Erasmus celebrates its 25th anniversary, Monday 30 January.
The Erasmus student and staff exchange programme will celebrate its "silver" anniversary in 2012. Erasmus is at the heart of the European Commission's education policy and its strategy to combat the crisis and youth unemployment. Since its launch in 1987, nearly 3 million students and staff have received grants to study or teach abroad or undertake work placements. Studies show that this experience is invaluable for boosting skills in areas such as language learning and adaptability, which can increase an individual's employability. The scheme also helps to promote teaching quality and institutional cooperation.
33 European countries participate in the Erasmus scheme (27 EU Member States, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey). Demand for Erasmus places strongly exceeds the availability of grants in most countries. The Commission has called for a significant increase in EU support for higher education mobility under its proposed new programme for education, training and youth ('Erasmus for All'), which is due to start in 2014.
The 25th anniversary celebrations will be launched at a press conference by the Commissioner responsible for education, Androulla Vassiliou. She will be joined by "Erasmus ambassadors" from the 33 countries participating in the scheme. One student and one staff member have been chosen to represent each country, based on the impact that Erasmus has had on their professional and private lives; their role is to encourage other students and staff to take advantage of the opportunities it offers.
Information session on the Commission's proposal for a new Creative Europe funding programme for the cultural and creative sectors
If you are a European network representing cultural stakeholders and would like more information on the European Commission's proposal for a future Creative Europe Programme, register for the information session the Commission is holding on 30 January 2012 in Brussels.
On 23 November the European Commission's proposal for the Creative Europe Programme (future funding schemes for the cultural and audiovisual sectors) was made public and sent to the EU Council of Ministers and the European Parliament who will now begin discussions and negotiations on it with a view to adopting the proposal in 2012-2013.
The Commission would like to offer this opportunity to European networks representing Europe's cultural and creative sectors to attend an information session on the programme which will be taking place on 30 January 2012, from 2 p.m. in the auditorium of Tour Madou, Madouplein 1, St. Joost ten Noode, Brussels.
You can register for this session by sending an email to: EAC-UNITE-D2@ec.europa.eu.
Registrations should be made by Friday, 20 January. Please mention the name of your organization, indicate the stakeholders it represents and provide your contact details. Please note that space is limited.
Confirmation of attendance will be sent to you.
The Creative Europe proposal and relevant documents can be found on the following website: http://ec.europa.eu/culture/news/creative-europe_en.htm
European Cooperation in Education and Training to support implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy
On 20th December, the Commission adopted the draft Joint Report of the Council and the Commission "Education and Training in a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe", on the implementation of the Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in education and training ("ET2020").
The report summarises the actions and developments during the first 2009 2011 cycle of implementing "ET2020" and suggests priority areas for European policy cooperation for the next cycle 2012-14.
It highlights in particular how cooperation in education and training can support reaching the objectives of the "Europe 2020" strategy.
- The imperative to consolidate public finance puts budgets under pressure – including expenditure for education and training. However, as improving educational achievements can yield immense long-term returns and generate growth and jobs, there is a need for smart investment going along with policy reforms improving the quality of outcomes.
- More efforts are needed to reach the Europe 2020 headline target on early school leaving and tertiary education and to implement the reforms called for by the 2011 Council Recommendation on policies to reduce early school leaving and the recent Commission Communication on the modernisation of higher education.
- For the majority of EU citizens, lifelong learning is not a reality. This bodes ill for those hit hardest by the crisis. Unemployed youth and low-skilled adults depend on education and training to stand a fair chance on the labour market.
- Transnational mobility for acquiring new skills enables individuals to strengthen their future employability and personal development. However, the current levels of mobility do not match its importance and benefits.
- As the crisis has accelerated the change of skills needs on the labour market and the need to improve Europe's skills base, ET2020 will support the implementation of the Europe 2020 flagship initiative "Agenda for new skills and jobs" by promoting key competences for all citizens, close cooperation between education and the labour market and improved monitoring and anticipation of skills needs.
The Commission suggests these areas to be confirmed as priorities for European cooperation during the next "ET 2020" work cycle (2012-2014), so as to sustain a successful implementation of "Europe 2020".
