A new academic year starts, and the Interoperable Europe (IOPEU) Academy is ready for it. Victoria Kalogirou, Project Manager of European Commission DG DIGIT (Directorate of Informatics), looks back on the progress achieved until now, and shares with us the plans for the upcoming period.
Victoria, thank you very much for your time. Why was the IOPEU Academy created and for whom?
The Interoperable Europe Academy was created by the European Commission in 2019 under the former ISA2 programme, now the Interoperable Europe Initiative. Its goal is to integrate all educational materials related to interoperability and to offer them through eLearning courses. We also complement these courses with different live learning activities, such as seasonal schools, lectures and workshops.
With these efforts, we mainly aim to support public administrations engaged in digital transformation, although the courses are also created for students and young professionals, as well as all enthusiasts in this field.
Furthermore, we have also noticed how incredibly relevant the Academy is in the context of the current European digital policies. Think about the Digital Decade, the European Year of Skills and especially the EU Commission’s proposal for an Interoperable Europe Act, which places a great emphasis on the need for training to promote understanding of interoperability.
What are the key milestones accomplished the IOPEU Academy until now?
Where to begin? Looking back, I feel we already had so much of them. I feel the following important milestones stand out:
- Firstly, the Study on the development of a European framework for interoperability skills and competences in the public sector (EFISC), as study that was funded by the ISA²-programme.
- Secondly, the development of our academic curriculum with different learning paths which integrates the now available 23 eLearning courses. Both the curriculum and the courses are accessible through the new Interoperable Europe Academy Community.
- Thirdly, the Winter School we organised in 2019. It was a 3-day immersive experience in which the audience attended workshops and lectures in order to learn about interoperability public sector needs and to exchange ideas among their peers. The event will be organised once more in 2024!
- In addition, our continuous presence at those universities that offer courses on digital transformation, EU policies and interoperability, such as the University Politécnica de Madrid and the University of Aegean. Until now, five university lectures have been given to master and bachelor students in the context of the IOPEU Academy.
- Further to these important milestones, the IOPEU Academy was the first pilot of the EU Academy platform with already more than 25 courses and more to come. The EU Academy is an eLearning platform launched by the European Commission, in which all the courses produced by the IOPEU Academy can be found.
Do these milestones also result in a growing awareness of the existence of the IOPEU Academy?
Indeed! The gained presence of the IOPEU Academy is visible in its growing numbers. Until now, over 12.700 learners have registered to at least one of our courses.
What is planned for the Academy in the near future?
The IOPEU Academy is expanding, and this is reflected in our newly published Roadmap, which can be found below. New courses are being created, such as the ones on the Interoperability Test Bed, one on Digital Ready Policymaking, one titled ‘Interoperability and AI’ and one on interoperability enablers. We are also investing in multilingualism and accessibility. For example, the course of ‘Interoperability: An Introductory Course’ will be translated into all EU Member State languages in order to reach a wider audience. Additionally, several university lectures, webinars and events are already planned for the upcoming months!
What would be your message for the IOPEU Academy stakeholders and learners?
The IOPEU Academy is always ready to cooperate with stakeholders in order to better understand their current needs and how these demands can be fulfilled. For instance, cooperations with public administrations and organisations can be established to organise conferences, seminars, or workshops.
The IOPEU Academy is also a key factor, as, through its courses, it aims to boost the advanced digital skills of public servants and helps them to improve their talents. Moreover, national academies or educational institutions can reuse IOPEU Academy course material for free and promote them on their own web pages and eLearning platforms.
Additionally, all stakeholders can share the Academy’s work on advancing public sector digital skills, and interact with its peers in the community on Joinup. Spreading the word is key to raise awareness on interoperability and its impact on the European landscape!