Earlier this year, in July and September, the creativity team had intense workshops in Sienna (Italy) and in Leicester (Great Britain). In November (22-23/11) all project partners met in Austria, in the mountain surrounded Schlierbach of Upper Austria as it was time to discuss the best format and relevant scope of sharing of the material that has been created so far. By adopting the point of view of schoolchildren and educators, partners discussed the design of an e-learning platform (which is under development), where teachers will find a lot of useful content and schoolchildren will have access to short online courses.
Ιn Sienna, Italy the first training workshop for the project CREATIVITY took place between the 4th and the 7th of July 2022. The workshop was attended by representatives of the countries of the consortium, namely UK, Austria, Lithuania, Greece, Belgium and Italy.
The themes of the training agenda were photography, creative writing, clowning, and digital storytelling, while emphasis was also given as to how these activities can be pedagogically included into teaching thus supporting the development of the creativity of the students.
On Saturday the 16th of April 2022 Research paths presented the project Certify in an event that took place in the building of the school of philosophy of the University of Athens (and specifically on the 4th floor, room 421).
The event was attended by students of the University of Athens and professionals active in the artistic & cultural sector. The speakers on behalf or Research Paths were: a. Dr. Spyros Kokkotas (general manager and project manager of Research Paths), who spoke about the design, development and underlying philosophy of Certify b. Prof. Athanasios Verdis (assistant professor of the NKUA, member of the Research Paths) who presented the digital platforms, developed by Certify and Ms. Nefeli Anagnostopoulou (member of Research Paths – arts conservator) who introduced the participants in the creation of digital, CV, stories.
After the presentations the participants engaged in an extensive and productive dialogue that lasted until the end of the event.
On the 1st February 2022 partners of the Erasmus+ project SOLIS met at Loughborough University, UK. The SOLIS project is creating an e-learning platform with modules to promote wellbeing, inclusion and diversity in schools, as well as a mobile resource to support teachers.
Central to the SOLIS project is the creation of a library of 80+ digital stories, enabling the SOLIS partners to co-design, adapt and test the Digital Storytelling methodology with educators in a classroom setting. These Digital Storytelling skills were acquired during online learning activities in 2021, involving teachers from all partner countries. Digital stories are being created by students in the UK, Norway, Turkey, Malta, Italy, Lithuania, Spain and Greece under the guidance of trained partners. Digital Storytelling is a key methodology within the inclusive education approaches presented by the SOLIS project, working as a method of reflection, expression, understanding and development for the students involved, giving them awareness about the themes raised of inclusion and wellbeing. The Digital Storytelling methodology also enhances their self-confidence and provides additional digital skills.
When the SOLIS partners came together at Loughborough University, the first session of ‘micro learning modules’ were recorded with expert partners, providing focused, micro insight into inclusion, conflict, digital media, bullying and respect. This video content will be available throughout the learning outputs of the SOLIS project, such as the e-learning platform and mobile resource. An example of a question that is addressed in the platform is ‘What is conflict that cannot be resolved?’ An interesting concept that was viewed as both normal and part of healthy diversity, with a core idea that conflict is not necessarily harmful and cannot be completely eliminated, as long as core individual values and respect are not diminished, and compromise and tolerance is sought.
The project is formed by the following partners:
Loughborough University (UK) – Coordinator
E Consultants (Norway)
Afyonkarahisar Provincial National Education Directorate (Turkey)
People Help the People (Italy)
European Social Entrepreneurship and Innovative Studies Institute (Lithuania)
European Learning Centre (Spain)
Research Paths (Greece)
The SOLIS project, funded with the support of the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union, is investigating the core challenges within cultural diversity and discrimination within 12-16 year old school pupils. The project is a collaboration between Loughborough University (UK), E-Consultants (Norway), People Help The People (Italy), AcrossLimits (Malta), European Social Entrepreneurship Institute (Lithuania), Afyonkarahisar Provincial National Education Directorate (Turkey), Research Paths (Greece), European Learning Centre (Spain). It aims to develop an e-learning platform for students and web training portal for teachers to provide interactive and collaborative activities such as digital storytelling, promoting peer learning and sharing for the increased wellbeing of students.
