Are e-learning platforms a promising way forward for social cohesion in Europe?

Policy Study

12/04/2016

Read the study

The aim of this paper is to examine the correlation between e-learning platforms and social cohesion in Europe, where social cohesion is understood as “the ability of a society to ensure the welfare of all its members, minimizing disparities and avoiding polarization” (Council of Europe, 2004). E-learning has recently received increasing public attention because of its potentiality to provide new inputs to lifelong learning, informal education, and ongoing training. Our main argument is that the supposed transformative power of ICT should be translated into evidence-based policies, which requires taking into account the data available as well as pointing out the limits of these new educational formats.

 In this paper we assess three of these challenges. First, the current trends regarding digital access and digital literacy across Europe. The data available show that in order to generalize the benefits of e-learning, European Union needs to tackle urgently digital exclusion. In the second section we examine the skills and values that e-learning is presupposed to enhance for the sake of social cohesion. Some transformative arguments have been put forward, in particular some findings showing that e-learning provides a unique opportunity to empower groups of citizens suffering different kinds of exclusion. At the same time, the examples quoted in this paper also show a tendency to use these new educational tools online for consumerist and competition purposes. A tendency that, as we argue in the paper, is affecting not only e-learning but educational public policy in general. Finally, the third section examines the legal challenge behind the expansion of e-learning platforms, especially for vulnerable groups such as children and minors. 

We conclude by putting forward a set of possible policy recommendations to contribute to the research, policy-making, and public debate around this topic. In particular, we propose: a) to take a stand to close the gap of digital divide, b) to use e-learning platforms as a tool for public policy objectives, and c) to promote a European legislation promoting some minimum standards among e-learning providers. 

Find all related publications
Publications
12/02/2024

The Social Pillar and the future of the EU Social Agenda

24/01/2024

Progressive Yearbook 2024

Looking back to look ahead
29/11/2023

Social Europe: From vision to vigour

FEPS Primer series - Björn Hacker
04/10/2023

A progressive politics of work for the age of unpeace

What Labour can learn from the European centre-left
Find all related Progressive Post
Progressive Post
24/01/2024

Emboldening the EU’s social dimension

23/01/2024

Social Europe as a precondition for a more modern and just EU

09/11/2023

Leuven, a sustainable city with a focus on citizens’ participation

Find all related events
Events
Upcoming
15/03/2024
Cieszyn, Poland

Health for all

From a slogan to a reality for Europe
Past
12/02/2024
Austrian Permanent Representation, Brussels

The European Pillar of Social Rights

Turning principles into practice
24/01/2024
FEPS HQ

Progressive Yearbook launch

Find all related news
News
24/01/2024

Spanish Minister Teresa Ribera awarded FEPS ‘Progressive Person of the Year’

20/02/2023

Let’s end involuntary unemployment!

European survey on the perception of unemployment and publicly funded jobs
10/05/2022

Call to participants: Training Days for Social Business

Switzerland, September 3rd 2022
25/01/2021

Joint Progressive Call for the right to housing

Find all related in the media
In the media

Socialistas europeos reclaman que la Europa social sea la prioridad de la futura Comisión

by EuroEFE 09/11/2023
'European socialists demand that social Europe be the priority for the future Commission' article about the 'Champions of progress: Progressives go the extra mile for Social Europe!' side event organized by FEPS and PES

A szociális unió imperatívusza

by Új Egyenlőség 09/09/2023
'The imperative of Social Union'. Article about FEPS book 'Europe’s Social Integration: Welfare Models and Economic Transformations' by László Andor.

O László Andor στο Φόρουμ των Δελφών

by News 24 7 28/04/2023
“László Andor discussing at the Delphi Economic Forum about the importance of social inclusion and ways to strengthen it”

Research shows Ireland is too reliant on voluntary sector for mental health services

by RTÉ Radio 1 27/03/2023
RTÉ Radio 1 talks about our case studies 'Is an EU-wide approach to the mental health crisis necessary?', published in collaboration with Think-tank for Action on Social Change (TASC)