Virtual Education Community

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The VIRTUAL EDUCATION COMMUNITY (VEC) is a core initiative of the European Chemistry Thematic Network (ECTN) Association managed by the homonymous STANDING COMMITTEE (SC). The mission of the VEC SC is to promote collaborative Teaching and Learning (T&L) in Chemistry through the use of networking and digital technologies.

The main product of VEC activities is EChemTest® a set of electronic Questions and Answers (Q&A)s grouped as Libraries of electronic tests  (e-tests) in different subareas of Chemistry knowledge. Such libraries are tailored to fit Schools, University access and graduation European common requirements (see the ECHEMTEST section).  Other Libraries have been created either for more general or more professional targets. Origin, motivations and evolution of EChemTest® are illustrated in detail in the BACKGROUND section. That section details also the progress made by e-testing activities in going through the different ECTNx and EC2E2Nx (x= 1, 2, ..) European Life Long Learning Projects (LLLP)s which, during the years 1996-2015, provided financial support to the  characterization of both the European common T&L core contents in Chemistry studies and their formulation in terms of Libraries of Q&A e-tests.

In September 2015, at the end of EC2E2N2, it became apparent the need for designing a roadmap to sustainability for EChemTest®.  This prompted the launch, in 2016, of the self-funded ECTN Association project ECHEMTEST+ [1] based on the adoption of the Prosumer (Producer-Consumer see GLOSSARY) scheme [2]. In the Prosumer scheme the ECTN Association members collaborate to produce/utilize their own educational activities and structures. This led to a reorganization of the VEC SC (see the COMMITTEE IN OFFICE section) and to a reformulation of the role played by the Test Centres (TC)s (see the TEST CENTRES section) of the partner Universities together with an enrichment of their activities.

In ECHEMTEST+ the EChemTest® Prosumer organization managed by the e-test Commission leverages four strategic T&L assets developed during the mentioned LLLP projects: a) the Q&A Libraries (representing the de facto European standard for the different Chemistry educational levels: School leave, University access, Eurobachelor®, and Euromaster®) and the related Panel of experts, b) the network of TCs and associated Accredited Test Sites (ATS) (managed by the Panel of TC coordinators) belonging to ECTN member Universities capable to run EChemTest® Self Evaluation Sessions (SES)s, c) the EOL platform [3] and the Chem-Learn portal developed as a joint endeavour by the University of Perugia and its former spinoff Master-UP srl, d) and a cluster of ECTN Agencies (SMEs operating under the umbrella organization of ECTN) acting as market facilitators [4].

As a result EChemTest® is at present a highly valued European brand featuring top-level Chemistry knowledge assessment activities. Further activities of the ECHEMTEST+ project are those aiming at designing and implementing support T&L audio-visual Learning Objects (LO)s on the distributed repository GLOREP.

GLOSSARY

  • PROSUMER: an operational model in which a CONSUMER of a service acts also as PRODUCER of at least part of it
  • SES (Self Evaluation Session): evaluation session conducted by examining with the use of software and hardware without the direct intervention of the examiner
  • Agency: a company handling services on behalf of ECTN. In the present case the service considered is the delivery of the EOL service for EChemTest®. In particular, with ECTN acting as an umbrella organization, the DRAG cluster of 5 University spinoffs has been established for that purpose under the coordination of Master-UP srl.
  • TC (Test Center) either national (NTC: National Test Center) or local (ATS: Accredited Test Site)
  • ITC: a TC run by an ECTN member Institution
  • S1: a SES run by an ITC for its own academic use
  • S2: a SES run by an ITC for another ECTN member
  • S3: a SES run by an ITC for ECTN purposes (like testing/validating libraries, EU competitions, national contests, ECTN Agencies, non ECTN member institutions)
  • S4: a SES run for any other cases

1] http://services.chm.unipg.it/ojs/index.php/virtlcomm/article/view/154

2] A. Laganà, O. Gervasi, S. Tasso, D. Perri, F. Franciosa, The ECTN Virtual Education Community prosumer model for promoting and assessing chemical knowledge, Lecture Notes Comput. Science, 2018

3] http://echemtest.libreeol.org/doc/ECHEMTestGuide.pdf

4] http://services.chm.unipg.it/ojs/index.php/virtlcomm/article/view/24 

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