Distance Learning Project for Itinerant Students in Portugal
Fernando Albuquerque Costa, Instituto de Educação, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal
Summary of presentation
Fernando is the pedagogical coordinator of Escola Móvel (Mobile School) project which has been in existence for 7 years and which was set up by the Ministry of Education.
In his presentation, Fernando described the initial impetus for the project which was to meet the educational needs of traveller and circus children who travel with shows and circuses during the school year and who therefore are in danger of missing out on an education. The school caters for students aged 10-17 and is also increasingly catering for other groups such as children in hospital and teenage mothers. On average, about 120 students are involved each year and they follow the same curriculum as other students.
The main goal of Escola Móvel is to help these students complete their compulsory level school curriculum and also to prepare them for the digital age. They are taught online using the same timetable organisation as in regular schools although some adjustments are made to the curriculum, instructional approach and assessment regime to cater for students’ specific needs.
The pedagogical approach is student-centred and aimed at personalised learning with a strong emphasis on innovation; interdisciplinary teaching, creation of tutoring periods and a close articulation between teachers and tutors. The school uses Moodle, students are organised by classes and they have opportunities for both synchronous and asynchronous communication.
A big issue is socialisation, however students are encouraged to take their laptops which are provided by the ministry and to go to the closest school libraries or resource centres while they travel around the country so as to have a connection with the teacher locally.