Due to the COVID-19 pandemic schools in Europe switched to online learning in order to keep students and teaching staff safe. The consequences have been tragic for kids with special needs. Educational institutions were not prepared for supporting them at a distance. DiLASD project helps social educators and workers in assisting remotely students and kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as well as their familie
ASD encompasses a group of lifelong disabilities that affect people’s communication and understanding of social cues. An individual with ASD has difficulties in recognizing body language, making eye contact and interpreting other people’s emotions.
Individuals with ASD should be provided with active learning, according to their personal abilities, through the use of digital technology. Remote teaching-learning and online assistance will decrease their marginalization and improve self-independence and well-being.
The DiLASD project is inspired by the study that partners conducted during the school closure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The analysis shows that remote interventions of social educators and social workers, who design and run educational activities for students and kids with ASD, need to be professionalized.
The recipients of the project are:
- social educators and social workers (and social volunteers)
- students and kids with ASD.
as well as
- families of students and kids with ASD
- social Services
- organizations/institutions engaged in Special Education Needs.
Applications, toy robotos, virual community will help kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder
The main project activities include:
- educational pack for social educators/social workers that trains how to remotely support students and kids with ASD as well as their parents,
- laboratories, in which students and kids with ASD will experiment with the software applications and Programmable Toy Robots (PTRs),
- virtual community where social educators, social workers and parents can find educational materials as well as collect and share their experiences,
- educational multimedia book on online social communication and autism.
The training course will be held in a virtual classroom. Social educators and social workers will be provided with digital skills and competence to implement remote teaching-learning activities for students and kids with ASD as well as assist them at a distance.
How will kids and parents learn
The DiLASD project will adopt an advanced learning strategy:
- the training course will be based on an adaptable learning approach and structured into units to create personalized learning paths in an online environment.
- online parent-training that trains parents of students and kids with ASD to support the remote teaching-learning of their children
- online individual and group laboratories designed for students and kids with ASD
What are the potential benefits of the project
In Europe, the diagnosed ASD appears among young people in a range of 6 to 20 per 1000. In recent decades the number of people diagnosed with ASD has increased significantly.
To meet the needs of educators, parents and kids, DiLASD project:
- promotes practices of remote teaching-learning and remote assistance for students and kids with ASD,
- improves the competence of social educators/social workers/social volunteers,
- integrates topical teaching-learning methodologies such as online participatory learning, web social learning, online peer learning and web-based self-learning practices;
- encourages educational institutions to use online technology for Special Education Needs.
The project may help future adults with ASD to have successful professional life, mainly in the service sector. It may also contribute to revive the forgotten jobs.
The DiLASD project involves five partners from five European countries (Poland, Italy, Greece, Latvia, Cyprus) that have a long experience in the ASD scope and experimented with ERT [ Emergency Remote Teaching] in their countries during the school closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They decided to put together their theoretical and practical experience to prepare a training package that supports students and kids with ASD remotely.
Uczelnia Korczaka – Janusz Korczak Pedagogical University in Warsaw (JKPU) was established by Towarzystwo Wiedzy Powszechnej in 1993 and has ministry license no. 20. The University has been growing dynamically since then and has become already one of the largest non-public universities in Poland. It has developed a very strong regional structure which is its main feature. JKPU is one of the oldest and most renowned tertiary schools in the city of Warsaw, with other departments in the towns of Lublin, Szczecin, Katowice, Człuchów, Olsztyn, and Wałbrzych and enrolled students in full-time and part-time programs. JKPU offers students the opportunity to gain high professional qualifications and knowledge in the fields of education, political science, and socio-economical sciences. JKPU provides students with the opportunity to participate in the social and political life of the Polish country and to take part in the changes that are occurring at the national, regional, and local levels. Thanks to the JKPU international policy students can study in other European countries. JKPU established a very strong internationally oriented policy and co-operates with other European Universities in accordance with the membership of Poland in the European Union. The University has been a member of various networks and Projects within the Socrates Program: EUCEN, European University Continuing Education Network, and EuLLearN. JKPU actively cooperates with other European Universities in disseminating experiences and results in University Continuing Education. JKPU carried out research on social innovation and social integration of people with behavioral disturbances. JKPU introduced educational modules about parent-training and education of children with autism spectrum disorders in its curricula for social workers.
