Why Open Schooling? Different perspectives and Open Schooling in practice

As our sister project PHERECLOS comes to an end, the new PHERECLOS White Book has been published, exploring the concept of Open Schooling and its potential in education. It encourages all parties who have a role in teaching and learning to consider it as a fruitful approach.

The White Book discusses the topic of Open Schooling viewed from different perspectives, including the one applied in the MULTIPLIERS project, who contributed to the chapter “Why Open Schooling – Different Perspectives and Open Schooling in Practice”.

Curious? Download the White Book and get inspired by ours and other new approaches to science learning.

Exchanging views on science education at the ERIDOB conference in Cyprus

From 29.08.-2.9.2022 the ERIDOB (European Researchers in Didactics of Biology) Conference took place in beautiful Cyprus. Four of our project partners who attended the conference to present their research took the chance to meet in person and exchange ideas about the current Multipliers activities (Universities of Cyprus, Ljubljana, Bonn and Umeå).

It was a brilliant opportunity to talk to each other – finally in person! – and we cannot wait for our project meeting in Barcelona in November where all partners will come together.

Why does youth’s perspective on science matter? Video interview with PhD Researcher Jana Schilbert, University of Bonn

On the occasion of this year’s International Youth Day (12 August), Jana Schilbert, PhD Researcher at the University of Bonn, Germany, shared her perspective on the importance of working together with younger generations to effect change and bring about social transformation. For her, it is crucial to involve youth in the debate around social-scientific issues, since young people will be the most affected by society’s past and current behaviours and their consequences. At the same time, young people can bring new ideas to the table on how to address challenges such as climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.

In the interview, Jana also described MULTIPLIERS’ approach to Open Schooling and the expected impacts of the project. Watch the full video:

Multipliers project joins forces with Open Schooling Together initiative

The Multipliers project has recently become a member of the Open Schooling Together initiative (OS Together), a joint collaboration between 11 European projects to spread the word about how schools, local communities, policy-makers, museums, science centres and other local stakeholders can rethink learning boundaries.

The group brings together the CONNECT, COSMOS, Make it Open, MOST, Open Science Hub, PAPSE, PHERECLOS, PULCHRA, SALL and SEAS projects, representing a rich variety of approaches to Open Schooling. Although each project has its particular focus, all share the common objective of involving local communities in teaching and learning processes, thereby creating local agents of innovation, fostering social transformation and contributing to community development.

Apart from a series of Innovation Sessions to promote exchange on different Open Schooling tools and methodologies, the group collaborates on a range of communication channels, such as a joint newsletter and social media accounts. Learn more here about the latest Inspiration Session on Evaluation approaches for measuring the impact of open schooling, where Multipliers presented its evaluation methodology, tools, and strategies. To receive updates from the initiative, follow OS Together on Twitter and subscribe to the OS Together newsletter.

Other Open Schooling initiatives can join the group by emailing .

Multipliers Open Science Community gets active in Slovenia with outdoor lesson in the forest

The Multipliers Open Science Community (OSC) in Slovenia is getting active! On 16 June, the project’s OSC partner Slovenian Forestry Institute (SFI) conducted a workshop at the Betnava Forest, in the city of Maribor, attended by 21 students of the gymnasium school II. gimnazija Maribor. Dr Urša Vilhar, from SFI’s Department of Forest Ecology, introduced a set of games that allowed students to get to know and experience the forest in a playful and interactive way.

The activity then focused on different aspects of biodiversity and forest ecosystem services. Students had fun identifying plant and animal species, determining the habitat and conservation status of various animals, and considering the vast range of ecosystem services that forests provide, such as clean air and water, carbon sequestration and raw materials.

In the end, students were enthusiastic about getting to know the forest in a more experiential way. With many pupils often lacking fieldwork experiences, which are scarce in regular high school biology programmes, the workshop highlighted the importance of outdoor lessons in opposition to traditional learning in the classroom. Because they engage students in hands-on experiences, outdoor lessons allow learning by doing, while also helping pupils to connect theories and knowledge to real-world situations.

The project activities in Slovenia are coordinated by Multipliers partner University of Ljubljana.

The best classroom and the richest cupboard are roofed only by the sky”.

Margaret McMillan (1925)

Join MULTIPLIERS at the first Festival of the New European Bauhaus from 9-12 June in Brussels

From 9 to 12 June, the European Commission organises for the first time a Festival dedicated to the New European Bauhaus (NEB). Designed around three pillars, Forum, Fair and Fest and based physically in Brussels, at Gare Maritime & Mont des Arts, but equally around Europe and online, the Festival of the New European Bauhaus will bring together people from all walks of life to explore, debate and shape a beautiful, sustainable and inclusive future.

