News . Our Blog Open Schooling behind the scenes – The points of view of the “actors”

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    Open schooling is where schools, in cooperation with other stakeholders, become an agent of community well-being. Among those stakeholders, we can highlight the role of families who are encouraged to become real partners in school life and activities, and professionals from enterprises, civil and wider society who are actively involved in bringing real-life projects into the classroom.

    Open schooling enables schools to create a flexible and inclusive learning environment inspiring the students to explore the world through science, making science more accessible and authentic.

    But what is the opinion of those that have experienced open schooling activities?

    We asked different actors involved in the open schooling pilots conducted under the frame of CONNECT project, such as implementers like secondary education teacher/s, representatives from school administration, facilitators like open schooling scientists or coaches, and the ultimate beneficiaries, the students.

    We asked them 4 questions:

    Q1. What is open schooling for you?

    Q2. Does open schooling bring added value to the class?

    If yes: how? / If no: why?

    Q3. What are the main barriers to its implementation?

    Q4. What would you recommend to better meet your needs?

    Let’s read what they have to say

    Q1. What is open schooling for you?

    From the implementers’ side (schools), these were their answers to this question.

    Sueli Trindade (Teacher from Brazil)

    “Open Schooling as an educational movement enables learning opportunities through innovative, interactive, inclusive, and quality education for all, that is, an open education focused on the production and dissemination of content with a view to new ways of organizing teaching in the educational environment between students and teachers and in pedagogical actions. In addition, Open Schooling makes it possible to innovate, interact, recreate, insert, and redistribute educational resources in a collaborative way”.

    Rosilei Ferrarini (Teacher from Brazil)

    “It would be doing an open education, an open school, or even an open course. Open in the sense of considering and involving people from the community or professionals who can somehow contribute to what is being done, be it a project, a class, a course. This both in person, and today remotely and online. Also, inversely: the school (teachers and students) to go to the community and carry out some intervention towards some necessary improvement for the local community. In this sense, there needs to be a movement from the school, physical or even a message, idea, online presentation reaching the community”.

    Maria Eleftheriou (Teacher from Greece)

    “For me, open schooling is to motivate my students through real-life problems in order to think and to act as responsible citizens”.

    Avraam Apostolakakis (Teacher from Greece)

    Open Schooling is an open and free kind of learning for all the people of the world. Students learn at their own pace, with their own responsibility with the help of the learning community and their teachers”.

    Anna Karaiskou (Teacher from Greece)

    An open school is a school which, beyond the “formal” learning and education that it provides to children, responds to contemporary social challenges, to their needs to educate them in humanistic values, the value of participation, cooperation, acceptance of diversity, solidarity, democracy and the assertion of human rights. An open school educates its pupils through activities and programmes of an experiential nature in skills for personal and social development. It is a school that functions as a community in which students, teachers and parents are actively involved.

    This school is the connecting link but also the bridge of communication with the neighborhood, and society, creating actions and providing assistance with goods and services to all its members especially those from vulnerable – vulnerable social groups. It can network with scientific and social institutions, with the local community, with mental health structures for counseling in social integration, with municipal services for their use in the fight against poverty and exclusion, for prevention and treatment of problems of children and families”.

    Eleni Korakaki (Teacher from Greece)

    Open Schooling for me is a different way of teaching. Students find it more interesting. It allows me to implement novel ways of teaching”.

    Margarita Stergiou (Teacher from Greece)

    Open schooling is a great opportunity for both students and teachers to collaborate in a more effective way. Students are taking the responsibility to understand what they study and to collaborate, analyse and bring their own results to the relevant study field”.

    Fountoulakis Antonios (School Director from Greece)

    “Open education is the opportunity and the answer for the very centralized character of the Greek school.
    A great opportunity to make schools more “attractive” to students is to open it up to society and connect infrastructures such as universities, research centers, or industry with school students”.

    From the facilitators’ side (scientists/researchers and coaches) these were the answers to this question.

    Yolanda (Panayota) Koulouri (Scientist/researcher from Greece)

    “It is a good opportunity to include educational activities beyond school curriculum.”

    Iasmi Stathi (Scientist/researcher from Greece)

    “A school open to the society, dealing with everyday-life issues. Projects, team-work, students being part of policy making.”

    Anastasakis Nikos (Coach from Greece)

    “School-based cooperative learning, without geographic, ethnic or social frontiers. The education can be constructive and creative within an open community consisting of teachers, students parents but also scientists.”

    From the beneficiaries’ side (students) these were the answers to this question.

    Sofoklis (Secondary education student from Greece)

    “A chance to learn more; information/ideas/tools and not only the standard info in our class”.

    Michalis (Secondary education student from Greece)

    “Super school!”

    Q2. Does open schooling bring added value to the class?

    If yes: how? / If no: why?

    From the implementers’ side (schools) these were the answers to this question.

    Sueli Trindade (Teacher from Brazil)

    “Yes, because Open Schooling enables different teaching and learning opportunities through the available educational resources that make the educational process more scientific and attractive to students in the sense of interacting, building, and socializing as productions, in which the student becomes a protagonist in the construction of the knowledge through research and experimentation of digital resources. Student and teacher are learners in the teaching and learning processes”.

