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Creating wider uptake of innovative approaches to STEM education

To help the education community, a Europe-wide collaboration amongst science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education professionals and policymakers is supporting digital inclusion and skills.

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The way people work, interact and do business has changed with the use of the internet, online tools and various other technologies like AI. Moreover, the confinement measures introduced to guard against COVID-19 have resulted in remote working, home schooling and distance learning. As a result, companies, public institutions, schools, SMEs, the self-employed, the elderly, teachers and parents have sought new ways to embrace technology. Thanks to such developments, it’s widely acknowledged that access to and use of digital technologies and skills is more important than ever. As noted in the European Commission’s Digital Economy and Society Index Report 2019, “43 % of the EU population had an insufficient level of digital skills” in 2017. The same report emphasises that 35 % of the EU labour force doesn’t have as a minimum the most elementary digital skills. “Lifelong learning and continuous upskilling and reskilling continue to be an opportunity to better equip employees with digital skills and therefore render businesses more resilient,” as stated in a blog post by the EU-funded Scientix 4 project. Marc Durando, Executive Director of project coordinator European Schoolnet, and Anja Monrad, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Dell Technologies, comment in their blog post: “We encourage policymakers and educators to firmly integrate digital skills into school curricula and promote digital literacy among people of all ages.” The authors add: “The public sector should partner with the private sector to help students benefit from companies’ expertise in digital skills through mentoring and apprenticeships. A stronger alliance between the public sector and businesses will also be key in providing SMEs with ongoing skills development and retraining programs.”

Inquiry and science

The Scientix 4 project “promotes Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE) and other initiatives at national level,” according to the project factsheet on CORDIS. It supports a Europe-wide collaboration among STEM teachers, education researchers, policymakers and other STEM education professionals. In its first phase that ran between 2009 and 2012, the project developed an online portal to collect and present European STEM education projects and their results, and organised several teacher workshops, as noted on the project website. During the second stage (2013-2016), Scientix 2 reached out to national teacher communities to help develop “national strategies for wider uptake of inquiry-based and other innovative approaches to science and maths education.” Scientix 3, the third phase of the Scientix initiative, started in 2016 and finished in September 2019. The ongoing fourth phase will run until December 2022. It “will contribute to the development of national strategies for a wide uptake and dissemination of IBSE and other projects, expanding to cover STE(A)M [science, technology, engineering, arts and maths] education practices, which will help educate future citizens in the importance of STE(A)M in society,” as explained on CORDIS. Scientix 4 is coordinated by Brussels-based European Schoolnet, a network of European ministries of education. It has recently provided its Scientix Online Meeting Room service to teachers, educators, researchers, librarians and project coordinators for online activities, webinars and events. Another blog post on the project website highlights the role of the Scientix community: “All teachers should at least be aware of an existing strong and supportive community that can stand behind them. That way, they can feel more confident with their students.” Such support has been particularly crucial during the COVID-19 lockdown. For more information, please see: Scientix 4 project website

Keywords

Scientix 4, Scientix, STEM, digital skills, education, European Schoolnet