OPEN SCHOOLING pre-conference event in Heilbronn

Author: Alexandra Okada

The  Open Schooling together pre-conference event took place   on June 1st  as part of the 2022  ECSITE European Conference in Heilbronn Germany, led by Maria Zolotonosa (co-founder of Stickydot) and supported by Alix Thuillier from ECSITE.

The Open Schooling Together is a group of eleven consortiums funded by the European Union to innovate school education. Our goal is to help schools become agents of well-being. Students are engaged to solve real-life problems through the cooperation between teachers, science professionals, families, and community members.

The objectives of the workshop were:

  • To gain inspiration and reflect together about new methodologies of learning
  • To discuss challenges as well innovative pedagogical tools to find solutions

The invited speakers who presented their projects and run interactive activities with the attendees were from
2023 MIO: Maya Halevy, Chagit Tishler, Tamar Fuhrmann, Pam de Sterke

2023 SALL: Pavlos Koulouris, Claudia Aguirre     , Malvina Artheau, Didier Laval

2023 CONNECT: Alexandra Okada

2022 PHERECLOS: Torben Roug Eszter Salamon

2022 OSHUB:  Maria Vicente, Cristina Olivotto, Shaun Ussher, Brendan Owens

The event started with two engaging strategies.

1. The Pecha Kucha session invited each project to present itself in a 6 min 66 seconds presentation with 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide.

The MIO project presented by Maya provides 16 learning scenarios and open schooling navigator. She also announced the new MOOC in development The project inspires schools with  communities to “Brief, Research, Make, and Share”.

The SALL project presented by Matteo Merzagora focuses on living labs.  This refers to an open innovation methodology, user-driven where people are key actors of the innovation process. The project is centred on food  and inspires schools with  communities to “Cocreate, explore, experiment, evaluate”   in real-life

The PHERECLOS  project presented by Cyril offers six local educational clusters. It is designed to create new opportunities for educational landscapes, based on interconnected and innovation-geared activities. In this context, Children’s Universities takes the role of mediation and translation between the sectors to accelerate learning.

The OSHub project presented by Cristina Olivotto supports schools and local stakeholders to use research and innovation a tool for tackling local challenges and contributing to sustainable community development. The OS Hub is composed by Broker Team, Schools, Local Challenges and local stakeholders. The project offers a Course Handbook for teachers and promotes a long term engagement with schools.

The CONNECT project presented by Alexandra Okada embeds open schooling in the mainstream curriculum underpinned by the CARE–KNOW–DO framework. This approach aims to help students engage with real-life issues that they care about, create the need to know about and also opportunities to do science in their lives and society. The project offers open resources, learning scenarios, self-assessment tools for teachers and students, video library, best practices, policy report and fun participatory tools to increase  students’ engagement, confidence and  aspiration so that “science is for them”

Second, the Tools carrousel – round 1 where we will be sharing innovative educational tools we developed.

This activity was delivered in 4 sessions of 15 min for 4 different groups that rotated across 5 project tables.

In CONNECT, Alexandra created a game for educational providers to select a set of four cards to implement open schooling based on: (1)   students’ need, to be linked to (2) teachers’ need, then (3) select a resource and (4) science-in-the-news to engage families and scientists. Each card was a piece of a puzzle to be built on a board that contained 4 questions. All cards included a QR code linked to a real multimedia digital resource. After players completed the puzzle and explored the resource they were invited to create a card or a set of 4 cards to be added to the game related to their own OS projects. The activity was developed in pairs and took 8′ minutes. Then during the last 7′ minutes players discussed their initial insights, which means,  suggestions for improvement, potential benefits, and barriers. Some insights about the gamification activity shared by players were, for example, ‘the game will be useful for knowledge exchange’. It could be used for ‘building capacity’, ‘teachers’ training’, ‘running a workshop event’, ‘public engagement’, and ‘exploring opportunities for learning design’.

There were two  external guests that provided some insights for   evaluation and research.

