• Posted 14-Sep-2020

COVID-19 will not stop education

As schools adapt to reopen, the EU prepares an update of its Digital Education Action Plan fit for the post-pandemic times.

It is time to go back to school. Whether face-to-face or following a hybrid-learning model due to new COVID-19 outbreaks, one thing is certain: there is no escaping from the new urgent needs created for the use of digital technology and techniques in education. As schools reopen, they are having to adapt their approaches to ensure social distancing and support pupils who have been isolated for a long time. Fortunately, the last few months of the pandemic have served as a testing laboratory for blended learning approaches.

The EU has not stood idly by during the months of the pandemic. ‘Digital’ was already one of the six major priorities set by the incoming president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen. And now, this priority will be more present than ever in a soon-to-be-revealed update of the EU’s Digital Education Action Plan, which looks at ways of improving digital skills, teaching and infrastructure, at all levels of education. “This was almost ready when COVID-19 hit, so colleagues have been busy adapting the plan to the red-hot topic of digital learning in times of crisis”, Veale explains.

Erasmus +, the EU's programme to support education, training, youth and sport, is also adapting to the post-Covid reality: a new programme is under development and will start in 2021. If the current one was already keen to look at blended learning in a bid to improve quality, to extend the reach of higher education, and to reduce the carbon footprint, this approach will definitely consolidate in the new scheme.

What has the EU been doing to support the return to schools?

 The EU does not set education policy, but common goals and targets, so that European countries and regions do more and more to move in the same direction and complete the substantial work already done to set up a European Education Area. From March onwards, the European Commission organised groups of ministry representatives to share information and good practice on the measures they were adopting to cope with COVID-19. In addition, a short survey to learn from the experiences of teachers and school leaders on the return to school under COVID-19 has been recently launched.

The EU also offers a number of online platforms for teachers and education practitioners where they can enhance their remote teaching skills. The School Education Gateway(link is external) has created a Teacher Academy offering useful MOOCs, webinars and articles on effective methods of online teaching. In addition, EPALE –Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe– has made available a wealth of e-learning material, including good practice stories by teachers from different countries.

Schools are also strongly encouraged to use SELFIE, a free tool designed to help them embed digital technologies into teaching, learning and assessment.

Source: European Union External Action | News Stories (https://bit.ly/3k7nOQ2)