Educators as Digital Learners: A Social Innovation Collaborative Experience

Educators as Digital Learners: A Social Innovation Collaborative Experience

Diego Galego (University of Aveiro, Portugal), Marta Ferreira Dias (GOVCOPP, DEGEIT, University of Aveiro, Portugal), Marlene Amorim (GOVCOPP, DEGEIT, University of Aveiro, Portugal), Mara Madaleno (GOVCOPP, DEGEIT, University of Aveiro, Portugal), Gladys Jimenez (Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso, Chile) and Camila Zamora Osorio (Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso, Chile)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9304-1.ch005


Social innovation (SI) and social entrepreneurship (SE) progressively acquires importance in higher education institutions and it has been introduced in a capacity building strategy towards a redesign of academic curriculum, namely in Latin American universities. With the purpose to advance knowledge-transfer on these topics a teacher training course (TTC) was designed and developed as part of the Students4Change Erasmus+ Project. The TTC was built with a twofold purpose: on the one hand, to share knowledge about SI and SE in an online course addressed to university professors, from the 10 Latin American universities, partners in the project; and on the other hand, to develop also didactic strategies and active learning in a collaborative approach, as well as different tools, in order to promote the integration of SI and SE subjects in academic curriculum. To achieve this purpose, 51 professors participated on the online course, divided in two stages, first in eight webinars during two months, and second, a final face-to-face meeting after the end of the online course.
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During the last two decades education in general and higher education in particular have undergone a “renovation” of methodologies in teaching and research, namely influenced by new technologies of communication, developing an affordable ´ecosystem´ for education (Castells, 2005; Galego, 2016; Gisbert Cervera & Johnson, 2015). The idea to provide the “best education for the best is the best education for all” (Phillips & Siegel, 2018) acquires a different perspective in contemporary education and turns the curriculum more transversal and “flexible”, breaking the approach of having a static track for all.

Historically, the aims of education are the transmission of knowledge, skills and the development of autonomy. Some academic debates raise on “the tension between education as conservative and progressive” (Phillips & Siegel, 2018). The diversity of schools and theorists concerning the different approaches of education as a field of study, discussing the “recommended education”, contributed to the philosophical and the “educational policy reform” (Apple, 2004) debate underway in many countries. Considerably, this debate attracts attention of correlated areas of study such as didactic, pedagogy, competences, methodologies and formal methods of education. However, the mainstream debate is centered on how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can contribute to “formal and non-formal education” (Gisbert Cervera & Johnson, 2015) in different stages and in what extent it can be aligned with active learning strategies.

According to Davis et al., (2018) in the current scenario “university courses are retrofitted from a classroom to the Web”, taking advantages from the vast digital learning environments facilitated by new technologies. Also these facilities require knowledges and competences (digital literacy) (European Commission, 2010), leading to an effective “digital environment” for learning. As an alternative for solving the lack of education in many areas, Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is providing the learning materials openly and free. Overcoming the physical distance, the ICTs are influencing and considerably changing the learning environment, as presented by some authors (Davis et al., 2018; Herrada Valverde, Baños Navarro, & Navarro, 2018).

The twenty-first century education induces fundamental renewal at national, regional and international programmes, policies and systems aiming at “peace and human development” (Delors et al., 1996; Power, 1997). Attempting, to adequately fulfill the gaps of education all around the world, UNESCO developed many initiatives, based on the four integrated pillars of learning: a) learning to know, b) learning to do, c) learning to live together and d) learning to be, emphasizing the social importance of this process for facilitating the development of opportunities towards a better society (Delors et al., 1996). Combining new technologies and education (Gisbert Cervera & Johnson, 2015), also called the ´digitization movement´ of education, presumably points to the essential of human being rights for education, prospecting to egalitarian educational systems, prepared to attend the demands of population. To meet the rights for education, Delors et al., (1996) proposed the minimum knowledge-transfer by new technologies as a viable way to achieve a large range of people in different contexts.

Undoubtedly, the ICTs are shifting the education parameters of knowledge-transfer and sharing in many contextual circumstances, notably in what regards the massive usage of technological devices by the young population today, as well as ease of access and availability of information online. Bearing this in mind, in the context of the international project Students4Change an online Teachers´ Training Course was developed and implemented with the purpose of advancing the qualification of professors for embedding social innovation and social entrepreneurship in academia.

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