eLearning Action Plan
Mobilise education and training players, as well as the relevant social, industrial and economic players, in order to rectify the shortage of skills associated with new technologies, and improve social inclusion.
Communication from the Commission of 28 March 2001: The eLearning Action Plan, Designing tomorrow's education [COM(2001) 172 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
The eLearning initiative forms part of:
- the comprehensive eEurope Action Plan, "the aim of which is to allow Europe to exploit its strengths and overcome the barriers holding back the uptake of digital technologies";
- the Report on the concrete future objectives of education systems by adopting information and communication technology development as one of its objectives in order to help promote the employability objectives;
- the adaptability objectives under the European Employment Strategy.
The purpose of this Action Plan, which covers the period 2001-2004, is to present ways and means of implementing the eLearning initiative by identifying the objectives of the comprehensive eEurope Action Plan, namely:
- to accelerate the deployment in the European Union of a high-quality infrastructure at a reasonable cost;
- to step up the training drive at all levels including technology training as well as courses on the educational use of technology and management of change;
- to create appropriate conditions for the development of content, services and learning which are sufficiently advanced and relevant to education;
- to strengthen cooperation and dialogue by setting up partnerships between the public and private sectors in order to improve links between measures and initiatives at all levels (local, regional, national and European) and between all the players in the field (universities, schools, etc.).
The eLearning initiative helps to create a European cooperation platform which seeks to step up Member States' efforts in this field, continue the policy debate, involve businesses and thereby allow them to participate in the discussion, and create eLearning working groups (with the Member States, the European Commission, and representatives of the industry).
INSTRUMENTS OF COMMUNITY ACTION
The main Community instruments for the implementation of eLearning are:
- The education, training and youth programmes: from the outset, the Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci and Youth programmes have been open to the development of activities relating to new technologies. eLearning is now a priority;
- The framework programme on research and development (1998-2002): the Information Society Technology (IST) Programme and Socio-Economic Research, which deal with eLearning, are supplemented by other programmes to foster technological development and competitiveness, namely TEN-Telecom, eContent and Go Digital;
- The Structural Funds: the ERDF is helping with infrastructure creation and sectoral developments while the ESF has at its disposal substantial resources for adapting education and training systems and giving general currency to the best models developed at national or European level;
- The employment guidelines for 2001 reinforce the role of lifelong learning in a knowledge-based economy and urge the social partners to enter into agreements on action to make people digitally literate and on more flexible forms of work to facilitate participation in learning;
- The European Investment Bank (EIB) can finance infrastructure and equipment allowing the use of information technology and, within the context of its Innovation 2000 initiative, can also finance projects in the field of innovation.
The Action Plan identifies four main lines of action:
- Key measures relating to infrastructure and equipment
The Action Plan identifies three key measures relating to infrastructure and equipment for 2001-2002.
The first measure, which involves the drawing up of a report on the development of eLearning indicators, focuses on the development of a tool to assist decision-making in order to develop quantitative and qualitative indicators suitable for setting up a strategic and high-quality information base.
The second measure concerns the creation of a European research area for new learning environments which will focus, in particular, on the development of educational and technological systems, virtual systems, individual differences in learning, and special-needs education. The Action Plan also identifies the following specific measures: "eLearning futures" to contribute to the development of future learning environments; "eLearning for European youth in a digital age" involving all the key players in different fields in pilot experiments; an "eLearning Summit" on the theme of public-private partnerships; a feasibility study relating to a European "Technology and Education" laboratory; a study to promote the use of ICT; the analysis and exchange of best practices to help disadvantaged people learn about ICT and the exploitation of European know-how in this field.
The third measure relates to encouraging the development of infrastructure with a view to creating multipurpose places of learning accessible to all, developing virtual infrastructure and setting up multilingual portals on the Internet which will allow structured and user-friendly access to existing resources.
- Key measures on training
The Action Plan identifies two key measures on training. The first focuses on developing new skills in order to counterbalance the observed failure of supply to meet demand for a skilled workforce, while the second focuses on the training of teachers and trainers. Among the specific measures recommended by the Plan are the introduction of a European diploma for IT skills, the creation of an inventory of projects run and an analysis of models developed, the development of a guide to existing resources and experts in the field, and the organisation of a seminar on the theme of skills for tomorrow's teachers and trainers.
- Key measures on services
Various measures are envisaged with a view to creating a suitable environment: developing recommendations to improve consumer protection, examining ethical issues, promoting appropriate means of ensuring the security of educational and cultural sites, examining matters concerning intellectual property rights and developing a coproduction, exchange and distribution system. Moreover, in order to rectify the shortage of European eLearning content, the Plan identifies three subjects of strategic importance: modern languages; science, technology and society; art, culture and citizenship.
- Key measures to strengthen cooperation and dialogue
The Plan identifies the following key measures: creating an eLearning Internet site by the end of 2001, reinforcing the European education and training networks by developing the PROMETEUS partnership as a discussion forum, organising an eLearning conference in cooperation with the successive European Union Presidencies and organising an eLearning event at the IST 2001 conference.
5) FOLLOW-UP WORK
Council Resolutionof 13 July 2001 on e-Learning [Official Journal C 204 of 20.07.2001].