Marc Fuster, Research Analyst at OECD Centre for Educational Research and Innovation talked about “OECD schooling scenarios schools as learning hubs”. He presented some insights from the report “Back to the Future of Education” OECD (2030) and highlighted the four OECD Scenarios for the Future of Schooling: McClellan,

  1. School extended, an international collaboration to expand formal education
  2. Education outsourced, more diverse with digital technology
  3. Schools as learning hubs, schools connected to their communities
  4. Learn-as you go, education anywhere anytime

By 2040 schools remain, but diversity and experimentation have become a norm.  Opening the school walls connects schools to their communities favoring ever-changing forms of learning, civic engagement, and social innovation” (OECD, 2020

Open Schooling part of Open Education is key that means integrating open collaboration, open teaching, and open educational resources as well as open assessment – all supported by enabling technologies. The OECD report mentioned three arenas for re-schooling congruent to open-schooling: the pedagogical core of the learning environment, learning leadership, schools as learning organisations, and partnerships working with stakeholders to enhance innovation. Some interesting links were shared:,

Evaluation to support evidence-based policy has a vital role. From this session there is a question for OS projects evaluators to reflect on innovation: “How are innovating in terms of: 1.resources, 2. content,3.teaching/learning process, and 4. teachers and learners’ profiles?

Comments from the audience were useful to reflect on how evaluation could support OS learning environments to enhance flexible cooperation between different types of educators (teachers, parents, professionals, and community members in open education). For that, there are some requirements necessary, for example, formative feedback tools for teachers and learners as well as formative evidence analytics for learning leadership. These should be connected also with learners’ achievements and progress through portfolios, open badges, best practices, information systems, and data management.

Another reflection was related to ‘Building capacity through partnerships is key which starts with students’ evidence of learning’. The cycle starts from the expected outcomes and is coherently co-designed, delivered, evaluated, and improved.  I found this congruent with the theory of backward designs (Wiggins and MicTighe, 1997) which highlights the first step to identifying the desired learning results, then determining the acceptable evidence, and finally planning the teaching instruction for significant learning experiences.

Jeffrey McClellan, founding principal of MC2 STEM High School in Cleveland, “Innovate – Enrich – Engage” opened this talk with an engaging question “ what would happen if the city became the campus for a public STEM high school? McClellan then provided various examples and a short video about  MC2 STEM High School.

The STEM high school started in 2008, and is part of the new and innovative school system and its campus is the city of Cleveland. Key features of the school are mastery learning and authentic STEM experiences with a trans-disciplinary project-based approach. In terms of the pedagogical model, the school adopted various approaches, for example, real-world experience, partnerships, FABLAB, content-in-context, community, and business internships, and mentoring.

His initial presentation was followed by a discussion ‘ can this model be replicated? “  McClellan then introduced three drivers: motivation,  engagement, and self-management, and compared with four barriers: behaviour, complexity, cost, and time.   

Two key aspects have then been highlighted the curriculum of big questions and  self-organised learning environments supported by formative assessment



CONNECT UK-Brazil Knowledge Exchange Seminar on Open Schooling with fun participatory approaches

The International Knowledge Exchange Seminar on Open Schooling UK-BR was organised by Dr. Okada , scientific coordinator of  CONNECT and member of Rumpus Research group.

CONNECT – inclusive open schooling with engaging future-oriented science is funded by the European Union and by two Brazilian Universities.

This event was held in Milton Keynes on the 22nd of March 2022. The seminar brought together 30 experts in the field to discuss open education, participatory design, emerging technologies as well equity, diversity and inclusion. Its aim was  to  provide a forum for academics and non-academics (from enterprises) to present their work in a straightforward format, on issues that are relevant to open schooling.

To make it more inclusive the event at Berrill Theather was in Portuguese Language, livestream, recorded and shared.

