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Rural Social Networking for Lifelong Learning

State-of-the-art widespread ICT networking tools and platforms have the potential toenable individuals to enhance their social networking, and in this way, potentially alsoenhance their learning. Groups at risk of exclusion may benefit from such technologiesby getting the means for connecting themselves to public services, learning and civicengagement. The SoRuraLL! project aims to investigate the potential for enhancedlifelong learning offered by social networking tools and platforms to those living ingeographically and socio-economically disadvantaged rural areas. Experimentallearning approaches will be developed and implemented, examining the potentialoffered by these new trends and tools for the alleviation of the disadvantage suffered bysuch populations in Europe through the enhancement of opportunities for effective andmeaningful lifelong learning. The project will bring together and further develop content,services, pedagogies and practices for social lifelong learning in rural areas, formulatingspecific scenarios of use of social networking tools and platforms which will be testedwith real learners and their teachers in disadvantaged rural areas, and evaluated interms of their impact on learning (self-learning, informal peer-learning, formal learning)and inclusion (development of e-skills and competences, linking up of learningcommunities, building up of new partnerships), consolidating thus an evidence base onthe added-value and impact of social networking tools and platforms for rural learning,with a particular attention to institutional as well as pedagogical innovation and change.Several technological solutions will be tried including weblogs, wikis, podcasts, socialsoftware, virtual social sites, as well as tools such as mobile phones, and various usageschemes in the various sectors of lifelong learning, both formal (school, highereducation, VET, adult education) and informal. Options for citizens’ access to the digitalresources will also be examined, making use of good practice examples in areas ofwork such as the operation of telecenters in disadvantaged areas, the use of satellitebroadband in remote rural areas, as well as other open and distant access approaches.A major outcome will be the promotion of a new vision for the use of social networkingtools and platforms for learning in favour of the geographically, socio-economically anddigitally disadvantaged, which will be proactively fed into policy making and educationand training systems, aiming to achieve a multiplier effect across rural Europe. Overall,the innovation produced in the project will be carefully grounded on already existingknowledge and experiences, through an introductory comparative analysis of existingpractices aiming to identify transferable good practice and success factors. A clearlifelong learning stance is taken, addressing multiple sectors including school education,higher education, adult education and professional training.



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