We recently published a brochure dedicated to educational policy makers. This publication includes a series of key questions dedicated to policy makers in education as well as a concrete set of proposals for action. The questions and recommendations are derived from our 2,5 years of intensive work with teachers and scientists across Europe to promote science in schools.
The publication also describes teacher’s experiences with the VISH, a central point for teachers to access and create interactive learning material related to various science topics, and its related activities.
On this basis, four proposals emerge from the project:
ViSH as a central e-Infrastructures platform: ViSH has the capacity to act as a central hub, providing access to e-Infrastructures, remote labs, and science-related content to users from all over the world.It is connected to the main educational content repositories.
b.ViSH Fund: collect grants and donations to enhance the quality of science education in the EU by supporting the activities and work of the actors involved (teachers, head teachers, researchers/scientists/lab owners, etc.) c.Promotion campaign: support for a European-wide promotion campaign for ICT-supported STEM teaching underlining the importance of e-Infrastructures.This can be a joint effort of related projects that partially are already connected and can combine their tools and interfaces.
The promotion campaign can also be combined with teacher trainings.
Anchor in the national curriculum to make use of latest ICT for teaching in the different subjects, especially STEM and enforce innovative, interactive and project-based teaching methods.Global excursion Trainings and Events The aims, methodology and outcomes of the Global excursion project have been presented and disseminated in numerous face to face trainings as well as in online events all around Europe.
The main purpose was to train teachers in the methods and approaches of the project, via the access point, namely ViSH portal.More than 200 teachers have had the opportunity to get familiar with the ViSH tool, more than 4000 students have viewed its content and more than 540 excursions have been produced and used in classrooms.The evaluation results collected after those trainings, prove the impact that these activities have on teachers perceptions since potential users do not only discover possible tools and functionalities but are also exposed to the pedagogical aspects and advantages ViSH can bring to learning and their teaching.Policy-makers might give policy support to these issues guaranteeing funds and/or allocate operational grants, thus allowing the involved parties to devote appropriate working time to the implementation of these activities.Besides the training for teachers, additional activities have been organized throughout the project.One of the activities which has been launched was the popular online event series called “Meet the Scientist”.During these live online sessions scientists interacted directly with teachers and their students.
They talked about their work, showed their labs and answered questions from the audience.This allowed the students to gain a more qualified view of what it means to be a scientist.Moreover, at the end of the project, the consortium organized a competition that aimed to contribute to the further dissemination of ViSH to its various stakeholders plus reward a number of teachers and scientists that have been particularly active regarding the creation of excursions.The Global excursion final event was held in Brussels, 14-16 February 2014, as part of the 3rd Science projects in the Future Classroom Lab event, in collaboration with other projects like Scientix, inGenious and Go-Lab.A total of 30 teachers from across Europe had the opportunity to see the project’s outcomes, the online tour of ViSH and teachers’ presentations while the Head of Digital Science Unit of DG Connect, European Commission.
Mr. Jose Cotta, presented competition winners with their awards.Acknowledgements On behalf of the whole Global excursion consortium, we wish to thank the following teachers for their enthusiastic and professional participation plus their support throughout the project: Jose Viñas, Jean-Pierre Bartholeyns, Jonathan Schofield, Roland Zenz, Józsefné Bocsok, Ana Pons Fernández De Córdoba, Manuel Cid Fernández, Carlos Villasenin Isolino De Paz, Luis Vaquerizo Fernandez, María Luisa Castiñeira, Ben Bastiaensen, Thierry Delannoy, Annunziata Michetti, Christine Chatzigiannis, Anna Wagner, Michaela Liebhart, Jörg Haas, Deutsch Waltraud, Caroline Neuberg, Samar El-Koussa, Elaine Manton, Zuzana Christozova, Zsoltné Fekete, Ferenc Gembiczki, Tamás Varga, Marianna Fenyvesi, Maruzs László.About GLOBAL excursion The main purpose of the GLOBAL excursion project was to enable students and teachers to access the experimental laboratories and resources of selected e-Infrastructures in order to improve science curricula by enriching schools’ existing teaching and learning materials.
By connecting e-Infrastructures, resources and tools with schools, pupils can experience challenging and authentic learning scenarios.Thus, students gain insights in real scientific work and revitalize interest in natural science education.Another objective within GLOBAL excursion was to enable an ever increasing number of users from all science and engineering disciplines to publish, and effectively disseminate their use of e-Infrastructures and science-related content.
In this context four big areas of science have been selected to be initial use cases for the GLOBAL excursion: nanotechnologies, biotechnologies, volunteer computing and life sciences and has been expanded gradually to other topics.
