Tag Archives: students

Investing in People and STEM – CHOICE project final conference

The CHOICE Project intends to innovate STEM education and contribute to the policy reform of STEM curricula in European secondary schools by providing teachers and students with tools and resources promoting the STE(A)M approach, connecting STEM subjects with Arts and All the other disciplines. The project’s partnership is composed of non-profit organisations, business and private sector, education and training institutions, from five European countries: Italy, Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Belgium. 

The project’s final conference, ‘Investing in People and STEM : Innovative Cross-disciplinary STE(A)M approaches to education’, held on the 29th of November 2022 in Brussels in partnership with the European Economic and Social Committee, was attended by more than 90 participants (teachers, students, educators, policy makers, representatives of EU institutions and representatives of civil society organisations in the field of education and training, general public interested in the topic). The event, opened by  Monica Verzola (vice chairman of LLLP and member of the board of EVTA, was the concluding moment of the 3-year project CHOICE, where the project and its results were presented, and student and teacher testimonies heard. 

The main outcomes presented during the event were the state of the art analysis on existing initiatives, best practices, attitudes and approaches towards STEAM education and the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) promoting STE(A)M education for students, educators and teachers which collects Open Educational Resources (OERs) co-created with the students and teachers involved in the project; the project recommendation on how to promote the STE(A)M approach. 

The CHOICE MOOC is composed of five different modules which address five macro-areas: STEM& arts; experiential projects; STEM & teaching languages; using technology in social sciences; STEM & sports. The project’s success is measured by the positive impact it has had on student interest in STEM: following the project’s implementation, student’s interest in STEAM increased by 10%. Students and teachers from the Italian, Cypriot, Greek, and Spanish schools presented the OERs developed in the framework of the project, as “The Starry Night”, where students covered Van Gogh’s renowned painting with origami and studied the mathematics behind each shape. 

The conference ended with a fruitful panel discussion around the topic of “Innovative approaches on the promotion and improvement of STE(A)M education at school,” with a focus on EU policy development. The panel, composed of Michael Mcloughlin (European Economic and Social Committee | Youth Work Ireland); MEP Victor Negrescu (European Parliament), Leonie Bultynck (European Commission, DG EAC), Evita Tasiopoulou (Science Education Department, European Schoolnet), was moderated by Jon Harding (Vice chairman I treasurer, LLLP). 

The panellists emphasised that the different STEM/STE(A)M initiatives in Europe should be interconnected across regional and national levels. In this way, STEM education can grow and evolve, and build on different practices and approaches. It is important to involve local authorities and ministries, support institutions, and listen to students in a learner-centred approach. STE(A)M education touches upon many sectors and should involve all of them. Industries could be more involved and integrated into school curricula, to stimulate STEM careers. 

The panel particularly focused on STEM and gender equality. Currently, far more men than women are pursuing STEM careers: STEM education should be more fun, more ‘attractive’, related to everyday life, and provide more female role models to be truly inclusive. There are other inequalities in STEM education, such as those related to socio-economic status, belonging to national or ethnic minority, etc. Overall, all speakers agreed that, at local, national and European level, STEM education and careers should take a more intersectional approach, be adapted to the needs of students and schools, and receive more resources.

The project’s final conference raised important action points on how to sustain the project’s results with time, and, thereby, how to promote and improve STE(A)M education at local, regional, national and European levels. In this regard, it would be important to have a European network for STEM education that would act as a reference in the field, allowing individuals to connect and share best practices in teaching STEAM disciplines, encouraging and promoting them.

Readers are invited to read the project’s Policy Recommendations document, which deepens the lessons learned from “CHOICE” on how to support the reform of the school curricula by making the shift from STEM teaching in silos to a more interdisciplinary and practice-oriented approach of STE(A)M education.


Schools involved in the project:

Other project partners are: Lifelong Learning Platform, CESIE (Italy),  EUROTraining (Greece), Blue Room Innovation (Spain), GrantXpert Consulting (Cyprus).


The acronym STEM derives from Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics, and it is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach.

Achieving Inclusive and Learner-centred Schools – “LEAD!” Project Outcomes

Students with specific learning difficulties (SLD) often feel excluded and misunderstood throughout their school journey, and are subject to early school leaving. The issue lies in school methodologies: with universal learning methods, students are left behind and their potential is un-expressed. To increase social inclusion and decrease early school leaving, students’ needs must be accommodated. The project “Specific Learning Disorders no more! (LEAD!)” precisely aims to empower students with specific learning disorders aged 9-14 years old, to develop the right competencies, through promoting adaptive technologies and their use. The project’s overarching mission is to enable students with SLD to understand their own difficulties and to support them in using adaptive methodologies, to thrive in education. Consequently, students not only learn adaptive ways to read, write, make calculations, but also develop lifelong learning competencies such as learning to learn and being autonomous.

