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Exploiting Ubiquitous Computing, Mobile Computing and the Internet of Things to promote Science Education

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - UMI-Sci-Ed (Exploiting Ubiquitous Computing, Mobile Computing and the Internet of Things to promote Science Education)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2019-05-31

The Ubiquitous Computing, Mobile Computing and the Internet of Things technologies (shortly UMI) represent the most recent attempt to move computer technology to education and to everyday life. Also, the European society should actively communicate and cooperate with the scientific community, working side by side for the establishment of more responsible scientific practices, so as to enable the structuring of citizen-centric policies. The quality of school education in science and mathematics has become even more important asset for the European society. This is our common concern because the number of students enrolling natural science studies across the Europe is declining. New talents should be recruited for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) domains, to fertilize and further promote excellence, since the capital of the European science and technology system depends mostly on its capacity for talent and ideas. Thus, STEM should be made more attractive to young people, regardless of their gender. Society should be aware of scientific results and be engaged to innovation activities. The real driving for educational change is the teacher. Under this scope, UMI technologies emerge both as educational means but, most importantly, as support mechanism for developing powerful careers in domains such as STEM.
The broad aim of the UMI-Sci-Ed project is to investigate the introduction of UMI technologies in education, targeting in particular 14-16 aged youngsters in European countries. Especially, the project aims to offer novel educational services, implement innovative pedagogies and enhance students’ and teachers’ creativity, socialisation and scientific citizenship. We intend to put these state-of-the-art technologies in practice, so as to enhance the level of STEM education that youngsters
are receiving, and at the same time make attractive the prospect of pursuing a career in domains pervaded by UMI.
In order to realise the abovementioned aims, the project provides a tranquil environment for educational activities, where technology itself will not star but support the stakeholders of education, including, the educational community, the industry, career consultants and educational authorities and policy makers. To this end, communities of practice (CoP) will be formed dynamically around UMI projects implemented at schools, including representatives of all necessary stakeholders.
As core objectives, the project delivers:
-Novel educational services
- Career consultancy services
- Supporting software and hardware tools
- Dissemination of the project ideas and results.
During its life cycle, the project was evolved towards the achievement of its core objectives that are in brief:
• A data management plan that drives the educational scenarios, the piloting phases and the research process while satisfying open access with easy use data and metadata sharing for educational and research purposes, data security, safety and anonymisation.
• The implementation of a methodology for establishing CoPs for UMI/STEM in learning environments for 14-16 years old youngsters. The methodology includes key-working lines for developing ad-hoc psychometric tools eligible for Need Analysis for both Corporate and Schools sectors. It also includes a range of methods and tools, aimed at carrying out an accurate detection of needs of empowering STEM knowledge and skills in the two main sectors involved.
• The open source UMI-Sci-Ed platform that provides all the basic functionalities and services allowing the use of it for educational purposes and supporting the CoPs approach.
• A toolbox for the evaluation of UMI for STEM education, with focus on (i) students' attitudes towards UMI activities, (ii) evidences on learning gains, (iii) user experience with UMI platform, (iv) teachers’ (or facilitators) attitudes running UMI pilots and (v) stakeholders’ attitudes towards CoPs and participation.
• A set of empirically grounded guidelines for teachers and CoP facilitators around the themes: (i) the context for the UMI-Sci-Ed CoP, (ii) the context for the UMI-Sci-Ed tools, (iii) the role of the scenarios and their design, (iv) issues connected with promoting and assessing learning and (v) gender issues.
• A plan for the post-project exploitation of the project results. The plan includes multiple aspects that cover both short-term and long-term exploitation: replication guidelines, implementation of the Umbrella Organisation and UMI-Labs, definition of the business model, intellectual property rights management.
• A series of dissemination and promotion activities that raise awareness to the potential stakeholders by exploiting every contemporary mean and by participating and publishing in national/international conferences, exhibitions, events etc. These also include the visual identity of the project as well as a series of promotional videos.
The UMI-Sci-Ed project delivered a set of outputs that directly contribute to the expected impact of the programme. This harness a number of initiatives, which are representative of leading edge innovation in formal and informal UMI/STEM education and integrate them with inventive community and industry initiatives. The project results that are expected to contribute to impact in different time spans, are the following.
In the short term:
- First-of-a-kind synthesis of UMI toolkits and CoPs that links schools, communities and industry directly.
- Guidelines and products for establishing small professional networks in EU Schools.
In the medium term:
- First-of-a-kind techniques to broaden the relevance of STEM education through innovation projects built by and through CoPs.
- Set and develop a broader infrastructure for developing UMI applications in authentic school settings providing documentation and compliance with EU Standards
- Use informal learning and learner’s preferences to intrigue and maintain motivation in women by promoting gender achievements to broader communities
In the long term:
- Novel solutions promoting the use of UMI technologies i) with measurable positive teaching and learning benefits to schools and surrounding communities and ii) in co-developed innovation projects, supported through CoPs, and linking project actions to accessible industry stakeholders
- Training guidelines, educational material and adhere to learning standards incorporating the educational and corporate approach.
Other social and/or environmental impact:
- The provided hardware features an IoT board compatible with state of the art platforms; it can connect with a large number of peripherals and support a large number of current and future environmental and UMI applications. This constitutes an invaluable set of “creativity teasers” in a neat case that will remain as school’s property after project’s completion. Youngsters’ curiosity and ideas could transform this kit into a number of projects we are not even able to guess today.
- The topics driving development activities in increasingly align with recognised societal challenges, though they are expressed in a local context. Students running innovation and UMI/STEM projects addressing environmental and social challenges are becoming common. The collective power of a repository built upon a structure that effectively collates the outputs through the CoPs is potentially very significant as this could grow to become a UMI/STEM informed ‘community knowledge bank’.
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