The project

A brief description

This project aims to stimulate innovative learning and teaching practices in Higher Education (HE). It is assumed that every professor reflects on the need to evaluate the quality of his or her teaching before starting a new course, paying attention (among other aspects) to the competencies acquired by the students, the methodologies used, whether it is aligned with the evaluation criteria, etc. One of the questions you should always reflect on is whether contents, materials, activities and evaluation systems are accessible to all students.

Beyond the necessary digital transformation of educational institutions, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to reflect on the traditional teaching model. The emergency situation led to the adoption of an “emergency distance learning” model, in which the massive use of digital tools and resources prevailed (Hodges et al., 2020; Karalis & Raikou, 2020), to which teachers and students were massively incorporated. In contrast to the reactive view of the confinement situation, Digital Innovation Lab is a mandatory and innovative approach to one of the great challenges of HE: achieving a high level of faculty empowerment, promoting equity and inclusion. To achieve this, teachers must be proactive in responding effectively psychoeducationally to all students.

Based on the principles of Universal Design and understanding inclusion and equity in terms of abilities and not deficits (Sen, 2005), teachers must establish curricular objectives and content that take into account all types of students with different abilities, using accessible teaching materials, making assessment systems more flexible and encouraging formative assessment (European University Association, 2021).

<The Bologna Process logo

The Bologna Process places special emphasis on a student-centered teaching model that encourages active learning and modifies teacher-student interaction channels (Moliterni et al., 2011; Rico, 2010). The social functions of HE are key to the professional and personal development of every citizen.

This project will develop the ‘ConecctU’ app, a virtual advisor for teaching activities that allows teachers to proactively respond to these priorities. In addition, innovation laboratories will be set up in the participating institutions to update continuous teacher training. These laboratories will be spaces where teachers can analyze their teaching practices and receive individual or group expert advice to improve or modify any aspect of the design. ‘ConecctU’ will act as an Artificial Intelligence element detecting the main shortcomings of the users through their answers and/or queries.

Education is more than the mere transmission of information (Delamarter, 2019). The rapid transition to online learning, driven by the pandemic, has highlighted some of the shortcomings, limitations and challenges of education at all levels of education (Dietricht et al., 2020) . This leads us to ask whether university faculty really have the appropriate training for teaching in which different variables converge to ensure quality teaching: curricular knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, technological knowledge (TPACK model), psycho-educational knowledge.

Tepack Model

With the teaching models prior to the pandemic, we find ourselves with rigid evaluation systems in which the memorization of content continues to take precedence over reflection, cooperation, metacognition and autonomy. This mismatch has created more difficulties for learners with disabilities or learning disorders who have also suffered from social distancing (Arenghi et al., 2020; Zhang et al., 2020). The response of academic authorities has gone more into ensuring the digitization of education and prioritizing technological tools, which has highlighted the shortcomings in the training of university faculty in the efficient and integrated use of these technologies.

Inclusive Desing Principles

The design of teaching should always be based on the principles of inclusion and accessibility, on the competencies that students are expected to develop, from a model in which they are the managers of their own learning. The teacher guides them towards self-efficacy, self-reflection, motivation to learn, the pursuit of learning objectives and not performance, etc.

Objectives

The results of this project are ambitious, but they will undoubtedly provide a solution to the problems currently faced by higher education institutions. The tangible results (1) the database, (2) the ‘ConnectU‘ app and (3) the innovation labs will help to improve the design of instruction in European universities and to adapt to future changes. The ultimate goal of this project is to improve the quality of teaching in HE institutions.

Specific objectives

  1. To develop a test to collect information on the factors affecting teaching quality in an inclusive and accessible HE, around active and innovative methodologies, didactic resources, assessment strategies, and psycho-educational variables in the teaching-learning process. 
  2. To analyse the data collected through Item Response Theory (IRT)to select the most representative and discriminative data according to the moderating variables introduced (branch of knowledge, age, gender, years of teaching experience, etc.). 
  3. Designing and developing the ‘ConnectU’ app, a virtual advisor on teaching in HE. This app will provide individualised information on what kind of methodologies and assessment are the most appropriate for specific content and a specific group of students. 
  4. Designing, planning and managing teacher training to provide a comprehensive response according to their needs (personalisation of training through training itineraries). 
  5. To develop a Innovation Laboratory in each institution. This is a space where teachers can analyse their teaching practices and receive individual or group expert advice to improve or modify any design aspect.
     
  6. Propose to national authorities and university institutions the recognition of continuing professional development linked to teaching skills and knowledge and educational innovation.

The team

Teachers

Teachers create and transfer knowledge. We are a group of university professors and researchers, from different European countries, interested in teaching innovation. Our goal is to find new teaching methodologies to adapt HE to the 21st century.

Students

Knowledge receivers. The focus of this project is on students. We want to design programmes that are adapted to the specific situations of each student instead of using a global methodology that does not always have to be adapted to all students.

Connect platform

Disseminate knowledge. By creating the ?Connectu’ app we want to help teachers to design their teaching methodologies. The tool will be available both online and on mobile devices. This platform will be fed by the research work carried out by the members of the project.

Working Groups

In order to carry out this project, three working groups have been created to develop each of its sections. The progress of each of these working groups will make it possible to achieve the final objectives of the project.

  1. The efficient teaching guidelines: a dataset by branches of knowledge.
  2. ‘ConnectU’: a digital teaching advisor tool for Higher Education
  3. Innovation labs: training for academic teaching staff: when students’ selfregulated learning matters.

References

Arenghi et al., 2020; Zhang et al., 2020

Delamarter, J. (2019). Becoming Something New. 149–187. Proactive Images for Pre-Service Teachers. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-13491-4_7

Dietricht, N. et al. (202). Attempts, Successes, and Failures of Distance Learning in the Time of COVID-19. J. Chem. Educ. 2020, 97, 9, 2448–2457. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jchemed.0c00717

European University Association. (2022). Curriculum and assessment: Thematic peer group report. https://eua.eu/downloads/publications/eua%20tpg%20report_curriculum%20and%20assessment_final.pdf

(Hodges et al., 2020;

Karalis & Raikou, 2020)

Moliterni et al., 2011; Rico, 2010

Sen, 2005