by Mikhail Fominykh and Ekaterina Prasolova-Førland (NTNU)
The Doctoral Education for Technology-Enhanced Learning (DE-TEL) project is developing high quality resources and an internationally recognised program to train PhD students in the area of educational technology. The interdisciplinary expertise that this program will foster is essential for an efficient and effective digitalisation of education in Europe.
Technology-enhanced learning (TEL), also known as educational technology, is a research field that explores new ways of learning enabled by technology and designing new technologies that can support learning in new ways. The term also refers to a learning activity when it is supported by technology in practice. Such practical application of TEL, referred to as the digitisation of education, is being implemented on all levels across Europe. However, digitisation trends are diverse, rapidly changing, and often lack a clear application idea when it comes to putting the theory into practice - thus, educators still employ traditional forms of teaching. Thorough planning is needed to implement these huge technological changes, requiring professionals in TEL with expertise in pedagogy, the design and use of technologies for learning and strategic expertise in policy making and change management at institutional and societal levels.
Schools, universities, private and public organisations, and industry are all expressing a need for interdisciplinary expertise in this area. At a societal level, there is also a growing understanding that in an increasingly complex world learning at all ages must become standard practice.
There is a current lack of TEL experts who combine knowledge from all relevant perspectives, who can strategically drive and operationally implement digitisation of learning, envision innovative technologies for learning, and rigorously create evidence about the effectiveness and efficiency of technologies. Such expertise is generally acquired at the doctoral level of education.
The Doctoral Education for Technology-Enhanced Learning (DE-TEL) project aims to address the challenges of digitisation of education in Europe and the current lack of expertise by improving doctoral education in the area of TEL. DE-TEL brought together nine internationally renowned universities and the European Association of Technology-Enhanced Learning (EATEL), coordinated by an ERCIM member, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
The goal of DE-TEL is to bring doctoral education in TEL to a new level with high-quality resources and a new internationally designed program to support better curricular integration and avoid fragmentation of the digitisation agenda in Europe. The project grounds the design of the new program in the best practices in TEL doctoral education across Europe as well as institutional and national requirements.
DE-TEL will create a new opportunity in an area of research that has practical application across Europe as the digitisation of education is increasingly required to solve multiple challenges. Digitisation requires pedagogical expertise in using and technological expertise in designing technologies for learning, and strategic expertise in policy making and change management. However, stakeholders currently lack combined knowledge from all three perspectives, on how to strategically drive and operationally implement digitisation of learning and training, envision innovative technologies for learning, and rigorous methods to create evidence for the effectiveness and efficiency of technologies as part of socio-technical interventions. Such expertise is required at all levels and at all types of organisations. There is also a growing, recognised understanding by all relevant stakeholders, from EU policy makers to local schools, that technologies have the potential to provide ubiquitous access to learning materials, and an engaging, personalised and scalable learning experience.
Doctoral education in TEL aims to help doctoral candidates to develop such expertise. It provides knowledge from multiple relevant perspectives and allows empirically-based decisions to be made regarding implementing TEL solutions in practice. The goal of DE-TEL is to bring doctoral education in TEL to a new level with high-quality resources and a new internationally designed program to support better curricular integration and avoid fragmentation of the digitisation agenda in Europe.
The DE-TEL initiative is brought forward by an established community of European researchers and educators gravitating around the activities of the EATEL (The European Conference on Technology-Enhanced Learning - ECTEL and The Joint Summer School on Technology-Enhanced Learning - JTELSS). The consortium will reflect their expertise in doctoral education into a new internationally validated program in TEL. The new program will be extended with rich and professionally produced open educational resources.
All resources produced in the project will be open and available free of charge to any interested parties. Moreover, the project is working on an online infrastructure that will allow both the program and the resources to be discussed, updated, translated and extended by the community during and after the project.
The project will also organise two open face-to-face training events dedicated to piloting the new program and educational resources, preliminary scheduled for 2021 and 2022.
DE-TEL has received funding from the European Union’s Erasmus Plus program for the period 2019-2022 under grant agreement number 2019-1-NO01-KA203-060280.
Mikhail Fominykh, NTNU, Norway