Learning from the Extremes
Open Call for
financial support to remote schools
Guide for Applicants
Open date for proposals: 15 May 2022 at 10.00 CSET
Deadline: 30 September 2022 at 17:00 CSET
The Covid-19 crisis resulted in one of the greatest challenges education and training systems have faced in the last decades. Many schools, particularly those located in remote areas, faced severe challenges with the switch to distance and online learning, due to their low prior level of digital readiness. Many of their teachers lacked the relevant digital competences to properly teach remotely and many pupils living in remote areas lacked the proper infrastructure including connectivity and access to digital devices, tools and content at home.
Therefore, the loss of learning opportunities strongly impacted especially those that have already suffered a disadvantage before the crisis (e.g. pupils such as those living in remote areas like mountain areas, rural areas, islands or deltas, etc.).
This calls for reinforced actions to ensure inclusion is a leading priority in education and training, granting the right to education for all.
Our reliance on the internet during COVID-19 pandemic has recast how we will behave after the crisis has passed. The big lesson is that we have incorporated the internet as a critical part of our personal and professional lives. This is not going to change. The crisis has sped us forward to a paradigm shift in which we rely on the internet to bring economic and social activity to us—rather than us going to them. During the pandemic students sent home by school closings, while a significant number of them lack home internet access, principally because the household cannot afford it. What was once a “homework gap” has been revealed as an education opportunity gap. By installing efficient broadband connection to rural schools, they can be transformed to core nodes of the local communities. The school could become Learning Hubs that serve both as a resource for lifelong learning development and as a vehicle for the delivery of a wide range of services. School resources such as facilities, technology equipment, and well-trained staff can provide a range of educational and retraining opportunities for the community.
This call aims at addressing inequalities of access to digital education by enhancing inclusion and by reducing the digital gap suffered by pupils from remote areas and communities with low connectivity, limited or no access to devices and digital educational tools and content.
The Learning from the Extremes intervention aims to demonstrate ways on how the digital gap suffered by school communities from remote areas can be reduced by:
- Connecting students: Students will have modern, connected and constructive learning spaces equipped to support engaged, personalised learning.
- Developing teachers: Teachers will have the development, support and resources they need to integrate digital tools within the learning environment.
- Saving time: Support staff will benefit from school management tools that minimise manual tasks and maximise time to focus on teaching and learning.
- Access to digital tools: School communities will have access to digital tools and connectivity for effective communication and collaboration.
- More quality teaching: All staff will be able to partner with our country schools to help close the gap in access to high-quality teaching.
- Professional support: All schools will be able to share teaching excellence with professional support in the classroom, the school and the region.
This call aims to fund the deployment of pilots to allow primary, secondary and vocational schools to benefit from the most suitable technical solutions to reduce the digital gap suffered by pupils from areas and communities with low connectivity, limited or no access to devices and digital educational tools and content. This will be done through a financial support to third parties (FSTP) mechanism applying a fair and transparent selection process via open calls. The maximum amount of FSTP, distributed through a grant, is EUR 20.000 per third party (school or network of schools) for the entire action duration but smaller amounts may also be justified. The financial support will be allocated to install the Entry HECC Scenario (described in part B. Destination) in all participating schools. 1,200,000Euros will be allocated to about 80 projects involving 100-150 rural schools from 10 EU countries
The ‘Highly Equipped and Connected Classroom’ Model
The four dimensions of the ‘Highly Equipped and Connected Classroom’ (HECC) conceptual model
- Digital technology equipment (technologies that are used in educational settings for learning and teaching purposes including both physical technologies (i.e. hardware) and educational software and services),
- Network requirements (bandwidth and latency of the network providing the foundation for successful education technology implementations),
- Professional development of teachers (teachers’ continuing professional development (CPD) which focuses on teachers’ capacity building for the effective use of digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment practices, through rapid learning cycles, fast feedback, continual reflection, collaborative coaching and other methodologies)
- Access to digital content (reflecting the curricular requirements (i.e. different level of complexity, accuracy, correctness, authenticity, life connections, inter-disciplinary) necessary to ensure digital content’s greater incorporation into the classroom and use by teachers and students).
The HECC model complements the European Framework for Digitally Competent Educational Organisations (DigCompOrg) which provides a comprehensive and generic conceptual framework that reflects on all aspects of the process of systematically integrating digital learning in educational organisations from all education sectors.
Three scenarios are identified to describe different levels of a HECC: (i) an entry level;
(ii) an advanced level; and (iii) a cutting-edge level. The proposed scenarios provide a general reference framework allowing the subsequent estimation of costs for the advanced level.
The HECC model is a progressive model, which implies that one school might start off with the entry level scenario in order to equip and connect a classroom, then progress to the advanced scenario and finally upgrade the classroom to the cutting- edge level scenario in order to exploit the opportunities provided by digital teaching and learning to the fullest extent. In turn, other schools could start off already with the advanced level scenario as an entry point and then eventually upgrade their classrooms to the cutting-edge level.
Opting for the most advanced cutting-edge level of a HECC might not always be feasible due to different budget considerations as well as individual pedagogical and technical requirements. As such, schools often need to trade-off between different decision criteria, including affordability, requirements and benefits that a digital classroom yields. Given that identifying different levels of a HECC is an under-studied area in the available literature, the developed scenarios aim at supporting schools in implementing one level of a HECC depending on individual needs and requirements. Thus, the three different levels represent a continuum of what a HECC could entail, with multiple conceivable scenarios in between the three levels.
The entry level scenario of a HECC mainly outlines the minimum and essential components of a highly equipped and connected classroom. It contains essential digital technology equipment, including a limited number of components related to teachers’ professional development and access to digital contents, as well as minimum network requirements needed for a functioning HECC.
The advanced scenario of a HECC, in turn, builds upon and further advances the entry level scenario, while paving the way to the cutting-edge level scenario. Differently from the entry-level, the advanced scenario entails more advanced digital equipment (e.g. 3D printers and modelling software, interactive tables), as well as a greater number of teachers’ professional development activities (e.g. full immersion courses, in-class-coaching) and access to paid-for contents (e.g. makers kits, educational apps, virtual laboratories).
Finally, the cutting-edge level scenario of a HECC involves the ultimate categories, sub-categories and items of a highly equipped and connected classroom. This scenario further advances categories, sub-categories and items in the advanced scenario, particularly in relation to broadband connectivity (e.g. ultra-fast broadband, Virtual Private Network), a greater variety of digital equipment available to teachers and students (e.g. e-books, wristbands, audio and video software), increased opportunities for face-to-face professional development for teachers (e.g. twilight training sections, mentored action research) and leadership training.
The figure below gives a brief overview of the content of the various HECC levels across the four dimensions. Please note that the advanced level also contains the elements of the entry level and accordingly the cutting-edge level contains the elements of both advanced and entry levels.
The three levels of HECC
Proposals under this Destination should set out a School Development Plan that will describe how the installation of the HECC (highly equipped and connected classroom) Entry Level Scenario will meet the needs of the school.