Solutions for the use of artificial intelligence and digital technologies to improve the quality of education in response to COVID-19 (TRANSFORM-ED)

 

Project no.: P-DNR-21-15

Project description:

Due to the quarantine imposed by COVID-19, the country’s education system has experienced acute stress in transferring physical learning to virtual or other digital educational environments. The integration of digital technologies into the education system has been a recent priority on the agenda even prior to COVID-19. Research carried out in the past and during COVID-19 has revealed that distance learning or learning in virtual environments requires different didactic/pedagogical solutions, a differently organized pedagogical process. The aim is to identify proven solutions for the integration of AI, digitization, and technology into the educational process, opening new learning environments that increase the availability of teaching; to develop/propose science-based solutions for the transformation of the educational system model, i.e. substantially improved and updated educational processes, spaces, and EdTech partnerships; teacher/educator roles; synergies between digital-pedagogical competencies, management, and analytics; solutions to reduce multiple exclusion.

Project funding:

Research Council of Lithuania, short-term research (in health, social and other fields), analysis and implementation of diagnostics, related to COVID-19. Project is funded from financial sources under the 2021-2027 Operational Programme for the European Union Funds’ Investments.


Project results:

Due to the quarantine imposed by COVID-19, the country’s education system has experienced specific challenges in transferring learning to virtual or other digital educational environments. However, the integration of digital technologies into education has also been a priority on the education policy agenda for some time before the COVID-19 pandemic. Research carried out in the past and during the pandemic has revealed that distance learning or learning in virtual environments requires different didactic / pedagogical solutions and a differently organized pedagogical process.
The current crisis due to the pandemic in general and distance education specifically are increasing social inequalities in the education system and in society as a whole. Technology is not in itself a neutral derivative that can only provide benefits. It is a complex social and cultural artefact (Williamson et al., 2020). It is therefore very important that all actors in the system help each other to achieve successful results together. Providing technology and making it accessible to students from all socio-economic backgrounds does not in itself address social, educational, health or digital inequalities. Researchers emphasize aspects of integrated vision and long-term perspective in addressing inequalities and creating an inclusive and sustainable digital environment (Hillman et al., 2020).
The results of the project confirmed that the application of digital tools requires an improvement in teachers’ competencies (not just digital), as it is necessary to change the usual ways of working. It is understood that the use of real objects for learning is essential for the acquisition of knowledge and skills acquired through touch, real movement or action. However, if the desired learning outcome is related to the use of data to draw or model conclusions, then the educational activities and tasks of the students can be fully performed using digital tools.
The use of digital tools for a specific learning task involves students more and results are better. It is important to mention that tool-based technologies become effective and improve teaching and learning only when teachers recruit them meaningfully and effectively. Tool-based technologies do not take over pedagogical functions and do not replace teachers, and teachers themselves use digital tools to create relevant educational content for their students.
It is important to note that there is currently no technology that can replicate the qualities of a great educator, but there is already evidence that properly applied EdTech can increase teaching and learning effectiveness, help reveal students’ needs, understand the links between their physical and virtual identities, their communication and self-expression in digital contexts. Therefore, it is critical that teachers, who are key education professionals, engage in EdTech collaborations and rethink educational solutions, taking advantage of the opportunities that EdTech has provided to date.
The analysis of scientific sources, documents and empirical research carried out during the project allowed to refine the proposed solutions for the transformation of general education. Applying these solutions can increase opportunities for quality education: reducing disparities in student achievement, reducing multiple segregation and equalization of access to learning, improving the emotional environment, monitoring psychosocial risks and speeding up decision-making. Digitally enriched teaching and learning scenarios that are tested and empirically evaluated in real school environment can increase the chances of transferring proven solutions to another context, and anticipate what additional competencies, organizational decisions, and financial resources are needed to make the transfer and adaptation of digitally enriched teaching and learning scenarios more effective.
Proposed solutions for teacher roles and the dynamics of new functions, learning analytics, partnerships in the development of digital curriculum with the EdTech industry have been discussed with school communities and other stakeholders. The results of the dialogue can foster the mobilization of teachers’ professional learning communities and increase the opportunities to transfer or implement new digitally enriched teaching and learning scenarios, managerial and technological solutions into general education practice more smoothly and by involving real actors in transformation.

Period of project implementation: 2021-04-21 - 2021-12-31

Project coordinator: Kaunas University of Technology

Project partners: UAB "Visionary Analytics", UAB „BitDegree“

Head:
Berita Simonaitienė, Eglė Staniškienė

Duration:
2021 - 2021

Department:
Academic Centre of Economics, Business and Management, Faculty of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Institute of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities, School of Economics and Business