The OU speakers were Alexandra Okada (WELS) who opened the event and presented open schooling in Europe, Roberta Davies (EDI) talked about Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and Lara Piccolo (STEM-KMi) discussed about participatory design of a chatbot with children.  In addition, the OU research fellow visitor Prof. Alexandre Marino Costa presented his research that started with Dr. Okada about Augmented Reality in Brazil – project funded now by the Brazil Government using open schooling. Various examples were discussed to enhance innovation ecosystems with open schooling for tackling the societal challenges of our world. The Bett-Brazil speakers were from various enterprises including Lenovo, Samsung, Kroton Education,EduInfo, Fore Education, Bedu Tech; universities: FATEC, UFSC, Jundiai, Maua, and schools: Lourenco Castanho, Language School, Marista,… and policy makers from UNDIME – a large Union of Municipalities in Education.

The poster session enabled participants to obtain and discuss information about open schooling and research developed during the 1st year of the project  CONNECT.

The Open schooling CONNECT network engaged a full range of R&I stakeholders: researchers and research organisations, policy makers at national and regional level, business and industry representatives, science education members, and civil society organisations of Brazil. It encouraged discussion, fostered improved understanding and  enabled opportunities for more in-depth engagement with the UNESCO Agenda 2030, the EU Green Deal and The NEW-GREEN DEAL of BRAZIL.

During this event, the CONNECT policy report was launched. Three workshops were organised.

Various relevant questions and opportunities for partnerships were discussed: What does “open schooling means” for our organisations? What are the key principles of Equity – Diversity and Inclusion to support open schooling for all? What are the initiatives that bring together education, enterprise and society? What are the examples of participatory design that engages students, teachers, families and researchers to produce innovation to address students’ real-life problems? What are the best practices of open schooling with emerging technologies, for example, augmented reality?

After the workshops, all participants presented their practices and initiatives.

The evaluation of this Knowledge Exchange event was very significant with three key outcomes:
1. Business benefiting from project experience and ideas shared by speakers
2. New curricula including open educational resources and tools shared by participants
3. Networks developed enabling new collaborative projects and partnerships

As an example, the event enabled the cooperation between the OU-UK Rumpus with Policymakers – The Secretary of Education in Sao Paulo – Brasil Government leader of UNDIME-SP to develop together a case study  about the open schooling “protecting the largest urban forest in the world” which is located in Brazil .  This CONNECT event  brought  key findings to the attention of key participants and decision-makers, in education, academia, industry and policy. And it will be now expanded to the wider public sector and others in the next event of BETT Brazil in May 10th , which Alexandra Okada is a keynote with Marcia Bernardes the head of UNDIME, including Silvar Ribeiro the coordinator of Social Innovation Research in Bahia UNEB   who will be talking about Environmental protection in the  semi-arid  region of Brazil ,  and Thais Castro leader of technology for inclusion in UFAM who will talk about  citizen science initiative to understand issues of Amazon – the largest tropical forest in the world.



SEE our Policy report


O Seminário Internacional sobre Open Schooling UK-BR foi organizado pelo projeto CONNECT time da The Open University financiado pela Comissão Europeia, apoiado pela BETT Brasil e grupo de Pesquisa Rumpus. Este evento foi realizado em Milton Keynes no dia 22 de março de 2022. O seminário reuniu 30 especialistas na área para discutir educação aberta, tecnologias emergentes, design participativo, bem como equidade, diversidade e inclusão.

Vários exemplos foram compartilhados para aprimorar os ecossistemas de inovação com escolarização aberta para enfrentar os desafios sociais do nosso mundo. A rede Open schooling CONNECT envolveu uma diversidade de organizações interessadas em I&I: investigadores e organizações de investigação, decisores políticos a nível nacional e regional, representantes de empresas e da indústria, membros da educação científica e organizações da sociedade civil do Brasil. Entre muitas empresas, houve participantes da Lenovo, Samsung, EduInfo, Cogna, Fore Education, Bedu Tech; universidades: FATEC, UFSC, Jundiaí, Mauá, e escolas: Lourenço Castanho, Escola de Línguas, Marista,… e formuladores de políticas da UNDIME – uma grande União de Municípios na Educação.