“LEAD!” is a two-year-long Erasmus+ project. Its partnership spans across four European countries – Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Romania – and is composed of: ‘ENFOR, an Italian training and social research organisation; University of Valladolid; the Lifelong Learning Platform, an umbrella for 42 European organizations active in the field of education, training and youth; the schools ‘Istituto Comprensivo 2 Giovanni Paolo II’ of Policoro (Italy)  and of the  Inspectoratul Școlar din Iași’ (Romania).

The project’s direct target group is students aged 9-14 years old with SLDs, namely dyslexia (difficulty reading), dysgraphia (difficulty writing), dysorthography (difficulty writing and following grammatical rules), dyscalculia (difficulty calculating). Besides teachers and tutors, the project’s indirect target groups include all of the school and not-in-school staff involved with the students with SLD. The indirect beneficiaries are instead the students’ families. TheMY SKILLS’ online platform – one of the project’s results – meets the project’s objective of empowering students with SLD and of achieving more inclusive education. The platform guides students in their learning, and, in doing so, provides them with the right competences and increases inclusion in school, as a consequence. 

Project Outputs: ‘MY SKILLS’ Platform & Student License 

MY SKILLS’ is a platform for students to learn compensatory tools for reading, writing, making calculations, and their uses, where teachers can also access student progress. Its content is designed following the European Guidelines of the Validation of Formal and Informal Learning (CEDEFOP). The platform has a twofold advantage: (a)  it can be accessed both online and offline, so that learning paths are readily available no matter the context; (b) it encourages the use of information and communication tools, and telematic forms of communication between teachers and students. Towards the end of one’s journey on the platform, students have the opportunity to gain the European license on the use of compensatory instruments. Overall, the project’s two outcomes denote innovation from both a content and digital point of view by embedding compensatory tools for SLD students within the digital world.

At the end of the project, the partners organised multipliers events in each country involved, as well as an international conference in Brussels, entitled: “Achieving inclusive and learner-centred schools”. The conference included an interactive panel discussion with experts (Luisa Lopez, member of the Italian Dyslexia Association, board member of the European Dyslexia Association; Augustin Mihalache, Attaché Education, Permanent Representation of Romania to the European Union; Rachel Vaughan, Head of Operations, EASPD; Erik Ballhausen, Senior officer in EU program management, EACEA). The project’s conference highlighted three main points in relation to the project “LEAD!”: 1. Importance behind inclusive education; 2. Importance behind inclusive communities; 3. Need for evidence-based good practices for inclusive education.

Firstly, embracing diversity is essential, and empathy is key in doing so. “LEAD” reflects how it is important for education to be inclusive, because we all have different learning methods and paths. Students with SLD should be offered the possibility to make use of adaptive technologies when reading, writing, calculating. If not, education is not inclusive because it does not allow equal learning opportunities for all.

Secondly, building learning communities is important to achieve inclusive education. “LEAD” kickstarts the possibility of having an interaction between parents, teachers, and students. Here, just like for teachers, parents can learn from how children learn, and adapt to their needs accordingly. COVID-19 and homeschooling is a good moment to learn how children learn, and we should, therefore, take advantage of it. 

Lastly, there is a lack of practices – and, more specifically, of evidence-based ones – that address inclusive education. Drawing on the project “LEAD”, new practices may be added and built upon, to collect a database of practices on inclusive education for students with SLD. Insights into pedagogy are relevant and are impactful to use to establish such good practices.

Overall, the Erasmus+ project “LEAD” stems from a pan-European partnership which aims to increase inclusive education and decrease early school leaving of students with specific learning disorders (SLD). The project’s outcomes – the ‘MY SKILLS’ platform and the resulting student licenses – attempt to empower students with right competencies – both concerning reading, writing, calculating ones and learning- to-learn – to succeed in school. Ultimately, the project’s final conference both re-enforced and shed new light into the need for inclusive, community-centered education, and the creation of evidence-based practices that address inclusive education. The aforementioned points are some of the policy recommendations raised from the data, observations and feedback collected throughout the project, which address policy makers at local, regional, national and EU levels. The conference’s discussion supported how “LEAD!” is the right step towards achieving inclusive education and creating standardized good practices for it.

How do I Access the Platform?

