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Entrepreneurial skills for young social innovators in an open digital world. A European Initiative

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DOIT: practical experiences for future innovators

In a digitalised world, the capacity to turn ideas into concrete innovation has become priceless. The DOIT toolbox aims to enable 6 to 16 year-olds to thrive in this new context.

Society

A memorandum for entrepreneurial skills in the digital market will soon be circulated across Europe. Its goal? Ensuring that, in the future, young people with a creative mindset can turn their ideas into innovations, improving the lives of European citizens. It’s not just wishful thinking. The organisations behind this memorandum have been working together under the DOIT (Entrepreneurial skills for young social innovators in an open digital world. A European Initiative) project since October 2017, and they have a major trick up their sleeves: a toolbox providing open educational resources under an open licence. “A more engaging and practice-based approach is needed to provide young learners with the mindset and skills they need to become innovative citizens. What we suggest is to empower them through collaborative work on creative solutions for societal issues,” explains Sandra Schön, senior researcher at Salzburg Research and DOIT coordinator.

Showcasing the DOIT toolbox

The DOIT toolbox consists of an interactive city map with different ‘buildings’ or makerspaces. Each makerspace represents a different phase in the development process of a project and contains various materials. The ‘wall of failures’, for instance, is a training course that will help students in dealing with failures and setbacks during a project while remaining proud of themselves. The training materials cover all the steps of entrepreneurship, but first and foremost they push towards increased collaboration. “This happens already in a growing number of makerspaces around Europe, where like-minded people get together and work on innovative projects using various digital and other productive tools,” says Schön. “Some makerspaces have already been set up in pioneering schools. These can boost practice-based, engaging and meaningful learning of social entrepreneurship.” The DOIT approach has been trialled and evaluated in pilots in 10 European countries. These pilots involved a total of 1 002 children from 6 to 16 years old, with the evaluation showing encouraging results such as increased creativity, self-efficacy and entrepreneurial intentions amongst participants. “This was really unexpected,” Schön adds. “Existing research had shown lower self-efficacy scores following entrepreneurial education interventions for the targeted age ranks, mostly due to the realisation that being an entrepreneur is not easy and own competences may not be as well developed as needed. We were positively surprised to see this as not the case for the DOIT pilots: We could witness moderately to significantly higher scores in the younger (6 to 10 years) and older (11 to 16 years old) age groups after the pilot. Our guess is that the makerspace as an open learning space could be the factor for this positive development.”

Integrating DOIT into European curricula

DOIT findings and insights can be found across several reports and publications, including specific ones on how to reach girls, how to work with disabled children or how to work with pop-up makerspaces in schools. Now, the team will be focusing on getting the word out through its upcoming memorandum. “Our objective is to get support for the integration of DOIT activities into European curricula and education policy strategies. Of course, this is a challenge, but the Council of the European Union’s Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning makes us confident in our chances. Under point 2.5 the Council asks Member States to pay special attention to ‘nurturing entrepreneurship competence, creativity and the sense of initiative especially among young people, for example by promoting opportunities for young learners to undertake at least one practical entrepreneurial experience during their school education.’ Our memorandum, which suggests a DOIT experience for every young learner between 6 and 16 years old, would achieve just that,” Schön concludes.

Keywords

DOIT, digital market, toolbox, education, memorandum, makerspaces

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