The joint report will now be discussed in the Council in view of its adoption under the Danish presidency 2012.
The report summarises the actions and developments during the first 2009 2011 cycle of implementing "ET2020" and suggests priority areas for European policy cooperation for the next cycle 2012-14. It highlights in particular how cooperation in education and training can support reaching the objectives of the "Europe 2020" strategy.
Empowering Educators for Creative Learning: A European View. Results from the DG EAC workshop in OEB
Once more DG Education and Culture and the Agency were present at the ONLINE EDUCA conference in Berlin. This is the largest yearly event on technology supported learning & training at an international level. The theme of this 17th edition was "New Learning Cultures". The conference included more than 100 sessions (workshops, demos, labs work, etc.) organised between the 1st and 2nd December, attracting more than 2000 participants from approximately 100 countries.
At the conference, DG EAC and the Agency organised a workshop titled "Empowering Educators for Creative Learning: A European View" chaired by Brian Holmes.
Lieve van den Brande, from Directorate General Education and Culture underlined the need for a wide mobilisation of stakeholders to facilitate the integration and use of ICT in education and training. There is a gap between the potential of ICT, the evidence coming from research, the policy objectives and the reality of use of ICT in formal and non-formal education. To fill in this gap the European Commission is launching a new initiative called "Creative classrooms" which will help mainstream innovation in learning and teaching, providing systemic impact.
Orchestrating technologies: Empowering teachers in creative classrooms
Pierre Dillenbourg, professor at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne made a presentation on "Orchestrating technologies: Empowering teachers in creative classrooms" which emphasised the benefits of keeping teachers and educators at the centre of the educational process. There is a need to focus on solving problems rather than simply running after innovation and sometimes rather simple technology can greatly assist educators in their work.
Presentation (available soon)
These interventions were followedbypresentations from 3 EU funded projects two of which are co-funded by the Lifelong learning programme Key Activity 3-ICT. The projects illustrated various strategies to engage and empower educators with innovative pedagogies:
Teaching to Teach with Technology
Teaching to Teach with Technology ("T3" project): Maria Luisa Nigrelli from the Istituto di Scienze e Tecnologie della Cognizione, CNR (Italy) showed how pupils can effectively use ICT and how teachers can support their learning through technology. The project also developed a framework matching different technologies with various pedagogical strategies. Maria Luisa Nigrelli emphasised that ownership of the process if fundamental and embracing ICT in education is a challenge for today and not for tomorrow.
Fostering Teacher's creativity through Game-based learning
Fostering Teacher's creativity through Game-based learning ("ProActive" project): Mario Barajas from the University of Barcelona (Spain) introduced some of the challenges faced by game-based learning approaches being perceived as entertainment whereas research has shown that they can result in very effective learning. Teachers can have a central role in using these tools, and putting creativity at the centre of the learning experience.
Innovative Technologies for an Engaging Classroom
Innovative Technologies for an Engaging Classroom ("ITEC " project): Will Ellis presented possible scenarios for future classrooms and introduced some of the key challenges in this context: visions versus pragmatism; innovation versus mainstreaming, conservatism versus popular educational philosophy and secure versus open learning systems.
The workshop, attended by approximately 100 participants, concluded on the need to involve a wide range of actors including school leaders, public authorities, and practitioners at large to provide educators with the necessary support to effectively implement ICT in education.
In the next proposal for the Research and Innovation programme "Horizon 2020", the Marie Curie Actions will be renamed "Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions" (MSCA). The objective of the actions will however remain the same: supporting career development and training of researchers through worldwide mobility and skills development.
The Marie Curie Actions will continue to play a key role, with a proposed budget amounting to €5.7 billion. In the future, MSCA will intensify collaboration between universities, research institutions ,enterprises, including SMEs and all socio-economic actors. It will be implemented by, for example, doctoral training, temporary postings of researchers from the public to the private sector or vice-versa, and short term staff exchanges between public and private sectors. This should increase the employability of researchers, broaden the career prospects of researchers and in both public and private sectors, attract talents from abroad and thereby combat brain drain. In addition, the MSCA will become the only EU programme offering support for excellent doctoral training.
