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Scaling Up Educational Innovations in Schools

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SEIS (Scaling Up Educational Innovations in Schools)

Reporting period: 2021-04-01 to 2022-12-31

To scale up innovation in schools educational research needs to be re-conceptualised targeting Responsible Research and Innovation principles, shortening the feedback loops between research and practice in real settings, and raising overall research quality and its impact on practice. Taking the aforementioned challenges as a basis for the Twinning project SEIS (Scaling up Educational Innovation in Schools https://seis.tlu.ee/) the underpinning concept of the project is capacity building of Center of Excellence in Educational Innovation, Tallinn University (TLU), Estonia in partnership with Tampere Research Centre for Information and Media, University of Tampere, Finland (TAU) and Centre for the Science of Learning & Technology, University of Bergen, Norway (UiB) through joint scientific activities. These facilitate the reinforcement of Tallinn University by taking educational research to a fundamentally new level -- from linear knowledge transmission model to research-innovation-practice model -- while addressing current research challenges in scaling up school innovation, thereby supporting TLU to become a competitive and leading research centre.

The Twinning project SEIS aims at supporting the vision of Centre of Excellence in Educational Innovation, Tallinn University, Estonia to become the leading and competitive research centre with the potential to influence educational research, development and innovation among stakeholders in Estonia, Baltic States and in wider Europe. The overall objectives of the SEIS project are:
● to strengthen TLU research and innovation capacity,
● to promote the centre into the competitive institution in Estonia and wider Europe, and
● to form the basis for integrating its research activities further into international collaboration.
To facilitate knowledge transfer activities between the SEIS project partners and within institutions and to promote open science by providing seamless access to research assets to early stage and more senior researchers, a Virtual Research Lab was developed. The Virtual Research Lab (https://vrl.eduspace.tlu.ee/) was connected to EDUSPACE (https://eduspace.tlu.ee/) - a research laboratory for learning and teaching supported by technology - at Tallinn University, being a useful extension to a physical space. Such an infrastructure in TLU provides a good basis to strengthen TLU research and innovation capacity in the field of educational innovation and to turn traditional "knowledge transfer" approaches into research- and technology-driven and evidence-based societal innovations through the Living Labs approach.

To strengthen TLU research and innovation capacity and to promote the centre into the competitive institution in Estonia and wider Europe:
1) two extensive joint research activities were carried out (in addition to some smaller tasks):
- systematic literature review on Model-based Learning Analytics, which provided an input to the grant proposal Model-based Learning Analytics for Fostering Students’ Higher-order Thinking Skills, funded by Estonian Research Council.
- analysis of mobile outdoor learning applications and tracks regarding usability, usefulness, pedagogical indicators, etc.
As a result of these activities 6 scientific publications have been initiated, some of them already submitted to high-ranked journals in the field.

2) Ten research and development grants were prepared, of which five got funded and are currently running:
- iHubs4schools - Accelerating Digital Innovation in Schools through Regional Innovation Hubs and a Whole-School Mentoring Model (call H2020-SC6-TRANSFORMATIONS-2018');
- VIE - Virtual presence in Higher Education Hybrid Learning Delivery (Erasmus+ (call 2020 Round 1 KA2 - Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices; KA226 - Partnerships for Digital Education Readiness);
- GOT - Building Capacity for Online Tuition in Ghana (call ERASMUS-EDU-2022-CBHE-STRAND-2);
- Model-based Learning Analytics for Fostering Students’ Higher-order Thinking Skills (Estonian Research Council)
- DIgiTED - Promoting Digitalisation Among Teacher Educators in Europe (call KA220-HED - Cooperation partnerships in higher education programme).

3) In addition to the international workshops and presentations, thirteen workshops and seminars were carried out to enhance domain related and soft skills of early stage and senior research staff of the SEIS team. Topics of the seminars were as follows:
Ideal Virtual Research Lab for Learning Analytics; Applying pragmatic thoughts; Frameworks for conducting user studies; Using data to inquire your own practice; Creativity: A spark for interdisciplinary innovation work; Dedicated PhD seminars; a series of School-university-edtech cooperation seminars; Introduction to interaction design; Inquiring classroom practices to enhance professional digital competence.

Furthermore, 5 dedicated events were organised to enhance participants domain related knowledge, methodologies and soft skills:
Winter Camp in Tallinn, Summer Camp in Tampere and Bergen, Writing camp in Bergen and Tampere.
As a result several publications were published. A complete list of them can be found here: https://seis.tlu.ee/publications/

4) Six TLU researchers mobility to TAU and UiB for getting to know other research groups beyond TLU, for discussing research studies with experts, for extending their professional network.

For boosting the visibility of TLU’s scientific excellence, the SEIS team organised and hosted two mid-size conferences at Tallinn University: mLearn2021 (https://mlearn2021.ee/) and EDEN2022 (https://eden2022.tlu.ee/) especially important for introducing TLU and extending networks for future cooperation. The SEIS team also participated in several international conferences to present research results and extend its professional network.

Although the SEIS project got started just a few months before the COVID19 pandemic and was influenced by it during the first two project years, the team managed to reorganise its activities in a way that would still support the attainment of the overall project objectives.
The early stage and senior research staff of TLU, as well as UiB and TAU, have engaged in the knowledge exchange that supports better implementing evidence-based research and development for innovations in schools through the previously mentioned joint activities. The project has already had a great impact on the research output in terms of successful international research and development grants; increased scientific publications; four successful PhD pre defence, thus, contributing to the promotion of TLU into the competitive institution in Estonia and wider Europe, to the integration of TLU research activities further into international collaboration as well as supporting the sustainability of the research. Through a series of workshops and seminars and joint research activities organised by TAU and UiB, the TLU staff together with UiB and TAU have enhanced their domain specific knowledge and soft skills that allow to strengthen all the involved partners research and innovation capacity.
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