Policy Roadmap to European Policies for Living-Lab-Based Open Schooling

What are the policy challenges for the implementation of living-lab-based open schooling in Europe?

The aim of the Policy roadmap to European Policies for Living-Lab-Based Open Schooling is to put forward a set of policy recommendations that should be followed in order to normalise the use of the living labs methodology in education complemented with an open schooling framework through a consistent involvement of pupils and teachers.

The roadmapping exercise encompasses three main steps:
1) Identification of the policy gaps that hinder the uptake and implementation of living-lab-based open schooling
2) Elaboration of a set of future policy challenges and implementation scenarios related to living-lab based open schooling
3) Definition of a set of practical policy directions and recommendations for all stakeholders involved

More specifically, the roadmap will tackle issues such as the following:
- Which major policy gaps and challenges should be considered and addressed for normalising the implementation of living-lab-based open schooling?
- What kind of instruments and incentives are necessary to tackle these challenges?
- What is the anticipated impact of these challenges to each policy domain and to the society?
- Which are the broad recommendations for policy makers, researchers and schools that are meaningful to accelerate the take-up of living-lab-based open schooling?

For more information, please visit the project website or contact us at francesco.mureddu@lisboncouncil.net

Methodology to produce the roadmap

First set of policy challenges in science education

Disparity in basic science literacy. The 2015 Science Education for responsible citizenship report found that there is inconsistency in basic science literacy across Europe. According to the report, this is problematic because basic science literacy is required to ensure a thorough comprehension and application of scientific information in decision-making, notably in areas such as health, the environment, food, energy, and consumption. The report highlights wide discrepancies in science education participation, in formal, non-formal, and informal settings, across regions, cultures, and gender.sentence permalink

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Regional disparities. In terms of general educational achievement, there appears to be a North-South divide, with the highest rates of low-qualified people concentrated in southern Europe, particularly in Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece. The United Kingdom (UK), Belgium, the Netherlands, and Sweden, on the other hand, have the lowest rates of low-qualified people. The same trend can be observed in the results of the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). With regards to science performance the UK, Belgium, Netherlands, and Sweden rank significantly above the OECD average. Spain, Italy, and Greece rank below the OECD average.sentence permalink

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Gender gap. The latest PISA study also compared the performance of boys and girls in three key areas of education: reading, mathematics and science. The results show that boys scored higher in science and mathematics than their average across all courses in practically every country, while girls scored higher in reading. These distinctions may explain why boys are more likely than girls to pursue jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related subjects: students may pick their field of study based on comparative strengths rather than absolute strengths. Girls may be equally capable in science as boys, but they are more likely to excel in reading. The result is that girls and women make up less than 25% of students in engineering, manufacturing, construction, and information and communication technologies in more than two-thirds of educational systems. STEM careers, on the other hand, are in high demand and are required to address the world's current concerns, such as COVID-19, climate change, and food and water security. Gender disparities are particularly pronounced in some of the future's fastest-growing and highest-paying jobs, such as computer science and engineering.sentence permalink

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Declining interest in science studies and related careers. In addition to the low numbers of girls interested in science, an overall declining interest in science studies and related jobs can be observed. This is problematic, as they are required to meet the demand for well-prepared graduates (at all levels) and researchers in our knowledge-based communities and economies. Both individuals and businesses are affected by this so-called "skills deficit." The average company spends more than $800,000 per year on recruiting suitable people. Recruiters' hiring pools are currently limited due to the present skills deficit. The most substantial skills gap among workers has been in the STEM industries. Additionally, a low interest in science studies and related careers contributes to the already existing lack of public awareness and understanding of the intricacies of humanity's scientific and social challenges, both in Europe and globally.sentence permalink

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Support system. Teachers and families play an important role in education. According to UNICEF, teachers and parents working together can help children better understand and overcome concerns and misconceptions, as well as boost community participation in addressing faced challenges.sentence permalink

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Lack of qualified teachers. The 2015 Science Education for responsible citizenship report points out that there is an inadequate understanding of the range of skills necessary of teachers and teacher educators in order to increase individual and collaborative accomplishment, innovation, and cultural and economic sustainability.sentence permalink

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Families and culture. Family involvement in children's learning has been shown to influence their achievement and success in school in research. The 2015 Science Education for responsible citizenship report stresses that family participation in education is required to pique children's curiosity, as well as a shift in emphasis from memorising facts to doing imaginative and pleasant things with knowledge, such as being creative with the application of ideas.sentence permalink

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Lack of cooperation. The 2015 Science Education for responsible citizenship report criticises inadequate investments in strategic collaboration and ecosystem development in science education. It suggests that more efforts in this field would promote effective adoption of the newest research findings and emerging technologies in industry and business, particularly SMEs. In addition to a lack of strategic collaboration and ecosystem development in science education, there is also too little involvement of stakeholders in science education policy, research, development and innovation.sentence permalink

