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Digital and Blended Learning Resources for Geography and Environmental Sciences

Funder: European CommissionProject code: 2020-1-DE01-KA226-HE-005814
Funded under: ERASMUS+ | Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices | Partnerships for Digital Education Readiness Funder Contribution: 282,654 EUR
Open Access mandate
Publications: NoResearch data: No

Digital and Blended Learning Resources for Geography and Environmental Sciences

Description

Geography and Environmental Sciences (G&ES) programmes have diverse skill and method requirements needing specialized training ranging from spatial methods such as computer cartography and GIS via field and laboratory methods to qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Methods training often involves time intensive practical elements which have been particularly impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions highlighting the need for digital materials to complement, supplement and where necessary replace face to face discipline specific methods. Responding to the COVID-19 crisis has led to unnecessary duplication of effort and shown the skills gap experienced by many higher education (HE) academics facing the need to increase use of digital materials. This is a Europe-wide challenge which is not restricted to the current context but relates to a broader need to improve skills and use of digital technologies in HE.The project aims to support the HE community in G&ES by enhancing capacity of HE teachers through training in digital and blended methods delivery as well as co-creation of high-quality, highly shareable open educational resources (OERs) for discipline-specific methods training, along with training resources on content creation and digital pedagogies, and disseminating these approaches through a participatory web platform. The platform will include a peer-reviewed participatory tool to support sharing of OERs beyond the partnership. Individual universities offer unique programmes in G&ES, built around local needs and staff expertise, therefore a key element of this project is to ensure that all materials produced are highly flexible, offering HE lecturers a toolkit of OERs and skills that they can use to build custom modules appropriate to local needs in less time, and allowing them to focus on relationship-building and individual student support rather than content creation. It is aimed at HE staff involved in teaching and programme development. The project will also largely benefit students in G&ES through enhanced methods training.The project involves three universities from Germany, the UK and Ireland as well as one national research institute from Luxembourg that will provide expertise in digitization and platform development. Established networks through discipline specific associations and university partnerships will be used for testing and validation of OERs to ensure their quality and transferability. Each partner has identified a core group of staff based on expertise who will train others, develop their own skills and take leading roles in the creation of OERs and the web platform. Key decision makers at partner institutions (e.g. quality control and programme development) will be targeted to embed the project more widely across the university partners. The project partners will untertake scoping studies of best practices, competencies and needs in G&ES methods training. They will create and build a range of OERs for G&ES methods teaching including self-learning manuals on how to create online resources, templates, sample material and packages of teaching units. They will also build a participative web platform for dissemination. All OERs and the web platform will be tested using internal and external audiences. A number of methods specific training events focused on digital technology will enhance digital capacities and build competencies across partner institutions.The project will employ a design-based methodology to provide solutions for online and blended methods teaching through design and development of OERs informed by expertise in pedagogy and research methods across partner institutions. Design, development, testing and implementation of outputs will be evaluated using standardized and semi-standardized approaches.With completion of the project, partners will have significantly enhanced the capacity of their staff regarding the creation and adoption of OERs for G&ES methods training beyond digital and blended learning as a constraint, diversifying experiences for added understanding, experience, perspectives and skills. Beyond the current health crisis, the planned resources and toolkits will hence contribute to better teaching quality and long-term enrichment of the field through more inclusive, active and authentic methods training for diverse student bodies. The project will result in tangible outputs: a participative web platform providing a range of created OERs which will be open to the larger G&ES community.The project aims to act as a catalyst for longer term benefits through: (1) the circulation of expertise and adoption of digital methods teaching tools across the HE partner institutions within G&ES as well as other disciplines and (2) the longer term viability of the web platform based on a peer-reviewed system supporting submission of OERs meeting established quality standards.

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