    Rosilei Ferrarini (Teacher from Brazil)

    “Without a doubt, it adds a lot of value, because it brings the school and its knowledge closer to real life, to what is done in everyday life and to which the schoolwork’s, but it seems distant. Engaging that you know yourself, opening to other spaces is crucial for the school to really make sense of the present life, no longer thinking only about the future”.

    Maria Eleftheriou (Teacher from Greece)

    Open schooling brings added value to my class and to my students. Ι observe that my students love to learn about real situations and to give their solutions. Also they like to be connected with their parents,  local society, other students, or experts through the project.”

    Avraam Apostolakakis (Teacher from Greece)

    Yes. Open Schooling brings added value to the class, because students learn to be individual and responsible for their learning outcomes. Also, they acquire metacognitive skills (they learn how to learn).”

    Anna Karaiskou (Teacher from Greece)

    Yes.
    The school open to society introduces in modern and democratic terms the idea of the quality of education, combining the effectiveness of educational work and essential social justice. The open school seeks to acquire new competencies that will help students throughout their lives to adapt to change, find solutions and develop. In particular, it seeks to familiarise pupils with methods of actively seeking knowledge and relating it to everything they learn and everything they experience. Develop basic social skills, such as the ability to plan and design actions, to work out alternatives, to participate creatively in a group, to communicate well and to maintain good interpersonal relations, etc.”

    Eleni Korakaki (Teacher from Greece)

    Students are more enthusiastic, so the atmosphere in the lesson is more pleasant. By doing their own research they feel more fulfilled. They acquire critical thinking skills. This system fosters a constructive spirit of cooperation. Last but not least it prepares them for real-life situations after they leave school.

    Margarita Stergiou (Teacher from Greece)

    Yes, it brings added value to the class, as it gives initiatives to students and they play a more energetic role.

    Fountoulakis Antonios (School Director from Greece)

    “Yes. The contact of students with science, technology, arts, or any other activity of the society can make them learn with experience parallel with academic teaching.”

    From the facilitators’ side (scientists/researchers and coaches) these were the answers to this question.

    Yolanda (Panayota) Koulouri (Scientist/researcher from Greece)

    “I strongly believe yes. As I said above you can include activities that are not included in the strict framework of the curriculum of the school. Therefore, it is a good opportunity to expand to subjects such as climate change, healthy and clean environment and in general environmental education which is very important nowadays for the management of resources and sustainable development.”

    Iasmi Stathi (Scientist/researcher from Greece)

    “Definitely yes. The teacher is more a facilitator rather than just a tutor. The students develop critical thinking, find ways to investigate real-life problems and propose actions. As a result, the school prepares them to be active and responsible citizens.”

    Anastasakis Nikos (Coach from Greece)

    “Yes. As the knowledge becomes applied, the lesson is an active learning procedure involving teachers together with students and gives the opportunity of a feedback and self evaluation.”

    From the beneficiaries’ side (students) these were the answers to this question.

    Sofoklis (Secondary education student from Greece)

    “Yes, we were happy to learn more, and we did learn google earth and university also explained why these maps can help us.”

    Michalis (Secondary education student from Greece)

    “Yes! We learned to produce maps.”

    Q3. What are the main barriers to its implementation?

    From the implementers’ side (schools) these were the answers to this question.

    Sueli Trindade (Teacher from Brazil)

    “It is observed among several barriers, such as physical and pedagogical conditions of educational institutions that are rethought and rebuilt so that the Open Schooling implementation is carried out. Lack of teacher training regarding pedagogical theory and practice regarding Open Schooling and its contributions to learning processes”.

    Rosilei Ferrarini (Teacher from Brazil)

    “As the Brazilian saying goes, “a single swallow does not make a summer”. The school and the coordination must create networks of contact with the school/course, involve professionals and people they know, but also contact others who are only known but never contacted, such as scientists from specific areas, professionals from companies in certain sectors. In addition to the network of contacts, one must be open enough to know that others can contribute. Parents or even students can indicate contacts and make invitations – a de facto network promoting learning. The barriers, if the above conditions are considered, are the times, the displacements, but with today’s technologies, it is possible to record statements, speeches, etc. and pass them on to the students, if this is not possible in a synchronous way”.

    Maria Eleftheriou (Teacher from Greece)

    Open schooling is not an easy task. Some barriers for me are:

    1) The teacher has to find the proper activities in order to engage students in real-life problems.

    2) In many cases parents and local society don’t interact as it was planned.”

    Avraam Apostolakakis (Teacher from Greece)

    The main barriers for the Open-Schooling implementations are:

    1) The lack of relevant trained teachers.

    2) The lack of resources and proper tools.

    3) The isolated nature of many schools and curricula.

    4) The recent pandemic and other problems of many countries.”

    Anna Karaiskou (Teacher from Greece)

    Obstacles are the policies and guidelines, the uniform curricula of the ministry, the bureaucratic nature of the educational system, the lack of funding and support for infrastructure and training.”