Extensive research has been carried out in the participant countries. The full report can be read on our website www.solis-project.eu. The research identifies various challenges in creating an inclusive school environment. The role of students is of paramount importance as they are the ones that have to embrace inclusion as an attitude towards their peers. Teachers should be able to embrace the inclusive ethos as a guiding principle in their teaching practice. Many teachers are lacking proper training to do so. Therefore, the need for the training of teachers is an imperative for the inclusive process, something the SOLIS project aims to provide support for with innovative learning practises that take a more holistic approach.
All eight countries have embraced inclusive education as a goal in their educational systems. The trend can be traced back into a series of international conventions and treaties that have been incorporated into national legislations. From the research conducted on a national level by the SOLIS partners in Norway, UK, Lithuania, Malta, Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey, we have identified that inclusion as a concept should be as broad as possible: It should include all learners, regardless of identity, background or ability. Another outcome of the research identified that in some European countries integration and even more so incorporation into a dominant cultural paradigm is not inclusion. Inclusion recognizes and embraces diversity and difference as a resource and not as a problem. In this sense the inclusive school is responsive to the diverse needs of individual learners and accepts the different cultural practices as they exist in multicultural societies as they are expressed in the school context. Inclusive education increases the opportunities for peer interaction and the formation of close friendships between learners with and without disabilities, with disability being one of the main factors of exclusion.
Inclusion embraces diversity. All project participants identified the groups that are more vulnerable and therefore face a greater risk of exclusion. Vulnerable groups were identified on the basis of poverty, gender, ethnic origin (especially people with immigrant or refugee status), religion, sexual orientation or identity and disability.
Diverse strategies exist across participant countries. A case study from the UK reveals that a school has ‘well-being Wednesdays’ every week, with topics that pupils do together in groups. “When we discuss personal topics, the kids are very open and just accept it. They seem interested and don’t seem to find it odd or embarrassing to talk about things.”
In Turkey, sports education is being used as an inclusive method for strengthening social cohesion for temporary and internationally protected individuals.
And in Italy, the ‘InterAction – Increase skills to combat early school leaving’ project is taking place in some neighbourhoods of the city of Palermo, aimed at combating early school leaving and dispersion through the involvement of the educating community.
The SOLIS project is developing tools that use digital storytelling as one of its core strategies. Digital storytelling is a form of media through which people can describe a situation or experience. Through it, the thoughts, emotions and experiences of the storyteller can be expressed in an authentic way. Digital storytelling can play a significant role in raising awareness and preventing students’ exclusion, when utilized within the school setting.
On the 14th September 2021 Erasmus+ project SELAM held its closing International Conference in Afyonkarahisar, Turkey. The SOLIS project (Developing wellbeing and social inclusion: achieving success through understanding of cultural diversity) held a 30-minute discussion panel with partners from UK, Norway and Greece appearing via video call to introduce this new project to over 100 teachers and education professionals. SOLIS is funded by the Erasmus+ KA2 Program (Strategic partnerships for school education) and started with a digital kick-off meeting in December 2020.
The SOLIS project was presented through the discussion panel at the International Conference in Turkey. The project aims to create a sense of belonging in students – a right to be included – no matter their background or ability by exploring the nexus of wellbeing, inclusion and diversity. The innovative use of Digital Storytelling will be a key tool in reaching these objectives, highlighted by Loughborough University, a leading educator in this field. Ongoing SOLIS research was also presented by Research Paths – looking into Inclusive Education Approaches and tools currently used in UK, Norway, Lithuania, Spain, Greece, Italy, Turkey and Malta. The report of this research will be available on the SOLIS project website and will help inform the creation of digital tools to support teachers and increase the wellbeing and inclusion of students, no matter their background. SOLIS will also lead to the creation of a resource library of at least 80 digital stories, as a result of teacher training and local workshops with students in all project partner countries.
