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EEA funds project on digital tools in education

In January, the Teacher Education Unit accepted an invitation from the University of Finance and Administration in Prague to be a collaborative partner in a mobility project to increase the digital competence of higher education teachers. The project will, among other things, examine the use of digital tools in teaching.

Digital teaching in the classroom

Lenka Garshol teaches English in the Teacher Education Unit and is a Norwegian partner in the mobility project supported by the EEA. 

“I received the news our application was accepted before the summer. And since this is a mobility project for staff, we are now discussing how to implement the project with the restrictions we must comply with”, Lenka Garshol says. She is associate professor at the Department of Foreign Languages and Translation and teaches English in the primary school teacher training programme.

The collaboration is a project supported by European cooperation in education (EEA and Norway grants). The purpose of the funds is to establish educational partnerships with higher education and research institutions from Central and Southern Europe. The European partner is always the project coordinator and is formally responsible for the application and reporting process, but Norwegian institutions can initiate the collaboration. This time the Czech partner initiated the project.

Crossing disciplines

When Hilde Inntjore, dean of the Teacher Education Unit at UiA, received the invitation in January, she was quick to get in touch with the course coordinators to help her find academic staff who wanted to be part of a mobility project for teachers in higher education.

“Even though the subject areas taught at the University of Finance and Administration are different than those taught here, I believe our teachers can benefit from being part of a project where one shares and learns from each other’s experiences. What matters is not what topics are being taught, but the mode of teaching and the tools used to facilitate the teaching.”

Lenka Garshol was in no doubt when she saw what the project was about. She wanted to be a part of this.

“I have a bachelor's degree from another university in the Czech Republic, and I think it is interesting to experience being on “the other side”. To see what resources the teachers use and what has changed since I was a student, but also how I can contribute with the experience I have gained after moving to Norway, completing my master's and PhD degrees and started teaching in the teacher education programme at UiA.”

Inntjore is particularly pleased that Garshol joined the project.

“We are very pleased with this commitment and the international perspectives it brings. It will also be interesting to see how colleagues in the Teacher Education Unit can benefit from the outcome of this project and how it can strengthen the use of digital tools in day-to-day teaching.”

Restrictions and new ideas

The project is currently in the start-up phase, and many preparations must be made before it gets underway. The project period is set for this academic year, and a total of four visits to the institutions involved are planned. However, COVID-19, travel restrictions and quarantine rules mean that they have to think differently.

“There will be two participants from Norway and six from the Czech Republic, and the application outlines one visit to the University of Finance and Administration and three visits to UiA. It goes without saying that these visits may be difficult to carry out if they lead to quarantine”, says Garshol.

She further explains that it may be necessary to conduct video analyses and have more meetings online than they had initially envisioned in January:

“I hope we manage to carry out some of the planned visits by 2021. Video recordings are good for observation research, but there is something about being there when it happens and being able to see each other while the observation is being conducted and during post-observation discussions.”

– Eg fekk beskjed før sumaren om at søknaden vart innvilga, og sidan dette er eit mobilitetsprosjekt for tilsette diskuterer vi no korleis vi kan gjennomføra prosjektet med dei restriksjonane vi må retta oss etter, fortel Lenka Garshol (bildet). Ho er førsteamanuensis ved Institutt for framandspråk og oversetning, og underviser i engelsk i grunnskolelærarutdanningane.

Samarbeidet er eit prosjekt med støtte frå Europeisk utdanningssamarbeid (EØS-midlane). Hensikta med midlane er at, mellom anna, høgare utdannings- og forskingsinstitusjonar kan etablere utdanningssamarbeid med partnarar frå Sentral- og Sør-Europa. Det er alltid den europeiske partnaren som er prosjektkoordinator og denne står formelt som ansvarleg for søknad og rapportering, men norske institusjonar kan ta initiativ til samarbeidet. Denne gongen var det den tsjekkiske partnaren som tok kontakt.