2020 VALEU-X Year in Review and Looking Ahead

2020 has been a year like no other, that challenged the whole world with entirely new and difficult scenarios. The world of education has been widely affected, and forced to find alternatives to ensure continuity of education, making a quick transition to online in terms of online teaching and virtual approaches to international mobility and cooperation, rushing into it incredibly quickly.

It is worth looking at the bright side and enhancing the innovative aspects that the situation has prompted us to discover and which today are an added value for our common goals.

The restrictions due to the current COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted and strengthened the discussion around the theme of virtual mobility and on how important it is now more than ever to perfect tools and make them increasingly inclusive and systemic.

We are eager to share the main achievements accomplished during 2020.

During this troubled year, we have contributed to support Albanian Higher Education Institutions in adopting and implementing effective ICT-based internationalisation at home activities, and we have fostered academic staff skills for innovative virtual teaching and learning settings. In particular, this year we have:

We are pleased to share with you some statements of participants from our training sessions on different aspects.

On communication and teamwork, partnership and commitment to the project:

“During this period, activities have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, however the partnership have been able to react promptly and positively and to take appropriate measures to keep the project on scope”

On the content and progress of the project:

“The project has large opportunities to influence the development of national and institutional policies on distance education, making virtual collaborative learning a widespread reality in Albania, supporting the internationalisation of the higher education system”

Some concerns:

“I guess we need to find a solution to physical meetings and workshops, to brainstorm and set clearer objectives for the forthcoming period”

“We are living in uncertain times due to the pandemic, therefore future unknown developments and possible restrictions could affect the implementation of the project”

Let us thank you for supporting our efforts throughout this troubled year!

We are enthusiastic about the strong foundation of our collaborative work. During 2021 we will continue to foster the adoption and implementation of innovative virtual teaching and learning, by organising:

  • on-site staff trainings in Albania (Shkodra and Tirana), and in Slovenia (Celje) on internationalization activities and Bologna principles. Furthermore, dissemination activities and hosting internationalization activities will be tentatively scheduled for May 2021;
  • staff observation visits at TUD in Dresden and at UNIMED in Rome;
  • staff qualification courses;
  • a summer school for Albanian students who will be trained as qualified E-tutors to professionally support the planned VCL arrangements. They will be able to evaluate the group learning process in the pilot and further VCL arrangements within and beyond the project activities;
  • job shadowing for academic staff at TUD Dresden to prepare the participants in redesigning their courses introducing elements of virtual mobility;
  • facilitation of local and (in 2022) international virtual collaborative courses with undergraduate and postgraduate students from the partner universities;
  • empirical research on the impact of VCL on higher education in Albania.

We wish 2021 will be a great year to make even more people involved in virtual collaborative learning, and even get more people participating in our activities. Whether you are an higher education manager, an educator, a researcher, a learner, or a practitioner interested in virtual mobility and virtual collaborative learning, there is a way for you to get involved:

  • by participating in our next Expert Forum at UAMD in Albania or online, or in any of our upcoming events;
  • by providing feedback on our Needs assessment report;
  • by sharing your insights, experience and research on innovative virtual teaching and learning to inform the next steps of our work;
  • by getting in touch with us, we are eager to receive feedback from others on what we are doing!

We are looking forward to cooperating with you all in 2021, and we wish you joyful festivities, and a Happy-er New Year!

Project Valeu-X was presented at PIConf 2020, 23–24 October 2020

The project Valeu-X was presented by Nada Trunk Širca at the 2020 PIC International Online Conference, which was held on the 23–24 October 2020.

The online conference, entitled “Online Education without Social Distance: Challenges for Internationalisation and Culture of Peace” was organised by Pegaso international Malta.

The co-authors Aleš Trunk, Špela Dermol, Ornela Vladi, Nada Trunk Širca, and Agim Kasaj  prepared a paper on The Role of Albanian Higher Educational Institutions for Successful Integration in the European Union. Have a look at the Conference Proceedings.

Prof. Eric Schoop, the leader of the Valeu-X project was a panelist in the session “Online Education to Strengthen Internationalisation”, where he presented the virtual collaborative learning approach which is implemented in the Valeu-x project for the Albanian universities.

The project was presented also during the Projects presentation session and the logo was published in the Proceedings (p 75).

You can find more info and the video recordings of all panels and sessions here.

The PIConf was promoted on TV Malta news as well. Have a look here!