MULTIPLIERS will be represented at the Festival Fair by our project partner University of Ljubljana, who will engage festival-goers in science experiments linking science, sustainability and art. The Fair is co-created: out of the 316 applications received, 100 projects were selected to be displayed at NEB both on fixed and innovative mobile supports (from e-bikes to electrical tuk-tuks) scattered across the city centre. 

Based on the original Bauhaus movement ideals – to revolutionise the relationships between different disciplines – but upgrading it to the challenges of the 21st century, the New European Bauhaus is, in the words of the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, a “new cultural project for Europe”. After this first pilot edition, the festival should travel in the years to come to other European cities to spread awareness of the movement to all the corners of the Union.  

Attending the festival? Look for our booth and join our science experiments!

When:

9, 10, 11 June 2022

09:00 AM to 07:00 PM

Where:

  • 9 June – Gare Maritime, Rue Picard 7, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
  • 10 June – Gare Maritime, Rue Picard 7, 1000 Brussels, Belgium
  • 11 June – Gare Maritime, Rue Picard 7, 1000 Brussels, Belgium

More information:

Website of the Festival 

New European Bauhaus 

Bottled water vs. tapped water: which is better? Debunking myths around water quality

Influenced by marketing and brand recognition, some people prefer to drink bottled water to tap water. But against popular belief, that doesn’t necessarily translate into higher quality or hygiene.

To work out students’ perceptions around the topic and discuss water drinking habits, MULTIPLIERS partner Iren, through its educational division Eduiren, co-organised a water “blind tasting” at the Blaise Pascal School in the Italian city of Reggio Emilia. Perceptions from upper secondary students at the tasting experience were compared to the results of analytical tests on different types of drinking water, allowing participants to debunk myths and illusions regarding perceived quality and taste.

Research shows that bottled and tap water samples are not systematically different in relation to health risks or taste. Similarly, from a consumer perspective, people are generally not able to distinguish tap from bottled water in blind tastings – showing that many beliefs are related to preconceived ideas rather than to actual experiences or product characteristics.

In contrast, bottled water is substantially worse for the environment, as it requires more energy to produce (including water treatment, bottling, transportation and refrigeration). Single-use plastic water bottles also release toxins to the environment as they degrade, and often end up in landfills or in water bodies.

The event was organised in collaboration with the Blaise Pascal upper secondary school, one of the MULTIPLIERS OSC partners in Italy, within the project theme “Clean Water and Sanitation”.  Learn more about it here.

How can marteloscopes contribute to forest and science education? An interview with Lisa Hafer, WaldHaus Freiburg

One of the main goals of MULTIPLIERS is to empower students through science education to participate in decision-making matters that affect their lives. The project will develop learning activities with real-life challenges as starting points, giving students access to authentic settings to make science classes more concrete and engaging. Activities will be based on six main themes, ranging from air pollution to anti-microbial resistance and vaccination.

As part of our “Forest use Vs. Forest protection” theme, hands-on trainings will take place in so-called marteloscope sites. There, all trees will be numbered, mapped and recorded so that their ecological and economic value can be investigated in training and educational exercises in the forest. Visits to marteloscopes will give students insights into the typical dilemmas of a forester, allowing them to develop critical thinking around sustainable forest management issues and sustainability-related topics in general.

To explore the potential contribution of marteloscopes to forest education, MULTIPLIERS partner EFI (European Forest Institute) interviewed forest educator Lisa Hafer, from the forest education center WaldHaus Freiburg, in Germany. In the interview, she explained how learning about forests can impact the lifestyles and consumption patterns of students and their families. She also shared tips on how to get them interested in forestry and revealed why all those fighting for the climate should also be passionate about forest education.

Read the full interview here.

Lisa Hafer is leader of the WaldKlimaRaum project at the WaldHaus Freiburg and works as a researcher at the University of Freiburg

What is Open Schooling? The MULTIPLIERS approach to build inclusive and long-lasting learning communities

Modern societies are facing a wide range of complex challenges, such as fighting climate change, protecting the environment, promoting healthy living and fighting pandemics such as COVID-19, among others. To successfully prepare for and address such challenges, citizens must actively engage in public dialogue on scientific issues and participate responsibly in science-informed decision making. Still, this is easier said than done. Trust in scientific findings is diminishing in Europe and other parts of the world, which is an acute challenge of our time.

