FP7 Call Highlights: Technology-Enhanced Learning

I’ve just blogged about the latest batch of FP7 calls released last week. There are so many topics that it can be confusing at first to know where to start, so I thought I’d focus on one or two of the most interesting and relevant opportunities and give a summary of the key points. First up is the ICT call on Technology-Enhanced Learning.

This call is interesting in that it has a highly interdisciplinary and applied focus – it’s about how the use of information and communication technologies can support innovation and drive change in education environments. The technology-enhanced learning call sits within the ICT Challenge 4 on Digital Libraries and Content, which is more generally about the ways in which digital content is changing the way we live and specifically the way we learn:

More abundant, accessible, interactive and usable content and knowledge, coupled with shifts in demands (future of education and training systems, productivity, time to competency, focus on intangible assets) contribute to reshaping the way we learn: teaching methods are increasingly focusing on inquiry-based, problem-solving approaches; technologies are suggesting new ways to generate learners’ engagement and motivation and to support innovation and creativity; learning is increasingly integrated into business processes, corporate knowledge management and human resources systems. The research is becoming intrinsically cross disciplinary, requiring input from cognitive and social sciences, pedagogy, computer and neurosciences.

The Work Programme identifies 6 target outcomes which proposals to this call will need to address. Proposals will only need to address one of the six, because each outcome will fund different kinds of projects and activities (see below):

  1. Learning in the 21st Century: large-scale pilots for the design of the future classroom (exploring both technology and teaching practices, for teachers and students, their orchestration for specific, justified age groupings or subjects), supporting individualisation, collaborations, creativity and expressiveness in more active, reflective and independent learning activities (IP).
  2. Reinforce the links between individual and organisational learning, and creativity: innovative solutions embedding learning experiences in organisational processes and practices, through systems embracing talent, knowledge, workflow, collaborative innovation and competency management. Solutions should cover effectiveness of learning content, new forms of collective intelligence and entail deeper understanding of the role of ICT for creativity, informal learning and collaborations (IP). Research should also address new ways of combining creative, cognitive and computational processes (STREP).
  3. Innovative adaptive and intuitive systems for learning: featuring affective and emotional approaches, including related new forms of assessing learning outcomes as well as feedback/guidance mechanisms (innovative diagnostic techniques) to the learner and the teacher. Work may relate to serious games and immersive environments and include advances in the combination of simulation, story telling, and collaborative learning (STREP).
  4. Revolutionary learning appliances (including toys) and advanced cognitive tutors, able to promote specific cognitive processing or abilities. Proposals should address: specific social and learning problems; science, technology and maths; or specific tasks that impose high cognitive demands (STREP).
  5. Focused interdisciplinary networks on specific emerging trends (e.g. serious games/mobility and learning), linking a limited set of established excellences and learning labs, and including appropriate mechanisms for cross-fertilisation between disciplines. These networks should leverage national research activities and achieve demonstrable visibility at international level (NoE).
  6. Awareness building and knowledge management on the results of EU RTD projects in the field; exploratory/roadmapping activities for fundamentally new forms of learning; identification of Grand Challenges; socio-economic evaluations (including transfer and scalability mechanisms, in education and for SMEs); establishment of a pan-European network of living schools for validations, demonstrations and showcases (CSA).

A note on terminology may be useful here: STREP, IP, NoE and CSA refer to the different kinds of projects which can be funded under this call. One of the main differences is size, but Networks of Excellence and CSAs are also about supporting fundamentally different kinds of activity from the standard multi-partner research project.

STREPs are small or medium-scale focused research projects, by which the EC means projects with 3 or more partners from at least 3 member states, and which typically last between 18 months and 3 years.

IPs in contrast are large-scale integrating projects: the minimum number of partners is still three, but IPs are typically much larger, last longer than STREPs, have a higher budget, and take a “programme” approach which can include research activity, dissemination training and policy impact at EU governmental level.

NoEs are Networks of Excellence – large collaborations between many research organisations with the aim of integrating activities to build a sustainable, long-term collaboration.

CSAs are co-ordinating and supporting actions, which are not research projects but rather a series of activities designed to support research and policy, e.g. networking, exchanges, conferences, trans-national access to research facilities and infrastructures.

It’s also worth noting that you can send a short “pre-proposal” to the ICT team to check eligibility and fit to the call. Simply fill in the two-page form attached as Annex 6 in the Guidance for Applicants to infso-telearn@ec.europa.eu and you should get a reply relatively quickly.