Durante este evento, foram discutidas várias questões relevantes: O que significa “escolarização aberta”? Quais são os princípios-chave da Equidade – Diversidade e Inclusão para apoiar a educação aberta para todos? Quais são as iniciativas que aproximam educação, empresa e sociedade? Quais são os exemplos de design participativo que envolvem alunos, professores, famílias e pesquisadores para produzir inovação para abordar os problemas da vida real dos alunos? Quais são as melhores práticas de escolarização aberta com tecnologias emergentes?

O evento começou com um painel incluindo quatro palestrantes brasileiros da OU, seguido de uma discussão em grupos e apresentações.

Foi o primeiro evento em Língua Portuguesa da Open University UK parte do projeto CONNECT.

Distance education and fun? Conference – Call for papers: 31 January 2022.

The call for papers for the online conference ‘Distance education: a brave new world?’ has been extended until 31 January 2022.

Some themes that might be interesting for our online learning and fun network:

Transformation in teaching and learning

  • Teachers’ creativity vs process constraints
  • Lessons learnt

Educational models, configurations and practices

  • Well-established teaching methodologies and new practices
  • Traditional, new, tested and forthcoming models of distance, blended and online learning

Perception of distance education and its mission

  • Old and new perceptions of distance education
  • Positioning in relation to traditional education


  • Abstracts may be submitted in French or in English.
  • Abstracts must be between 300 to 600 words including references (if required).
  • Conference presentations will last 10-15 minutes with 5 minutes for questions to maximise the number of sessions and increase the diversity of views and experiences.
  • The scientific committee may ask authors to amend their accepted abstracts before their publication on the conference website.
  • Authors will be asked to submit short papers (3,000 to 4,000 words including references) for publication on the conference website before the conference.
  • Selected conference proceedings will be published in a special issue of the journal Distances et médiations des savoirs (Distance and mediation of knowledge) based on the conference themes. Authors who wish to submit full papers for the special issue will be provided with further information after the conference.

The submitted abstracts will be evaluated by members of the conference scientific committee through a double-blind review process.

Please visit the ‘Submission’ tab above to submit your abstract through our online platform*.

* To be able to submit an abstract, you will need to create an account on the conference platform. Click on ‘login’ at the top of this page to create your account or follow this link.

Important dates for authors 

28 October 2021  Call for papers opens  
31 January 2022  Deadline for submissions of abstracts (300 to 600 words including references) 
28 March 2022  Notifications to authors (including possible revisions) 
15 June 2022  Deadline for submission of short papers  

(3,000 to 4,000 words including references) 

30 September 2022  Publication of short papers prior to the conference 
20-21 October 2022  Online conference  
After the conference (date to be confirmed)  Opportunity to submit full papers for publication in DMS (details to be confirmed) 

More details:

OLAF, CONNECT and OS together

Discussing the role of open schooling and online learning and fun at the “Sustainable Development and Education” – International Conference.

By Alexandra Okada


The SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION Conference took place online on August 26th – 27th as a special edition of the 8th International Conference for Responsible Research and Innovation organised by LSME – London School of Management Education.  This event (Figure 1)   brought together academics and practitioners across three continents: Asia, Europe and South America.

Figure 1 – The Sustainable Development and Education Conference, VIII LSME Aug.2021

The core theme of this event focuses on “Democratic Participation in Educational Process & Sustainable Development.”  The objective of this large event was to discuss the vital role to be played by education in preparing learners to cooperatively address   the global challenges and its local issues facing humanity at this time related to global warming, climate change, environment destruction, diseases, inequalities and violence.

The online event with more than 70 presentations received more than 150 attendees and the special keynotes including Professor Petra Molthan-Hill Faculty Lead, Green Academy, Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University, UK, who opened the event with an inspiring talk  “High Impact Climate Solutions: We can do it!” . Petra’s work highlights the importance of equipping youth with the information to teach others about climate change and providing skills needed to make these high impact changes in our activities to reduce carbon emissions. Her framework differentiates between climate change science education, climate change mitigation education and climate change adaptation education. Some interesting links presented are: Carbon Literacy designed for business schools and universities and inspired by a training in the television sector. The UN PRME Climate and other initiatives aim at engaging students in curricular and extracurricular activities.

