HEIDI project: Digital Action in Higher Education Institutions to enable Social Change 

HEIDI project digital action higher education

For the past 2 years, the Learning Planet Institute (representing Université Paris Cité) has been part of a consortium in an Erasmus+ project called HEIDI: Digital Actions at HEIs as a catalyst for social change in the COVID-19 crisis. The project ended this spring and this article summarises its achievements and main outcomes.  

It all started – as the project’s name suggests – in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: the Learning Planet Institute and its partners wanted to evaluate how Higher Education institutions were engaging with communities and supporting them in their response to local challenges, and upskill students and staff in enabling and leading “Digital Action” (citizen science, hackathons and makeathons) with the community.

Along with its partners at University College London (UK), University of Malta (Malta), Citizens in Power (Cyprus) and Web2Learn (Greece), the research team from the Institute worked on supporting external and internal groups to engage with digital skills and services to address issues important to local communities. The HEIDI project uses the definition of digital skills provided by the European Digital Competence Framework for citizens, where “digital skills include the ability to use knowledge and know-how to carry out tasks and solve problems” (DigComp 2.0, 2016).

In particular, the project explored digital skills in the context of changemaking. In this case,  changemaking is defined as the organisational or societal change that happens over time, transforms cultural and social institutions, makes a positive difference, and has profound and long-term consequences. In the context of higher education, it includes the following: social entrepreneurship; social innovation; civic engagement; and social justice. The HEIDI project was interested in any form and process of social change that may happen from bottom-up, inclusive participatory processes to address social issues.

The research team of the Learning Planet Institute specifically worked on the following three project stages:

  1. Roundtable discussions to understand the needs and challenges of staff and students for their engagement in Digital Action
  2. Support in the design and implementation of Digital Action within the Institute and/or in collaboration with NGOs or community groups
  3. A second round of roundtable discussions to determine the impact of our interventions

Through HEIDI, the Learning Planet Institute supported its own ongoing activities is was already implementing –  e.g. the SDG Summer School or the hackathon organised in collaboration with CorrelAid, the initiatives run by current and former students in programmes hosted at the Institute (including AIRE Master, FIRE Doctoral School programmes of the Université Paris Cité), and the SDG school organised in Senegal by HOME Association (co-founded by students attending educational programs at the Institute). We also organised and hosted a multiplier and workshop event that welcomed many of our collaborators and stakeholders interested in HEIDI (see more details here).

More information about the HEIDI project can be found in this short video prepared by partners at UCL and/or by subscribing to HEIDI project newsletter (final report project report will be shared on the website and via the newsletter in summer 2023).

The Learning Planet Institute wishes to thank all those who contributed to HEIDI events and collaborated with the Institute on this project!

HEIDI Partners : University College London (UK), University of Malta (Malta), Citizens in Power (Cyprus) and Web2Learn (Greece)

Find out more about HEIDI Project : https://heidiproject.eu/

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