Digitalization of education does not mean online education

On 12th October, within the European Week of Regions and Cities, Harghita County Council organized the event entitled #LocalAction4Education – Pilot project for digital education.

The event was moderated by Gyula Winkler, Member of the European Parliament, with the participation of Ms. Margrethe Vestager Executive Vice President of the European Commission as keynote speaker, as well as with further panelists: Mr. Alpár Ferencz Salamon director of the Teacher`s House of Harghita County, Mr. László Csák expert in European policies, Mr. Daniel Böjte expert in digitalization, Mr. Endre Borsos expert on digitalization of education, and Mr. Juraj Bilic Vice-CEO of the Croatian Academic and Research Network (CARNET).

The purpose of the event was to bring together the good practices, experiences, challenges which contribute to supporting education in all learning environments in order to reduce the digital gap in the less developed regions.

 “During the COVID 19 pandemic schools, teachers, students and parents faced a new situation in which the traditional way of education was no longer possible and every entity and family had to find new solutions. For some of them, challenges consisted in organizing education at home, but for many, especially in less developed regions, such as in Harghita County, challenges started with the lack of equipment and internet connection. Harghita County Council took the initiative and established a working group for the digitalization of the education in Harghita County, which is operating with relevant actors and highly rated experts from the field of digital education, aiming primarily at solving urgent requests related to online education.” – added Csaba Borboly, president of the county council.

In order to have a long-term impact, the working group concluded that a holistic, regional, comprehensive and strategic approach is needed and elaborated the DigEdu2030 – Action plan for digital education, which proposes the launch of a pilot project for education digitization in Harghita County.

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of the European Commission, keynote speaker of the event, welcomed the initiative of the county council to implement a pilot project assuring their support in its implementation, at the same time appreciating that it is impossible to talk about inclusion without mentioning education and it is highly important to ensure access to learning and training for all in order to reduce gaps.

Digitalization of education and digitization in general has become a priority on European and national level, but financing sources/funding options for the implementation of comprehensive and multi-level pilot projects still lacks.

Mr. Alpár Ferencz Salamon director of Teacher`s House of Harghita County appreciated that the well-being of digitization is in tight connection with physical well-being and to reduce inequalities the implementation of such projects is necessary, which provides 21st century conditions.

Mr. Daniel Böjte expert on digitization highlighted the need to change the role of teachers and put the emphasis on learning, digital transformation of education without omitting the emotional component of this process with the aim of educating in the future.

As an example of good practice, Juraj Bilic Vice-CEO of the Croatian Academic and Research Network presented the pilot proiect of Croatia, implemented in two phases, his advice being to invest in robust and modern technologies which do not degrade over time. At the same time he concluded that digitization of education does not mean online education.

Mr. Endre Borsos expert on education digitization appreciated the contribution of Harghita County Council as an active partner in the implementation of several digital projects, such as 7 Smart Steps, Classy application, useful tools both for teachers and students for creating digital contents.

As a result of the event a Cooperation intent was signed between Harghita County Council, Teachers` House of Harghita County and Croatian Academic and Research Network, to find the means to implement the Local action plan for digital education, so that, as Mr. Csaba Borboly appreciated, to develop education in Harghita County in such way all children of all backgrounds to have equal changes to prepare for a digitalized future.

Miercurea Ciuc, 12th October 2022