The VALEU-X project on the occasion of the Erasmus Days 2020

On October 15, 16 and 17, 2020, it was celebrated the 4th edition of the Erasmus Days, an initiative launched by the French National Agency on the 30th anniversary of Erasmus+. #ErasmusDays meant three days of celebration of the Erasmus+ Programme in Europe and beyond as a unique opportunity to organize an event, share an experience or spread the word about a project.

On that occasion, the VALEU-X consortium organised an online event on October 16th to discuss the importance of Virtual Collaborative Learning, and how its underpinning pedagogy can support the transition from emergency online teaching to sustainable forms of internationalisation at home.

 

 

 

 

 

This online event introduced the project aims and activities and launched the report publication “Needs assessment report on Virtual Collaborative teaching and learning in Albania”, and it offered hands-on training on Virtual Mobility, distance teaching & VCL  as a prequel to activity D2.3 (Staff Observation Visit). The contents of the prequel are relevant for the observation and training visits which will be organised and hosted by participating European and Albanian partners once travel restrictions are over. Within the activity D2.3, Albanian teaching staff will be invited to visit participating European partners and observe the teaching practices and technology implementation at their institution. They will get experience how authentic didactical case-studies and effective problem-based learning to be solved in an ICT-based collaborative learning environment and foster critical thinking and teamwork among their students.

More info at VALEU-X WEBINAR & “HANDS-ON” VIRTUAL COLLABORATIVE LEARNING (VCL)

 

 

If you have missed the events or you want to watch the sessions again, you can find the recordings here below:

                 
Morning session                                           Hands-on VCL

Moreover, the VALEU-X partners organised institutional events at their own institutions and got the chance to present the VALEU-X project with the aim to shape an impact story of the project:

  • The European University of Tirana delivered a session to learn more about the Erasmus+ programme, exchange views about European values and its EU funded projects, such as VALEU-X

More info

  • The EPOKA University, Esmir Demajelaborated on the objectives of VALEU-X and the role EPOKA University has in this project,  “Virtual Albanian European Universities Exchange”

More info

  • The “Fan S. Noli” University organised a round table as a follow-up activity of the need assessment report that was designed in the frame of the VALEU-X Erasmus+ project

More info

  • The University of Elsaban offered a thorough knowledge of the implementation of Erasmus+ programme at the University, including the VALEU-X project. The event was also on the news of the local Televisions (video).

More info here and here

 

Online event to celebrate the ErasmusDays 2020

Title

Moving from emergency online teaching to virtual collaborative learning: the VALEU-X project

Date

16 October 2020 at 11:30-12:30 CET and 13:00-15:00 CET

Registration Link

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=3GKRtwSN9kSzssWh0LG5oUSeNX1HiCJGv-zm7-FxQJdUNjJaMVlVQU0yQ0ZaM0Q0NDNPNjkzVjJVNiQlQCN0PWcu

The event is displayed on the map of the Erasmus Days 2020 here.

Description of the event

From January 2020 six Albanian universities are working, in collaboration with European partners and with the support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, in a project called VALEU-X, Virtual Albanian European Universities Exchange.

The project is adding a significant value to the teaching process in Albania by empowering academic staff with contemporary, digital teaching competencies to implement Virtual Collaborative Learning (VCL) as an everyday teaching practice, offering a chance to explore, implement, and disseminate Virtual Mobility and Internationalisation at Home practices. 

Since the spread of COVID-19, student mobility abruptly stopped in Albania, as well as globally, and most of the universities that moved education online incredibly quickly are now rethinking their digital education strategies, as well as exploring new and sustainable approaches to complement and reinforce traditional forms of mobility.

During this online event we will discuss the importance of VCL, and how its underpinning pedagogy can support the transition from emergency online teaching to sustainable forms of internationalisation at home. VCL can increase students’ and staff exposure to the European and international academic, economic, and societal context whereas student-centered learning within a high degree of self organisation is facilitated through VCL.

This online event has a two-fold objective:

  • introduce the project aims and activities and launch the report publication “Needs assessment report on Virtual Collaborative teaching and learning in Albania”;
  • offer hands-on training on Virtual Mobility, distance teaching & VCL. During this session participants will learn how to develop Virtual Collaborative Learning activities within their courses, offering a meaningful learning experience to their students.

Participation in the online event is free of charge. Sessions will be recorded and made available on the VALEU-X project website.

Target participants: Albanian university staff (international relation officers, teaching and learning units, professors), anyone interested in learning more about virtual collaborative learning methods, and digital education in Albania.

