for Inclusive Digital Education

…This “Reference framework for inclusive digital education” report is the outcome of a work package that aimed at mapping of the requirements for inclusive digital education and identifying key learning points of COVID-19 induced transition. The relevant data for the report were collected by a series of different types of interviews and a large-scale survey that involved students and lecturers from the IDEA’s project participating European countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Italy, and Poland).

Executive Summary

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has underlined that a crisis requires immediate and decisive action by organizations irrespective of the type of the organization. In the education sector, universities had to move their courses online almost overnight. Many universities were not prepared for this transition which affected the education process with both lecturers and students impacted, especially those with less-than-ideal circumstances among them. The pandemic changed the rules of higher education and it is now certain that online education will never be the same, neither in terms of audience nor in the terms of online teaching.


Best Practices


The objective of the IDEA project is to support the transition towards a more inclusive digital education, by adapting the pedagogy of the faculty. It is centered on the concept of inclusiveness which was largely ignored in the online education environment before the COVID-19 pandemic and its crucial contribution to the provision of quality digital education was underestimated.
The project aims to:

  • understand and build awareness around the importance and necessity of inclusiveness in digital education;
  • develop a quality assurance system that embeds inclusiveness in all phases of the digital pedagogy; and
  • develop practical tools that guide faculty members through the evolution of their pedagogical practice.


Flexible and Convenient

Online education was found to be more flexible and convenient for students, especially the more mature ones while freshers suffered the most

More Practice, Less Theory

The content, pedagogy and assessment methods needed to be redesigned for a digital-first education, with a more practical approach and less theory

Digital Exhaustion

Digital exhaustion was a common problem cited by both students and lecturers. The multitude of platforms they had to deal with did not make the situation any better either.

Less Motivation and Engagement

Major drawbacks are the decreasing motivation and engagement of students, with a growing sense of isolation due to the lack of human contact, difficulties in joint and practical activities


Clearly define and communicate course structure well in advance, record lessons and make them available online, establish regular evaluation methodology, and use interactive tools to promote interactions


The need of upgrading the IT infrastructure and the support provided to staff and students while training them in the missing digital skills was highlighted. HEIs have to standardize and unify the platforms they interact with.

Clarity and coordination of messages is essential for improved communication in the digital environment


Engaging in small talk and organizing regular events would help reduce uncertainty and stress



Inclusiveness and engagement strategies in digital education have to be tailored for different student groups based on their backgrounds, profiles and behaviours.

Digital technologies should be applied to transform educational pedagogies and support learning journeys, but not relied upon as the core proposition.

Training and upgrading staff, and to some extent students’, skills is a necessity. This refers not only to digital skills but also to cultural and interpersonal ones.

A shared understanding and coordination of inclusive strategies in digital education is needed among the different schools, departments, admission and student support offices.

Content and methods need to be designed specifically for online environments.

Face to face education remains essential to humanize the learning experience and implement practical activities.

Reference Framework for Inclusive Digital Education Report