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Monitoring. Finally, a remaining challenge in improving science education is the lack of strategies to analyse scientific education learning outcomes and the long-term impact of projects in many cultural contexts, and then interpret the findings for communal impact and benefit.sentence permalink

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Financial issues. Financial provisions for open schooling need to be designed in a sustainable way, and they need to ensure that open schooling activities do not create any extra financial burden for families. When implementing innovative programs, such as open schooling in the field of STE(A)M education, there is a need to differentiate between provisions for designing and setting up an innovative partnership and maintaining it. Successful open schooling initiatives are only possible in financing environments that provide funding not only for initial phases of such programs, but also consider and provide for the costs of sustaining it.sentence permalink

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Physical and legal Issues. Accessibility is a major factor in equitable education provisions. It is ensured by anticipating and mediating social/environmental barriers to enhance access for all learners. Open schooling has to be accessible for all students, and thus needs to be implemented with inclusion at the heart of activities. It is only possible if legislation supports such activities. While there is legislation in most countries on accessibility for disabled students, there are barriers, especially due to regulations regarding the organisation of school activities outside of the school or activities within the school that involve external people.sentence permalink

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Students' engagement. Disengagement because of boring and irrelevant experiences. The main approach will be to challenge and encourage students to explore themselves the notion of well-being by identifying and expressing what matters to them, what bothers them, what they can change or influence, how they can contribute or serve. Teachers should involve students in projects that are relevant to them and to the local communities to make them feel engaged and empowered, connecting classroom learning to real-life issues and settings in order to make it more meaningful for students.sentence permalink

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Digital divide/Access to technology. In today’s increasingly digital world, 3.6 billion people still have no access to the Internet. Those without access are typically the most vulnerable: minorities, people with disabilities, indigenous and marginalised groups, as well as women, children and youth from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds or living in areas affected by conflict and violence. Lack of Internet access reduces paths to a world of information available online, and limits the potential to learn and grow, all of which contribute to the digital divide. Today more than ever, there is a need to strengthen national infrastructure to ensure that connectivity is more widely available. Equally important is the need to strengthen school connectivity plans and to invest in quality learning in order to improve the educational access, learning outcomes and earning potential of young people, as well as the socio-economic development of their communities and countries.sentence permalink

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Rural Areas. Challenges facing students from rural areas who manage to reach high school tend to include: weak foundations laid in primary school; an unavailability of resources in their own languages; isolation and poor access to learning opportunities; digital divide and a lack of qualified teachers, particularly in Maths, Science, and English.sentence permalink

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Collaboration. Society, including learners at different educational levels, should be involved more in collaborative activities while collaboration is a key to success in today’s world and the collaboration skills need to be assessed and evaluated. Social skills in broad are a target in itself in the learning process, including science learning. These skills are a prerequisite for other activities planned to improve science learning and ensure sustainability of open science. Partnerships between teachers, students and stakeholders in science-related fields can offer exciting ways to introduce real life challenges, with their ethical and social issues, into a classroom setting while also aiding problem-solving skills.sentence permalink

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Lack of stakeholders’ commitment. Open schooling is often the only feasible alternative for increasing access to quality secondary education citing its flexible and indiscriminate enrolment system which offers opportunity to a wide range of individual needs. From this study conducted in Malawi, it emerged that the lack of stakeholder’s commitment to open schools is evident in the way open schools are established and organised which largely focuses on income generation for teachers rather than as an alternative route for increasing access to quality secondary education. This results in overcrowded classes which makes facilitation, assessment and other learner support systems difficult to provide. Even teachers’ participation in the open schools largely depend on the finances generated as some choose not to facilitate in the open school if they see that funds are not enough. The implication of this is the increase of cases of teachers teaching the subjects which they are not qualified to teach which in turn negatively affects open school learners’ performance.sentence permalink

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Evaluation issues. Evaluation is key to improving the overall quality of out-of-school STEM programs and to understanding how they contribute to the learning ecosystem. Evaluation can inform programme developers, researchers, policy-makers, and the public as to what out-of-school STEM programs contribute to interest and learning. They can also provide information about the broader context of STEM learning in a community. A critical issue in evaluating out-of-school STEM programmes is that learning occurs in diverse and unpredictable ways. There are many additional challenges to evaluating STEM learning in out-of-school programmes. Importantly, young people participate in out-of-school programmes based on their interests and motivations and use programme resources in different ways. Because of this, out-of-school programme evaluators have little control over who participates in a programme, which can make it difficult to know whether the outcomes of the evaluation could be replicated with different participants.sentence permalink

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Do you agree with this set of policy challenge?sentence permalink

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Do you want to add any policy gap?sentence permalink

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What are the main features of open schooling

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What are the policy measures that should exist to foster the implementation of open schooling?

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What are the gaps that should be considered and addressed for mainstreaming the implementation of open schooling?

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