Agenda

Morning session: Webinar

11:30-12:30 CET

Virtual Albanian European Universities Exchange

11:30 Welcome and introduction to the VALEU-X project

Mattis Altmann, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany

11:40 Virtual Collaborative teaching and learning in Albania

Ornela Vladi, European University of Tirana, Albania

12:00 Virtual Collaborative Learning as a strategy for internationalisation & Virtual Mobility

Eric Schoop, Mattis Altmann, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany

12:20 Q&A

12:30 End of Webinar

Afternoons session: Hands-on Training

13:00-15:00 CET

How to develop Virtual Collaborative Learning in your classroom

13.00 Introduction: virtual vs. analogue teaching 

Mattis Altmann, Alexander Clauss, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany

13:15 Spring Semester 2020 “experience & challenges” 

Esmir Demaj, EPOKA University, Albania

13:30 Hands-on Virtual Collaborative Learning

Mattis Altmann, Alexander Clauss, Anna Leichsenring, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany

14:15 Evaluation & quick wins

15:00 Final remarks and information for further events

UET training of stakeholders

On last July 2020, the European University of Tirana (UET) held a training on the TEAMS online Platform and online teaching, targeting Directors of High Schools. More than 200 participants took part in the online training in the framework of the activities of the VALEU-X project, whose scope is to support the internationalisation of HEIs as a current national priority in the partner country Albania.

 

 

 

VALEU-X presented at the MakeLearn & TIIM 2020 conference

VALEU-X was recently presented at the MakeLearn Conference 2020 organised by the consortium member International School for Social and Business Studies (ISSBS) in Slovenia, on 21-22 May 2020.

The conference takes place in May, each year in a different European country. This year it was held online, due to travel and gathering limitations enforced by the COVID-19 crisis. By including experiences and young academics and practitioners from all continents, the Conference aimed at encouraging the sharing knowledge and offering a space for discussion between academia and businesses. The conference program for 2020 and the recordings of the online sessions can be visited here.

The VALEU-X project was presented with a video recorded by TUD.

Internal partners meeting

On May 13, 2020 an internal partner meeting was held to follow-up with the results of the First Expert Forum and plan the next phases of the project, namely the second Expert Forum and the training of trainers component.

Among the decisions taken, Partners will move the second Expert Forum to the autumn, while it was originally planned in July. This decision was taken to cope with the situation generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to allow Partners to benefit from the feedbacks collected on the “Albanian Needs Assessment Report“ and to collect inputs on the core features of the Interactive online platform foreseen in the project.

First series of Virtual Expert Forums on “Innovative Virtual Teaching and Learning”

On May 12-13, 2020 we held our first Expert Forum on “Innovative Virtual Teaching and Learning” composed by three online sessions, arranged as a free room for discussion on topics that included, among others: Virtual Collaborative Learning; Technical and didactic learning practices; e-Learning environment and spaces; Students/staff digital literacy; Digital learning tools and platforms.

The event was originally planned to take place in Tirana, hosted by the European University of Tirana. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions it has been moved online on the same dates, moderated by the Technische Universität Dresden. Participants ranged between academic staff, students, national stakeholders and experts, aiming to set a common ground for discussion via informal exchange of practices and knowledge.

The Forum was a very fruitful space for discussion on the findings of the field study which analyzed the Albanian Higher Education system, with respect to virtual and collaborative learning. The Forum focused, among other things, on tackling systemic and technical challenges of the quick shift from on-campus to remote teaching and learning processes. Other issues raised by participants consisted on the need for technical and didactical trainings for the academic staff in improving digital literacy, and the need for further policy-making for integrating virtual components in the current curricula of Higher Education Institutions in Albania.

More information about the first Expert Forum is available here.

VCL: A framework for virtual mobility

VALEU-X kicks off in Dresden

On February 24-25, 2020 the Technische Universität of Dresden has organised and hosted the Kick-Off Meeting of the Project VALEU-X, Virtual Albanian European Universities Exchange.

The project VALEU-X, coordinated by the Technische Universität of Dresden (TUD) and co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union, addresses the limited exposure of Albanian university students and academics to international experience. It proposes blending on-campus teaching activities with international Virtual Collaborative Learning (VCL) components as a Virtual Mobility element to introduce international perspectives in formal study programmes within a holistic approach of Internationalisation at Home.

The two-day event has seen the active participation of all the partners involved in the project.

The next project event will be the Expert Forum in Tirana on April 20, 2020. More information on how to participate will follow.

Have a look at the news published by TUD Dresden here!