The MSCA will also keep on promoting the participation and empowerment of women in research notably through the EU Charter and Code for researchers.
- Press release "Horizon 2020: Commission proposes €80 billion investment in research and innovation, to boost growth and jobs" (IP/11/1475, 30 november 2011)
Selection Results for the Jean Monnet Programme, Key Activity 1 – Information and Research Activities for "Learning EU at School"
The final list of proposals recommended for EU funding under the LLP Jean Monnet Programme, Key Activty 1, Information and Research Activities for "Learning EU at School" was adopted by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency on 15 December 2011.
The Jean Monnet programme aims at stimulating teaching, research and reflection in the field of European integration studies at the level of higher education institutions within and outside the European Community.
European integration studies are defined as the analysis of the origins and evolution of the European Communities and the European Union in all its aspects. They cover both the internal and external dimension of European integration, including the European Union's role in the dialogue between peoples and cultures and the European Union's role and perception in the world.
Launched in 1989, the programme is now present in 62 countries throughout the world and around 740 universities offer Jean Monnet courses as part of their curricula. Between 1990 and 2009, the Jean Monnet Action has helped to set up approximately 3,500 projects in the field of European integration studies, including 141 Jean Monnet European Centres of Excellence, 775 Chairs and 2,007 permanent courses and European modules.
The priorities for 2012 shall focus on two broad and fundamental axes: On one hand, the promotion of European citizenship and democracy, comprising the development of understanding of the EU, its values and what it brings to citizens daily lives; and on the other hand, feeding the direct and current interest of citizens into the European political agenda.
Priority One – Citizens and the EU: values, democratic life and institutional issues
The active involvement of citizens in dialogue and reflection on the EU, its policy objectives and its values are crucial in fostering a sense of ownership and of European identity amongst citizens. The Europe for Citizens Programme is an important tool in this respect and can make a valuable contribution to increase awareness, understanding and enjoyment of the values and principles enshrined in the EU Treaties.
The Treaty also puts the role of the EU in the world on a new footing and introduces important changes in the functioning of the EU institutions, inter-institutional relations and interaction between the European institutions, national parliaments and citizens. The Europe for Citizens Programme represents an important means of empowering citizens to play a full part in the democratic life of the EU. Fostering participation through volunteering in particular, promoting equal opportunities for all, intercultural dialogue and contributing to an inclusive society are issues of fundamental importance to active citizenship, including as regards participation in political life.
Priority Two - Citizens' interests and EU policies
Citizens' engagement with issues which constitute the European Union's political priorities is a key element of civic participation. The Europe for Citizens Programme represents a valuable tool for raising awareness amongst citizens and encouraging them to share their views on the political programme and concrete actions proposed by the European Institutions and to influence what the agenda should comprise (agenda setting) and how the agenda should be taken forward. Particular attention should be given to the perspective of citizens and organised civil society on the skills needed to contribute to and benefit from a knowledge-based and sustainable economy and on the ways to ensure it goes hand in hand with social cohesion.
In 2012 further efforts should then be put into raising awareness, reflection and debate on the relevance and implications of EU policies on citizens' daily lives and in removing the remaining obstacles that EU citizens still face. Topics under debate should also link to the issues in the European agenda, including economic governance, young people's role in the labour market and society, climate change, sustainable energy, flexicurity, transport, innovation and other flagship initiatives and objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. Projects shall facilitate the exchange of views with and presentation of results to the appropriate decision-makers on ongoing European policies and their impact on local situations as well as on local issues with an European dimension. A focus should also be on projects which are related to the objectives of the European Year of Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity.
Planned €80 billion EU research programme sharpens focus on converting research results into products and services.
The 2014-20 programme – known as Horizon 2020 – would bring all of the EU’s research and innovation funding programmes under a single umbrella. This will make it easier to turn scientific breakthroughs into innovative products and services that improve people's daily lives and create business opportunities.
The proposals earmark funding for three key objectives:
- €24.6 billion to keep Europe a world leader in science. The European Research Council, which funds fundamental research by some of Europe’s most outstanding scientists, will see a 77% budget increase.
