Technological advancement offers continuous innovation in research and education. One important challenge of this process is the way in which education is evolving. GÉANT recognises the importance of addressing the needs of students and educators and works closely with the National Research and Education Networking (NREN) community to support their efforts in enhancing their educational activities. Universities are becoming more receptive to the increasing demands of students, both local and international, in the digital education environment. We are living in an era of technological revolution where being agile and adaptive is of vital importance and firmly believe that only through collaboration can we fully support the digital future of education.

Education and research require renewed attention.

Early in 2019, GÉANT launched a survey among its NREN members to find out how each organisation handles educational issues. The survey results revealed that over half of its membership base already actively provides services and develops initiatives and innovative activities, such as the creation of digital learning and working environments, providing learning analytics and developing the introduction of open badges.

Students see no limits.

In June this year, our first NREN educational technologies workshop took place during TNC, GÉANT annual conference held in Tallinn. Its objective was to help participants identify possible topics for collaboration on educational services. How do we organise the mobility of millions of Erasmus+ paperless students? It was one of the questions raised. As information about students needs to be easily shared, it will be a lot easier to handle if the data is linked to the individual rather than the institution where he/she attends courses and carries out his/her studies. A practical solution for an e-identity scheme for European students (eduID) could have major transforming effects on education as, for instance, it could make it much easier for students to attend and follow courses at different institutions. What would change if institutions not only offered full programmes, but also modules that students can use to create their own personal programmes? As education becomes more and more modular, the need for micro credentialing – the evaluation of smaller units of study with partial certificates –  is also increasing. Digitisation is also going to be vital in the creation of digital badges, whose development will undoubtedly move faster as soon as the collaboration between NRENs and education institutions starts focusing on their development and delivery, also according to standards that would enable their mutual recognition.

GÉANT will host a second workshop to further develop discussions on these topics on 4-5 November 2019 in Budapest. If this subject area is of interest to you, we welcome your participation: https://eventr.geant.org/events/3146

Here are some important dates leading up to the event:

4 October 2019 – Send your topic

7 October 2019 – Online pre-workshop

15 October 2019 – Register for the 2nd workshop

30 October 2019 – Deadline for registration

In the coming years we will need to improve our work on innovation for education by collaborating more closely with research and education institutions. The work being carried out within GÉANT in this area hopefully offers inspiration on how members of the NREN community can innovate together in Europe. Nobody can predict what the future holds, but we have known for some time that collaboration is an important condition for success and that real flexibility has no limits.

For more information on NREN educational activities, please contact: nren-edu@lists.geant.org

Authors: Christien Bok (SURF), Birgitta Hemmingsson (SUNET), Gyöngyi Horváth (GÉANT), Dragana Kupres (CARNET), Markus Schneider (SUNET)