The «Emphasys Centre» began operating in 1998. It currently operates as an «ICT Educational and Vocational Centre» and a «European Research Centre», that cooperates closely with various organisations in Europe for the implementation of EU projects. The «Emphasys Centre» is approved by the Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture as an Educational and Vocational Centre specialing in the field of ICT. It is authorized by the ECDL Foundation and the Council of Europe Information Scientists (CEPIS) to offer specialized training courses for the acquisition of the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL), whereas its staff is ECDL Certified Training Professionals. The «Emphasys Centre» functions also as an Examination Centre for the Cyprus Computer Society and is authorized by the British Council of Cyprus and the Cambridge International Examination Board to teach GCE A’ Level Computer Science and organize various exams, as an approved examination center.
It has recently established the Coding and Robotics Unit fully equipped with new technology tools (tablets, Edison, Lego Mindstorms, Lego Boost, Arduino, COSME, etc.) to promote
new digital and STEAM skills for the world of work. It offers a wide selection of coding and robotics classes for children and young people of various ages such as ROBOKIDS (Lego
We DO, Lego Boost), ROBOCODE (Lego Boost, Lego Mindstorms) and ROBOEXPERTS (Lego Mindstorms, Arduino Engino). Based on this the Emphasys Centre promotes the
acquisition of STEAM skills, problem-solving and computational logic. The Centre participates every year in the ROBOTEX Competition as well as the Lego League which every year focuses on a different topic. In addition, every summer our organization organizes a targeted intensive ROBOTICS SUMMER SCHOOL enriched with various extra-curricular activating aiming to open up the students’ career orientation towards IT related studies.
Apart from the above new course the «Emphasys Centre» offers courses to learners of all ages interested:
- To acquire professional qualification such as the ECDL, the “European Computer Driving License” diploma which is approved, validated and accredited worldwide, as a valid certificate of ICT (EQF Levels 3, 4 and 5).
- To acquire qualification to enter higher education such as the the GCE A’ Level Computer Science of the Cambridge University or national exams.
- To participate in professional development programmes for employment, in-service or custom-made training or courses designed for employees of various companies and organisations in the private and public sector based on their ICT needs and requirements. – To participate in professional development through participation in the Erasmus+ Key Action 1 – Learning Mobility for Individuals.
- To enrich their personal development and the acquisition of the necessary basic digital competences necessary to support the needs of everyday lives and upgrade the quality of living of various groups of people such as retired people, senior citizens, NEETs, parents, etc. through participation in digital courses.
- To acquire coding and robotics skills as advocated by the ET2020 Priorities for meeting the needs of the labour market and the digital agenda of Europe. Validation and certification of the non-formal learning is provided, as all exams taken are external and are accredited by European Examinations Boards. The «Emphasys Centre» offers also:
- Career guidance and counseling services to young people and students, as well as counseling and special support to all learners according to their needs (Early School Leavers, Young unemployed people, Special Educational Needs, etc.).
- Organisation of seminars, presentations, discussions, mobility (local-regional) for various issues of concern of our target groups, i.e. Seminar on Active Ageing and Intergenerational Learning, Senior Citizens and Youth: Links and prospects, Internet Security, Careers Orientation, etc. The «Emphasys Research Centre» cooperates closely with several organisations for the preparation, implementation and management of various EU projects in the field of education, training and youth with a special focus on the digital era. During 2018-2019 the “Emphasys Centre” is fully involved in many EU projects mainly in the Erasmus+ Programme in the sectors of School Education, VET, Adult and Youth. Two of its projects have been awarded as a GOOD PRACTICE PROJECTS by the European Commission (CODE@YOUTH – Youth Sector-CYPRUS and V-UPGRATES – VET Sector-GERMANY). The «EMPHASYS CENTRE» has a strong network of organizations in many European Countries to disseminate and promote initiatives, new products and results from the projects. Emphasys participates in the DLEARN Digital Learning Network, a highly active network promoting digital literacy and acquisition, with other 25 organisations from Europe. It also participates at the National Digital Strategy of Cyprus along with the Cyprus Computer Society.
The Rezekne Academy of Technologies (RTA) was established on July 1, 1993. RTA is a state-funded higher education and science institution of the Republic of Latvia which implements the study programs as well as is engaged in scientific, research and artistic creative work. The aim of RTA is to provide academic and professional higher education in compliance with the science development level and cultural traditions of Latvia being competitive in the European education space; to develop culture, science and education in the Latgale region and thus in the whole Latvia. Tasks: to develop scientific research capacity; to ensure qualitative implementation of activities in interdisciplinary fields to implement the bachelor, master and doctoral study programs in cooperation with Latvian and foreign universities, to experimentally research how the new pedagogical technologies can positively contribute to the labor world growth; to ensure sustainable development of the scientific program and establish a link between science, practice, and society. In 2010, the faculty of engineer started with a course on mechatronics and, recently, a robotics laboratory has been created. RTA has a great tradition in pedagogy and social education. RTA carried out research on social telerehabilitation and social integration of people with behavioral disturbances, included autism. Recently RTA is engaged in research and projects on digital transformative learning and online social learning.
