The OBESSU opening of the panel on “Drivers and Opportunities” in the workshop on “Mainstreaming e-Learning in education & training”
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The Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions (OBESSU) sees a big opportunity in e-democracy and school-democracy.
The new technology gives numerous ways to easily involve individuals, to have access to different sources of information and with it to form your own opinion. We consider school-democracy a cornerstone in giving the learners the ownership of their learning. The safe school or learning environment is where learners should have the opportunity to become active citizens. Learners should be involved on all levels and in processes concerning them. For example in the process of mainstreaming e-learning, learners should be well represented and considered as important stakeholder.
An other big opportunity we see is in the tools for inclusion. For example to create free online school materials. This would decrease the amount of hidden tuition fees, which can be financial obstacles for learners. A nice side effect of this would be to be able to update school material very easily.
A commitment that is highly important to make, is to work against exclusion and especially not to create new exclusion. There is a danger of this happening on all the different levels.
Starting with the individual learners, there is the danger of taking e-literacy for granted, which simply isn’t a reality. Extra training has to be accessible.
The access to internet is an other problem. Not every household is connected. The schools have to equal this out by providing these services.
To come back to the example I gave above for providing free online school material. Who will pay for the personal computers the learners need to have access to these online school materials?
On the level of the schools we face the problem of the general lack of finances in the field of education. In many occasions the fundamental facilities of schools are not well kept. The current budgets cannot be further compromised to include also the ICT equipment. Extra founding has to be found, sustainable extra founding. Because if the ICT tools are not up to date, they will not serve their purpose of supporting the learners in their realities. A further point is the teacher’s training where the extra training for the use of new technologies shouldn’t compromise any of the current training. Rather the whole teacher’s training has to be thought through again.
In the discussion about mainstreaming e-learning it is important to reflect on the goals this process is aiming at. OBESSU is very strong about it not being of economical growth. There we see the big danger of individuals being left behind and exclusion being programmed.
Learners, in the moment of learning are equally important members of society as in every other moment of live.
The goal of mainstreaming e-learning is personal development. And because new technology and its use is an every day reality, it is more than obvious to also include it in the learning process.