26th of AUGUST 2021

The session about Open Schooling for Sustainability attracted a large number of participants from Austria, Brazil, Catalunya, Denmark, Ghana, Greece, India, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and UK. It was chaired by Dr Peter Gray from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

The session started with the panel “Open Schooling to Enhance Innovation Ecosystems”  (Figure 2) whose aim was to debate issues, drivers and challenges.

Figure 2 – Open Schooling – OS Together Panel and CONNECT studies – VIII LSME Aug.2021

Dr Alexandra Okada from the Open University – UK and scientific coordinator of CONNECT (2020-2023 introduced the ‘open schooling’ term as a key feature of the openness movement to empower students as protagonists for sustainability supported by schools, universities, enterprises and civil society underpinned by Hodson’s theoretical principals – Looking to the future: building a curriculum for social activism. In CONNECT, students and scientists solve real problems supported by the ‘CARE-KNOW-DO’ framework with participatory approaches for science actions enhanced by structured curriculum materials and open scenario resources. She highlighted the United Nations’ event COP26, which takes place in the UK in November 2021. This event is now opening doors for children and youth to participate in discussions and voice their concerns. She brought some questions for those interested in open schooling as an innovative approach to enhance quality of education for the Agenda 2030. “Is the school preparing young people to express their voices authentically with critical-creative-scientific thinking for sustainability? And for those who do, are they by chance considering the regions and actors that are less well represented?”

Dr Maria Vicente from the Leiden University in Netherlands, the project coordinator of OSHUB (2019-2022), highlighted the importance of engaging and supporting all participants to implement open schooling. This includes families, universities, research institutes, industry, media, local governments, civil society organizations and wider society. Engagement and support are key requirements for open schooling implementation.  The OSHUB network is inspired by the Science Shop model. The OSHUB teams use research and innovation for educational communities in disadvantaged geographical location, socio-economic status and ethnic minority group background – to develop real-life projects that meet societal needs using a seven-steps approach: school engagement, stakeholder engagement, community building, tackling local-to-global challenges; co-creation of open schooling projects; value proposition; and technical and financial feasibility plans. To reflect more about open schooling, Dr Vicente is interested in two questions: “How can open schooling become a whole-school approach (opposed to promoted by individual motivated teachers)? What are the needed institutional incentives and how can they be developed / put in place?”

Dr Cyril Dworsky from the Vienna Children’s University in Austria, coordinator of PHERECLOS (2019-2022),  mentioned that  Models of Engagement and Intermediation, like Children’s Universities, can be beneficial for educational establishments and for the social communities in a wider context and have been proven useful and sustainable.  Children can attend lectures and workshops, and also get in touch with scientists and experience the university. “The Vienna Children’s University has been organised by the Vienna University Children’s Office every summer since 2003. For two summer weeks, the doors of the university are open to more than 4,000 children aged 7 to 12”. As highlighted by PHERECLOS team, the disconnection between classroom-centered teaching and learning and the day-to-day life of the community is a big challenge for educational communities, which  could  be addressed by open schooling  to bridge the formal curriculum and societal issues including the interaction with society. In PHERECLOS, Local Education Clusters involve diverse school levels and explore and deploy various didactical concepts and approaches from co-creation to problem-based learning with a clear focus on an inclusive and gender sensitive way of teaching and learning. Cyril is also interested in continuing the discussion with two questions: “How can institutions be opened up and how far can horizons of its agents be broadened towards the challenges of a transforming society of today? How serious are possibilities of learners limited by the confined walls of traditions?”


