Summary of the project
Digital Education (DE) has the potential to provide better teaching and learning opportunities, especially in regards to the unpredictable circumstances such as COVID-19 which revealed that many HEIs faced problems of technical, socio-psychological and didactic nature. The project Digital Education for Crisis Situations: Times When There is no Alternative (DECriS) aims to produce 6 IOs, organize 4 MEs, 2 Summer Schools in the form of blended learning as an ‘hybrid’ arena for exchange of experience and knowledge transfer, and to design and produce 2 tutorials which will equip teachers with new skills required in the production, reutilization and use of DE. The project’ target groups are students/teachers at partner HEIs and European HEIs that offer programs in (L)IS, which will be approached widely in regards to the use of OERs and ways for promoting, enriching and improving of DE for crisis situations, and beyond. In order to contribute to the building of inclusive HE systems and promoting internationalisation, DECriS project is focused on innovative digital practices experienced during the academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21 during lockdown and other mitigation periods without complete lockdown but without face-to-face classes. Project will focus in particular on digital competencies, new innovative curricula and educational methods; international cooperation; and cooperation with business sector. DECriS project aims to create a framework for proper adoption of OERs in general, and in crisis situations in particular, making sure they will: improve the quality of the DE and expand the possibilities for collaboration and knowledge sharing, which may decrease the feeling of isolation common in situations like lockdowns; support both teachers and students in their development, especially in terms of adaptive, personalized and smart learning; possibly, lead to cost savings and repurposing finances to other educational activities and resources, which, may further reduce the existing gaps and barriers; be used as adaptive, flexible and smart ‘tools’; improve students’ participation in virtual classrooms, i.e. generate appropriate level of interest and engagement which is also one of the common issues in the context of DE. We are implementing: a design for scale that makes our OERs scalable beyond the project and easily upgradeable and expandable, and a design with the user approach which allows us to create OERs that: truly originate from the needs of the specific HEI and teaching/studying community; empower HEI (as users) and teaching staff and students (as end-users) to become (co)producers of educational materials; a so-called LEGO approach
(brick by brick or modular approach) in designing the OERs making them modifiable (e.g. creating derivative OERs) and optimized in regards to the different needs and goals (e.g. they can be remixed and improved, integrated into existing OERs, etc.) and adaptable to different socio-cultural contexts and situations, such as pandemic crisis, as well as certain technological requirements or limitations. The project is organised in 2 phases: In phase 1 we intend to produce 2 IOs: state-of-the-play of the use of OERs at European HEIs and the analysis of the perception of DE by students and teachers of the partner HEIs during COVID-19 lockdown with a list of observed problems, as well as perks and examples of good practice. In phase 2 we plan to produce and justify critical factors for evaluation of existing OERs from the point of view of their use during the COVID-19 crisis and special periods without face-to-face teaching; produce one new OER and enrich existing ones by pointing to useful and relevant parts for information extraction from the multimedia collections added to OERs and for automatic scene segmentation for retrieving meaningful fragments which are shareable and reusable; produce an apprenticeship framework in order to create new models for students’ online apprenticeship. We are framing project outputs based on a platform model which serves in a crisis situation and supports the mash up of different services, models, strategies and educational materials so that they respond to these shifted goals and accommodate new set of educational needs.
The whole project is data driven thus facilitating efficient DE management, informed decision making in a crisis situation, and a systematic approach based on scientific investigation of strengths and deficiencies. Consortium: U of Osijek, Croatia; U of Barcelona, Spain; U of Hildesheim, Germany; SULSIT, Bulgaria, and U of Zagreb Computer Centre, Croatia and four associate partners. Being able to do the mapping through international cooperation does not only strengthen partners’ relations, but also positions the project’s efforts and results in the context of COVID-19 crisis which threatens our lives, interactive and multi-layered networked culture and economy that itself implies more connectedness and resourcefulness.