The Project aims at promoting and facilitating the social inclusion and the employability of European Down Syndrome youth citizens through Tourism and e-skills. The project also aims to foster, safeguard and promote European Cultural Heritage (via the promotion of Touristic activities), as well as requalification in terms of cultural, audio-visual and e-Skills diversity in cross-sectorial areas. These innovative methodologies, including information and communication technologies as well audio-visual could be solutions to help Down Syndrome young people and their families to guarantee the right to education, mainly when they cannot access education through mainstream avenues. In particular, TV T21 COMmunity wants to explore the different ways national services in Europe tackle this issue and to learn from the solutions they are providing for education of this target group in other environments outside regular schools. Focal points are providing opportunities to help achieve accreditation and progress to further education and employment.
There are three clear objectives that will work towards achieving this aim:
Sharing of good practices. Recommendations are now emerging to encourage education systems to maximise social inclusion, developments in the use of technology to create active learning environments that support innovative pedagogies, collaboration and effective practice for disadvantaged learners (EC, 2015). As the TV 21 COMmunity project intends to focus on a specific target group of marginalised and ‘at-risk’ young people and as there is limited research in the area of non formal learning (specially in e-skills) for this group, there will be great value in sharing what can work and why it works across a range of themes and disciplines.
2. Identifying key components that constitute a successful and engaging educational experience for learners and instructional roles within an online and blended learning environment. To date we know that digital inclusion and effective educational programmes require more than access to computers and online platforms alone (iNacol, 2014). Also, addressing learner variance and supporting individual needs is seen as a key factor for success when working with marginalised or at-risk learners in alternative educational settings. However, as the capacity of online learning to provide personalised and flexible learning opportunities with relevant content is proven, this target group has a huge necessity of face to face activities with personal interaction. The challenge for the partnership is to identify the unique set of design principles and component parts required to contribute an effective solution for educational disadvantages. This would allow organisations working with Down Syndrom groups, direct access to evidence based guidelines in best practice when developing inclusive educational responses for their target group.
3. Exploring areas for the application of key components in the development of innovative approaches. As we learn more about how we learn, and as technology continues to develop, the ability to merge technology and education into co-dependent solutions that support the messy, dynamic nature of the interaction between cognitive process, content development and collaborative instruction will become increasingly relevant. This relevance not only applies to a wider field of education but also to the ability to develop effective non formal learning designs specifically for inclusion and accessibility. One area that stands out as a very relevant one for this objective is the special education.
Inclusion and educational disadvantage is recognized as a complex issue. The project needs to be carried out transnationally to ensure a range of inclusion issues, maximize the opportunity to relate the results to different cultural context, provide a wide scope of feedback and evaluation from stakeholders. Besides, the Down Syndrome issue and the addressed needs are common throughout Europe, and throughout generations, for those reasons this project needs to be carried out transnationally and with partners from cross-sectorial partners HEI, Youth non-governmental and non-profit organizations, special needs dedicated schools and enterprises.
This project links and merges different topics that have been the specific focus of several earlier projects. The main complementarity of this project, is to a previous one on the issue of the Down Syndrome Citizens named “Pintar para lá dos Riscos” (see https://www.facebook.com/PintarParaLadosRiscos/). This was an unfunded project based on the work of volunteers and a non-profit association (APPT21) with the collaboration of ESE-IPS and celebrities.
This project involved 25 artists (artist painters, sculptors and a young writer) as well as another 25 young Down syndrome citizens. These young group of people with trisomy 21 were encouraged to express their feelings through art in order to raise awareness on the subject as well to empower the social integration of this population. This project led to various paintings and therefore exhibitions, leading also to an adapted book (adapted to people that have difficulties in following the classic literature narrative.
In a way we might also refer another project that, although having a different target group (adult learners) had similar preocupations and addressed similar topics. This adult learning project is UPTAKE ICT (an Erasmus +) coordinated by ESE-IPS, that addresses the topics of social inclusion, employment and how to overcome the digital and social gaps. For this project digital learning materials were developed and adult learners are being trained with those contents.