About the project
One of the most successful actions promoted by the Erasmus + programme is mobilities. The UK Erasmus + agency explains the benefits of the mobility programme for individuals: “Erasmus+ will help participants at all stages of their lives, from school through to adulthood, to pursue stimulating opportunities for learning across Europe, both inside and outside of the classroom. You will gain valuable life-skills and international experience to help you develop personally, professionally and academically and to succeed in today’s world.” Benefits for participants include to: develop personally, professionally and academically; gain new transferable skills and boost your employability; broaden your horizons – physically and mentally; develop cultural awareness and open-mindedness; enhance self-confidence and improve and gain language skills. Such is the success of the programme it is not unreasonable to say that to live and learn abroad is the dream of many adult learners and apprentices all over Europe.
But while it is feasible to encourage outward and inward adult learner’s mobility among institutions, organisations, training providers and companies, the main limitations are the high costs, socio-economic, political and health-related issues. People facing mental and physical disabilities have very limited options to participate in mobility actions or are being excluded of a wide range of them as the hosting organizations are not capable of providing a safe and accessible environment for them.
Virtual Mobility (VM) has a great potential to dramatically reduce those barriers by adding the virtual component to mobility and to make mobilities accessible to all. Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange is part of the Erasmus+ programme, providing an accessible, ground-breaking way for young people to engage in intercultural learning. Working with Youth Organisations the programme is open to any young person aged 18-30 residing in Europe and the Southern Mediterranean.
For Higher Education the EU has proposed incorporating virtual mobility in the physical classroom: post-lesson online forums, additional learning outcomes in terms of soft skills, creating new forms of mobility through distance learning tools: shared university pathways allowing mobile students to follow modules taught at other universities and Implementing an e-learning tutor.
However, the uptake of VM in Adult Education is still low and the possibilities of VM including Virtual Internships and placements unknown to many educators and learners. According to a report on the Erasmus+ Programme by the Inclusive Mobility Alliance “While the overall number of young people and students experiencing Erasmus+ exchanges are increasing rapidly, the number of students and young people with disabilities taking part in Erasmus+ has been almost stagnating over the past few years.
Participation in Mobilities by people with disabilities in Adult Education may be constrained by the many different kinds of organizations involved, the heterogeneity of adult education participants and the relative lack of use of technology in Adult education. The Moblities4All project proposes through a range of activities to expand the reach and scope of the Erasmus+ programme through Virtual Mobilities, which are technology-enabled people-to-people dialogues sustained over a period of time. The potential use of technologies has been seen in the flowering of online activities by cultural and social groups in the COVID 19 crisis.
The aim is to support Adult Education organizations and those working with people with disabilities to promote VM. The main target group for the project are people with physical and mental disabilities participating in Adult Education but the concept of virtual mobilities has significant potential to be used by any learner in different educational areas such VET, School and Higher Education.
The objectives of the project are to develop and pilot:
- A framework of skills and competencies required by participants in virtual mobilities
- An online and hard copy Guidebook
- A Toolkit for Virtual Mobilities for hosting organisations and trainers including tools, software, hardware and methods
- A self-assessment tool based on the framework (IO1) that provides a personalised path for learners
- The t development and organisation of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)
- Pilot testing of Virtual Mobilities and the production of a report on the pilots
The project brings together a new consortium of organisations including universities, NGOs, youth organisations and SMEs. They share a common mission for equal opportunities and open education and a common concern to support people with disabilities. They also have expertise in how digital technologies can be used to support VM. The project is coordinated by the University of Education, Freiburg and includes partners from Greece, North Macedonia, France, Ireland and Spain.