Citizenship education Institutions across Europe are concerned with the question of how to explain European politics to citizens, and how to encourage and help them to participate in politics and society. In this regard, the development of low-barrier ICT-based approaches is of utmost interest, in order to reach as many people as possible, especially with regard to addressing citizens less inclined to participate in political discussions, as well as lower skilled persons and disadvantaged people. In this respect, VAA can assist these people in taking an active part in today’s information society. They provide a non-formal lifelong learning opportunity for adults of all ages, aside formal learning environments that require registration, attendance etc. A further common interest is therefore developing strategies for the best possible dissemination of the VAA tool itself.
In many European countries, so called VAAs have been developed in recent years allowing voters to compare the parties’ positions with easy-to-use and fun question-and-answer-software. Though the core features of these tools are similar, they are based on very different pedagogical and technical concepts and preconditions, and are embedded in different web-environments providing various additional information.
Further, the social and cultural environment differs significantly: For instance, with respect to the migrant communities’ size, and the group’s access to education opportunities for adults; but also with respect to the educational level of the average adult population.
Differences exist also with respect to the level of internet usage and ICT-skills. This point is of particular interest, since VAAs are not only a citizenship education-tool, but are also valuable regarding ICT-education. Therefore, VAAs can help to close the ICT-empowerment gap. This is particularly important for citizenship education, considering growing participation opportunities provided by the new media and the prospects of deliberative democracy or e-Democracy.
The partnership would address, examine and try to bridge differences between various VAAs by aiming to provide a common European non-formal education opportunity for all adults in the field of civic education.
Objectives and startegy
The objective is to pool expertise on VAAs in Europe, exchange experiences, and find best-practice on a number of issues relevant in terms of the development of user friendly VAAs ensuring the best possible learning effect. These issues (see D.2) are:
(1) research results on user experience with VAAs
(2) learners with special needs (young people, less qualified people, migrant communities)
(3) Small, extremist and eurosceptical parties represented in VAAs
(4) Web accessibility for people with disabilities
(5) approaches of learners’ involvement in the making of VAAs
(6) dissemination: strategies for reaching as many learners as possible to use VAAs.
(7) Further development of VAA as a low barrier ICT-based education toolkit to bridge the empowerment gap
Partners will meet six times. The first meetings are dedicated to the exchange of experience on these issues. Local partners and experts will be invited to contribute. Further the partner institutions will work on these issues in-between the meetings, co-operating with local partners. Results of local activities will be reported to the other partners in the meetings and via working papers.
The results of the examination of these seven issues will be made available for all interested civic educationalist and pedagogic professionals. Further they shall directly be applied in the common development of the VAA for the European Parliament elections in 2014.
At least one meeting will be fully dedicated to the development of the tool “VoteMatch 2014” available at www.votematch.eu in spring 2014. Learners will be involved in the development of the tool to make sure it fits their educational needs and gives them the opportunity to increase their knowledge of elections and politics. VoteMatch 2014 will help voters in Europe to easily learn about European elections, positions of parties, and investigate their own position on issues of common European interest.
Following the evaluation of the VoteMatch-tool in 2014, the results will be re-assessed and incorporated in a final report on VAA, including examples of best practice and recommendations for the further development of VAAs The final meeting is scheduled on this basis. The partners will ensure the publication and dissemination of the report via local networks of the partners in order to enable the results’ use by other professionals.
Eventually, the partnership’s results will contribute to the improvement of the partners’ national VAAs in upcoming elections.
Project is coordinated by Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Germany).
Project partners are:
ProDemos – Huis voor democratie en rechtsstaat (the Netherlands);
Fundacja Centrum Edukacji Obywatelskiej (Centre for Citizenship Education) (Poland)
Institut für Neue Kulturtechnologien/t0 (Technology Knowledge Culture Future) (Austria)
Фондация Център за либерални стратегии (Foundation Centre for liberal strategies) (Bulgaria)
Centre for Public Policy PROVIDUS
Unlock Democracy (United Kingdom)