- €17.9 billion to secure European industry's leadership in innovation. This includes investment in key technologies as well as help for small businesses needing access to finance.
- €31.7 billion to address popular concerns in areas such as:
- health, demographic change and well-being
- food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research and the bio-economy
- secure, clean and efficient energy
- smart, green and integrated transport
- climate action, resource efficiency and raw materials
- inclusive, innovative and secure societies
To cut red tape, the Commission plans to simplify reimbursement procedures for EU-funded research projects, reduce the paperwork involved in preparing a research proposal, abolish unnecessary checks and audits, and shorten the time between acceptance of a research proposal and receipt of the grant.
Many key elements from the current programme will continue, such as investment in key enabling technologies like nanotechnologies; initiatives to bring together academia, research centres and business; international collaboration, and funding for young researchers.
The plans will be discussed by ministers and MEPs with a view to agreement before the end of 2013.
Launched last year, the Europe 2020 strategy is an intricate ten-year plan to revive employment and stimulate the economy of the European Union. Such a plan requires educational goals that are simultaneously ambitious yet tenable, explains Lieve Van den Brande, a Principal Administrator at the Directorate-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission. Her focus areas are “ICT for Learning” and the Lifelong Learning Programme. She spoke to ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN about the educational dimension of the Europe 2020 strategy and how creativity and innovation in classrooms will be essential for the success of Europe 2020.
What is the role of education in meeting the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy? What are the targets of Europe 2020 in relation to education?
Education, training and skills are really crucial areas for development if the goals of Europe 2020 are to be met, and this has become even more important since the financial crisis. For instance, by 2020, at least one third of all the jobs in the EU will require fairly high skills, so we need a significant and sustained investment in training people. Looking at the five benchmarks of the Europe 2020 strategy, we now have an education benchmark set at European level. That benchmark states that by 2020, early school leaving (dropping out before completing compulsory schooling) should be reduced to less than ten per cent. And 40% of the people aged between 30 and 35 years old should have a tertiary education degree.
Is there a strategy to ensure that that these goals are met?
Both benchmarks are being analysed, and implementation measures are being looked into by the [individual] countries, so very soon we will have country recommendations which will be published, showing which countries are committing themselves in order to reach those two benchmarks. As for how effective Education and Training Europe 2020 has been so far, we are still at the [preliminary] stage where we are working with the individual countries to ensure that their country recommendations are leading to that benchmark.
What plans are in place for ensuring that the EU has enough of those high skills noted in the Europe 2020 strategy?
Well, it’s not just about more skills; it’s also about the right mix of skills, a good variety. We need to focus on skills that up until now have been less stressed in education, and this is where we need good communication and the coming together of the world of work (industry) and the world of education which, to date, largely have different discourses. What education is trying to achieve and what industry is trying to achieve don’t always fit. We need to listen to business and industry, telling us that Europe is suffering from a very serious skills shortage in certain sectors, in particular in healthcare, ICTs and several vocations like technicians and carpenters. We also need many more entrepreneurs, and thus entrepreneurship education, creativity and innovation are becoming essential competences which are requested by industry and often called “soft skills”. So to develop these transversal competencies and to ensure that there is variety in the overall skill set, we need better forecasting for future jobs and to find new forms of cooperation between business and training. In bridging the gap between education and stakeholders, we have established higher education-business forums and school-business forums as a way to look at how those two worlds can cooperate better.
The last domain we work on, which is very important, is employee mobility. In the case of true mobility, you are looking at developing skills necessary on a global scale, such as being autonomous, learning languages and developing team-working skills. These are the sorts of skills addressed by the Erasmus and Leonardo programmes. In sum, it is important to keep investing in education and training. It is a shared responsibility between Europe’s members.
Do you see any major challenges to achieving these ends?
Achieving those benchmarks is indeed challenging. For example, the profile of an early school leaver is complex. It’s not only educational problems that are to blame. Social matters influence early school leaving. There is never any one cause, so if a country wants to act, it has to take multiple measures. All the same, attainment is improving, and though that 40% target for tertiary schooling is quite a challenge, it is still not as high as in the United States which is perhaps close to 47%, I think.
