How was eSTEM financed?

If you ever asked yourself, which institution does finance our project aimed at improving teachers’ skills to develop high-level digital training contents, you will be interested in reading this article. a European response to the impact of covid19 on university education and training

We are all aware about the uncertainties and difficulties that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought in our every-day-tasks and the significant impact on the regular delivery of education and training. During the lockdown in spring 2020, universities in 192 countries around the world had to suspend their lectures. Teachers and students have found each other distant and the ways of organizing and following courses have completely and suddenly changed. At such a critical time, where even the most basic activities require preparation and have limitations, access to education is proving more essential than ever to ensure a rapid recovery, promoting at the same time equal opportunities among people of all social backgrounds.

Reducing the negative impact of this situation has proved to be an urgency for the entire higher education sector that cannot be postponed anymore. All the teachers faced problems related to the impossibility of carrying out their lesson in the classroom with their students and, among these, some negatively affected both the effectiveness of the lessons and the students’ motivation. The university world, therefore, has faced and is still facing a profound challenge and, especially in a difficult time like this, it is important to have faith in technology as a tool that can help find the right answers and the necessary help.

The eSTEM project responds to this important challenge: its main objective is to improve the skills of university professors and educators to allow them to develop high-level digital training content by promoting equal opportunities for students who attend in virtual / extended mode. The project aims to create ready-to-use solutions (for the most frequent technical problems) to improve the skills of teachers thanks to different pedagogical methodologies, suggesting them online tools to use to develop the contents of the lessons in the most innovative way possible.

This pan-European initiative was born thanks to an additional round of applications that the European Commission made possible by adopting a revision of the Erasmus + 2020 annual work program and allocating an additional € 200 million. The European Commission, indeed, has released the “Corrigendum to the 2020 Erasmus+ Programme Guide” which comprises the changes related to the introduction of a Strategic Partnership format in response of COVID-19 situation. eSTEM is one of the new Strategic Partnerships funded by this program (started between March and April 2021) aimed at strengthening digital education and training through innovative tools that are able to guarantee inclusive digital training.

In light of these exceptional circumstances, the Erasmus+ Programme took up the challenge to confirm its role as the main EU instrument supporting innovation in education and training as well as providing opportunities for personal, socio-educational and professional development of people in Europe and beyond, with the aim of leaving no-one behind.

Here below the main aspects of this new (and more than urgent!) Strategic Partnership call:

  • The Erasmus+ programme exceptionally supported Partnerships for Digital Education Readiness (field of higher education). These projects aim at equipping higher education system to face the challenges presented by the recent sudden shift to online and distance learning, including supporting teachers to develop digital competences and safeguarding the inclusive nature of learning opportunities. 
  • The goal will be to reinforce the ability of education and training institutions to provide high quality, inclusive digital education; 

The focus is on:

  • Building capacity to implement online, blended and distance teaching and learning and/or 
  • Developing digital pedagogical competences of educators and/or 
  • Developing high quality digital content such as innovative online resources and tools 

The funded projects involve digital technology providers and experts in educational technologies and relevant pedagogical practice and address innovative practices in a digital era. The Erasmus+ Programme supports the taking up of digital technologies and of innovative and open pedagogies in education and training, including the development and use of open educational resources, open textbooks, and free and open source educational software.