To become more familiar with the ‘MY SKILLS’ platform, have a look at the explanatory video on how the platform works. Both teachers representing a class, and individual students, can sign up. Whereas students wishing to join ‘MY SKILLS’ can select “Student” as a role during the registration process, teachers can ask to have their school involved by sending an email to myskills@myskillslead.eu.



LEAD! – PROJECT PILOTING PHASE

The project Specific Learning Disorder no more! (LEAD!) is well underway, ready to launch the pilot program. 

With training materials in English, Romanian and Italian, the pilot testing will take place in Italy and Romania. The process of reviewing educational resources will be conducted both internally and externally.

The internal pilot test leader, IC2 Policoro (“ISTITUTO COMPRENSIVO2 “GIOVANNI PAOLO II“), will carry out, through March-April 2022, a pilot test within the consortium where at least 2 people from each project partner, who were not directly involved in the development of the training material, will participate in testing the functionality of the platform.

The piloting with Schools (external pilots) will be implemented through a Challenge Jam, where pupils, schools, and associated partners will be invited to the testing phase of the project’s training material.

The Challenge Jam is characterised by a series of events organised in the classrooms where students with and without SLD (Specific Learning Disorders), under the guidance of their teachers, will have to solve a problem related to a challenge that a young SLD faces every day at school*. This methodology allows an effective comparison of experiences between different realities, without pushing for competition.  Through May-June 2022, each partner will be responsible for involving 5 classes (of 20 people) for a total of 500 people.

The pilot program seeks to engage the entire classroom, thus gaining the transversal function of raising awareness on SLD. Through implementing this pilot program, not only do we aim to increase standards of education for those with SLDs, we are also committed to promoting diversity and greater social inclusion. This avoids separating classes and accentuating the feeling of “diversity” experienced by children with SLD,

The pilot test will also serve the classmates of students with SLD by raising awareness on the topic and allowing students to step into “the shoes” of a child with SLD, thus increasing empathy and involvement.

All the feedback that the partners will receive during the pilot phases will be analysed and then updated in the project platform.

The LEAD! Project partners will meet in Iasi (Romania) this 29th and 30th of March to discuss the next steps: the train the trainers programme, as well as the #MySkills platform design.

* More specifically, a ‘jam’ can be understood as team-based, loosely structured exercises conducted in a face-to-face environment designed to bring out participants’ creativity for developing innovative solutions to complex problems (Morrison, 2009).

Morrison, K (2009). Outcomes Report: CCi Mainstreaming and RHD Jams. Cultural Science Journal, 2 (1).  

 
   

ESU – Sustainability and the responsibility of education institutions

This article first appeared on ESU’s website.

Sustainable development can be defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”(1). It is crucial to view sustainability holistically as encompassing not only a safe climate and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but all different dimensions of sustainability. This includes aspects such as ecological thinking, sustainable communities, environmental and social justice as well as sustainability mainstreaming in politics, economics, production, consumption and education. 

Science clearly shows that the current way of living is not sustainable. Climate change caused by human activity, over-consumption of natural resources, mass extinction of species, lasting damages caused by pollution and persisting social injustices are well documented. We must listen to the scientific community and act with the necessary urgency to respond to the crises we are facing.

It is clear by now that the current mode of production and consumption is not sustainable; without a radical transformation process, we will continue to compromise the prospects of future generations. Because the necessary transformation needs to be science-driven, education institutions play a crucial role. Young people and students make up almost half of the world’s population and we have a vital role to play in driving the transformation towards a sustainable society. ESU is aware of the necessity to take responsibility, but it can not solve the problems alone. Urgent action from education institutions, corporations and policymakers on all levels is needed.

When our educational institutions, corporations and governments avoid taking action on sustainability, they are not just avoiding the issue, but are in fact making a political decision to continue unsustainable development. Globally, less than 3% of people go to university, yet 80% of societal leaders have been to a university. Our educational spaces create future leaders, yet our institutions are not ensuring that all their graduates are equipped with the knowledge and competencies needed to be leaders for a sustainable and just future we want to see. Policymakers have the responsibility to think beyond the end of their own time in office and build a society that meets the needs of future generations. Education institutions have a responsibility to provide relevant research, communicate the results of their research to the general public free of charge and to fulfil the multiple purposes of education within society.

Read the full statement here

ESU is recruiting a Communications Officer!

The European Students’ Union (ESU) is looking for a creative and dynamic team player to fill the position of Communications Officer at its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium.