Digital Storytelling is central to the holistic whole-school approach of the SOLIS project, looking at training teachers on how to employ this eminent tool in a classroom setting to help students share their story and increase understanding of where students come from and what they face. By helping students reflect on who they are, their values and relationships, and listening to their peers doing the same, strongly supports their development tasks in adolescence, allowing for evolution of identity management, handling and building of new relationships and information processing – key objectives of the SOLIS project.
The partners of the Certify project met in person on the 16st of September 2021 in Rome.
In the meeting – hosted by Istituto Luigi Sturzo- the partners discussed the development and future implementation of the Certify storytelling application developed by partners ATIT.
Also, the second training workshop of the trainees of CERTIFY took place under the auspices of the Istituto Luigi Sturzo in Rome between the 17th and the 22nd of September.
The subject of training was mentoring and more specifically how can mentoring techniques may help the development of video CV’s that can be used in the recruitment process.
The Certify team met online for a scheduled meeting on the 16th of March 2021.
The international trainees joined the core project team for the first 90 minutes of the meeting
The meeting was opened with the screening of the ‘Top Tips’ videos produced by the trainees, that stimulated very interesting discussions on authenticity and uniqueness of each personal digital story.
The videos can be watched via this link:
Α series of questions for further reflection were brought forward such as:
How to evaluate a digital story within the CERTIFY context?
How to use DS to increase the chance to be interviewed in the context of a job application?
Despite the current restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 16 trainees from the 6 European partners’ countries, 12 months after the first Learning mobility in the UK at the end of 2019, on Wednesday 16th December 2020 had the opportunity to kick-off online their second training activity.
The training event was led by Dr Antonia Liguori from the Storytelling Academy at Loughborough University and focused on various elements of the Digital Storytelling process with the aim to co-produce part of the contents for the CERTIFY Handbook.
In particular, participants have explored the following questions:
Why is Digital Storytelling good for employment?
How to develop prompts to run a DS workshop on a specific skill (such as creativity, collaboration, flexibility, self-management)?
How to give specific feedback on stories for each individual skill?
At the end of this first intense and very positive online session, it was agreed that trainees will work in sub-groups to focus on one specific skill and run online digital storytelling workshops for the production of stories that will be shared to the whole group on the 11th of February.
The groups were organised as specified below:
Austria and Greece worked on Flexibility;
the two teams from Italy (Istituto Luigi Sturzo and Siena Art Institute) worked on collaboration;
Belgium and Lithuania on self-management;
the two teams from the UK (Loughborough and DeMontfort University) on creativity.
SCREENING OF THE STORIES OF THE CERTIFY PROJECT
The stories that were created by the teams in the digital workshops were screened online for the CERTIFY team in two online sections on the 8th and 9th of February 2021.
Specifically, on the 8th of February
the group from UK (Lboro and DMU) screened their stories on creativity
and the group from Belgium (Atit) and Lithuania (VsI) screened their stories on time management
and on the 9th of February
the group from Greece (RP) and Austria (SPES GMBH) screened their stories on flexibility
and the group from Italy (ILS & SATR) screened their stories on collaboration.
You can find all the stories on our website, on the following links
https://certifyproject.com/ds-on-flexibility-resilience/ (flexibility – resilience)
https://certifyproject.com/self-management/ (time management)
Good progress during our team meeting “in” Belgium
Despite the current travel restrictions due to the impact of COVID-19, the CERTIFY project team decided not to postpone the meeting in Belgium and to hold it online.
There were, in fact, many issues that the team had to discuss as a group and for a longer time than the usual monthly online catch-up meetings.
The CERTIFY Project Team on Zoom during what was supposed to be their meeting in Belgium.
Very good progress was made on all the Intellectual Outputs currently in development, and in particular on the Research Report, now ready for translations in its short version.
Lucia Colonna, a researcher from Luigi Sturzo Institute, presented the Output in its final draft and shared very interesting results extracted from the surveys, the interviews and the 6 national contexts.
The conceptual map of the survey.
The Report will be shortly available to download from our Project Outputs webpage (https://certifyproject.com/project-outputs/)