Engaging teaching and learning in the digital age

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Digital spaces are the natural habitats of today’s youth – not only in their leisure time, but (for some years now) during school hours, too. However, research shows that digital technology will not enhance lessons unless teachers properly merge it into their classroom practice. Let the following projects be your pathfinders in this ever-growing domain!

DICHE: Digital Innovation in Cultural and Heritage Education in the light of 21st-century learning

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The DICHE – Digital Innovation in Cultural and Heritage Education – project is ideal for 2018, it being the European Year of Cultural Heritage.

True to its name, DICHE aims to “integrate digital resources and opportunities for cultural and heritage education in primary school”. To do that, it has developed a menu of digital teaching scenarios for cultural and heritage education, with over 40 ideas that teachers can adapt and use – be it in their classroom, their local museum, or a cultural and heritage centre. These include digital storytelling to enhance museum visits, learning scenarios to make the best use of digital offerings, and tips for tools, such as TimeGlider, Minecraft and Cardboard. The menu is based on a theoretical framework developed by the project partners.

In addition, the project has come up with two apps: the DICHE app for making digital stories, and the Musetech app, introducing a social dimension to the DICHE tools and practices.

DICHE is an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership that has been running from 2015 to 2018. Its six partner organisations come from Belgium-Flanders, Italy, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, and cover the intersection between primary education, cultural heritage education and e-learning.

MENTEP: MENtoring Technology-Enhanced Pedagogy

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Digital pedagogical competence – i.e. “proficiency in using ICT in teaching … and being aware of its implications for learning” (Laurillard, 2012) – is a crucial skill for the 21st century. It also still needs improving in the educational sphere. The MENTEP project aims to repair that through the ambitious TET-SAT – short for Technology-Enhanced Teaching Self-Assessment Tool.

TET-SAT is an online self-assessment tool that can be used by teachers at all levels of education: after answering 30 questions about their familiarity with ICT, participants receive personalised feedback, including a score and a peer comparison, as well as links to national training resources. That way, they can reflect on their needs, which will lead them to define (and hopefully attain) new goals.

TET-SAT result screencap

The project’s final conference took place in March 2018. If you were unable to attend, you can still join the upcoming Promoting Technology-Enhanced Teaching MOOC to learn more about TET-SAT. In the meantime, you can read more about TET-SAT in this brochure.

MENTEP is an Erasmus+ Policy Experimentation that began in 2015 and is set to conclude in 2018. It is coordinated by European Schoolnet, and developed by 16 partners in 13 countries. Participation in its trials was lively, involving 7300 teachers in 11 countries.

GAMES for Inclusion and Learning

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The GAMES project developed innovative teaching methods, targeting both mainstream and special educational needs schools, and involving – naturally – games. It shares many of the ideas behind Maker Education, such as the engagement that comes with the process of creation, and the benefits of “falling forward”, where making mistakes is a natural part of learning.

The project had a palpable impact:

In the UK, a 16-year-old with autism made a Scratch game based on Edward Scissorhands, a favourite movie of hers, and was able to focus for 20 minutes at a time instead of the usual 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, primary-school students in Sweden wrote fairy tales, then programmed digital games around them, leading one to remark, “Oh, so this can be education?” and another, “I run into problems all the time and then I get inspiration from friends, teachers, other games, or I just have to try in different ways.”

More such stories are available on the project website, including the benefits and difficulties the teachers uncovered, and the software they used.

These accounts are incorporated in a compendium, along with the project’s background, basic principles, resources, and so on. You can also read more about the project’s findings in the Conclusions document.

GAMES was funded by Erasmus+ and carried out by schools in the UK and Sweden between 2015 and 2017. It has been designated a good practice example.

To discover ongoing and past EU-funded projects in school education, please go to the Erasmus+ Project Results Platform.