INOVA+ Innovation Services, S.A. (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2024 Proceedings
Publication year: 2024
Pages: 1420-1429
ISBN: 978-84-09-59215-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2024.0422
Conference name: 18th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-6 March, 2024
Location: Valencia, Spain
The project Our Digital Village, funded under the ERASMUS+ programme, aims to intervene in rural areas by promoting the acquisition of digital and transversal skills, preparing people to face the challenges of the future. The project runs from 2023 to 2025 and is implemented in rural areas of seven European countries, starting with the constitution of "Rural Communities" that gather actors from the field of education, community development and policy makers. In Portugal, the rural community engaged is Manteigas, a village and municipality with a population of circa 2900 inhabitants, located in the Portuguese district of Guarda, at the heart of “Serra da Estrela”, the highest mountain of continental Portugal.

The first stage of the project entailed a participative process of self-analysis in the community, based on the methodological framework of the “Reciprocal Maieutic Approach” (RMA) developed by the Center for Creative Development Danilo Dolci (coordinator of the Our Digital Village project). The features of the sessions were adapted to the context and aims of the project, in order to focus the context analysis in the needs and desires related to the digital transformation.

In Portugal, the implementation of the RMA method consisted of self-analysis workshops with groups of the community of Manteigas. The sessions were conducted by one RMA coordinator and another expert from the organization responsible for the implementation of the project activities in Portugal: INOVA+.
A total of 9 RMA sessions took place in Manteigas, involving 35 participants from the community.

The sessions involved 3 target groups:
1) educational teaching staff (teachers and trainers);
2) school students (of the School Cluster and VET school); adult learners (staff from the VET school, staff and beneficiaries of a local NGO, entrepreneurs, job seekers).

The self-analysis process consisted of 3 steps/rounds, each including 3 sessions:
1) introductory meetings per target group (1 per target group),
2) self-analysis workshops on needs and desires related to digital skills and tools (1 per target group),
3) self-analysis workshops of mixed groups with representatives of the above-mentioned target groups and with the municipality policy maker.

The findings of this process confirmed that, due to the characteristics of the rural area of Manteigas (geographic, social, economic), digital skills can pay an important role in the region at various levels. The groups involved in this research acknowledge the importance of digital skills and tools, as well as the increasing need to use them in today’s global world.

Participants point out that most of their digital skills have been acquired autonomously (self-learning; attempt and error) or through the help of others (relatives, friends). It became evident that the different target groups have different needs and aspirations regarding the use of digital skills, but at the same time there are common concerns expressed by all the groups, especially in which regards the use of digital skills and tools for the community (e.g. public services, communication).

The outcomes of this process will be used by the project’s experts, in collaboration with the community, to co-develop digital resources and organize other initiatives aimed at promoting the acquisition of digital and transversal skills.
Digital skills, rural, co-design, self-analysis.