Commons license at the repository of Andalusia called CREA (Contenidos y recursos educativos de Andalucía). They have be adapted deleting all the elements where Internet navigation was needed, but they are enriched with images, graphics, infographies and schemes. Moreover, they are complete since they need no further information.

The tasks the students are meant to do are Moodle questionnaires. They have proved to be a good option because they solve restrictions of interaction, they facilitate the work in the CIMIs and they jump over the difficulty in the written expression, a big challenge for these students. Finally, they are very versatile, more than what we expected, since they allow us work with the evaluation criteria, its standards and the key competences.

519 minors deprived of liberty have already studied with us at the IEDA since 2013/14. The results are very good, even better that those in other groups of Secondary education. This is very satisfactory, bearing in mind the challenges of this group of students, like the lack of a habit when studying and other difficulties.

At IEDA, we feel proud of offering an opportunity to these students so that they can continue in the educative system.

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