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Erasmus+ project "E-design" Vocational education curriculum using digital methods

In January 2020, Pärnu German School of Technology started managing the new Erasmus+ (2019-KA202-03) strategic cooperation project. The topic was "Application of e-learning for better integration of students with special educational needs (physical disabilities) into the labor market with the help of audiovisual media curriculum". The problem was posed by the fact that in every country there is a certain target group of people who have difficulties (fully or partially) acquisition of the specialty and who have to therefore stay away from the labor market because their movement and accessibility are often hindered. In Estonia, they are called SEN students (special educational needs).

Digitization, which also includes e-learning, is working more and more successfully in European countries. However, its possibilities are still relatively limited in preparation for working life. It is difficult for people belonging to the target group to learn specialties that require direct contact, including a longer stay in the auditorium or doing an internship in a company. Vocational education institutions have few or no curriculum that allow e-learning as an alternative to attendance.

Many educational institutions teach multimedia design, mainly in the form of classroom and independent work, using individual e-modules. One of the solutions to the situation was the preparation of a comprehensive curriculum, which enables the acquisition of the specialty as a whole via the web, i.e. all modules/topics can be taught and learned in the form of e-learning. In addition to e-learning, regular lectures and communication meetings were also planned for the students. The purpose of such meetings was to establish direct contact, socialization, consultation, feedback and to reduce general isolation.

The partners of the project were the competent institutions of three countries, including educational institutions: Pärnu German School of Technology ( ) as the project manager, Kuressaare Vocational School (, Pärnumaa Chamber of Disabled People (, Austrian Center for Vocational Education and Rehabilitation (BBRZ - Berufliches Bildungs- und Rehabilitationszentrum – ( and the foundation Stiftung Bildung und Handwerk from Germany (SBH Stiftung Bildung & Handwerk - BH) (

The products of the project were the intellectual outputs "Curriculum" and "Application modules".

The curriculum was based on the national output-based curriculum, which was developed with the needs of the partners in mind and was fully applicable. The German and Austrian partners had the opportunity to develop parts or the whole of the curriculum depending on the educational organization of the environment and the specificities of the countries. In order to implement the curriculum, an application methodology was developed for digital learning materials with a volume of 800 lessons. For the first time, it is possible to receive the theoretical part of the vocational level education in full with the support of e-methodology.

The environment Moodle was chosen as an internationally generally used platform for the use of educational materials. In general, each partner could use his own platform, but all materials had to be exportable to the Moodle environment. Under the leadership of the Estonian partners and the provision of educational technological support, access was created for all partners and a corresponding sub-unit where the completed learning materials were uploaded.

The languages of the study materials are English and Estonian. When dealing with interactive material, the foreign language part is important because methodological examples, including interactive ones, are available in English all over the world. Each partner could monitor and test each other's production and, if necessary, translate materials, make changes, additions and developments based on their target group and the development of the digital tools system.

When creating the curriculum modules, the partners were able to use specialists in the given field, and there was also a comprehensive mutual exchange of experiences and counseling. At the same time, the preparation and development of the materials was not defined in any other way than that it is a product used for pedagogical purposes, which has its own specific target group.

The created curriculum modules are ready-made, but they can also be further developed and adapted depending on the characteristics of each (educational) institution. The production of the modules took place with the help of specialists and relied on the best methodological approach at the moment. Teachers have been tested to see if the material is usable.

At the end of the project, it is possible to get registered access to the products and use them at . They can be used for teaching individual modules, courses, and advanced training. In view of the project's goals, the target group is students with physical disabilities and health problems, but they can also be used by ordinary students. Bilingualism also allows them to be used in cross-border education. On the same website, at the end of the project, all materials and conditions for access to Estonian and English study links will be disclosed.

The project planned to involve specialists-pedagogues, educational technologists, social structures and employers. The total duration of the project was 3 years instead of the planned 2.5 years. The coronavirus caused the project to be extended. At the same time, the topic of e-learning had become more relevant during this period than could have been imagined when writing the project. With this, the project acquired added value for the situation of special measures.

According to the project, the products were tested during piloting. In the fall of 2021, based on the target group, 17 students at the German School of Technology in Pärnu started to acquire the specialty of interactive graphic design within the framework of this project. Kuressaare Vocational School started a little later. The foreign partners used the obtained methodology in their studies according to the possibilities of the educational organization based on their country.

In the course of their studies, students were accompanied by academic and social support. The satisfaction surveys were analytical, as a result of which both the e-methodology and the study organization were improved. Thus, the continuous improvement and development of the content of intellectual products, modules and topics remained active. The teacher's methodology developed together with the digital product in the pedagogical process of its implementation. During the accreditation process the Estonian Higher and Vocational Education Agency evaluated both the curriculum and the actual e-learning and was satisfied with them.

In the fall of 2022, the project ended as planned with the theoretical study, and the students moved on to practice, which for them is remote work or a hybrid variant. The project objectives have been met and the team has gained a wealth of experience that deserves to be used and disseminated. All materials are available on this website and can be used in both local and international educational activities.

Indrek Alekõrs, project manager Pärnu German School of Technology, 1999-2022

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