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European Digital University Staff Competences

KA203 Strategic Partnership co-funded by Erasmus+

Community-informed good practice and implementation toolkit for digital stewards

The toolkit will build on a community-driven collection of good practices and resources, and it will provide a comprehensive overview and guidelines on how universities can best utilise digital support systems.

The guidelines will target different groups: administrative HE staff, policy advisors and teaching staff. The project’s emphasis is threefold: (1) Use of data for policy making, (2) digital and digitally-supported high quality teaching and the use of Open Educational Resources (OERs) and (3) digital mobility and internationalisation management.

A desk-research will be conducted collecting practices, particularly building on the many experiences made by Higher Education Institutions throughout the Corona crisis. Additionally, a questionnaire for academic and non-academic staff, as well as qualitative interviews will take place. 

Furthermore, this IO will set-up a community platform that serves as a forum to gather practitioners to exchange innovative ideas and successful initiatives implemented as pilots in their HEIs, as well as to offer individual staff members a safe environment to get in touch with other practitioners.

The innovation character of this IO lays with the approach to look at Higher Education staff competencies from an educational perspective and bridging the strategic maxim with concrete suggestions for actions, underpinned by good practices and a space for collaboration. This should allow practitioners to get easy access and transfer existing practices or new ideas into the local reality at HEIs.

OER - Virtual Exchanges and policies

The aim of this OER is not only to provide a comprehensive introduction into virtual exchanges, their value and experiences, but to also to provide HEIs with a strategic blueprint on how to include facilitated virtual learning as part of their internationalisation effort.

Differently from the physical mobility that has to take place towards a single HEI and in a given semester, virtual mobility opens up a variety of choices as it can be addressed towards several HEIs and put in place across several semesters. Therefore, HEIs need to develop new policies to take advantage of opportunities offered by virtual exchanges, without disrupting their ongoing activities.

The strategic considerations developed as part of this OER will provide an overview on how to use virtual exchanges as part of three pillars of internationalisation:

A. Traditional Erasmus mobility agreements
B. Joint programmes and
C. European University alliances

HEIs will need to consider which courses to open up, which additional courses to offer and how to integrate them, which digital platforms to use, what rules and policies apply for the participation in virtual exchanges, recognition issues and finally how to integrate virtual exchanges in the day-to-day administration of the institution. 

The target group for this OER is policy advisors, academic staff and the leadership (e.g. Vice-rectors for international affairs) at HEIs. The methodological approach to successfully implement digital learning will be covered mainly by IO3 - OER for high quality teaching.

OER - High quality teaching

Traditional classroom teaching models with fixed class duration accompanied by some individual homework assignments need to evolve into models for today’s students. Higher Education Institutions are consciously focusing on supporting, recognising and fostering research, while the quality of teaching is seldom rewarded or recognised the same way. 

For this reason, this OER will focus on innovative high quality teaching methodologies/tools such as:

A. Face-to-face education models focused on supervised, intensive, collaborative, and hands-on formats that provide memorable experiences. Examples are: bootcamps, challenges or hackathons and can be supported by MakerSpaces and/or industry partnerships;
B. Blended education models with a strong active learning component both outside and inside the classroom, such as flipped classroom strategies supported by MOOCs/SPOCs and
C. Online education models focused on synchronous collaboration between students with different backgrounds and heterogeneous origins, such as virtual exchanges (e.g., European Virtual Exchange) mediated by a platform that facilitates interaction and community building.

As these new models must be supported by appropriate technologies, the OER will interlink good practices and proposals for teaching methodologies with technology. Examples are:

  • engagement apps, such as Kahoot!, Socrative, or Wooclap that can be used to promote active learning and self-reflection in the classroom;
  • conversational agents, such as those based on Google and Amazon technologies, that can be used to review the main concepts of a course while studying at home;
  • advanced learning platforms, such as Open edX or Microsoft Teams, that can help to design better learning sequences that integrate multiple content-specific external tools so that students can practice more.

All of those technologies allow the collection of real-time data from the performance of students so that both teachers and students can make informed decisions about their teaching and learning strategies.

The target group for this OER is teaching staff at HEIs and the OER is by definition in the open domain, thus reusable and editable, reflecting great transferability potential.

OER - Digital mobility management

Digital mobility management has been one of the latest innovations by the European Commission that has drawn a lot of attention in terms of excitement and concern at the same time. It is evident that the traditional paper processes of managing mobility are so established that digitalisation needs to go hand in hand with a cultural shift and competence development of involved administrative staff members to be successful. 

The Erasmus without Paper project and the overarching European Student Card initiative have enormous potential to reduce administrative efforts, to improve access to and ease of mobilities and to modernise higher education services as a whole.

This OER thus aims at providing administrative personnel at institutions working with internationalisation a greater understanding on how processes can be optimised through the use of technology. This includes a better understanding at process level, use of student data, GDPR compliance and of course the ability to effectively use digital tools like the Erasmus Dashboard or third party mobility software. 

The innovation character of shifting administrative processes and the work with student data into the digital domain will be the central subject of this OER.

Policy recommendations on the use of OERs and digital skills for higher education staff

This IO aims to stimulate the policy discussion on European, national and institutional level about the uptake of OERs. This coincides with the provision of OERs through IO2, 3 and 4 as good practice examples of how OERs can be used to educate higher education staff on different digital subjects.

The policy recommendations will cover institutional topics such as the centralisation and availability of OERs, the role of teaching staff, educational quality assurance procedures and the need to invest into educational research in relation to OERs. 

Furthermore, it will look into how national and European regulations support or hinder the full use of OERs and provide recommendations on how to increase uptake.

Through the creation of the community platform as part of the IO1, the policy recommendations will be co-developed by the consortium partners with input from practitioners and experts alike. Creating a community of practice has substantial benefits in fostering the adoption of OERs and is thus a central element to creating the recommendations.

The recommendations will be utilised by the partnership in the policy dialogue organised as part of the final conference.