This article was originally published on www.doit-europe.net
On the 21st of February, IFTE co-organised an UKIDS multiplier event together with DOIT, Salzburg Research YouthProAktiv and the eesi-impulse center. The event was hosted under the title “Education of Young People for Social Innovation, and Entrepreneurial Educational Practices in and out of Makerspaces: Evidence, Challenges, Cooperation Strategies and Future Policies”. Through a program of interactive activities, participants got the chance to learn more about the topics such as entrepreneurial learning as well as makerspaces, social innovation and entrepreneurship in education from both policy and practice perspective, make new connections, and share views and agree concrete recommendations in round-table discussions.
At 9 am, participants were welcomed by Philip List, Director of FLiP and by Prof. Johannes Lindner. The moderator for the day was Radovana Jágriková, Project Manager at YouthProAktiv. On behalf of the project, she extended a warm welcome to all participants of this first expert meeting, “DOIT project partners but also other national and international stakeholders, who together drive forward innovation in education and beyond”. She introduced the context of the event and a video message from MEP Petra Kammerevert, Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education at the European Parliament and an MEP for Germany. As Mrs Kammerevert could not join the meeting, she wished to connect with the participants at least this way and present the current European policy context of education and the skill agenda, good practices and challenges. “While we can observe that politics is still lacking behind in the field of digital education and the provision of the necessary skills for living and working in 2019 and beyond, many civil society organisations and networks are already very committed to tackle these challenges through all kinds of projects. DOIT is one very good example,” she noted.
The participants had the chance to hear from young social entrepreneurs. Of those who joined the event, two took the stage to share briefly their entrepreneurial story and current work: Alexander Neubauer, whose young team has been tackling the problem of air pollution, and Karim Abdel Baky, who seven years ago co-founded a start-up Re-Green. The session was introduced and moderated by Valentin Mayerhofer, Member of the Board at ifte and co-ordinator of their Changemaker Programme. He also reflected that, based on his experience e.g. in ifte's Changemaker Programme, “the biggest thing that you can offer young social entrepreneurs is to provide them access to a network”.
The keynote talk on “Europe: becoming (socially) entrepreneurial”, the key impulse for the event, was delivered by Elin McCallum, Director of Bantani Education, a Belgium-based non-profit organisation driving entrepreneurial & creative learning across Europe, who is also one of the members of DOIT's International Advisory Board. Elin looked at some existing challenges and presented overview of the various EU-wide initiatives and European policy milestones in the areas of entrepreneurship education and digital and other skills. With terms such as entrepreneurial, transversal, employability, life or 21st century skills used frequently in relation to education, she emphasised the need to have a common language and a shared understanding of what entrepreneurial skills and competences are and what we should try to achieve through entrepreneurial learning, drawing attention specifically to the EntreComp framework and its preferred definition of entrepreneurship as proposed by the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship & Young Enterprise: “Entrepreneurship is when you act upon opportunities and ideas and transform them into value for others. The value that is created can be financial, cultural, or social” (European Commission, 'EntreComp'). She emphasised the important transformative and social element of entrepreneurial action which does not have to be about making money – “you can make change” – and the fascinating process of wider entrepreneurial learning of young people, such as through “self-directed discovery, where you really take them into a ground where they understand their strengths, can compensate for what they're not good at, and move forward into a successful future”.
In a short follow-up interactive exercise, all participants had the chance to find a person they had not talked to before and share one surprising or inspiring thing they had heard up to that point and what they hope to learn or achieve by the end of the event.
