NTCenter is pleased to announce that following a successful submission of a proposal under Erasmus+, a new 3-year project has been approved for funding by the Belgian National Agency for Erasmus+ – EPOS. UNCONTROVERSIAL, as the project is named, will attempt to design and test a solution to a problem many teachers experience in class – how to address controversial topics and how to manage and moderate discussions on such topics. Controversial topics relate to issues on which there is a sharp division of opinion between different groups, they are characterised by heated public debate and confrontation. Armed conflicts, value-based cultural oppositions, discrimination, political and social division, protest movements – these are just a few of the types of controversies around us. Naturally, they find their way into the classroom, but teachers often feel unprepared to discuss them, whether because they feel unprepared or because they are not sure how to do it in an impartial way without distancing from their own opinion. Even more critical, when a controversial issue becomes associated with a particular learning material, teachers need to make sure that their assessment remains fair and does not translate into penalising learners with opposing views, or favouritism towards learners with matching views.

A key premise of addressing controversies is promoting dialogue, understanding the position of the opposing party and the motivation behind a specific stance, and finding common ground. UNCONTROVERSIAL bets on an immersive approach where learners will be able to share the experience of their opponents, facilitated by the use of VR (virtual reality) technology for specially-designed scenarios. The project intends to equip teachers with methodological tools for teaching and assessing in the context of controversial topics.

Our partners in this project are Karel de Grote University College (KdG), Belgium, Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), The Netherlands, Delft Digital Learning (DDL), Portugal, and Albeda Schools, The Netherlands.