DIG-IT: Digital Education Initiatives and Timely Solutions (ERASMUS+)
Duration of the project:

1.9.2019 – 31.11.2022

Lead Partner:
University of Malta
Collaborating parties / partners:

University of Primorska, Faculty of Health Sciences, Slovenia
University of Cyprus,
La Sapienza University of Rome,
James Hospital Malta,
Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences

Team at UP Faculty of Health Sciences:

Assist. Prof. Mirko Prosen (SICRIS, ResearchGate)
Assist. Prof. Sabina Ličen (SICRIS, ResearchGate)
Assist. Prof. Igor Karnjuš (SICRIS, ResearchGate)

Content:
In the midst of rapid technological change, new approaches to education are being demanded. However, some academic staff still resist taking advantage of available technologies in their teaching, and several EU universities are much more technology enabled than others. Given evidence-based confirmation of benefits, robustness and academic rigour in online learning, why do some educators act as change blockers to new digital technology initiatives in higher educational reform?

Although some of the resistance is ingrained in educators’ philosophical values and beliefs, the relevant literature and a needs analysis conducted with all Dig-It partners also identified the cost of and time required to design and learn how to design online study units and resources.

Some EU Universities offer robust online digital education courses and programs, while others lag behind offering few to no online learning opportunities. Immediately research is needed to determine how EU educators perceive adopting new technologies. There must also be intentional development of educational supports that help conversion to online curriculum.

University and industry collaborations in workplace education are manifesting themselves as a competitive advantage due to complementary core competencies and new way of matching work and study, make study paths more versatile and, ultimately, secure and maintain better employment. The need for convenient, accessible, continuing education is not a problem exclusive to academic staff and the university industry. The healthcare sector has thousands of busy practitioners needing continuing education while trying to ensure patient safety. 

The purpose of this project is to:

  • correct the imbalance and inequity of digital education opportunities offered at EU universities to improve student learning opportunities, satisfaction and success in a digital world
  • provide solutions to the barriers preventing some educators from embracing technology to enhance teaching
  • explore how collaboration between the education and healthcare industries can pioneer innovative learning processes and accessibly, convenient continuing education
  • create an innovative partnership model of teaching and training that results in products of global interest and facilitates competitive, innovative institutions, teacher and trainers able to meet the needs of learners in the 21st century. 

The target group is approximately 5000 academic staff from universities in Malta, Cyprus, Italy, Slovenia, and Finland; and 1000 healthcare professionals and students from St. James Hospital who wish to participate in training to learn how to design, delivery and evaluate digital education.

The mixed methods program evaluation of the nine-module online CE program will gain an understanding of how and to what degree EU academic staff and healthcare professionals learn and transfer learning to teaching. The findings of this evaluation will guide the optimization of the training in an effort to maximize the impact on practice and knowledge transfer. The delivery and evaluating of the program in a variety of EU countries will enable understanding with regard to geographic cultural and language impacts on digital education. A demographic survey, course transcripts, formative temperature checks, a post training summative quantitative survey and qualitative interviews will be used to obtain a full understanding of the interventions.

The outputs include a digital education quality standard framework and companion assessment toolkit; a nine module online course to teach educators how to design, delivery and evaluate online digital education; a train-the-trainer online course, eBooks enabling mobile learning; and other resources such as exemplars. By being available at no costs to the general public through the websites of all partners these outputs will be utilised at a regional, national and international level.

This project will support educators in transitioning from traditional teaching methods to integrating new digital technologies – an aim consistent with the commitment of the European Commission to support all members states. The collaboration between education healthcare and publishing industries will pioneer new learning processes and emerge into an innovative partnership model of teaching and training. This novel triangulated design and delivery of education products is of international interest in that it resonates with the concepts of inter-ministerial collaboration trans-sectorial cooperation and multidisciplinary operation which the advocates. Each partner will exit the project protected with dual faced armour – increased knowledge and skills, cutting edge resources and a collaborative network in digital education. Beyond the Partners the project will deliver an arena of quality resources related to digital education for public access that uniquely span healthcare education and publishing entities.