A Blog as open learning platform for the field of Early Childhood Education about Research and Innovation to support Disadvantaged and Diverse children Erasmus Project

General information for the A Blog as open learning platform for the field of Early Childhood Education about Research and Innovation to support Disadvantaged and Diverse children Erasmus Project

A Blog as open learning platform for the field of Early Childhood Education about Research and Innovation to support Disadvantaged and Diverse children Erasmus Project
July 7, 2020 12:00 am
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Project Title

A Blog as open learning platform for the field of Early Childhood Education about Research and Innovation to support Disadvantaged and Diverse children

Project Key Action

This project related with these key action: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices

Project Action Type

This project related with this action type : Strategic Partnerships for school education

Project Call Year

This project’s Call Year is 2017

Project Topics

This project is related with these Project Topics: Research and innovation; International cooperation, international relations, development cooperation; Inclusion – equity

Project Summary

Good quality Early Childhood Education and Care (henceforth ECEC) has a beneficial influence on children’s later school careers, especially when they have disadvantaged backgrounds. But the ECEC sector is not highly valued in society. Furthermore, the instruction quality in European ECEC settings is moderate-to-low, and vulnerable in settings with many disadvantaged children. Professionals struggle to respond to the challenges of diversity, and often do not focus on children’s competences to cope with diversity. Although there is a growing research base on what works to improve these issues, those research insights are not fully known to the ECEC community and not yet adopted in practice on a large scale.

This project aimed to improve the bridge between research and practice by launching a blog in each partner country for ECEC professionals and other stakeholders. Central topics were the societal value of ECEC, ECEC for disadvantaged children, high process quality, valuing diversity, and teaching children competences to deal with diversity. Bloggers were teacher educators and researchers, who strengthened their pivotal role between research and practice. They made scientific research accessible and attractive to ECEC teachers, reflected on current practices and innovations, and stimulated ECEC teachers to adopt an inquisitive and innovative attitude in their own classroom practice. Bidirectional communication between the professionals and the bloggers was improved by the invitation of guest bloggers, by addressing the needs of the professionals in the blog posts, by the organization of multiplier events with ample room for discussion, and the integration in social media communities that foster discussion. Based on the professionals’ preference to discuss relevant topics within their own teams, the blog messages contained reflective questions, and advice was given to use the blogs during team professionalization.

Apart from these national blogs, we set up a European blog in English with the same scope, but a different target group. Here ECEC experts, such as teacher educators, researchers, policymakers, and senior teachers with a good command of English, were targeted. Blog messages from the European blog were translated and adapted to the national blogs, and vice versa, to raise the visibility of ongoing research and innovation in the European context. This European blog was helpful to reach the field of ECEC in other European countries and to ensure strong connections and collaboration between the national blogs.

The quality of the blogs was monitored following the development of guidebooks with quality guidelines and procedures, and improved by means of PDCA-cycles including focus groups, data analysis, an online questionnaire, and professionalization of the bloggers. These guidebooks help establish and maintain high-quality blogs after the end of the project. Furthermore, the guidebooks may inspire similar initiatives in other countries. To this end, we presented the outcomes of the project at national and international conferences. Leaflets were developed to support guest bloggers and blog readers to use the blog in their teams.

Other project activities aimed at the further dissemination of the blogs. Apart from traditional dissemination activities, we made extensive and smart use of social media. For example, existing large Facebook communities of ECEC professionals were addressed. Popular YouTube videos featuring young children were integrated in the blog posts. Reference to the blogs on existing websites, blogs, and professional magazines was fostered. During the COVID19 pandemic, project partners discovered webinars were good means to disseminate the blogs and increase discussion and exchange about the blog themes.

Between September 2019 and August 2020 we had over 280.000 visitors of the blogs altogether, including ECEC teachers, teacher educators, researchers, and policymakers.
Based on the Internet survey conducted within the last months of the project, we know that this project strengthened ECEC teachers’ and teacher educators’ research-based insights in the central topics of the project, increased awareness of social inclusion, increased a positive attitude towards research and innovation, and strengthened the open learning community of ECEC teacher educators, teachers, researchers, and policymakers. Blog readers used insights from the blogs in their own practice.
In the end, this project will lead to innovations in ECEC settings and professionalization initiatives that will infuse insights from research and innovation in the partner countries concerning our central topics. We expect the European blog to be an effective tool to spread research-based insights at an international level and increase international awareness of European expertise in the field of ECEC.

EU Grant (Eur)

Funding of the project from EU: 371188,26 Eur

Project Coordinator

ODISEE & Country: BE

Project Partners

  • INSTITUTO POLITECNICO DO PORTO
  • THOMAS MORE KEMPEN VZW
  • Iscte – Instituto Universitario de Lisboa
  • STICHTING FONTYS
  • INSTITUTO POLITECNICO DE LISBOA
  • UNIVERSITEIT UTRECHT
  • STICHTING CED-GROEP