Dr Pavlos Koulouris, from the Research and Development Department of Ellinogermaniki Agogi in Greece, led the open schooling project OSOS (2017 – 2020) and is the coordinator of SALL (2020-2023). He emphasised that one of the key outcomes of open schooling is students’ engagement through an active role that they play in open schooling. SALL is based on Living Labs Approach, which supports user co-creation systematically by integrating research and innovation processes in real life communities and settings. Its theme focuses on the innovation ecosystem related to food, which covers all elements and activities related to the production, processing, distribution, preparation, and consumption of food, as well as its disposal. It also includes the environment, people, processes, infrastructure, institutions, and the effects of their activities on our society, economy, landscapes, and climates (EC2030 Expert Group, 2018).   SALL brings together school communities – with the direct and active involvement of students -, research institutions, science centres, third-sector organisations, businesses, as well as policy makers, and engages them in intensive dialogue, mutual learning and exchange.

The following sessions all about CONNECT, provided an overview about studies developed by various countries. In Brazil, three groups presented their work. First, Dr Cintia Rabello, representing COLEARN network presented the work coordinated by Alexandra Okada with five associated partners supporting open schooling projects in five less well representative territories and actors, including her work about sub-urban region – LabLanguages, multiliteracies to face misinformation in Niteroi;  urban town the Webradio Project with podcasts about racism demystifying science – led by Dr Miriam Strichiner in Rio de Janeiro;      rural territories with gender equality project about girls’ early pregnancy and puberty, led by Dr Rossana  Moura; semi-arid area with scientific and digital skills to empower teachers and students led by Dr Karine Souza; and indigenous communities initiative about reducing digital divide with inclusive STEAM approaches led by Dr Thais Castro in Amazonas. The video bellow provides a summary of the five open schooling initiatives in Brazil.

There were two other initiatives: own in the South of Brazil focused on multi-literacies enhancing scientific thinking and mother languages to help students develop critical-creative thinking for problem solving and project-based learning, led by Dr Patricia Torres and Dr Raquel Glitz from PUC-PR. The other constitutes a significant open schooling initiative in the North of  Brazil, Rewilding Birds in the semi-arid of Brazil, which focuses on environmental protection. The wildlife trade, capture, marketing, and captivity of songbirds was selected as a theme for open schooling because it has a strong impact in the region’s ecosystem. The project is led by Dr Silvar Ribeiro and Anna Rocha from UNEB.

Dr Sigrid Neuhaus, representing DBT – Denmark, introduced   the open-ended scenarios building upon the tradition of Deliberative Democracy and Technology Assessment. It is based upon the idea of democratic, well-informed, and inclusive decision-making processes relevant for scientifically literate society by putting scientific knowledge into the context of society as well as using this knowledge for decision making processes.


In Spain and Catalunya, open schooling initiatives and framework for open schooling engagement were presented by Dr Rosina Malagrida from IRSI-Caixa, the open schooling initiative aimed at addressing the prevention of COVID-19 in the school environment. An innovative approach to enhance the engagement of participants was to invite the education community to participate as co-researchers in the research project “Escoles Sentinella” led by the Catalonia Local Government. IRSI developed an innovative approach supported by participatory action research (exploration, consultation, integration, priorisation and dissemination) implemented with engaging workshops.

In Greece, Dr Giorgos Panselinas from RDE presented the open schooling initiatives using   open scenarios and structured curriculum to support students’ science actions in various topics: renewable energy, global warming, chemical pollution, plastics and COVID-19 . These initiatives were enhanced by teachers’ professional development community which enabled the collaborative production of resources. Some key benefits were identified: (1) developing resources that can be used in activities in and outside schools; (2)providing students with activities that are more real with topical data selected by scientists including meaningful connection with the curriculum; and (3)having students motivated with resources that enable them to become agents of sustainable development.

The session was enriched by various comments by attendees who participated in the discussion with speakers in the chat. Some of the comments are illustrated below:

  • Very insightful and enlightening sessions by great speakers.
  • Thank you for the wonderful and knowledgeable session with useful information about open schooling.”
  • The co-evaluation is a challenging endeavour and I liked how the program becomes part of the doctoral process.
  • Hi all it is very interesting to see open schooling involving students, teachers, families and experts from various knowledge areas – multidisciplinary projects – Language, Numeracy, Digital and Scientific Literacies.
  • Thank you for these valuable highlights.”
27th of AUGUST 2021

The session “Online Learning and Fun” was chaired by Alexandra Okada from the Open University, UK, who brought together various partners from the UK, Portugal, Brazil, Spain and Indonesia to explore students’ epistemic beliefs about how they learn and their views about fun in learning. 

