Participating academic staff
The international collaboration will boost the exchange of experience and joint research, while the involvement with community partners will raise awareness of rural needs and improve their competences. Other academic staff will have access to OERs, MOOC and other tools and get opportunity to create networks of collaborative work.
Students will acquire new learning through rural SL and virtual mobility and develop professional, transversal and citizenship competences, social entrepreneurship, intercultural awareness, social commitment and English language skills.
All 8 universities will improve their social commitment and gain new courses to be integrated into the existing curriculum. The rural organizations will get university support for addressing the needs of their beneficiaries and become part of the international community-university network promoting citizen participation, equity and social justice and creating entrepreneurial opportunities.
Beneficiaries of the services
Rural entrepreneurs, businesses, farmers, unemployed youth, retirees, housewives will be given the chance to express their needs and have their needs addressed by highly skilled students.
Local & regional impact
Rural 3.0 will address needs of the rural communities, creating community-university partnerships as part of the Hub. Each SL practice will involve a variety of stakeholders, responding to the needs of the most deprived collectives and enabling exchange, flow and co-creation of knowledge. All partner universities already represent regional SL centres and by extending their civic engagement to the rural communities they may become regional models of good practice.
The national strategic objectives in HE according to the operational programmes are to improve key competences of students and application of ICT in teaching and learning, particularly in the less developed areas with lower levels of education, to improve the quality, relevance and effectiveness of the HE and to improve the cooperation of HEIs and community organizations, educating socially responsible citizens, thereby contributing to the overall development of the community. All of these priorities are directly addressed by Rural 3.0.
European & international impact
Rural 3.0 addresses challenges defined in several EU strategic documents (Social Inclusion, Rethinking Education Strategy, e-Skills Strategy, Europe 2020 New Skills and Jobs and Digital Agenda) by bringing HEIs and rural organizations together to work on the development of necessary knowledge and skills needed to make change in rural communities, supporting the modernisation of Europe’s HE through the transnational curriculum based on the innovative approach and OERs.
This project will establish connections between HEIs and rural communities as well as their beneficiaries. Therefore, 4 main target groups can be identified:
- University students
- Academic teachers involved in service-learning (SL) courses in the participating countries / teachers and authorities from any university interested in rural SL;
- Rural organizations: e.g. LAGs, NGOs, rural agencies and associations interested in community-university partnerships;
- Beneficiaries of the services provided: rural entrepreneurs, farmers, unemployed youth, retirees, rural housewives and rural businesses in need of skills and solutions that can be provided by students
University students appear to have a preference for SL placements close to campus (which is usually in an urban area), frequently because of longer travel times and the cost of transportation to rural communities (Stoecker and Schmidt, 2008). But, with the advancement of technology, today’s students have the opportunities to engage in SL activities that involve serving the communities through online civic action called Service-eLearning (Waldner, McGorry & Widener, 2012) Service-eLearning brings a potential for students to use SL in rural areas and this can be realized as a SL Hackathon (WP4).
The Hackathon is a part of the new transnational academic module (WP2) with courses on rural social entrepreneurship (SE) and rural SL that satisfy rural community needs identified in WP1. Courses in the module and Hackathon will be implemented in WP4, assigned ECTS and nationally accredited.
Also, this module will improve the community relevance of academic courses provided by teachers of the consortium.
In rural SL, academic teachers will need to revisit their approach to working with communities and allow for differences between rural and urban settings (Lapping, 1999). Therefore, in WP2, “training materials and teaching guidelines for HE teachers on rural SL” will be developed and integrated in MOOC on rural SL
Rural organizations will serve as brokers between rural beneficiaries and students but may lack direct experience in working with students. Therefore, in WP2 “Training materials for rural partners” will be developed and integrated in online World café (WP4).
The collaborative hub (WP3) will bridge the gap between rural organizations that aim to connect rural entities to improve the rural development (but lack access to SL) and universities that aim to connect students, faculty and local community (but rarely address rural issues). It will allow users to list their needs and offer their expertise. They will be able to browse the database of collaborators and the database of projects.
Rural businesses will receive the student solutions developed in Hackathon, test and evaluate them and report to the rural partners directly. Along with the solutions, students will also publish learning materials in the form of a dedicated step-by-step implementation guide.