FreeEe - A Framework for Efficient and Engaging Hybrid Education in Lower Secondary Schools

The FreeEd project defines a framework for hybrid education (combining learning in school with distance learning), including best practices in the project countries (most of them European “pioneers” in education technology integration such as AT, EE and FI), to help lower secondary schools, specifically teachers, face the challenges presented by the current sudden shift from classroom-based education to online, distance and hybrid learning.

It is obvious by now (after several month of forced distance education) that without face-to-face teaching, learning outcomes and student-student, student-teacher interactions are diminished. Therefore a “hybrid” pedagogical approach is preferred in most countries, that combines the strengths of face-to-face and online modes of learning, seeking an optimal combination of the classroom socialization with the technologically-enhanced active and personalized distance learning possibilities of an online environment.

“Hybrid education” however seems a new “mission almost-impossible” for several schools, teachers and students, often being considered even more difficult and time-consuming than sole online teaching. To embrace the new ways of education, all stakeholders with relevant experience in blended/hybrid education need to unite efforts, share results and pragmatic considerations in order to make the most out of the opportunities. The project will closely examine innovative “hybrid/blended” education practices in Finland, Estonia, Austria and Romania, co-constructing a framework for hybrid education that can be the prevailing form of education in the future.

In this project concept teachers are not considered merely “objects” or passive participants of a learning experience, but active contributors and guides of their own professional development process. On-the-frontline teachers, teacher trainees and researchers involved in (graduate, post-graduate and in-service) teacher training will work together to co-create the learning outcomes that will make education more efficient and more engaging in schools across the 4 countries involved and beyond.

The objectives for the project are:

  1. To co-create an easily adaptable, flexible framework for hybrid (blended) education for lower-secondary education, available in EN, RO and HU languages, valorizing policies recently implemented and practices tested in the project countries.
  2. To develop at least 200 lower secondary school teachers’ (50/country) specific digital pedagogical competences (focusing on innovative and open pedagogies) in order to assure high quality and inclusive digital education in both online learning and hybrid learning context.
  3. To equip min. 80 (20/country) STEAM teachers to use EdTech solutions (e.g. Geogebra) for hybrid education, focusing on the needs of learner groups underrepresented in STEM education, and keeping contact with education technology providers.
  4. To provide EdTech developers meaningful feedback from teachers in order to better adapt education technologies to the specific needs of lower-secondary level education.

Main outcomes:

  1. A Flexible Framework for Hybrid Education, reviewing of the 10 most challenging aspects to be considered in order to make hybrid education efficient and enjoyable for children (taking into account the EU recommendations in “Blended learning in school education 2020 - published by the EC DG Edu., June 2020), with practical, tested solutions from the participating countries, being co-created by teachers, researchers and tech experts involved in the project.
  2. A Webinar series on hybrid education - making success visible. 5 such seminars will be organized, each seminar dealing with 2-3 topics defined in the Framework.
  3. A MOOC - Making hybrid learning efficient and engaging: The MOOC will serve as a one-stop-shop for all the teachers that would like to develop their digital pedagogical competences and improve their teaching practices towards assuring an efficient and engaging hybrid learning-teaching process.
  4. Recommendations for digital technology providers on how to better support online and hybrid learning for lower-secondary schools, with special focus on STEAM.

Besides direct impact on the participating teachers, local stakeholders and lower-secondary schools in the involved regions, the project intends to make a profound systemic impact: - Increased quality in hybrid education for all who consider the Framework and follow the training path offered by the project

  • Better visibility of creative educational solutions adopted in response to Covid-challenges and increase of community support for schools due to the visibility of efforts and best practices
  • Decrease of anxiety and stress of teachers, as they will see they share the same concerns and struggle with the same solutions across Europe
  • Structures cooperation of teacher, researchers and EdTech providers will result in education technologies more suited to lower-secondary schools

*Dieses Projekt wurde mit Unterstützung der Europäischen Kommission finanziert. Die Verantwortung für den Inhalt dieser Veröffentlichung trägt allein der Verfasser; die Kommission haftet nicht für die weitere Verwendung der darin enthaltenen Angaben.