Ecoistituto is a non-profit research institute founded in 1989. Ecoistituto’s activity focuses on sustainable development following a multidisciplinary approach finalized to promote the livability of territories and citizens. Ecoistituto collaborates with higher education institutions, schools, and governmental institutions organizing conferences, courses, seminars, and workshops on sustainable development, social business, digital social innovation, environmental education, and healthy behavior. Ecoistituto is specialized in formal and non-formal education. In the last few years, in collaboration with „Centro Giovani – Micesio”, Ecoistituto organized training initiatives for lowskilled people. Ecoistituto also developed activities for the integration of low-skilled people in the labor market and led initiatives to support children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). For the last 20 years, Ecoistituto organized an annual international conference on the themes of “landscape mosaic” in collaboration with IPSAPA (Interregional Society for Participation in Agribusiness Landscape and Environmental Management) and the University of Udine. Since 2005, Ecoistituto created the series of publications “Living in places”, devoted to the local cultures and 15 issues have been published. Members of Ecoistituto are 47 persons. They are university professors (especially from Udine University), professionals, experts, and researchers engaged in different scopes: special pedagogy, social pedagogy, innovative education, social economy, agribusiness, ecology, sociology, psychology, social anthropology, architecture, and geography. In particular, Ecoistituto is involved in local educational projects for young people and older persons. Ecoistituto is engaged in parent training of parents of children with ASD:
- Zorzi, S., & Marzano, G. (2020, May). PARENT-TRAINING TO SUPPORT PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS. In Proceedings of the International
Scientific Conference. Volume IV, pp. 177-186.
- Marzano, G., & Zorzi, S. (2020, May). COMMUNICATION SKILLS FOR MENTORS IN SOCIAL BUSINESS. In Proceedings of the International Scientific Conference. Volume V, pp.
Recently, Ecoistituto realized the following books:
- “Introduction to social innovation”, Mimesis International
- “The evil side of the Web”, Mimesis International
Ecoistituto was the leader of international projects on digital social innovation and special needs education. In 2018-2019, Ecoistituto conducted research on robot therapy for children with ASD and experimented with the use of Lego Boost. Ecoistituto is engaged in research on Digital Social Learning, Online participatory Learning, Digital Transformative Learning:
- Marzano, G., Lubkina, V. Usca, S. (2020). A multidimensional approach to support training activities in the digital era, Proceedings of the 12th World Conference on Educational Sciences, 06-08 February 2020, Ayvansaray University, Istanbul, Turkey.
- Marzano, G., Lubkina, V. (2020). An adaptive learning model based on a machine learning approach, Proceedings of the International Conference on Mechatronics and Robotics, February 26-27, Dubai.
The Interdisciplinary Network of Special and Intercultural Education, «INCLUDE» is a scientific association founded in 2011 to promote inclusive practices in school and society in accordance with the principles of the Convention against Discrimination in Education (United Nations Conventions Series, Vol 429, No. 693 ) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Article 24, 2006 ). The ultimate goal of the INCLUDE network is to improve the quality of life of children and families at risk of exclusion, to promote changes in social attitudes and perceptions towards disability, diversity, and otherness, and to contribute actively and effectively to the creation of a ” one school and one community for all” (Nanou, 2013, Efstathiou, 2013, Soulis, 2013, Patsidou-Eliadou, 2013). “INCLUDE” approaches holistic inclusive theory and practice. According to a holistic approach, each system (social, physical, linguistic, chemical, etc.) is a set of interacting or interdependent components that work as a whole in the individual, family, school, and society. INCLUDE matured experience in non-formal learning and in youth education (especially low qualified and low-skilled people) as well as in digital parent training of parents of children with behavioral disturbances. INCLUDE experimented with the use of robots to teach the principle of computing to young people and to increase the social communication skills of children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). INCLUDE is also engaged in motivating educators to learn and enhance their professional competence in the digital era. INCLUDE carried out research on the neuro-pedagogy of children with ASD. Call 2020 Round 1 KA2 – Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices
KA226 – Partnerships for Digital Education Readiness Form ID: KA226-5DD54A3B.
This project has been funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.
The information and views set out in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the European Union. Neither the European Union institutions and bodies nor any person acting on their behalf may be held responsible for the use which may be made of the information contained therein.
Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged.
Project number: 2020-1-PL01-KA226-095338