Last updated: 21.09.13

European Commission announces online learning scheme

A new initiative focusing on online, flexible learning is set to be launched by the European commissioner for digital agenda Neelie Kroes next week.

Speaking at the FT-Telefonica Millennials Summit in Brussels on Thursday (September 19th), Ms Kroes announced that Opening Up Education will make a range of learning resources available to school pupils on the internet and equip them with digital skills that could be crucial to their future.

She explained the scheme is not just about putting some computers in a classroom or giving schools their own websites, it is looking to use IT to "transform teaching".

Research from the European Commission has revealed that 90 per cent of jobs on the continent will require knowledge of digital platforms by 2020, but only half of schoolchildren receive the IT training they need.

Ms Kroes explained IT enables a whole new way of learning and information is no longer locked up, rather there is a world out there for all young people to explore.

"Open resources that enable a million different ways to learn. Teachers who are no longer gatekeepers, but guides. If we enable that, there’s a huge opportunity," she added.

Currently, there are a number of barriers to improved IT education, including a lack of equipment and underqualified teachers, but the European commissioner said these are problems that Opening Up Education will be tackling.

The FT-Telefonica Millennials Summit also saw education experts discuss a separate project entitled Startup Europe, which emerged from the Start-Up Manifesto, a collection of suggestions from 22 tech professionals on how to make Europe a better place for innovation.

Ms Kroes remarked: "We have the tools, we have the technology, we definitely have the talent.  And in a connected continent there is no limit to our ambitions."

Indeed, the continent is home to a crop of valuable and reputable online learning providers. West Yorkshire-based institution Virtual College is one of them and was recently voted as one of Europe's top 20 EdTech companies.