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Paving the way for innovative educational contexts in the EU

If one thing is certain in our rapidly changing world, it is that transformation now takes place on a much deeper level, considering all the new branches of activity that are created every day. The challenge of keeping pace with all these changes is particularly acute for the education sector. The nine EU-funded projects featured in this Results Pack focus on fostering an open learning educational ecosystem that will equip students with all they need to navigate their life today and anticipate future advances.

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Today’s schools are called to keep pace with the diverse needs of 21st-century learners. New skills such as problem solving and critical thinking and fields such as computer science, AI, engineering, the green transition and environmental awareness demand that schools explore new learning dimensions and become more flexible and responsive in their offer. Within this context, education requires an overhaul. Bringing students’ learning closer to the real world – the home, the community, the museum, the lab, the park – will help them thrive in an ever-complex society. It is becoming more evident that the solution lies with open schooling, which encompasses a different approach to “what”, “where” and “when” people learn. Open schooling invites policymakers, schools, parents, community, academia and enterprises to become collaborators in reshaping the educational experience and transforming the way students learn, at the same time strengthening the link between learning and society.

Spotlight on open science education in the EU

Pursuing science careers, especially, is proving to be a challenge, particularly for young people, but also other groups based on gender, socio-economic or geographical status, who find themselves underrepresented in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math careers). These groups often need further encouragement to be able to shed their indifferent or negative attitudes towards science. To address this issue, the EU is working on increasing the uptake of science studies and citizen science initiatives to reignite interest in science-based careers, promote scientific literacy, and improve employability and competitiveness. Initiatives such as the European Year of Skills, for example, aim at boosting the EU skills strategy by focusing on digital and green technology skills. Furthermore, EU-supported efforts such as Open Schools for Open Societies bring together partners from a variety of disciplines under one collaborative hub focused on an inclusive and holistic approach to science innovation. The European Policy Brief ‘Innovating European Education: Open Schooling as a Boost for Europe's Skills’ is one of the key results produced by the EU-funded projects Make It Open and SALL, in the frame of the Ostogether network, working on pioneering science education practices. The brief is an invaluable companion to the EU’s efforts to transition from the school-centric to the lifelong learning model. Overall, the emphasis is on rethinking learning boundaries and rerouting the educational setting towards the needs of the new era.

Open schools for open minds; reshaping the way we learn, nine ways

The EU-funded projects featured in this Results Pack provide concrete tools, frameworks and methodologies for opening schools to their communities and turning the education system into an open learning ecosystem. The projects offer lesson plans for teachers, methodologies of working with schools for non-formal learning providers and policy recommendations, among others. C4S aimed to promote inclusivity in science education. To that end, it focused on removing the barriers facing vulnerable communities in their effort to access science, ensuring visibility, fair representation and equal opportunities. CONNECT worked on making open schooling in formal education more widely accessible to encourage young people to pursue science careers and develop positive attitudes towards jobs in STEM. Beginning from the premise that science education in schools should encourage students to apply the acquired knowledge in practical and innovative ways, Scientix 4 aimed at supporting European teachers and stakeholders in STEM education through a range of activities, resources, events and training courses. The aim of FEDORA was to build a new science education ecosystem. Its core work focused on producing frameworks to regenerate science education and bridge the gap between schools and society today. In the same vein, Make it Open introduced new teaching resources that enable students to learn, be aware of and engage with science around societal challenges. A key focal point was creating scenarios to take education outside the classroom, encouraging students to learn via real-life experiments. The established link between science and society was further explored by MOST; the project worked on providing tools and skills to develop open science education for students and citizens, creating a European open schooling network that will help tackle key societal challenges. Fostering the idea that science can be fun was the aim of OTTER. With a focus on key sustainability issues, the project aimed at creating a learning-outside-the-classroom methodology, engaging and inspiring students to come up with impactful solutions. PULCHRA, as well, aimed at ‘tearing down’ the classroom walls, encouraging students to explore, test and even implement science concepts in real life. Fostering scientific literacy and encouraging students to pursue scientific endeavours was the focus of SALL. The project worked to advance open schooling by envisioning schools as living labs, where education and society are seamlessly integrated into one learning community.