Innovation is an important feature of the Europe 2020 Strategy. The last few years have seen a number of promising technological developments for the classroom, but their uptake has often been limited. What is preventing the use of more innovative methods in the classroom, and what can the European Commission do about this?
People recognise that the role of ICT is important, but it’s not yet used widely for daily learning and teaching. In other sectors, like e-government, e-health and e-inclusion, technology has really transformed the sector much more in such a way that new services and new ways of working have developed. This is not the case in education. There is a serious implementation gap in formal education. There have been a number of studies outlining the extent of the problem, for example the Schoolnet study and the EURYDICE survey on the uptake of ICT in schools in Europe. They all describe the seriousness of this implementation gap and the huge difference between the use of ICT by youngsters at home and at school. The difference is really shocking in that at home with their parents, children use ICT extensively and innovatively, but this isn’t the case in the educational setting. It’s not only in primary and secondary schooling; even in higher education ICT use is limited or used only in very traditional ways.
A key problem behind the poor uptake of ICT use is insufficient pedagogical training and teacher professional development. There is not enough focus on the use of ICT to change their teaching practices, so they simply never acquire sound pedagogical strategies to use ICTs in the classroom. With only basic ICT skills, teachers lack confidence and feel that they are underperforming. They may even feel their students are more able than they are.
So you’re saying that the main problem of poor ICT uptake lies in teacher education?
We’ve seen that in the northern countries teachers in primary schools are starting to receive better training, but we need to promote a new pedagogical approach because if you don’t know how to bring it into your teaching practice, you can’t get to the point of uptake. Digital competences are not really part of the curricula at present and don’t appear in the learning outcomes, and if you look to assessment on its own, you don’t find ICT supporting assessment. Surmounting this barrier requires a systematic approach to engage all the actors in education: the school, the parents, the learners, the support people, the head teacher and the teachers. Everyone has to have a view and vision of ICT and how it can enhance teaching and learning. But it must also show up in assessment methods, in professional development, in curricula and in leadership. So you need a whole system approach because if you don’t do that, if you just focus on one barrier, you don’t get there, and that’s maybe why this area has such a huge problem. It is a complex issue.
That gives us a fair understanding of the underlying issues in teacher training, but what practical steps are needed to remedy this? What is the European Commission doing to assist teachers, trainers and policymakers in integrating ICT in education and training?
Empowering Educators for Creative Learning is the title of the ONLINE EDUCA BERLIN 2011 session where the European Union will launch a new initiative entitled Creative Classrooms / Creative Learning Environments. The second term refers not only to primary and secondary education but all formal learning settings. So we’ll be looking at the diversity of innovative classroom practices all over Europe. One of them, One Laptop Per Child, opens the way for increasing ICT uptake by enabling a child to own a computer for use at home and at school. While policymakers and decision makers have lots of ideas, they don’t necessarily know what works in practice at grassroots level.
Creative Classrooms / Creative Learning Environments will be about dialogue between all stakeholders, using a bottom-up approach for people to share ideas about the strategies being implemented in classrooms across the Continent. We’re focusing on current practices rather than what might be possible in the future.
We also have the Lifelong Learning Programme for education and training, encouraging open coordination between member states. For example, we have new a working group ICT and Education, launched in October 2011, where 24 member states discuss the major barriers, teacher professional development and how to bring better digital competence into the curricula. We’re looking at how each country tackles the issues by discussing what works in practice so that we learn from each other. This working group will ultimately develop an evidence-based policy handbook, so it ties in neatly with the Creative Classrooms initiatives where we look at practical, grassroots approaches for improving education and training.
There is also the Training of the Teacher programme, and under the Lifelong Learning Programme, we have the e-twinning project which promotes bilateral cooperation. It involves about 150 000 teachers learning how others use ICT in the classroom. The final instrument of note is the e-learning portal which is an excellent resource for those seeking information, ideas and access to the many research papers conducted on these important matters of ICTs, education and training towards Europe 2020.
POL26 Empowering Educators for Creative Learning: A European View will be held on Thursday, December 1st at 14.00 – 16.00. Lieve Van den Brande will present a paper entitled EU Policy for ICT in Education: A New Initiative on Creative Classrooms / Creative Learning Environments.