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Youth Engagement in Society
Start date: Sep 1, 2016, End date: Aug 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The aim of the YES project is to increase active citizenship in youths by teaching them skills in participating in well-structured and respectful debates that should be the basis of every democratic society.The idea is to create an online tool which will be a game-based approach in the form of a deck-building card game that aims to encourage debates about politics and society amongst youths. Youths will form teams that could consist of school classes or mixed international teams. The system essentially offers an online-environment for holding debates about societal or political issues that uses a gamification approach to encourage young people of different ages to get involved. Therefore, a card-game mechanism that foresees the learners to build teams to play against each other builds the very basis of the system. The main idea is that the teams have to prepare their own deck of cards with different statements that are appropriate to strengthen or defend one´s own position standing on each of the cards. This makes the whole system highly flexible as there isn´t any limit in the number of teams that are playing against each other nor is it in the number of young people gathering to build a team. Nevertheless, it makes sense to have some kind of basic debate formats which could be the following:• One team against another to discuss pros and contras of a certain topic like e.g. nuclear energy.• A debate with up to five different teams to simulate an election, but in some kind of split-session. • A debate with up to five different teams, each only represented by a single person, related to a selection of pre-determined topics like e.g. in talk-shows or TV debates.The number of players gathered in one team can vary, so that there could either be only a single representative per team or up to ten players that build a team.As the teams are linked online via the system in which they just have to log in, they don´t necessarily need to be in the same location. So theoretically teams could consist of youths from different nationalities which would encourage language learning as well. Once the players are engaged in a debate, the system will be used to support a democratic decision-making process. A poll-system will be integrated to choose the argument (the card) that is going to be played.The objective of the project is to encourage productive debates that authentically reflect the way how societal or political debates should take place in real life, always having the claim to foster learning about the discussed topics in mind. Hence, the first step would be to prepare the debate. Learners conduct research, they search for background information and facts, and they have to prepare arguments and counter-arguments that will then be written down on the cards. This requires the learners to anticipate the argument and counterarguments of the other teams as well which pretty much implies the extent of research necessary to undertake by each of the teams, particularly when playing with more than only two teams. But this also shows that the research process itself and all of its outcomes are highly valuable for the learners.The second step would be the debate itself. When thinking of a debate in which a pro- and a contra-team compete against each other, the one side could start with an argument and the other team could play a card with a counter-argument that specifically targets the argument that was drawn before.At the end of each round there will be public voting. Votes give points for the quality of the elements produced and how well they compare against the other one. This way we could come up with a point system that will tell us who won the debate at the end of all the rounds.The fact that teams will have to anticipate the arguments of the other side means that they will have to look at the debated topics from more than one side in order to be successful. Not only will they learn structured, respectful and productive debating skills, they will also develop a deep understanding of the topics that they debate.The system will be available for free as an online tool and it will also be integrated into an already existing platform, the RAISE UP platform that promotes active citizenship. In order to help youth workers, trainers and teachers use it in the education of youths we will provide pedagogic materials that make using the YES tool easy and minimize any extra work. In addition we plan to use the results of the necessary research activities on game-based learning (which are vital for designing a balanced, well working learning game tool) and publish them in a convenient handbook that gives youth workers and overview of game-based learning solutions and approaches. We want the result of the project to be inspiring for those active in youth work and fun and effective for the youths experiencing it.
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