Responsibilities and areas of work

Managing and facilitating external and internal communications, namely by:

  • Updating and implementing ESU’s Communications strategy; Promoting ESU events, projects, publications, campaigns, statements and policies to other stakeholders (NGOs, relevant EU institutions, policy makers, etc) and the wider public
  • Collaborating with partner organisations in different Work Packages; dissemination of European projects (Erasmus+, Horizon2020, CoE)
  • Writing articles and compiling information for ESU’s website and external newsletter
  • Liaising with relevant media and related institutions; writing and sending Press Releases when relevant in coordination with the Presidency and EC teams
  • Moderating internal and external email lists and intranet
  • Screening external queries and requests (including filtering relevant messages received at the general organisation’s email)
  • Organising events in cooperation with other ESU staff or elected representatives
  • Social Media Management
  • Producing graphic materials (mainly for the website and social media): photos, videos, infographics
  • Proofreading of documents produced by members of the Board/EC/other staff members

Upgrading and updating ESU’s institutional image, namely by:

  • Regularly updating ESU’s website
  • Working with a professional IT company to improve ESU’s website
  • Developing promotional materials and lead the practical/technical work regarding ESU publications (contact with designers, printing companies, etc.)

Further developing the administration of the organisation:

  • Mentoring and supervising the tasks of the Communications intern(s)
  • Cooperating with other ESU elected and secretariat members on ESU’s promotional and fundraising activities (eg: grant applications)
  • Finding new ways to facilitate better internal and external communications
  • Sharing daily secretariat tasks with other secretariat members

Requirements

  • A degree or comparable experience within the areas Public Relations, ICT, journalism, communications and/or marketing
  • Knowledge and/or experience of promotional activities and communications strategies
  • A very good command of the English language (spoken and written). Additional knowledge of one or more European languages is highly desirable, particularly French or Dutch
  • Very good computer skills and web literacy

The following knowledge and/or skills will be taken as advantages:

  • Knowledge of the European institutions and other target audiences related to higher education
  • Layouting and design skills
  • Photography, video production and editing skills
  • Any working experience with non-profit student/youth organisations, preferably student unions
  • Preferably with experience working in projects funded by EU programmes (Horizon2020, Erasmus+, Council of Europe…)

Profile of the candidate

A team player that is able to work within a multicultural environment. Must be flexible and able to stick to tight deadlines. Can expect occasional travel to attend the major events of the organisation and project meetings.

What do we offer?

  • Full-time position (37.5h per week)
  • Flexibility
  • Casual, warm but highly organised work environment
  • Support from the different teams/departments
  • Interviews will be held between the 8th and 10th July;
  • Starting date: mid-July 2019
  • Location: Brussels
  • Salary: Between 1,800.00 – 2,000.00 EUR monthly gross salary + attractive benefits package. Exact remuneration depends on the qualifications and experience of the successful candidate.

Application procedure

Applications should be submitted in English and include a CV and a cover letter (no longer than 2 pages).

Please send your application to Mr. Robert Napier on jobs@esu-online.org  by 23.59 CET on Friday 28th June 2019.

School Student’s Europe 2024

OBESSU launched its campaign for the European Parliament Elections “School Student’s Europe 2024“. 

This campaign, designed by their membership, takes into consideration two main problems:

  • OBESSU represent learners at different levels. Many of them are underage, and in the majority of countries this means that they hold no right to vote. This situation is even more harsh on those that do not hold a citizenship status and therefore voting status, like young migrant and refugee learners.
  • In the current political situation in Europe, participation at all levels needs to be fostered and promoted, though casting votes in the ballot box but also through other means.

Starting from these statements, our campaign is built on:

  1. manifesto based on the most relevant topics for OBESSU, as expressed by our membership at our last Council of Members. Read it here.
  2. toolkit for actions on democratic participation which you can read here. In the toolkit you can find inspirations and tips on how to organise events on the topic of democratic participation, like shadow elections, simulations etc.
  3. specific Seeds for Integration call targeted at non-voters in EU elections like young migrants, for which you can request funding and take some inspiration from the toolkit on what to organise which you can find here.
  4. communication campaign that will be released later in the month, and will feature:
    1. “I Vote for School Student Rights” stickers – in English but we will also provide modifiable version for you to print in your own language
    2. Facebook badges for profile pictures
    3. Banners with claims (and blank) for visual actions like photo collections.
  5. Participation to the YO!Fest organised by the European Youth Forum on 30th April in cooperation with the European Students Unions.

What can you do? 

First and foremost, you can share our manifesto and toolkit for action. 

Secondly, you can apply to our specific Seeds call and organise one (or more) of the activities proposed in the toolkit for action.We are happy to prepare a project together!

Thirdly, you can get ready to take over social media!

We count on you! 

If you have questions, you can always contact board@obessu.org!