VIRTUAL MOBILITY AS AN ALTERNATIVE OR COMPLEMENT TO PHYSICAL MOBILITY

M. Vriens1, W. Van Petegem1, I. Op de Beeck1, M. Achten2

1AVNet-K.U.Leuven (BELGIUM)
2EuroPACE ivzw (BELGIUM)
Internationalization has become one of the key issues in present day European Higher Education. The European Commission aims to enhance physical student mobility via the Erasmus exchange programme substantially by 2011. For a large number of students though is it not possible to go abroad for social, financial or other reasons. One solution here can be provided through virtual mobility. The elearningeuropa.info portal defines virtual mobility as: “The use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to obtain the same benefits as one would have with physical mobility but without the need to travel”. Besides this, virtual mobility can also enable better preparation and follow-up of students who participate in physical exchange programmes.

We would like to present several European projects on Virtual Mobility in which EuroPACE ivzw and/or AVNet-K.U.Leuven have played (or are playing) an important part as coordinator or core member: Move-IT (http://move-it.europace.org/), VM-BASE (http://vm-base.europace.org/), Being Mobile (http://www.being-mobile.net/), VENUS (http://www.venus-project.net/), REVE (http://reve.europace.org/), EPICS (http://www.eadtu.nl/epics/), EU-VIP (http://euvip.eu/) and MOVINTER (http://www.movinter.eu/). Some of these projects have been completed; others are still running at the moment.

The Being Mobile project identified four main types of virtual mobility:
- a virtual course or seminar;
- a virtual study programme;
- a virtual work placement;
- virtual support activities to physical exchange.
In this paper we would like to take a step back and look from a broader perspective, beyond project borders, for general conclusions, lessons learnt and future focus points regarding virtual mobility.
We will use the four different types of virtual mobility as a framework to look at, compare and summarize all current project results. Hereby also paying attention to those key issues regarding virtual mobility that exceed this subdivision: multiculturality and multilinguality, new technologies, pedagogy, localization, organization, networking, legal agreements and educational policy.