Education systems around the world were facing an unprecedented challenge in the wake of massive school closures mandated as part of public health efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. Governmental agencies were working with international organizations, private sector partners and civil society to deliver education remotely through a mix of technologies in order to ensure continuity of curriculum-based study and learning for all. School closures impacted not only on students, teachers, and families but had far-reaching economic and societal consequences. School closures in response to the pandemic have shed light on various social and economic issues, including student debt, digital learning, food insecurity, and homelessness, as well as access to childcare, health care, housing, internet, and disability services.
The impact was more severe for disadvantaged children and their families, causing interrupted learning, compromised nutrition, childcare problems, and consequent economic cost to families who could not work which resulted with unequal access to technology, unequal access to educational resources, worsening students’ learning outcomes.
In response to school closures, UNESCO recommended the use of distance learning programmrs and open educational applications and platforms that schools and teachers can use to reach learners remotely and limit the disruption of education.
With the pandemic period and the start of distance education, student activities shifted to distance education. Working with students not only individually but also in the classroom became much more difficult, especially for primary school children and SEN students.
This circumstance was the aim of setting up a new project under ERASMUS+ programme to enable teachers (working with SEN students in the classroom and working teachers in general) to diversify their subject, making it attractive and interesting, and this was the birth of DIGIT4SEN, a project involving ITE network, one of the partners of the SIMPL4ALL project.
We realized that many teachers have insufficient competence to integrate new technologies into the learning environments and need further support in this regard. Primary school teachers and SEN teachers (both groups are entitled to provide extra support to students with learning difficulties in the online education period) even more need to meet and assimilate innovative practices through current technological tools and resources, and to produce high quality digital educational materials themselves.
DIGIT4SEN project is developing 3 main products:
- Instructional Guide for SEN teachers (already downloadable)
- E-LEARNING training course for SEN teachers
- A Digital library with interactive lessons for supporting SEN teachers.
The aim of all these products is to support teachers in the production of innovative, attractive and motivating materials.
In February 2023 at the Liceu Erudito in Kaunas, Lithuania, took place a staff training on the use of online tools for the development of materials, with more than 18 participants from the different countries of the project. During these working days, teachers exchanged methodologies, tools and experiences that they mainly started to use during the pandemic. Distance learning applications have been the best way to allow teachers to reach their students against school closures and avoid educational disruptions. Participants experienced tools such as CANVAS, KaHOOT, Google Meet, Teams, Zoom, Genially, Moodle, Google….. All of them are applications that make the learning materials more attractive and motivating for the learners.
The E-learning course and the digital library will be available from September 2023 to be tested by all European teachers.
To know more: www.digit4sen.eu