COVID brought changes to our project yet DIFME partners are still piloting the learning tool online. Interested? Submit your details now.
One of the first activities of the newly formed, newly funded DIFME consortium was to organize a kick-off meeting in Malta hosted by the project coordinator MBB on 7th and 8th February 2019. The Kick-off meeting was dedicated to the partners presentations on their role in the DIFME project, the role of innovative teaching & learning methods, current training programmes as well as the challenges they face in their institutions. The meeting was also oriented to the activity descriptions of Work Packages led by ISOB, Incubator Leeuwarden, University of National and World Economy and the eLearning tool creation by IDEC.
After the kick off meeting, the DIFME consortium worked on the important task of defining the audience they wanted to address and appropriately target them using different communication channels. In the meantime, a dissemination strategy was identified and the dissemination plan was uploaded on the Consortium intranet.
The basis of the proposed project had already been developed with consultation sessions carried out with micro businesses, in order to gather a perspective about the practical skills with focus on internationalisation to identify in what way, and which digital skills are necessary to build steps to internationalise businesses. Partners identified the need for entrepreneurs having hands on accessible tools to evaluate the performance of their enterprise , the further development of both internationalisation skills as well as the digital skills and the clear need to liaise and communicate with other entrepreneurs based on literature, other project results, and making consultation sessions with students, start-up entrepreneurs and companies.
A survey targeting 350 entrepreneurs was defined, translated and implemented with the objective to assess in which areas microentrepreneurs feel they lack guidance and knowledge. Furthermore, tutors and mentors teaching /working with entrepreneurs were identified and interviewed to corroborate the results of the research.
The response exceeded 460 entrepreneurs. Th analysis also included the comparison of the different HEIS learning models in practice, identifying pros and cons of each approach, and setting the grounds for common industry-oriented learning outcomes based on a closer cooperation between HEIs and entrepreneurs.
The DIFME consortium partners held the second meeting of the project on and June in Dublin. Hosted by Technological University, in central Dublin on the 27th and 28th June 2019, the partners came together to discuss the work done so far to develop the learning elaboration for DIFME. By asking the same questions to different audiences in different countries, the aim was to get diverse perspectives and feedback. These sessions have been immensely useful and will guide the DIFME project in its endeavour to further the course curriculum. The survey results, interviews and curriculum ideas related to the feedback from the research that took place in each of the seven countries were discussed at length. At the end of the two days, the partners agreed to keep on developing their ideas in order to build a curriculum, and to develop an effective eLearning tool.
After the Dublin meeting using Skype meetings as the channel for communication, partners worked on the identification of the selection of disciplines to develop the new cooperative learning model and the revised learning outcomes. All countries had prepared a country report presented to the partners in the Dublin meeting – these were the basis of the synthesis report developed by the University of Malta. The WP leader Inqubator Leewarden presented a proposal of the disciplines to be adapted to the new learning cooperative process, their curricula and the first draft off the model.
DIFME partners met up in Regensburg at the end of November 2019. The tasks were divided among partners for the actual development of the contents and assessed and discussed at length on the basis that contents are to provide micro entrepreneurs with an agile toolkit wherein the description of the learning objectives and skills are to be developed together with the indicative timetable for own learning and the theoretical oriented learning.
All the partners have worked on the content, and their work was assessed by the Quality partner ISOB prior to peer reviewing partners’ content again. The DIFME peer review involved subjecting the work and research to the scrutiny of other DIFME partner who are experts in the same field to check its validity and evaluate its suitability for publication. Furthermore, the peer review involved non academics to ensure that the content is simplified rather than theoretical for the target audience. The peer review has helped the partners decide whether the work is of the required standard acceptable to the target audience of students and microentrepreneurs or if it should be revisited once again.
All the content was translated into Italian, German, Greek, Bulgarian and Dutch. Prior to piloting partners worked on feedback via focus groups targeting both Higher Education Institute Academics and microentrepreneurs. Partners are now working on piloting with entrepreneurs following studies related to business development and other entrepreneurs that are interested to follow the DIFME short course.
It is most unfortunate that due to COVID circumstances, partners can only resort to online piloting. Although online piloting offers many advantages, we would like to ensure that there are further opportunities to learn from mentors and experienced entrepreneurs. Hence partners are also organising a series of thematic events online. Keep yourself updated and follow our Facebook page.