Yes, we have been silent for quite some time with regard to news and publications on our corporate website. And though we know most of our colleagues and partners follow the news and our work progress in social media, we realise that there may be a need to shed light on some of the developments in the recent months. So, what have we been up to?
We are happy to announce that a new colleague has joined our full-time staff. Milena Koleva-Zvancharova is our latest Project Manager for Erasmus+ projects. She has a remarkable educational and professional background and we know her well – she has been a teacher in Cultural Anthropology at our own Adam Smith College of Management in Sofia. She accepted our offer and is already working full steam on current projects and new project proposals for the next Erasmus+ call. Milena shares our professional approach to everything we do, and our firm belief that we only engage in projects behind which there is a cause and where we are hopeful, if not confident, that we can bring sustainable improvement and real change.
We have been busy with a number of projects, and there are some exciting developments:
Most of our time has been dedicated to the formidably challenging project De Facto. The concept is based on Cognitive Science and we use 4 pillars from this field to design a full-blown practical toolbox for educators. The key objective is to define – for the first time – the field of mis- and disinformation in education and training contexts, and to provide a range of tools for detecting disinformation, understanding the cognitive processes behind it, the many motivations behind creating and propagating such information, and bring awareness as to the very real harmful impact on the education and training. We have already designed a robust framework which receives much acclaim from professionals in the field and the general audience, and we are nearing completion on several other key elements from the toolbox: a large collection of case studies for direct use with learners, a board game and an app based on a digital algorithm teaching users how to spot disinformation, a disinformation production kit to put learners in the shoes of manipulators and help them understand how the entire process works so that they can be prepared and take on when they face mis- and disinformation.
We are now 2/3 of the way of the CoCOS project which focuses on testing practical approaches to co-creation of training content using open-source software. We are now processing data from the pilot courses run by the partners during the whole of 2019 and we are drafting a Guidebook to help educators who want to explore this exciting new method of teaching.
Internal preparations are under way for another edition of the Skills+ Competitions. These are skills competitions for people with disabilities, and with the current project we are building on the original one, during which we designed and tested the format. Now we are bringing more partners in, and from the original 6 countries we are now 10 full partners. So there will be 10 countries organising National Competitions with winners then competing against each other at the European Finals. We also have 5 additional partner organisations with observer status and we hope they will transition to organising their first national competitions in the next few years.
Our STEM-related project called Artifex is entering its last year. This is a project with an extremely motivated partners on board and with remarkable cooperation. As may of you may know, STEM education has been in the last few years a focal point for policy makers and educators at both EU and national level. Artifex is exploring good practices with regard to cooperation models for establishment of STEM centres, and is also designing workshops for direct use in educators’ practice. This will soon be coupled with a matching tool which suggests workshops of different level of difficulty based on individuals’ scores on an online self-assessment tool which measures 7 distinct criteria.
The RED project is also advancing, bringing self-scoring tests on literacy, numeracy and digital literacy for vulnerable groups in several EU countries. A catalogue of services, tutorials and other resources are being designed to help these people with their social and professional integration.
We are also working on tasks related to a project called Science4fun (no website yet) whose objective it is to provide tools for baseline testing and support science teachers in their work.
We have now a whole family of new project concepts which largely rest on our recent work with Cognitive Science. Cognitive biases and their role in education is key topic which we are investigating and drafting pathways to come up with data-based and dynamic instruments to detect and assess cognitive biases of educators and learners and suggest practical approaches and adjustments in the teaching methods to minimise learning-related bias impact and the resulting distortions and inefficiencies of the learning process. For this we are also rapidly expanding our partner network across the EU so that we can bring the most relevant expertise to the project board.