Better-E applies e-Learning in Adult Education

Based on the partners’ experience on barriers to e-Learning, ‘Better e-Learning for All‘ (‘Better-E’) proposes a global approach to create better e-Learning.

Better-E logo-erasmus-plus

The Project’s name is already providing information about its objectives by demanding an upgrading on the quality of e-Learning practices and simultaneously an enhancement on the number and characteristics of the Organizations and people to involve in e-Learning.

Partners are aware of the common cross-border barriers to e-Learning in the context of Adult Education as these had been identified by the partners previously. These barriers had been divided into several categories:

– Accessibility: the physical and technological infrastructures in which the learning occurs and through which the material is presented.
– Availability: appropriate learning resources.
– Presentation: the social infrastructure in which the material is presented.
– Stakeholders: learners, trainers and organizations.
– Courses: course content and pedagogy.

Considering these barriers as an ensemble, ‘Better-E’ proposes tools and methodologies to diminish them, providing solutions both from technological and pedagogical perspectives. The solutions will be gained with due consideration of the fragile autonomy held by stakeholding learners, and the empowerment necessary for the changes to take place.

‘Education’ and ‘Training’ are not foreseen as the only key scopes for e-Learning practice as the ‘Better-E’ Project sets out to foster Social Inclusion and Cohesion as identified objectives achievable through an improved implementation of e-Learning practice. The enhancement of both the practice and the quality of e-Learning, the increasing of the number and type of e-Learning promoters and, above all, addressing significant social issues through better e-Learning practice are all being identified as significant if intangible results from the project.

The project Objectives are, among others:
– to propose, to test and to create a user-friendly and pedagogy-centered e-Learning Platform for course promotion;
– to introduce and to incorporate e-Learning into organizations (chiefly training-provider NGOs) usually not currently including e-Learning practices;
– to promote e-Learning as an inclusion device, in the context of traditional Education and Training being regularly considered to be a mechanism for social inclusion while e-Learning is not
– to use e-Learning to encourage active citizenship and entrepreneurship through initiatives fostering green skills, entrepreneurial mind-sets and appropriate skills.

The Project will directly target two main groups: (1) Training Provider NGOs, and (2) their targeted audiences. The philosophy sustaining it is the need to generate e-Learning best practices as close as possible to organizations providing Adult Education and Training Systems but usually without the application of e-Learning. Engaging them with e-Learning practice will consequently benefit their learner target-groups by engaging the learners in ways that will reduce the potential and risk of social exclusion.

The Project foresees the direct involvement of dozens of NGOs from the partner countries.
The scientific, pedagogical and technological scopes of the deliverables are prepared and will be applicable to the entire range of e-Learning stakeholders, including Schools, Universities, Private Training providers, among others.

Project promoters will engage in Preliminary Research to upgrade the State-of-the Art for the application of e-Learning with regard to a range of organisations, policies, countries and learner backgrounds. The partners will then conceive, test and launch the ‘Better-E Platform’, an online tool to fully conceive e-Learning courses, embedded with technological solutions while addressing important pedagogical concerns.

To test the Platform and engage final beneficiaries, the Partnership proposes the conception, testing and delivery of two e-Learning courses: (1) ‘Entrepreneurship’, promoting active citizenship through enterprise while applying innovations that can break the cycles that perpetuate social exclusion. (2) ‘Easily Moving from Learning to e-Learning’, an instruction course that includes in part a guide to the use of the ‘Better-E’ Platform.

The ‘Better-E’ title not only seeks to engender thoughts of better e-Learning, but also may identify ambitions for a ‘Better Europe’, by means of strong European Partnerships contributing for better common societies. It may also recall a common pronunciation with the word ‘Battery’, symbolising energy generated through partnership, aligning the project with the Erasmus+ global priorities and aims.

Policy development promoting access to the knowledge economy

In February 2011, Searchlighter was identified as a subcontractor in a project application made to the INTERREG IVC Programme as supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

INTERREG IVC is part of the European Territorial Co-operation Objective of the Structural Fund policies for the period 2007-2013. The priority chosen by this project among the objectives of the INTERREG IVC programme, with its focus on interregional co-operation, is to improve the effectiveness of regional development policies in the areas of innovation and the knowledge economy, as well as to contribute to the economic
modernisation and increased competitiveness of Europe.

