Dr. Sophia Gregou, Dr. Venos Karatzoglou and Associate Professor Eftichios Sartzetakis, University of Macedonia, Greece
The “Virtual Campus for a Sustainable Europe” (VCSE) Project, co-financed under the eLearning 2006 Programme (2007-2009), comprises an innovative Virtual Campus of Higher Academic Institutes, which surpasses the gates of academia and invites relevant societal actors in a public dialogue on how “e-learning” may serve as a new, inter-disciplinary and intercultural instrument in dealing with the particularly complex issue of sustainable development at a European level.
The VCSE-partners - the University of Macedonia (GR), the Open University of the Netherlands (NL), the University of Graz (AT), the University of Lüneburg (DE), the Charles University in Prague (CZ)- have joint their extensive know-how and comprehensive technical expertise in order to promote the practice of “e-learning” for sustainability issues to a wider audience among other European Higher Academic Institutes, stakeholders and decision-makers.
The compilation of the current “Virtual Campus for a Sustainable Europe” Best Practice Guide goes well beyond a "due to deliver" task in the context of the eLearning Program. It aims to provide a day-to-day diary of the VCSE Project (2007-2009), presenting the experiences of the VCSE-partners during the setting up and the running of the virtual campus, its expansion to new VCSE members, the opening-up to local/regional actors and decision-makers, as well as further ideas and views about the future of the VCSE Virtual Campus. Thus, it consists of “lessons learned” concerning the best practices that bear the desired results as well as the weaknesses that taught us what we could have done better or the things that we have improved during the actual running phase of the VCSE Virtual Campus.
However, the VCSE Best Practice Guide does not have the intention to “reinvent the wheel” by presenting an extensive compilation of best practices relevant to European Virtual Campuses, since excellent reference material already exists. It is worth mentioning the:
- Guide to Virtual Mobility as a result of the EADTU Annual Conference 2007, 8-9 November, Lisbon, Portugal;
- EASY report “A European Study to monitor e-learning development processes: The On line Campuses and the needs of University Students” in the framework of the EASY Project-eLearning Project (2005-2007) ;
- |the Virtual Seminars: Creating opportunities for universities in the framework of VENUS-eLearning Project (2006-2007) ;
- Virtual Mobility Manual - How to teach internationally from your own desk? in the framework of REVE - Real Virtual Erasmus Project (2006) ,
- European cooperation in education through Virtual Mobility - a best-practice manual in the framework of Being Mobile – Socrates Project (2005) .
- e-Learning History: Evaluating European Experiences in the framework of the eHLEE-eLearning Project (2004-2006) .
We hope that the present manual will become a useful and "handy" guide to other academic institutions that will decide to undertake a similar project, as well as a source of motivation during the course of their actions. The VCSE Network remains at the disposal of all interested institutes, to offer its know-how for the purpose of the promotion and further dissemination of the e-learning for sustainability, aiming at the conversion of the concept of sustainable development into praxis.