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Update on the Erasmus+ Virtual Exchanges

On 18 September 2018, the European Commission – DG Education and Culture, EACEA and the EVE project team held an info day sharing interesting news about the development of the Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange project. The initiative, funded under Erasmus+ and launched at the beginning of the year, is implemented by a consortium composed of Search for Common Ground, Anna Lindh Foundation, UNIMED, Sharing Perspectives Foundation, Soliya, UNICollaboration, Kiron Open Higher Education, and Migration Matters.

The project is an important one for the European Commission and for the cabinet of Commissioner Tibor Navracsics in particular, that see it as a pilot initiative, testing if and how virtual exchanges could be integrated as a “classic action” in the next Erasmus+ programme. The intention is not to replace physical exchanges, but to complement them in the near future. 

The project builds on over ten years of successful virtual mobility implementation in the EU context in the school sector, and aims to provide a more accessible, “ground-breaking way for young people to engage in intercultural learning”, i.e. via virtual exchanges, and thus increase inclusion in internationalisation activities. The exchanges are open for students and more widely, youth in the Erasmus+ programme countries and the ten countries part of the Southern-Mediterranean region. What seems to differentiate this approach from others in the area of online mobility, is that it offers a very structured learning experience, organised and moderated by a facilitator (teacher). The overarching target is to involve up to 25 000 young people in such exchanges in the programme period. 
Below are some of the first results, half-a-year into the project period 
The project facilitates four different types of exchange models:

1. Online facilitated dialogue

2. Training to develop virtual exchange projects
3. Advocacy training
4. Interactive open online courses
and cover a wide diversity of approaches in terms of duration and level of participation (enrolment) in the specific exchanges. 
The consortium is also working on dealing with some of the recognition challenges when it comes to learning outcomes of education pursued in non-formal environments. This is at present dealt with by offering “badges” to those that followed a virtual exchange, with each badge describes what it stands for. It is hoped that the badges will gain importance when endorsed by the universities and companies that might employ the respective graduates.
The universities that want to take part in the pilot are encouraged to contact the project consortium via the dedicated page.