terça-feira, 10 de agosto de 2010

The End of a e-learning and b-learning project. Goodbye Escola Movel

The Portuguese Ministry of Education decided to close the Mobile School (Escola Móvel). The project was created in 2005/2006. This project aimed at responding to the needs of travelling families regarding their children’s education, since the constant movement between regions (to think about the children of occupational Travellers from circus and fairs). Closed due to lack of euros (See this news in Portuguese language: Journal Público 10/August/2010)

I just copied a few lines from the project portal ( if the project ended...)

Escola Móvel started as a project designed and implemented in 2005/2006 by the Portuguese Ministry of Education through the Department for Innovation and Curriculum Development, in cooperation with the different Regional Departments of Education and schools across the country. This project aimed at responding to the needs of travelling families regarding their children’s education, since the constant movement between regions, towns and schools, made it extremely difficult for children and teenagers to attend classes regularly or feel motivated to engage in learning, with high rates of dropout and failure. With the collaboration of a restricted group of teachers and the allocation of technological resources, Escola Móvel began to offer travelling children and teenagers the possibility to attend school every day through a virtual environment which provides both learning and socio-affective stability, by allowing them to interact with the same teachers and classmates throughout the year.
Escola Móvel started with a small group of 13 students, attending the 3rd Cycle of basic education - 7th, 8th and 9th year of schooling (lower-secondary) - who had access to a weekly learning plan in the subjects of the National Curriculum, communicating synchronously and asynchronously with their teachers. In order to provide face-to-face interaction and minimise students’ isolation in the learning process, there was one week of “presential” activities that involved the different subjects and established the roots for a blended learning environment.
The evaluation of this first year clearly showed where improvements should be introduced, and in the course of the two following years, Escola Móvel went through several organisational and pedagogical changes:
  • Adjustment of the national curriculum to students’ needs and characteristics, with four more traditional subjects – Portuguese, English (first foreign language), Spanish (second foreign language), Mathematics – and the creation of subject areas providing a more integrated approach to knowledge -  Past and Present World (History and Geography), The Universe and Life (Natural Science and Physics/Chemistry), Communication and Expressions (Art, Music and ICT);
  • Organisation of a daily synchronous timetable with periods for the different subjects and subject areas;
  • Establishment and reinforcement of partnerships with schools, educational organisations and institutions, such as Vodafone, the National Reading Programme and Live Science Centres, in a network of exchange and support aiming to promotes students’ success and inclusion; 
  • Organisation of four “presential” weeks per year (September, January, April, June), where it is possible to reinforce the sense of belonging to a school as a community, foster citizenship skills and interpersonal relations, as well as to promote activities which complement online classes, including field trips to science centres, museums and historical sites;
  • Appointment of tutors who guide and support a small number of students (an average of four students per tutor), working alongside with parents.
The positive results achieved by students soon led to the enlargement of Escola Móvel to other age groups and learning needs:
  • Younger students from travelling families attending the 2nd Cycle (5th and 6th years of schooling);
  • Students from travelling families who finished basic education and proceed to upper-secondary level in professional courses;
  • Teenage girls in the situation of early motherhood, helped by an institution due to their families’ lack of support, and whose new responsibilities pose serious difficulties in the attendance of regular schools;
  • Students identified by partner schools as having repeatedly failed to complete basic education.
In 2008/2009 Escola Móvel started preparing its establishment as a state school, which took place on 31st July 2009. In fact, the growth in the number of students in a few years, from 13 to about 100, and the almost inexistent dropout and failure rates among these students - including in the national examinations – validate this school as an educational environment which responds to actual needs by giving specific students the opportunity to do or complete their schooling, and thus broadens their future opportunities.
In 2009/2010 Escola Móvel has kept on improving its response. The enlargement of tutoring periods for individualised support has been one of the most significant changes, with tutors meeting the students three/four hours a week and reinforcing their guidance during the “presential” weeks through face-to-face interaction. The school has already enlarged its offer for upper-secondary students, is currently supporting home-schooling as well as students who are unable to attend their school for more than three months. The teachers have also been developing and improving virtual resources with the support of subject experts.
The fact that Escola Móvel has become a state school brings new responsibilities and challenges which have to be met.

Mission and Management
Escola Móvel, as other Portuguese state schools, develops activities according to its Educational Project, the Annual Activity Plan and the School Regulations, in compliance with the following objectives:
  • Ensuring equal opportunities in the access to education for children and teenagers who, for personal and family reasons, are unable to attend school every day;
  • Fostering the access to school through diversified and flexible strategies using e-learning as the adequate alternative for specific target students;
  • Ensuring the conclusion of basic education and stimulating students to proceed their education, thus fighting against social exclusion and improving skills and qualification levels;
  • Guaranteeing stable learning paths and the quality of knowledge, using e-learning;
  • Adjusting curriculum offer to the specific characteristics of target students, by negotiating individualized paths within the national curriculum guidelines;
  • Promoting collaborative educational projects through protocols and partnerships between Escola Móvel and other schools or institutions - academic, economic, social, cultural and scientific;
  • Supporting the integration of ICT in the curricula and the classroom, in collaboration with other schools, through innovative and flexible activities and projects

School Community

Escola Móvel’s community includes:
  • Students belonging to travelling families requiring special conditions that will allow them to attend school every day;
  • Students who, for several reasons, have not completed basic education and who have been identified by partner schools and/or other institutions;
  • Students enrolled in a school, who for reasons beyond their control, are unable to attend it for over a three-month period;
  • Teachers of different subject and subject areas, requested from other schools or hired by Escola Móvel;
  • Students’ parents or other relatives.
• Partner institutions:
  • Vodafone
  • Live Science Centres
  • Portuguese Army
  • Solidarity Institution for Teenage Mothers “Ajuda de Mãe”
  • National Reading Programme (Plano Nacional de Leitura)
  • Embassy of Spain
  • School Libraries’ Network (Rede de Bibliotecas Escolares)
  • Schools with which protocols are established 
2nd Cycle – 5th and 6th year
Subjects /Subject Areas
Foreign Language I - English
Past and Present World (History and Geography)
Physical Education
The Universe and Life (Natural Sciences, Physics and Chemistry)
Communication and Expressions (Art and Music)
Project Area
Each student has 4 tutoring periods.

3rd Cycle – 7th, 8th and 9th years
Subjects /Subject Areas
Foreign Language I - English
Foreign Language II - Spanish
Past and Present World (History and Geography)
Physical Education
The Universe and Life (Natural Sciences, Physics and Chemistry)
Communication and Expressions (Art, Music and ICT)
Project Area
Each student has 3 tutoring periods.

Professional Course in Communication – Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations
Areas Subjects
Socio-cultural Portuguese
Integration Area
Information and Communication Technologies
Scientific Mathematics
Psychology and Sociology
History of Culture and Arts
Technical Communication in Advertising and Creativity
Communication and Public Relations
Graphic and Audiovisual Communication
Training in Context

Professional Course in Management
Componentes de Formação Domínios de Formação
Socio-cultural Portuguese
Integration Area
Information and Communication Technologies
Scientific Mathematics
Technical Management
Accounting and Taxation
Corporate Law
Financial Calculus and Applied Statistics
Training in Context

Escola Móvel has evolved from a project to a state school, officially recognised as such in July 2009 (Ministerial Decree no. 385/2009, July 31st, article no. 4). Between 2009 and 2011 it is managed by an installing committee, whose mission is to define internal regulations, constitute the mandatory boards, as well as allocate the necessary material, human and financial resources.

Goodbye Escola Movel  :(

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