In the next talk, the first experience impulse, Dr. Sandra Schön and Dr. Veronika Hornung-Prähauser from Salzburg Research looked at “The maker movement, social innovation and the DOIT Programme: Pilot experiences and first policy recommendations”. In the first part of the talk, they presented core aspects of the DOIT project, such as the three strands of its learning approach – social innovation, makerspace and digital fabrication tools, and entrepreneurial education – the European context, and selected project results. Next, we looked at concrete examples from first pilots, in which, for example, children from Belgium designed prototypes of personal fans to deal with hot summers in the classroom and children in two separate Austrian pilots addressed safety and accident prevention in their school and means of dealing with excessive air moisture. Facilitators in the Austrian pilot coordinated by the Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI) have reflected positively on the children's observed self-efficacy and pride in their work as well as their gained ability to collaborate with children of very different ages, from six to eleven. Finally, DOIT's first draft European policy brief and its four main recommendations were presented, in preparation for deeper discussions during the round-table session later in the day.
Dr. Wilfried Lepuschitz, coordinator of the project Makers@School on behalf of Practical Robotics Institute Austria, gave an overview of the work within his association and the project, whose main aims include increasing people's understanding of the maker movement and the development of various skills related to and interest in entrepreneurship, STEM and innovation. Their focus is also on young children, primary and middle schools, “in order to have more people attracted to entrepreneurship, to making...”. Through their workshops and other activities, they have already achieved positive outcomes in terms of interest and confidence, among others; they also acknowledged challenges encountered, such as limited time for extra-curricular activities the older the children get.
In the third experience impulse, Prof. Johannes Lindner with the help of Eva Jambor, Youth Start programme director at ifte, looked at several questions around entrepreneurial learning and evidence from the Youth Start Entrepreneurial Challenges (Empowering Each Child) programme and the follow-up UKids project, targeting primary schools and teacher training. In order to find a more comprehensive answer to “Why entrepreneurship education?”, participants again worked in pairs and small groups to briefly discuss their views. Prof. Lindner joined a group of young social entrepreneurs, for whom entrepreneurship education is important in preparation for their future jobs; it is also a very different way of learning, doing rather than just listening, and being allowed to make mistakes and try things at least twice, to experience different teams or different approaches. Similarly to earlier presenters, he emphasised the different possible interpretations of entrepreneurship and the transformative, social nature of entrepreneurship that is of importance to him – “I have potential, I can change things”. He highlighted the potential of entrepreneurial challenge-based learning, especially in combination with learner-centred approach. Participants had the chance to hear more about the two ifte initiatives and the evaluation of their wide-reaching impacts and also take away an Entrepreneur: Changemaker card game inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals.
Adj.Prof. PhD. Martin Ebner of Graz University of Technology, another member of DOIT's Advisory Board, concluded with a presentation on maker education in curricula and beyond. He highlighted the important role that maker and STEAM education can have and presented the various ways in which his university offers these, from labs, clubs, maker days, diverse technical areas and an idea lounge and for children and young people to the educational offer for adult educators.
After the morning break, the programme focussed on round-table discussions. Participants had an hour and a half to choose and debate one of five questions and their related sub-topics:
Does the “social” matter in entrepreneurship education in early stage Entrepreneurship Education, and, if yes, how? How can it be assessed?
What are the barriers and enablers for social innovation, social entrepreneurship & maker education policies and practices? What are success factors for social entrepreneurship and making as a cross-curricular activity in schools?
How to integrate young role models (youth social entrepreneurs) and idea challenges (competitions) for social innovation and maker projects (e.g. Changemaker Program, Social Impact Award) into effective educational initiatives?
What degree of professionalization and skill development for teachers is needed in entrepreneurial education through social innovation and making/digital?
What investment in infrastructure and resources is needed in order to use makerspace settings in formal education? Is there potential for better cooperation with FabLabs and MakerLabs?
Each table group heard from a lead expert with experience in the topic and was given time for individual reflection, formulation of provisional answers, group discussion as well as final formulation of concrete common recommendations. Members of the DOIT partnership acted as table leads. After the group discussions, all participants returned for a summary of each group's discussion and their collection of concrete outcomes and recommendations presented in writing, ahead of closing remarks by the moderator Radovana Jágriková and the local host Prof. Lindner, who thanked everyone for their contributions and highlighted the importance of exchanging experience, collaboration and celebrating achievements. The event officially concluded with a networking lunch.