MULTIPLIERS has the ambitious goal to counter this trend by addressing the problem at its base. Guided by the concept of Open Schooling, the project will trigger a process to transform schools across six countries into innovative and open collectors of new ideas, practices and scientific approaches to address societal and environmental challenges. It will also offer students a space to engage their families, local communities, decision makers and the media in open, inclusive, and inquiry-based learning on science issues that have an impact on citizens’ lives.

But what is exactly Open Schooling and how can it be implemented in practice? As many different understandings of the term exist, one of the first steps of the project since its kick-off in November 2021 was to agree on a common and operational definition among project partners. As a result, the University of Cyprus and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona compiled the MULTIPLIERS “Report on Identified Good Practices and Needs Analysis”, which explores the definition of Open Schooling in detail.

“Open schooling initiates in the classroom but exceeds the school borders when students engage the local community in science practices, taking on the role of ‘knowledge multipliers’ to confront societal challenges”

Irene Drymiotou, Learning in Science Group of the University of Cyprus

In the Q&A below, you can find more about our Open Schooling approach, along with a short history of the term in Europe. For more information, explore the report here.

What is Open Schooling? And what is MULTIPLIERS’ approach to the concept?

In MULTIPLIERS, we propose an approach to Open Schooling that combines three main objectives – community impact, pedagogical impact, and scientific impact – while also explicitly emphasising important societal values.

We see Open Schooling as an educational perspective in which schools become open to society by bidirectionally collaborating with different institutions with the aim to:

  • Improve community well-being by raising awareness and co-creating solutions to both personal and socially relevant problems that have a direct impact at a local level.
  • Enrich the curricula and pedagogical repertoire of schools, by sharing different views and expertise from both educational and non-educational agents and institutions with the aim to promote students’ meaningful learning and competence development.
  • Give epistemic authority to all agents from within and outside the school, specifically to the students and their families, by engaging them in sustained inquiry, knowledge creation, creative action, and dissemination on issues of relevance to the local community and beyond.

To do so, projects and initiatives on Open Schooling such as MULTIPLIERS take advantage of the knowledge, practices, visions, attitudes, resources, and values of all involved agents, empowering them to collectively transform society from a reflective and critical standpoint that focuses on sustainability, equity, social justice, and inclusion.

How did the concept of Open Schooling come about in European Science Education?

To analyse the appearance of the Open Schooling concept in the EU, specifically in Science Education, one has to undertake a journey through the different EU reports and work programmes and their evolution from an STS (Science, Technology and Society) view within the Science in Society frameworks to the recent views of Science with and for Society. These latter frameworks are increasingly permeated with democratic and ethical concerns on citizens’ participation in Science identified through the Responsible Research and Innovation approach and culminating in a particular version regarding science education.

As such, Open Schooling emerges as a new term first in the report Science Education for Responsible Citizenship and in EU’s Work Programme 2016-2017 and continues to be a priority in the Work Programme 2018-2020. However, despite the term not being explicitly there, we can identify the Open Schooling idea already in the Work Programme 2014-2015.

The EU WPs from 2016 to 2020 followed up on the report Science Education for Responsible Citizenship to explicitly promote the concept of Open Schooling in their strategy of Science with and for Society, which revolves around the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and its pillar on Science Education.

How will the Open Schooling approach be implemented within MULTIPLIERS?

Open-school science learning projects will be developed collaboratively in our so-called Open Science Communities (OSCs). Science professionals will be actively involved in bringing real-life case studies to students regarding contemporary challenges and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including nature conservation, clean water and air, climate change, waste, energy, food, and public health.

Rather than seeking a single correct answer, students will interpret and represent the problem, collect information and evidence, identify possible solutions, evaluate options, and present conclusions supported with arguments. They will recognise that there is often no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ decision, and a constructive approach involves weighing each option against different needs and demands. Students will work with researchers gathering and analysing data, thereby developing a better understanding of the initial problem/case and acquiring familiarity with science practices and scientific research processes.

Ultimately, having gained first-hand experiences and inquiry skills in an authentic context, students will become knowledge multipliers; they will present, share, and deepen their knowledge and experiences in activities by actively involving their families and the wider community, firstly through dedicated local events (including open school/local action days or citizen science activities), and then through designing and exploiting science communication media (e.g., exhibitions, social media channels, and video clips).

All OSC partners will be jointly committed to teaching and learning processes in formal, non-formal, and informal settings to ensure relevant, meaningful, and sustainable engagement with science and associated ethical and societal priorities. Students will learn in the real world, with authentic problems fostering individual reflection and empowerment. Science experts, families, and local communities will be involved as part of sustainable learning communities.