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Open Schools for Open Societies

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - OSOS (Open Schools for Open Societies)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2020-03-31

Our schools should be incubators of exploration and invention. They should be accelerators of innovation. They should promote Open Schooling. School leaders should set a vision for creating learning experiences that provide the right tools and supports for all learners to thrive. Teachers should be collaborators in learning, seeking new knowledge and constantly acquiring new skills alongside their students. A holistic approach to innovation is needed. We need to facilitate the process with a provision of the necessary catalyst: This is the foreseen role of the OSOS project, to describe and implement at scale a process that will facilitate the transformation of schools to innovative ecosystems, acting as shared sites of science learning for which leaders, teachers, students and the local community share responsibility, over which they share authority, and from which they all benefit through the increase of their communities’ science capital and the development of responsible citizenship. Τhe project’s overall approach is based on the provision of the necessary support to schools in their attempt to evolve, transform and reinvent their structures towards a more open, localised and socially responsible learning environment.
OSOS was the first project that introduced the concept of open schooling, where schools, in cooperation with other stakeholders, can become an agent of community well-being. An open school is an engaging environment for science learning and makes a vital contribution to the community: student science projects meet real needs in the community outside school and draw upon local expertise and experience. Learning in and together with the real world creates more meaning and more motivation for learners and teachers. Such an environment fosters collaboration, mentoring, and provides opportunities for learners and teachers to co-design the future of learning. Applying the OSOS approach in local settings the last two years has made it clear that schools have much to gain by fostering connections between formal and informal science learning, between existing providers of education and new entrants. The OSOS approach has supported (and will continue to do so) the transformation of more than 1200 schools into open schooling environments in 15 countries. The A tailored package of supporting materials, including the OSOS Self‐Reflection tool and the Open School Development Plan, have been developed to support schools as they transform into Open Schooling Hubs, offering a clear mentoring approach to schools with a vision for the future. The OSOS School Hubs created communities of practice to implement their innovative projects, involving numerous schools that progressively also adopt the open school culture. OSOS has demonstrated at scale the process of transforming schools to innovative ecosystems (significant growth on their openness was observed), acting as shared sites of science learning for which school-heads, teachers, students, and the local community share responsibility, over which they share authority, and from which they all benefit through the increase of their communities’ science capital and the development of responsible citizenship. As an overall result, the adoption of the open schooling culture documented in the participating schools is strongly related with a significant increase in students’ interest and motivation in science.
100 OSOS School Hubs have managed to set in motion a network of 1200 schools in 15 EU countries. 2500 teachers and 50000 students were involved in the project activities. This effort laid the groundwork supported by continuing efforts to introduce new ideas, methodologies to help harness creativity, and support to develop a pathway for the effective use of science-related resources in schools. OSOS has opened the possibility of harnessing the enormous scientific and technological progress that has been made in the last five decades (in various fields of science and technology), by placing it at the service of one of the most important sectors of our societies. Through the creative use of the new technologies, the effective content organization and the learning processes they can generate with respect to local school problems, we can address the challenge of the “social appropriation of knowledge” seeking to empower teachers and students through this knowledge and to develop technologies that reflect the school needs. Additionally, the OSOS transformation journey has made a significant contribution to the development of self-esteem, an increased “sense of belonging”, and an improved perception of one’s own capacity to solve problems and contribute to the “construction of the surrounding community”, including other schools, as it was documented in the impact assessment findings. These factors have been clearly related to the development of “social capital” and a greater degree of conviviality and peace. Footcloth the school component and the community dimension of the project placed emphasis on developing certain key values and attitudes that play an important role in this process, such as the capacity of teamwork and a spirit of collaboration as a way of developing learning/mentoring networks and communities. The main outcome of this process was the 115 OSOS school communities, strong innovation clusters of schools working in similar areas that is the driving force of the evolution of the OSOS mentoring service, the European School Innovation Academy after the end of the project. The aim of this social meta-structure is to involve new schools that have interest in specific areas into a continuous process of experience exchange and of continuous collaborative learning focused on the further development of their change management competencies, focusing on the field of their interest. The European School Innovation Academy supports the active engagement of the members of the community, it supports collaborative learning processes within the specific target groups; the design of processes guaranteeing the sustainability of the community across groups of teachers (locally, regionally, nationally and across different countries); the launch and facilitation of the OSOS community; and the continuous assessment of value generated at the individual as well as at the community level.
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The OSOS Implementation Cycle