At the Grant Award Ceremony 2019 held on Thursday 1st August, in Valletta the University of Malta was awarded by the EUPA two grant awards under the ERASMUS+ KA2 Strategic Partnership for Higher Education funding scheme. The University will be co-ordinating and leading two projects in the areas of digital training for higher education and continued professional development. The DIG-IT project is being co-ordinated by Dr Maria Cassar from the Department of Nursing and Prof Colla J. MacDonald from Rectorate. The ICARUS project is co-ordinated by Dr Ing Emmanuel Francalanza from the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering.
The DIG-IT project will provide academic staff at EU universities who are less enabled with regard to digital education, with support, training and resources to adopt digital technologies and innovative approaches to their teaching. The accessibility of digitally mediated learning is positioning the online environment as a primary context for higher education. However, some academic staff still resist taking advantage of available technologies in teaching, and several EU universities are much more technology enabled than others. DIG-IT therefore aims at creating an inter-nations learning community of practice to collaboratively create, share and distribute innovative training and teaching resources in an open access repository. This aims at reducing the redundancy, time and cost required to design digital education products and processes with a view to increase uptake, and innovation in a knowledge based economy. Since addressing the need for continuing education is not a problem exclusive to academic staff at universities the University will be partnering with other stakeholders in this field. The healthcare sector has thousands of busy practitioners wanting and or needing continuing education whilst trying to maintain patient services. St. James hospital identified hand hygiene, safe surgery check lists, and caring for diabetic patient during an admission’ as a few of the topics healthcare professionals. DIG-IT, will explore how healthcare subject matter experts can collaborate with EU university digital education experts to benefit from and piloting bilingual (English & Italian) online resources in a healthcare contexts.
Project ICARUS brings together a number of experts and leaders in Industry 4.0 from European Higher Education Institutions and lead by the University of Malta to collaborate together to develop specific training content and support HEI trainers and learners. It is a known fact that the world of work is increasingly becoming digitialised, this is evident from what has been termed the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0). Technology is developing at such a fast pace that even HEI educators are finding difficulties to catch up and keep abreast of the latest technologies. This problem of EU educators needing to urgently catch up with Industry 4.0 technologies is even highlighted by the EU Commision, and World Economic Forum. This implies that educators will not be in an effective position to pass on knowledge to their students who are the workers of future generations. At the same time past generations of students who graduated a few years back find themselves in a position where they do not have the required knowledge to implement Industry 4.0 technologies that had not been developed or thought at the time. This situation implies that there is an urgent need for HEI trainers and learners to be given the chance to catch up with Industry 4.0 technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, the use of Blockchain in Industry, Industrial Internet of Things, 3D Printing, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Collaborative Robotics, Cybersecuirty and Industrial Networking, Big Data Analysis, and Drones in manufacturing industry. To address these the needs the main aim of the ICARUS project is to develop an innovative digital training toolbox, which is open and freely available to support educators and learners to bridge their skills gap and mismatches.
Projects DIG-IT (2019-1-MT01-KA203-051171) and ICARUS (2019-1-MT01-KA203-051265) are funded by the Erasmus+ KA2 Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education, co-ordinated by the EUPA.