The Open Classroom: Distance Learning in and out of Schools

By Jo Bradley | Go to book overview

Chapter 5

EFECOT: supporting the travelling tradition

Ken Marks


Introduction

The European Federation for the Education of the Children of Occupational Travellers (EFECOT) was set up in 1988, as part of a response to the needs of travelling children, following an initiative by the European Parliament. The remit of the organization includes the exploration of ways of addressing the challenge of interrupted schooling within highly mobile communities. This chapter describes EFECOT experience in the area of supported distance learning for children and, in particular, the evolution of approaches that have involved ICT. Here the 'open classroom' is not a concept to add a new dimension to the school environment, but rather offers a radical alternative where normal attendance is problematic. A distinctive feature of the initiatives described is the wireless nature of communication, as travelling families have limited access to fixed telephone lines or cable facilities. However, much of the experience reported is independent of this constraint.

The main purpose of the chapter is to outline the user context of the challenge, and then to describe interrelated developments in both telematics and pedagogy. It will conclude with a brief listing of some of the main issues that are emerging in this area of work, some of which have a broader relevance to all those working with children whose schooling is interrupted or necessarily outside the school environment.

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