The ViSH (Virtual Science Hub) is the main access point to e-Infrastructures.It contains a selection of e-Infrastructures, a social network where scientists, teachers and any other users are able to exchange and establish collaborations, and virtual excursion rooms for live events.or two and a half years (09/2011-02/2014), the GLOBAL excursion project has been carried out by an international consortium of research partners: Centre for Social Innovation – ZSI, Austria (Coordinator), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain; European Schoolnet, Belgium; University of Zaragoza – BIFI, Spain; University of Cambridge – Nanoscience Centre, UK; MTA SZTAKI, Hungary; and Agora Systems, Spain.Virtual Science Hub (ViSH) Interdisciplinarity is also supported since teachers from all disciplines have the possibility to enrich ViSH with resources of their choice and develop excursions corresponding to their needs or even combine a variety of subjects.
b.How to motivate teachers to make use of the ViSH and other ICT to enhance their science teaching and to exchange their experiences with their peers across Europe? The ViSH is the main access point to e-Infrastructures and science-related content for teaching.It provides scientists, teachers and their pupils as well as policy makers with activities, materials, and tools for enabling the integration of e-Infrastructures, such as remote labs, into school curricula.ViSH supports a set of resources that can be uploaded to the platform and be made available for all the users: images, objects (flash objects), videos, live objects: webcams or microscopes provided by the e-Infrastructures.European Pilots Main features To test and refine ViSH the consortium carried out pilot activities in collaboration with a total of 25 schools from Spain, Hungary, Belgium, Austria and The United Kingdom.Collaborating teachers developed their own excursions and provided the consortium with valuable input related to its implementation and further development.ViSH includes a variety of functionalities that aim to provide users with the right tools and enough flexibility, allowing them to make use of resources and put together quality excursions that they can use in their classrooms and enhance their teaching.The four main functionalities are: • Social network – for teachers and scientists to meet and collaborate • Excursions – online presentations that integrate learning objects from the Internet • Resources – ViSH has a learning repository of resources where users can upload their own or use those already uploaded by the community • Videoconference – functionality to allow real time communication among ViSH users including non-registered users ViSH is available for registered and non-registered users.Non-registered users can view excursions, resources and connect to videoconferences.
Registered users can create excursions, upload resources and access collaborative features such as videoconferences and the social network.Excursions are the central and most important piece of ViSH.They are presentations composed using different resources that can be found on the Internet or uploaded yourself.They can contain text, images, videos, flash objects (games, simulations, etc.), remote e-Infrastructure resources (live webcams, remote labs, etc.), and quizzes.Excursions can also include special visualizations like flashcards or virtual tours that motivate students by providing them with a more interactive experience.
Pilot Teachers Teachers were selected based on their motivation, teaching subject(s) and overall interest/engagement in similar projects.What Teachers Say…
“In our school at the North of Hungary, the unemployment rate is more than 25 %, plus there is no funding to take students to normal excursions to different laboratories.That is the reason why I joined this project.Our students are 14-24 years old and interested in STEM subjects.
For them, ViSH provides access to scientists and resources that they would never been able to experience without it.Moreover, not only their scientific but language skills have improved enormously.” “As a GLOBAL excursion teacher I enjoyed collaborating with other teachers internationally and reviewing how they present topics, such as Nano- technology and Biotechnology particularly, in their lessons.I was inspired to try some of their experiments out in STEM club too.I think the ‘Meet the Scientists’ sessions are particularly powerful in informing students of the relevance of subjects covered in the classroom and how this will impact not only their career choices but the importance and relevance of these topic areas in the future of science and technology for society long-term.” Pedagogical value For two and a half years (09/2011-02/2014), the GLOBAL excursion project has been carried out by an international consortium of research partners: Centre for Social Innovation – ZSI, Austria (Coordinator), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, Spain; European Schoolnet, Belgium; University of Zaragoza – BIFI, Spain; University of Cambridge – Nanoscience Centre, UK; MTA SZTAKI, Hungary; and Agora Systems, Spain.The ViSH supports a variety of teaching styles, e.g. problem-based learning, group work, inquiry-based learning, etc., always committed to a modern pedagogical approach that focuses on a holistic teaching process.
It gives teachers and students the chance to link to their previous experience and knowledge, their specific interests as well as personal learning and teaching styles.An additional pedagogical value is created by the exchange of teaching experiences and the social networking amongst users.How Policy Can Help to Provide Continuity Information gathered during the project showed that the majority of the involved actors were highly interested and showed willingness to participate in a possible future development of ViSH.However, only a (significant) minority of the respondents showed a readiness to contribute financially to the cost of the follow-up activities.
In this light, the following key questions were identified for educational policy-makers: Virtual Science Hub (ViSH) Interdisciplinarity is also supported since teachers from all disciplines have the possibility to enrich ViSH with resources of their choice and develop excursions corresponding to their needs or even combine a variety of subjects.b.
How to motivate teachers to make use of the ViSH and other ICT to enhance their science teaching and to exchange their experiences with their peers across Europe? The ViSH is the main access point to e-Infrastructures and science-related content for teaching.It provides scientists, teachers and their pupils as well as policy makers with activities, materials, and tools for enabling the integration of e-Infrastructures, such as remote labs, into school curricula.ViSH supports a Moreover, the mobile phone ViSH application provides teachers with the possibility to access the tool from practically everywhere, share content and excursions easily with their students and basically fully integrate ViSH to nowadays IT landscape.
Furthermore, as reported by most of the actors involved during the research phase, access to selected e-Infrastructures is already successfully taking place at national level, BUT in a very small scale with little communication and interaction among interested parties.Thus, ViSH could play a key role in the collection, organisation and availability of all these e-Infrastructures which can be introduced and made available to a wider audience, especially within the educational sector.