According to the document ‘Opening up Education’, open education, including digital technologies and open educational resources, provides a key opportunity to reshape EU education to deliver education of higher quality and efficiency, thus contributing to Europe 2020 goals through better skilled workforce and more employment. Digital competences are key competences in modern world and one of the key objectives of the education should be development of these competences in students, which can only be achieved through inclusion of digital technologies in teaching and learning activities. Also, digital technologies and open educational resources provide an opportunity for innovative approaches to teaching and learning, increasing efficiency and equity in education.
Currently, the use of ICT in teaching and learning activities in EU is low, only about 50% of initial VET students are taught by teachers, who use ICT in at least 25% of their lessons, which can be attributed to low teachers’ confidence and negative attitude towards ICT, as well as limited access and obstacles. According to the ‘Survey of Schools – ICT in education’, only around 15% of initial VET students in Romania are taught by teachers with high confidence and attitude and good access to ICT, compared to equally low EU average of 25% (20% in Italy and 25% in Bulgaria and Spain). Another problem is, that most teachers only use ICT in preparation of their classes, thus not taking the opportunity to develop digital skills in their students and to use ICT to improve teaching and learning through open and innovative practices.
According to the documents ‘Modernizing Education’ and ‘Opening up Education’, quality of teaching is crucial in improving the quality, social outcomes and efficiency of education. Digital skills and competences need to be included in initial teacher education, as well as continuous professional development, to keep teachers updated. Training of teachers in use of ICT in education can provide teachers with skills and knowledge, which will motivate and empower them for more frequent, efficient and innovative use of ICT in teaching and learning. Also, knowledge, skills, confidence and positive attitude may help teachers, who are faced by low accessibility and barriers, to overcome this barriers and use ICT more often and with greater success (Survey of Schools – ICT in Education). Training should have strong emphasis on digital pedagogies, as the use of digital-supported teaching methods is of key importance for developing of digital competences in students and using of innovative teaching methods, and according to an EC-OECD study around 60% of teachers have not received any training on digital pedagogies in their initial training. The awareness of need for additional training for ICT skills is also strong among teachers, as according to surveys, 70% of teachers would like to have additional training in the use of ICT.
To address the problem of low use of digital tools and to increase use of innovative methods in teaching and learning among VET teachers, our project will devise guidelines and an open online course on an innovative teaching approach for VET teachers, incorporating digital-supported teaching methods, thus providing a systematic approach and opportunity for professional development of VET teachers with a focus on developing of open and innovative education through the use of ICT. The guidelines and the course, along with the learning platform for teachers and students and open multimedia teaching and learning materials, will promote and improve access to open and innovative practices in a digital era. With its focus on VET, the project will also contribute to strengthening of key competences in VET by also developing materials centred on competences that are especially relevant for different areas of VET.
E-Classes project respond also to the 2017 focus of the Romanian National Agency for the VET projects submitted in Romania in terms of European priorities. In the vocational training field, priority will be given to the development of partnerships with companies, partnerships aimed at promoting learning based work, involving the social partners that provide guidance/ training and interest specific local and regional dimension, to produce tangible results based. With this regards, E-Classes project intent to establish collaborations students-schools-companies in elaboration of videos on job orientation and integration (interview guide, practice in companies, orientation and integration aspects presented and evaluated from motivation, competences, culture differences and equal opportunities points of view). This collaboration will engage students in companies work places and will bridge gaps students have in work experience and stimulate collaboration and exchange of knowledge and practice between school and the world of work. Companies will provide conditions for students to experience the world of work.