Opening up Education: Innovative teaching and learning for all through new Technologies and Open Educational Resources

The aim of the Commission: - stimulating high-quality, innovative ways of learning and teaching through new technologies and digital content.
- helping learning institutions, teachers and learners to acquire digital skills and learning methods
- supporting development and availability of open educational resources (OER)
- connecting classrooms and deploying digital devices and content
- mobilizing all stakeholders (teachers, learners, families, economic and social partners) to change the role of digital technologies at education institutions

The initiative contributes to the EU headline targets for reducing early school leaving and increasing tertiary or equivalent attainment and builds on the recent initiatives 'Rethinking Education', 'European Higher Education in the World' , Erasmus + , Horizon 2020 as well as the flagship initiative Digital Agenda.

Facts and figures:
- 63% of nine years olds do not study at a 'highly digitally-equipped school' (with appropriate equipment, fast broadband and high 'connectivity')
- only 30% of students in the EU can be considered as digitally competent; and still 28% of students in the EU have practically no access to ICT, neither at school or at home
- 70% of teachers in the EU recognize the importance of training in digital-supported ways of teaching and learning but only 20-25% of students are taught by digitally confident and supportive teachers
- six teachers out of ten have not received any training on how to use ICT in the classroom while 70% of teachers would like to have professional development on ICT skills
- between 50% and 80% of students in the EU never use digital textbooks, exercise software, broadcasts/podcasts, simulations or learning games
- one third of the 200 European universities consulted were not aware of what a MOOC is (Massive Open Online Courses), and only one third were considering any MOOC-related initiative

EU education is failing to keep pace with the digital society and economy and also risks lagging behind other regions of the world. The USA and some Asian countries are investing in ICT-based strategies to reshape education and training. They are offering their courses globally through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

The benefits of the digital revolution in education: All individuals can learn, Anywhere, Anytime, through Any device, with the support of Anyone.

- Individuals can easily seek and acquire knowledge from sources other than their teachers and institutions, often for free
- New groups of learners can be reached because learning is no longer confined to specific classroom timetables or methods and can be personalised
- Teachers may easily share and create content with colleagues and learners from different countries
- Much wider range of educational resources can be accessed
- Teachers and education institutions can reach thousands of learners from all five continents simultaneously
- Can contribute to alleviating costs for educational institutions and for students, especially among disadvantaged groups
- Combining face-to-face and online (blended learning) can increase student's motivation and the efficacy of learning

The Communication presents for main parts:

1. Open Learning Environments: opportunities to innovate for organisations, teachers and learners
Education and training institutions need to review their organisational strategies and improve their capacity to adapt, promote innovation and exploit the potential of technologies and digital content. Yet using ICT in training can reduce costs and increase flexibility in terms of time and space.
Teachers should be able to acquire high digital competences, therefore initial teacher education should place a strong emphasis on digital-supported teaching methods (digital pedagogies).
Learners expect to acquire the digital skills for the 21st century and have their digitally-acquired skills easily certified and recognised for further learning or work. Special attention is also needed to disadvantaged groups such as learners at risk of low achievement in e.g. science & technology or with learning difficulties.

2. Open Education Resources: opportunities to use open knowledge for better quality and access
OERs are generally produced in a limited number of languages (mostly English), and used by specific education sectors (especially higher education) and specific disciplines (e.g. ICT). The use of OERs in Europe is still too fragmented and not sustained. High-quality European OER must become more visible and accessible to all citizens. Therefore the Commission will launch a single gateway for OERs produced in Europe, federating existing platforms with advanced browsing and search features to help users find the appropriate content (Open Education Europa).

3. Connectivity and Innovation: partnerships for infrastructures, new products and services, and interoperability
There is a need to enhance local ICT infrastructure (broadband, content, tools) because in many places the lack of hardware devices or the low penetration of broadband impedes the optimal use of technology, impairs the potential to use OER and educational software. Broadband may exist at institutional level but not at classroom or device level, and different devices with different technical specifications (e.g. different software or brands) are currently not providing equal access to educational resources.
Interoperability and portability standards for educational resources also have to be defined and ensured across devices, platforms and brands to provide a level playing field for all market players. Standards should also ensure that resources could be used across different platforms thus enhancing their effectiveness.
Developments in cloud technologies and gaming, personalisation of learning and mobile devices will drive growth in the educational technology market.

4. A concerted effort to seize the opportunities of the digital revolution
The Commission will launch a platform open to all stakeholders (teachers, learners, families, digital communities, economic and social partners, etc.) to record and benchmark the digital state of educational institutions. It also will be established the European Hub of Digitally Innovative Education institutions, showcasing and piloting innovative ICT-based pedagogical and organizational practices, complemented by a specific European Award of Digital Excellence.
The Member States and education institutions should promote networks of volunteer teachers, digital communities and ICT experts in launching initiatives (such as coding courses or back-to-school programmes) and establish teachers' awards for the good pedagogical use of ICT for all educational sectors.
Furthermore, it will continue to work and cooperate with national regional and local authorities, social partners, business, students, new educational providers and other international organisations such as UNESCO, the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) and the OECD.

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