The Summary Report of the Open Public Consultation (OPC) regarding the Digital Education Action Plan 2021-2027 has no specific-reference to the needs of Sea Schools, but as Sea Schools generally are private SMEs, they are part of the private education sector and also fall into the category of “informal education”. The relevant results of these respondents have been highlighted here as a reference for the Sea School Sector.
In this Open Public Consultation (OPC), that was conducted between 18 June and 4 September 2020, to gather views of citizens and stakeholders from the public and private sector.
Learners; Educators; Education and training staff; Parents/Carers/Family of learners; “others” in a personal capacity; Education and training institutions; Private sector; Digital technology providers; Public authorities; and “other” organisations were asked:
- information about themselves,
- their views on education and training during the COVID-19 crisis and the recovery period,
- to share their vision for digital education in Europe regarding.
a) Information about the respondents
The OPC received a total of 2,716 responses and 127 position papers and the responses that are listed here reflect the answers by Education and Training Institutions and the Private Sector.
b) Views on education and training during the COVID-19 crisis and the recovery period
Following the widespread closure of education and training buildings due to the pandemic, the vast majority of replies from the groups more directly related to the education sector (Learners, Educators, Education and training staff, Parents, Education and training institutions) show that learning and teaching activities continued from home, using digital tools and the internet. Around 40% of respondents from Digital technology providers stated that their company provided certain tools/services for free for education and training, while about 50% of Public authorities said that their organisation supplied digital tools for teaching and learning
Educators, Education and training staff, representatives of Education and training institutions and Public authorities stated that distance and online learning was not used before the COVID-19 outbreak.
During the crisis, their use of distance and online learning increased and the data suggests that their use is also likely to increase in the future.
c) Views on digital capacity
Regarding the support measures during the COVID crisis, Educators , Trainers and Educational training institutions named i) lack of a high-speed and stable internet connection; ii) lack of digital devices suitable for distance and online learning; and iii) lack of regular clear communication, guidance and support from public authorities as the biggest issues they encountered.
Significant for Sea Schools is that the consultation revealed that the Private sector would have liked more cooperation from public authorities and more opportunities to scale existing businesses as well as more opportunities to develop new businesses. This shows that the crisis was also seen as an opportunity.
d) Views on digital competences
Whilst most respondents believe that, after the crisis, digital skills will be more important in the labour market and want to improve their digital skills, the Private sector is more critical about the steps taken for the improvement of digital skills during the crisis and the steps that will be taken for the improvement of digital skills after the crisis. This is especially important in connection with the statement that creating digital content is considered as highly important by Education and training institutions.
e) Views on digital content, tools and platforms
Respondents also place high value on the quality and relevance of the content, recognised by national authorities, and on the fact that the content should respond to the need to develop skills further and the needs of the labour market.
The highest priority was given to interactivity and user friendliness and that it is important for online learning resources and content to be available in their own language.
f) Views on the role of digital education in the future
Aggregate results show that the main advantage of digital technologies in the future lies in their flexibility and capacity to allow learning at one’s own pace.
Individual respondents confirmed in the consultation that flexibility and learning/teaching at one’s own pace is the greatest advantage that digital technologies will have in the future. This opens many new opportunities for Sea Schools, including offering courses which can be used individually or in small groups, which is especially interesting during low season months.
All respondents were asked whether they believe that the crisis and the temporary switch to distance and online teaching and learning will have a long-term impact on education and training.
Education and training institutions, the Private sector also consider the presence of teachers with relevant digital skills as the most important element for the provision of digital education. For Sea schools and their instructors this is a challenge, but their online courses often will be available also for self-learning, therefore it should be handled flexibly.
Respondents from the Private sector and Education and training staff indicate that the lack of a plan and vision for integrating digital technologies in education and training is the main problem but wish for a closer cooperation between education and training institutions and the private sector.
When asked for their opinion on the combination of face-to-face and digital (including online) education (i.e. the blended learning model) particularly the Education and training staff and the Private sector expressed a positive attitude: there is strong support for the blended model among respondents from non-formal education, higher education, adult education and vocational education and training and respondents from the Private sector stress the value associated with the integration of innovative practices into the teaching process.
The relevant outcome of The Open Public Consultation (OPC) on the Digital Education Action Plan 2021-2027 is the fact that digital transformation of education and training cannot be avoided anymore and will get stronger also after the COVID crisis.
The majority of respondents mentioned that they had never used distance/online learning tools before COVID-19, while more than half of respondents admitted that they wish to improve their digital skills following their recent experience.
The most important findings from OPC are
- that 95% of the respondents consider that the COVID-19 crisis marks a point of no return on how technology is used in education and training, and
- that the Education and Training sector as well as the Private sector see digital training as an opportunity that needs to be explored and will add to their education.
For Sea Schools and other VET organisations that means that it is of vital importance to continue with their digital transformation regarding their business model as well as in their education and training to fulfil students needs and also expectations.