Archive of European Projects

Food for thought: personalized learning and OER in a European setting
Start date: 01 Sep 2014, End date: 31 Aug 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Localized in 3 different geographical and cultural contexts, 3 schools (from the Netherlands, Portugal, Bulgaria), have realized over the last decade the fundamental benefit of European cooperation for their students, teachers and the schools as such. The experience of working together on a specific project, not only in virtual space but also actually meeting each other, has proven an essential step in creating European awareness and fostering a sense of European identity and citizenship among students and teachers which could not have been achieved otherwise. Aware of the fundamental need to continue to provide this opportunity to a significant number of our students, the 3 schools feel the need to exchange, experiment and document innovative pedagogical practices in the context of multicultural learning. The fundamental objectives of our project is to implement the concept of personalized learning with an international group of upper secondary students and to create OERs. Over 2 years, 40 students and their teachers from each school will cooperate with their partners, virtually and during project meetings, conducting comparative research related to the themes of the project: 'food' for the students and 'personalized learning' for the teachers. The theme of food has been chosen as it it is linked to the Millennium Development Goals of the EU, it permits a multidisciplinary approach (relating the research to the local curriculum), permitting par excellence the study of European and global interrelatedness and also because, valorising cultural identity and diversity in Europe, it is a motivating theme for the students. Each year, a project visits in the three schools will bring together students and teachers from all participating schools for a week of intensive work. Before these project meetings, teachers are introduced to the concept of personalized learning and prepare the project activities in each school. Students and their families are selected and prepared intensively. Project activities during the project visits comprise lessons related to the theme (ex: Science, Economy, Geography, Language, History, Arts), study visits (ex: greenhouses, farms, plant-production firm, fishing harbour, large supermarket, regional food distribution centre/market, museum…), contact with persons related to food production / distribution. All of these activities follow the concept of personalized learning and will contribute to the comparative research of the students and help them to answer the research questions they will define together, in the beginning. This research results in OERs created by the students and by the teachers, which will be publicly accessible. A further result will be the diaries written by the students which will help the teachers to assess the progress and success of the strategy adopted (personalized learning) and to evaluate, document and share their experience with the use of this concept in an international group. The main impact expected on the participating students is the acquisition of research and communication skills in an international group and a significant rising of their European awareness. Moreover, they learn that they can actively intervene in issues of public interest (like what we eat), thus making an experience of intervenient European citizenship. The impact is increased through the recognition/validation of the learning outcomes through Europass. Other students in all 3 schools will profit from this experience as the participants will share it, in formal and informal settings, motivating and encouraging their colleagues. The teachers who participate in the project meetings will learn how the concept of personalized learning works and how they can guide students in this type of learning; they will also learn to develop OERs, both by themselves and their students. We expect this experience to have strong impact on their own normal lessons and, through sharing with the colleagues of their departments, also on a larger group of teachers in each school. For the schools as such, the most valuable impact of the project consists in bringing the European dimension to the school and the school community in a constructive and positive sense at a moment when large parts of the population have become disinterested in the EU. The project’s potential longer term benefit consists, therefore, in the formation of active young citizens with a European awareness. The experience of applying personalized learning to European student exchanges and its evaluation will be of long-term benefit to the three schools. Sharing our experience with others in our region and with other European schools to whom each school is related, we hope to encourage a wider use of this innovative approach.
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