COVID-19 Free Online Initiatives
The eSkills Malta Foundation brings together representatives from government, industry and education across Malta, to contribute to the development of the national digital skills landscape. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, school premises closed, and activities, lessons and teaching moved online posing a challenge for everyone, but especially for schools. To address this effect, in 2020 the e-Skills Malta Foundation released a database of various resources and links that would be useful for online education and distance learning.
The online resources target primarily children and younger people kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, but other learners and businesses, especially small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) can also find materials online. An additional section in the resource repository is dedicated to free coding activities for children, aiming to open up the door to programming and coding in a fun and engaging way. There is also a variety of resources, including: worksheets, learning videos, tutorials, games, eBooks, tools as well as websites for e-learning (e.g., Coursera, Open Culture, edX), covering a wide range of subjects.
Activities for other target groups, such as private citizens or small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) employees, on the topic of digital skills focus around coding, programming, data analytics, computer networking, and use of software and programmes for basic digital skills, such as Microsoft Office tools. Organisations and SMEs can enrol their employees in a free cybersecurity testing and training programme, aiming to improve participants' understanding of the type of threats that exist online, and the techniques to protect themselves and their organisation from cyberattacks, whilst working remotely. The resources also include tips for individuals and businesses on how to learn, work and teach remotely. Free remote learning solutions from other European countries are listed and available in the repository.
The database of initiatives, launched as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on remote learning and distance education, was highlighted as a good practice by the European Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition. The resources in the repository are user-friendly and accessible by anyone interested in the subject, targeting a broad demographic group of society. With more than 140 links to online resources and upskilling courses, the e-Skills Malta Foundation offers a sustainable initiative, opening up future avenues for combining traditional teaching with online methods. The initiative is easily scalable and has the potential to be replicated in other contexts and regions throughout Europe.