Distance education in the era of uncertainty: PLACEDU project insights at the international conference on innovative solutions in education

Partner: VU

The uncertainty brought about by the advancement of digital technologies, or other unforeseen factors, such as the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, have had an immense impact on the educational landscape. In the midst of it all, when face-to-face education had to be moved online overnight, PLACEDU project was launched aimed at supporting educators in creating engaging online education. Project results were introduced at the international conference „Innovative Solutions in Education: from Gamification to Artificial Intelligence”, which took place in Vilnius on November 22-23. The event was organised by the Institute of Educational Sciences of Vilnius University.

The research part of the project revealed that the major challenges regarding distance education were related to the sense of social isolation, students’ loss of motivation, poor time management and communication skills as well as problems related to technical infrastructure and lack of technical competencies. As the project team consisted of seven partners from six countries, the results of the research part indicated country-specific challenges. In the case of Vilnius University (Lithuania), the major challenges evolved from the lack of online learning-related competencies as well as the emotional tension among both students and teachers.

To address these various challenges, based on the findings of the PLACEDU research part, the meta platform was created. It introduces six modules which cover the topics of professional engagement, digital resources, teaching and learning, assessment, empowering learners and facilitating learners’ digital experience. In addition, the meta platform does not only provide the best practices, methods and tools how to make online education more engaging and effective, but it also invites its users to contribute with their comments and content.

In conclusion, as society is increasingly more connected online, the higher education curricula are meant to change: become more flexible, ensure better exchange and collaboration, and move from the teacher-centred towards a more learner-centred approach. Therefore, the PLACEDU meta platform creators expect to contribute to the improvement of distance education, which has been burdened with lower student activity, students’ reluctance to turn their cameras on, etc. Last but not least, distance education mode has not only brought about challenges but also provided opportunities which teachers continue to use in regular, remote and face-to-face classes today, and the PLACEDU meta platform is hopeful to remain as a source of these good practices for future use.

Read more in the presentation here:
Distance Education in the Era of Uncertainty: Insights from PLACEDU Project