Education in the 21st century is generally targeted towards enabling people to participate in knowledge-based economies. The significance of higher education in particular is highlighted in the 10 year European Union growth and competitiveness strategy (EU-2020). In order to achieve knowledge-based economies, providing students with digital skills and facilitating education through technology is seen as a top priority (EU Digital Agenda). According to the 2013 EU Communication on ‘Opening up Education’ and the 2014 report “Modernisation of Higher Education”, higher education institutions (HEI) need to invest heavily in modernizing their teaching and learning practices, with the strong support of technology and elearning. This has indeed been happening on the ground, as the 2015 ‘TRENDS in European Higher Education’ report of the European University Association (EUA) attests: more than two thirds of European universities have e-learning and ICT strategies in place and a large majority of the others are in the process of developing them. Within this framework, MIELES (Modernizing and Enhancing Indian eLearning Educational Strategies) was designed to provide a collaborative platform to address a relevant issue for the development, reform and modernization of the higher education system in India and to reinforce Indian-EU higher education collaboration.
MIELES is supporting a network of Indian HEI to develop and implement institutional strategies for elearning. Many development cooperation interventions are related directly to ICT infrastructure (Digital India, for example) or to the provision of online course content. Few projects have addressed the need to support HEI to utilise ICT infrastructure and online course content, and to enable leadership and staff to do so, in a cross-institutional way (one of the purpose of strategies). Working on this issue in an international consortium of partners, in the context of Erasmus+, will help in shaping quality standards for Indian online course content and elearning approaches, innovate teaching and learning practices/pedagogy via e-learning and build capacity of teachers across partner institutions to use elearning and ICT tools. MIELES is thus designed to provide a collaborative platform to address a relevant issue for the development, reform, democratization and modernization of the higher education system in India and to reinforce Indian-EU higher education collaboration.
The project has been designed in order to promote the creation of strategies to guide e-learning investments. It is also designed to generate capacity for partners to continue working together once the project is finished. The partner HEI staff and leadership, who participate in the project activities, will be selected according to their capacity and also serve as internal multipliers. They will improve their capacities and their skills to promote e-learning. Having been informed and convinced about the value of the project outputs, they are expected to take further action, design new learning material, develop or revise curricula, provide guidance to other partner HEI, and implement institutional policies that will pay attention to the value and power of e-learning. Of concrete usage, the guidelines for institutional QA will be taken up by faculties and quality managers, and the staff training module further utilised to train more staff groups. The online collaborative course will be officially launched after the project, and students from all institutions involved will benefit.