In 2018, our consortium proposed a project of the same title and similar aims. The evaluators gave our proposal a positive rating; however, their insightful analysis displayed the weak points of the project that withheld it from receiving the grant. We have decided to make efforts towards improving the proposal with respect to such aspects as, among others, a pre-application needs analysis to justify the proposal and set the foci of the planned project, elimination of redundant cost by reorganising the designed Intellectual Outputs and allowing wider time frames for particular tasks, planning wider dissemination audiences and, last but not least, justifying more profoundly our reasons for inviting an Israeli partner, whose unique educational experience in conflict zones along with participation in an earlier European project devoted to multiculturalism, as a result of which two teaching programmes were elaborated, we consider crucial assets in the light of our aim to offer high quality products of this cooperation: a blended-learning course on inclusive learning for pre-service EFL teachers, an E-learning course on inclusive learning for in-service EFL teachers, and – above all – an inventory of materials on inclusive learning. Also, we have striven to broaden these elements of our previous proposal that were highly appreciated in the evaluation report: by inviting associated partners for Spanish and Israeli HEI, we will develop the network of synergies holding so far only between Polish and German partners: UO – MODN, and ZLUM – ZSLM, respectively. Worth mentioning is also that the role of UO as the Applying Institution has been reduced to managing functions and participation in the IO’s, with no leadership in any of them, however.
We consistently take the view that one of the most urgent needs in today’s society is to encourage full participation at a European level and transnational collaborations between higher education institutions and local partners to give the opportunity to connect universal and local considerations. Cooperation across borders is a key factor to act in a problem-related manner and acquire a global perspective on common issues. Transnational cooperation is paramount to carry out this project because its main aim is to empower teachers and studying teachers across Europe to gain ownership of values such as social inclusion, gender or intercultural equality and to provide them with appropriate tools to tackle diversity in their mainstream classrooms. Transnationality is also understood as a process of sharing learning potential to generate knowledge that can be transferable within the European sphere and that enables the integration of intercultural dimensions in research and teaching. In this sense, we plan to deal with the above mentioned existing challenges by first promoting discussion on the role of educators to support learners with diverse or disadvantaged backgrounds and by later elaborating non culturally biased materials that will be used Europe-wide.
We advocate for a project that promotes high-quality and innovative teaching in the teacher training sector, and the role of ICT is undoubtedly central to facilitate that transnational cooperation. We intend to use technology to bridge the gap between teachers, who belong to countries usually considered distant in cultural terms, and foster long lasting professional links. We also consider the need for transnationality to be at the core of our building a truly European identity that promotes social and cultural diversity.
We should attempt at promoting culturally responsive teachers, who manage to integrate issues of international relevance in the curriculum, that is, teachers who can teach mixed-ability classes from a non-discriminatory perspective and who are aware of differences within and beyond the classroom. This seems to be justified by the results of a survey we carried out among teachers in partner countries. Out of 200 Polish, Spanish, German and Israeli in- and pre-service teachers as many as 49% claimed not having had enough training to deal with conflict situations, 50% declared experiencing scarcity of teaching materials to deal with students’ learning difficulties, 51% negated having had enough training to deal with students’ learning difficulties, 58% were ready to use ICT based materials to deal with in-class conflicts, and as many as 75% showed interest in using ICT supported materials to teach about different cultural backgrounds of their students.
Our cooperation will help future teachers to explore differentiation from various points of view. By including participants from different cultures, the project will promote discussion in inclusive education through a variety of models. In addition, each partner possesses its own area of expertise (technology, inclusive education, EFL training, reflective teacher training) that will contribute to elaborating adequate and efficient materials.