DIGIT4SEN baigiamoji konferencija
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New Digital Tool for Teachers – Virtual Resource Library Accessible to All

Yesterday in Kaunas, the “Erasmus+” program’s DIGIT4SEN was crowned by the national conference “Integrate ‘DIGIT4SEN’: Digital Tools for Inclusive Education.” Its culminating point was the presentation of a website offering free courses on the use of digital tools for lessons, examples of lesson content, and demonstrations. The project coordinator, Rūta Petkevičiūtė, presented how to use this website, its advantages, and how each teacher can contribute to expanding the library of digital tools for Lithuanian and European teachers.

An Interactive Lesson – An Engaging Lesson

“The ‘DIGIT4SEN’ project was born during the pandemic when education shifted online. However, digitalization continues to grow, and teachers are the leaders guiding children and aiding in creating the world of the future. Thus, the project is relevant today, and will remain so in the future. We believe in its bright future,” says project coordinator Rūta Petkevičiūtė. “Children and technology are rapidly evolving, teachers must adapt to new emerging needs, knowledge, and the changing digital world.”

The project’s goal is to create a platform accessible to all teachers, hosting online courses on preparing interactive lessons, tasks, and a virtual resource library where teachers can share their tasks. “The task of the virtual learning guide is to introduce differentiated education, advice on planning an interactive lesson, as well as remote courses that, once completed, allow the creation of virtual digital tools and lessons,” shares R. Petkevičiūtė about the project’s outcomes. According to the project coordinator, the learning guide is a highly beneficial tool for educators with limited knowledge or unfamiliarity with these tools, providing valuable information.

“These digital tools are particularly effective when working with students in the classroom who have special educational needs,” notes R. Petkevičiūtė. Engaging students with conditions like dyslexia often becomes the most challenging task for teachers since, for instance, children with dyslexia quickly lose interest and become bored, finding the lesson content increasingly incomprehensible.

“I teach the Lithuanian language to international classes and have students at three different proficiency levels. I can say that the Lithuanian language is very difficult, especially for those for whom it is not their native language. However, engaging slides, videos, interactive tools, and involvement significantly enhance the effectiveness of the lesson, making it much easier for us to achieve results,” shares R. Petkevičiūtė, the teacher of international classes at Erudito and coordinator of the “DIGIT4SEN” project. Thus, the teachers’ task is to find means and ways to help such students learn.

“An interactive lesson is an engaging lesson, and by using modern digital tools beyond just smartboards, lessons can become interesting without losing students’ attention,” assures the conference organizer and project coordinator, R. Petkevičiūtė.

Virtual Library of Lessons

The virtual resource library is easy to use, with clear navigation and continuously updated content comprising lesson plans and tools, available to all teachers. “We aim to expand the library’s resources and create a convenient tool for lessons in any situation and inspire teachers,” says Rūta.

This library includes over a hundred tasks in Lithuanian, English, Turkish, Spanish, and Bulgarian. All teachers can use them as examples or share their good practices, uploading their created tasks using digital tools by accessing the website https://digit4sen.eu/lt. Currently, the library contains over 100 lesson examples, with 30 created by teachers from Erudito Licėjus. Currently, in the project’s virtual resource library, you can find a digital Advent calendar, math (multiplication, addition, subtraction) tasks, a virtual presentation created by teacher Daiva Petkevičienė about how Lithuanians used to decorate their homesteads in the past, examples of discussions, presentations, and even games (e.g., how to learn past tense verbs), a sandwich-making contest, ideas for music lessons, and more. The library now introduces the first tasks of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) for elementary classes (e.g., Where are we in terms of time and place?).

Teachers Can Create Lessons Themselves

For teachers, there is a course of four modules on remote learning, explaining what each module offers. Each module has several 20-minute recordings that explain step by step how to create a virtual tool, use a teaching app, create a ‘YouTube’ video, etc. “It was a valuable experience for me personally; I discovered how ‘YouTube’ videos could be used in lessons,” shares project coordinator R. Petkevičiūtė. “Understanding how digital programs work and being able to use them is essential as we work with increasingly digitally savvy youth. In the future, as we enter the field of artificial intelligence, this necessity will become even greater,” believes Rūta and encourages teachers not to fear experimentation.

After completing the course, teachers can test their knowledge and skills through module quizzes. The knowledge can be applied and checked an unlimited number of times. “Our goal is for teachers to try creating teaching material using at least one of these tools themselves. I assure you, they are straightforward to use, and every teacher can succeed,” encourages the project coordinator to use the created tool. She is delighted that the four project partners, including Erudito Licėjus in Lithuania, have united their efforts to offer teachers useful material, accessible with just one click.

All course material is tailored for Lithuanian teachers and has Lithuanian subtitles. After completing the courses (all or only selected ones according to their needs), teachers can create interactive lessons tailored to students, their abilities, existing health problems, etc., and share these lessons with colleagues in the virtual resource library. “My personal goal with this project is for this platform to become a unifying and inspiring platform for teachers, where they share their plans, content, and tools. I believe that by supporting each other and working meaningfully for the sake of children, we truly improve and create new values,” spoke R. Petkevičiūtė at the project’s closing conference.

However, Rūta is most delighted with the feedback from teachers, invitations to visit schools in other cities to present the project and the tools created during it, and the hopeful faces of teachers who promised to return to their schools to share the project with colleagues and eagerly apply virtual resources in their lessons.

“Erasmus+” is a European Union support program that provides learning and development opportunities for people of various ages, statuses, professions, and offers the possibility for various organizations, institutions, and bodies to implement projects meeting the program’s criteria. The project “DIGIT4SEN: Enhancement of Teachers’ Digital Skills for Better Online Inclusive Education of Students with Special Educational Needs (SEN)” (No. 2021-1-LT01-KA220-SCH-000031624) is intended for teachers, providing an opportunity for those working with students with special educational needs in the classroom and teachers in general to diversify their subjects and make them attractive and interesting.