Research into virtual innovation and support networks for teachers receives €800,000
Course Leader: MSc Applied Psychology in Fashion, Jekaterina Rogaten is a member of the consortium has been awarded €800,000 in funding by the European Commission as part of a 3-year longitudinal study funded by the Erasmus+ KA3 European Policy Experiment.
The main aim of the project is to introduce the policy measure of Virtual Innovation and Support Networks which can be defined as virtual communities of practice which enable international collaboration, training and support opportunities for teachers and student teachers. We got in touch with Jekaterina to learn more about the project.
What is the guiding research question for this study?
This research will look at how participation in Virtual Exchange programmes contribute to teachers’ and student teachers’ positive attitudes towards their profession, as well as developing their ability to operate effectively in online international networks of professional collaboration. The start date is 28 February 2021, with a completion date of March 2024.
How did the project come about - can you tell us more about the background of the project?
Virtual Innovation and Support Networks (VALIANT) seeks to address two problems related to teaching careers across Europe. First, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2016, 2019) report that one of the main challenges to maintaining teachers’ motivation and enriching their professional experience, is the professional isolation, caused by lack of networking and collaboration opportunities with other colleagues and experts.
In the context of COVID 19, the issue of teacher isolation has become more pronounced than ever as teachers find themselves with reduced access to networks of professional support which helps them deal with their new teaching context.
Second, there is a notable lack of collaboration and mentoring opportunities between in-service teachers and students of Initial Teacher Education (before their periods of teaching practice), even though this is considered a measure which would contribute to the profession’s attractiveness. Although the project is mainly directed towards work teachers, the findings of the project are applicable across HE sector and can pave the way for further work and research with teachers in HE.
With this in mind, VALIANT’s main objective is to implement and test the efficiency of Virtual Innovation and Support Networks at overcoming teachers’ sense of isolation and low motivation, as well as developing their ability to operate effectively in online international networks of professional collaboration – a vital skill for teachers in contexts such as COVID 19.
Who is involved?
The VALIANT consortium consists of university and educational authorities from around Europe. You can learn more about their partners on their website.
What is your role?
My role is to work on the quantitative part of the project - dealing with the data side of the project and results. This will involve collection, analysis and dissemination of findings.
I was invited to the consortium in September, when the project idea went through the first round and was approved to complete in the second stage of bidding process. I have worked with the Lead Institution (Universidad de Leon) on the previous project called EVALUATE. My strength is qualitative research and assessment of the effectiveness of educational interventions, so I was invited to contribute to the project in this capacity. It was a great opportunity for UAL and LCF to get involved to further advance their research and KE network.
What are the planned outcomes and how will this benefit readers/how can they interact with your work?
The project creates a networking opportunity for UAL in general and the college in particular, as University de Leon and other partners are all new collaborators for UAL. I have worked with the vast majority of the current partners on the EVALUATE project in the previous institution, so UAL can enhance its networking through facilitating this collaboration.
In addition, the research is in the area of pedagogy and is concerned with the development of the resources and their evaluation in a current situation, where educational systems at many levels undergo drastic change.
UAL will be at the forefront of the change and will further enhance knowledge exchange in the area of pedagogy and education. This project will lead to better support for students, graduates and academic staff with their ambitious futures, as this project allows KE with external partners, and networks. As such, the KE community will extend beyond institutional boundaries – making UAL values and openness more visible, and UAL networks more engaged.