The exchange, sharing and transfer of policy experience, knowledge and good practices will contribute to achieving this objective. By promoting Europe-wide cooperation, INTERREG IVC encourages regional and local authorities to view interregional cooperation as a means of enhancing their development through learning from the experiences of others. This way, the successful experiences gained in the different regions can spread throughout Europe.

Within the priority chosen by the project, a sub-theme covering employment, human capital and education was the focus of the application, finding solutions to social and economic exclusion from the knowledge economy and how good policy practice applying practical solutions might overcome this.

With public authority partners coming from Italy, Estonia, Spain, France and Hungary, the result of the application should be known in June 2011.

Research and the Scholarly Communications Process

Searchlighter was commissioned in March 2009 to work as a partner on the Research and the Scholarly Communications Process project.

This was set up by the Research Information Network (RIN) to create an online resource to enhance the development of scholarly communications policy and practice.

The broad aim of the project was to support effective scholarly communications by challenging and supporting key stakeholders (especially funders, higher education institutions, libraries and publishers) to apply seven common principles set out in the RIN’s Research and the Scholarly Communications Process: towards strategic goals for public policy.

The means was the production, promotion and dissemination of a resource to be:

  • an aid to developing institutional policy in line with the principles set out in the RIN statement
  • the product of research and consultation, developed with and tested by stakeholders
  • designed to be dynamic and easily updatable.

The project was based in a belief that an articulation of the goals enables key players to develop a clear policy framework to support effective scholarly communications as a means to underpin high-impact research and effective knowledge transfer. The project addressed the challenge of the application of the seven identified principles.

The challenge was to devise a process to develop the resource’s content in concert with potential users, then devise and produce an appropriate format for delivering the content to those users. It sought to provide information not just for discrete groups of stakeholders but also to encourage reflection on how the agendas of different stakeholders might be aligned behind common goals and so resolve conflicts of interests.

The chief purpose for the resource was to provide guidance for relevant stakeholders concerning each of the identified principles constituting the Statement of Principles within RIN’s Research and the Scholarly Communications Process: towards strategic goals for public policy, and their roles in applying them. This included information on the state of current practice or the legacy of experience, or examples of innovative and effective practice. It left open the option to create a tool to enable self-auditing, for which users would be able to identify current practice by referring to defined benchmarks.

The Research and the Scholarly Communications Process document built on discussions which the RIN initiated with a range of stakeholders, notably from the library, publishing and research funding communities, with the purpose of identifying the fundamental goals for public policy relating to the scholarly communications process.

Currently, the Research Information Network are considering opportunities to publish and launch the work in the context of their current workload.

Hyphens, capitals and spaces

The addition of the letters ‘e’ and ‘i’ before words in our online knowledge economy has led to perhaps the greatest set of spelling variations in the history of the language.

What to do? Should organisations establish a strict rule for people to adopt a certain way of spelling an e-word, or just leave it to everybody’s personal preference? Does it matter if one person posts an item on a site with one spelling and another person spells it another way. Just as likely, one person spells a word one way in the morning and a completely different way in the afternoon…

Of course, publishers have been applying style manuals as long as they have been publishing, and finding a rule will be second nature to them. I wonder… Does every publisher have a rule for spelling e-Learning/eLearning/E-Learning online outside their copy-edited content? They should, and would probably be thoroughly ashamed if they realised they didn’t?

“What about our Search Engine Optimisation?” they might cry. Well, happily Google ignores hyphens – and you can prove it, though the result of the test is slightly disturbing. Through a Google search and putting in ‘e-Learning’, if you include the ads, it brings seven different ways of spelling the same word out of 18 results…!

Planning for research data management

The sixth meeting of the Research Data Management Forum (RDMF6), sponsored by the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) in association with Research Information Network, will be hosted by the University of Leicester on 5-6 May 2011.

The theme for the meeting, Planning for research data management – meeting funder imperatives, will provide an opportunity to explore the principles for planning set by the major funders, what these mean in practice for researchers and institutions, as well as how plans are assessed, monitored and their agreed outputs measured.

The Keynote will be made by Juan Bicarregui (Science and Technology Facilities Council and RIN Research Communications Group) on research funder requirements for data management planning.

Presentations and discussions currently planned will cover a range of topical issues, including practical guidance and training for effective data management planning, how to win the grant and deliver the plan, and the impact on resourcing support for the plan.

The registration form and details on the full programme are now available from the Digital Curation Centre.