    Eleni Korakaki (Teacher from Greece)

    1) The teacher needs to have highly specialised knowledge of the subject been taught,

    2) Students have to be prepared accordingly in order to be able to take advantage of the benefits of Open Schooling implementation,

    3) Sometimes it is difficult for the teacher to interact with families.

    Margarita Stergiou (Teacher from Greece)

    Hesitant students as they have not faced similar actions before.”

    Fountoulakis Antonios (School Director from Greece)

    “The main obstacles are basically the very centralised educational systems. Not only the uniform curricula for all schools, ignoring singularities of the school, but the bureaucratic nature of any moment of the Greek educational system. Additionally the lack of funding and support for infrastructures and teachers.”

    From the facilitators’ side (scientists/researchers and coaches) these were the answers to this question.

    Yolanda (Panayota) Koulouri (Scientist/researcher from Greece)

    “In my opinion, the main barriers are the lack of time and many times lack self-confidence of the teachers/educators to implement open-schooling procedure.

    Iasmi Stathi (Scientist/researcher from Greece)

    “The strict and limited school curriculum, the inadequacy of the teachers to take the role of the facilitator in the classroom and the limited family support.”

    Anastasakis Nikos (Coach from Greece)

    “The present situation of the exam-oriented school and the corresponding certain curriculum.”.

    From the beneficiaries’ side (students) these were the answers to this question.

    Sofoklis (Secondary education student from Greece)

    “We were afraid that it would be difficult as we had implemented this project via Webex (e-class), and afterward in our classroom. In the end, we succeed.”

    Michalis (Secondary education student from Greece)

    “Nothing, everything was ok.”

    Q4. What would you recommend to better meet your needs?

    From the implementers’ side (schools) these were the answers to this question.

    Sueli Trindade (Teacher from Brazil)

    “The school environment requires a new project of actions aimed at a physical, administrative, and pedagogical structure that provides means for Open Schooling with a view to quality education. Teacher training that enables new learning with Open Schooling, that is, the set of professionals inserted in the school environment must be in harmony and dialogue with each other and with the collective, as well as with the physical space must correspond with the applicability of pedagogical practices and access to open educational resources”.

    Rosilei Ferrarini (Teacher from Brazil)

    “First, consider what will be covered, who are the most suitable people/professionals, what they would do, what is expected of them. Predict this in planning. Make the invitations and contacts and keep everything organized. In the case of an online environment, if all students cannot be in the moment, it can be recorded and made available to watch in due course”.

    Maria Eleftheriou (Teacher from Greece)

    I would like to have specific guidelines as concerns the interaction with the parents. The interaction of the students with their parents is crucial and it is not an easy task in my school.”

    Avraam Apostolakakis (Teacher from Greece)

    I would recommend:

    1) Change of curricula.

    2) Train teachers and offer them guidelines and advice.

    3) Offer resources and proper tools.

    4) Create a base with a range of possible implementation models.”

    Anna Karaiskou (Teacher from Greece)

    Time with students.”

    Eleni Korakaki (Teacher from Greece)

    I would like to have teaching materials at my disposal, which are provided by specialists. Also, I would like to have a knowledgeable consultant guiding me.”

    Margarita Stergiou (Teacher from Greece)

    More collaborations among different fields of study.”

    Fountoulakis Antonios (School Director from Greece)

    “More autonomy to schools. It’s better to allow schools to act and react to the needs of the students and society. For instance, the school must ask permission from the central ministry, to have an outstanding scientist visit the school. Principals or teachers’ board could have more degrees of freedom to act for the good of the students and school.”

    From the facilitators’ side (scientists/researchers and coaches) these were the answers to this question.

    Yolanda (Panayota) Koulouri (Scientist/researcher from Greece)

    “Strengthening co-operation between educators and scientists.

    Iasmi Stathi (Scientist/researcher from Greece)

    “Enhance the students’ imagination and critical thinking. Educate and encourage the teachers on how to implement open schooling projects. Support families with seminars on educational, technological, and informatics capacity, so that they will be able to support their kids who follow open schooling projects.”

    Anastasakis Nikos (Coach from Greece)

    “As the above barriers are too strong, the school must be redesigned in a more pedagogical way. The curriculum must be a path to the applied, daily knowledge, that connects science and real-life (…not a path to 3hours of panhellenic exams!). The educational procedure must be constructive, cooperative, and interactive. Of course, all these need a central plan of economic, technological, and training support.”

    From the beneficiaries’ side (students) these were the answers to this question.

    Sofoklis (Secondary education student from Greece)

    “We wish similar actions in our school.”

    Michalis (Secondary education student from Greece)

    “We want to CONNECT also next year! More teachers to give us similar projects!.”

    In summary, from these actors’ experience with open schooling approaches, the benefits and added value of this type of initiative are evident. Open schooling can be a valuable complement to academic teaching providing students the benefits from “learning through experience”, such as critical thinking skills, the ability to plan, define actions, work out alternatives, communicate and get connected with others, in other words, prepare them for real-situations and explore the world through science.

    However, there is still work to be done and things to improve for delivering open schooling opportunities for more schools and students from different backgrounds, providing meaningful, valuable, and above all, transcendent experiences that bring science closer to students and students closer to science, an experience to remember.

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