Figure 3 – OLAF – Online Learning and Fun Research Studies and Discussions – VIII LSME Aug.2021

This session included eight research studies presented by eleven speakers from various universities   led by Prof Dr Daniela Barros in Portugal, led by Prof Dr Elizabeth  Almeida in Brazil,  led by Prof Dr Maria Cacheiro in Spain, and led by Prof Dr Kieron Sheehy Prof Sheehy opened the session  with a key issue: “Should ‘Meaningful’ Online Learning Experiences be Fun for Higher Education Students in Indonesia?” He pointed out that 80% of institutions whose students have left campus and returned to their home locations are concerned about how to support students’ retention and progress. Kieron’s study identified two key factors:      students’ epistemological beliefs and their beliefs about fun in learning.   Findings indicated the lack of enjoyment with online study including a dissatisfaction with a content delivery approach to online teaching. These results will be used to provide recommendations for tertiary education in Indonesia.

Dr Paula Carolei presented ‘Creative Gamification and Fun: Possibilities of Authorship, Autonomy and Collaboration’ with her colleague Diene Mello. Carolei highlighted fun as a dimension of gamification, but it is not the type of fun that distracts or alienates. Fun contributes to students’ immersion and agency as it creates opportunities for experimentation, exploration,  tensions  and overcoming      challenges  to a more authorial and creative attitude.

Prof Dr Daniela Barros’s work was entitled ‘Higher Education in Pandemic Times: Personalization, Engagement, Autonomy and New Learning Strategies’.  The objective of her study was to propose recommendations for the customization of teaching strategies through pedagogical resources, aiming at promoting online education with fun. Her findings show that  personalising learning according to the student’s profile allows more engaging and fun pedagogical approaches from the point of view of the students in higher education.

Prof Dr Klaus Schluzen Junior presented ‘The CCS Approach and Fun Learning: An Analysis of Research Data for Inclusion’.  His study analysed the perception of educators concerning the relationship they establish between diversity, inclusion and fun learning with reference to the assumptions of the CCM approach – Constructionist, Contextualized and Meaningful pedagogical approaches. These teachers and lecturers reveal they use diversified pedagogical strategies to promote open, more meaningful and engaging learning.

Dr Lucy de Mello discussed ‘Learning Experience Design and Active Methods for Student Fun, Pleasure and Engagement in Online Courses’. Her work examined how to assist teachers in the adoption of active methods in online course offerings through the adoption of fun and enjoyable activities that result in student engagement and improvement of their learning results, through a learning experience design instrument. Her findings present the relationships between the fun and pleasurable practices reported by the students. These relationships indicate characteristics of the active pedagogy, dialogical education and design instrument.

Prof Dr Ana Hessel’s work about ‘The Pleasure of Learning: The Vision of Complex Thinking’ is  underpinned by the concept of understanding in the context of complex thinking (Edgar Morin) complemented by the concept of meaningful learning (David Ausubel). To reflect on the conditions in which the pleasure of learning can occur in the context of online classes through the following developments: what senses and meanings are present in learning; in what extent the relationship between theory and practice contributes to meaningful learning; how didactic and methodological strategies, such as problematization, are valued in pleasant learning experiences. Her findings highlight the relationship between the individuals’ perceptions of the pleasure of learning and the concepts of understanding in the systemic/complex dimension and meaningful learning.

