Most of the Higher education institutes in Europe have been confronted with a sudden and unprepared shift to online teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic:
How do we continue teaching and learning activities? How do we engage and motivate students when social distancing measures are in place? are challenges that European Higher Education Institutions have been facing the past year.
Boost international cooperation
But COVID has not only impacted teaching, it also affected internationalization, mobility opportunities and research. It exists a high interest among Higher Education institutes to exchange experiences and cooperate with other institutions, research centers and business sectors. To meet this need of the Higher Education sector the Erasmus+-project “virtual hackathons” aims at designing and developing an innovative learning platform to facilitate the practical training process of students in virtual technologies and the organization of teams to participate in virtual hackathons. The co-creation of solutions needs a digital environment to bring together students and researchers.
Qualify open and distance learning
Several interconnected dimensions impact the feasibility and the quality of distance learning. Namely they are a technical infrastructure and accessibility, financial implications of investing in tools and online licenses but also distance learning competences and pedagogies as well as a management structure to develop the teaching capacity of staff for the shift towards online learning. Therefore, the project is aiming at designing and developing a training plan and materials to create a virtual hackathon on any topic based on design and system thinking. The theoretical framework will be set by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the concept of Just Transition.
Prepare young people for environment and climate change
The European skills agenda for sustainability, competitiveness and resilience, launched by the EC in 2020, states the crucial role of education to the transition of a green economy. The topics of the online courses that are being developed within the virtual hackathons project will be in line with the new skills agenda and also promote the digital skills of all participants.
Kick off of the project and qualification of the consortium
The virtual hackathons project started with a kick-off meeting in April. Currently we are in a phase of qualifying the consortium with webinar on the concept of Just Transition and the methodology of Design and System Thinking as well as a roundtable discussion on the different hackathon formats that the consortium members already have had experiences with.
Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, Spain, has the leading role for the project. Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Netherlands, and University of Nicosia, Cyprus, are the other two universities that are part of the consortium as well as the research institute Agencia Estatal consejo superior deinvestigaciones cientificas, Spain. Besides us there are three more SMEs contributing to the project: Metodo Estudios consultores SL, Spain; Infalia private company, Greece and DRAXIS Environmental S.A., Greece