Prof Dr Alexandra Geraldini presented Motivation, Involvement and Fun in the Online Learning Process: Perception of Undergraduate Students. This work was developed with her colleagues Karlene Campos and Mario Cesaretti. The study examined how undergraduate students perceive fun learning and the extent to which it articulates with motivation and involvement and whether, in their opinion, fun should be part of learning. Data reveal that most students consider that fun should be associated with learning and relate fun learning to activities that promote motivation and involvement. However, online learning experienced during the period of social isolation was considered fun by only 27% of participants. Considering the important role that fun and enjoyment can play in the learning process, this last data reiterates the already addressed need to reshape pedagogical dynamics and strategies at the University.

Prof. Dr Graça Silva discussed the ‘Algorithmization of Happiness or the Reconstruction of the Humanizing Nature of Numbers?’ – work developed with her colleague Prof Dr Fernando Almeida. Their study analyses the students’ voice regarding their online classes, through the lens of Paulo Freire’s (1997) theoretical principles, to provide evidence of paths for the reconstruction of the humanizing nature of education.  Their  findings indicate that students understand learning that is happy, pleasant or fun occurring in situations that involve a challenge, group projects, interactions between teachers-students and students-students, when they feel respected, listened to, and valued.

The session was appreciated   by participants, both speakers and attendees, who established a fruitful dialogue in the chat during the presentations. Passion led us here:

Figure 4– OLAF – Online Learning and Fun Research Slides and Discussions – VIII LSME Aug.2021

  • Exploring and understanding the contradictions are important for developing inclusion post-pandemic… Great work.
  • very important connection with inclusion and how we can work with fun
  • thank you for these valuable highlights
  • I really like the finding term ‘enchantment’ -that is insightful.
  • “Seems that collaboration(social) is key to fun in online learning”
  • “Yes, It seems it is. I was not expecting this to emerge from all the different countries.”
  • “About de social aspect, the collaboration is really important… in fact the quality of it is important… the way the teacher can promote and instigate the collaboration is one of the key points”
  • “This is very relevant results to reflect about recommendation for students, retention and progress.”
  • “Thank you so much… Looking forward to hearing about your next steps.”
  • “Thank you Again, collaboration and interaction for online learning”
  • “‘Kindness’ in learning, is deeply related to this next presentation => Humanising the nature of Education”
  • “Amazing title!”
  • “By the way, everyone – Paulo Freire is a reference in Brazil and across the world – scholar of Critical Pedagogy – author of Pedagogy of Oppressed; Pedagogy of Autonomy;… and Emancipatory Education”
  • “Thank you everyone. I really enjoyed this session. OLAF is great and very worthwhile  :-)”
  • “This was such great session -really well done. Everyone was brilliant. OLAF rocks!”
  • “Wonderful presentations”
  • “Great Session Indeed. Thank you!”
  • “Namaste 🙏🙏🙏🙏”

The event was ended by the keynotes H.E. Dr Abdulla Naseer, Minister of State for Environment from the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology, Maldives and H.E Dr Ibrahim Hassan, Minister of Higher Education, Maldives. Both highlighted the effects of climate change and the relevance of education for sustainable development.


The 8th International Online Conference on Sustainable Development and Education

The 8th International Research  Conference on “Sustainable Development and Education”, will take place on the 26th – 27th of August 2021. This annual international conference on Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) in Education started in 2015, it has on average 6,000 members and brings together thousands of attendees and more than 100 delegates.

In recognition of the exceptional challenges facing researchers during the global pandemic, the Conference Organisers have decided to waive-off the registration fee of this fully online event.

Topic areas we are particularly interested in (but not exclusively committed to) include:

Management, Lifelong Learning, Socio-political policy and its impact on learning opportunities and outcomes, Targeted education for sustainable development, Economic and social impact of education, Planning and provision for ‘the new normal’, Future learning paradigms and implications, Technology impacts in Education settings (e.g. Technology driving education driving technology) and Education research.

As a first step, potential contributors should provide an Abstract (400 words) outlining the research concept, focus, process and any anticipated (or actual) outcomes to the email:

All contributions are peer-reviewed and considered on merit for inclusion in the conference programme and an e-Certificate will be issued.

Registration opens on Wednesday 31st March 2021 with a final deadline for submission of Abstracts on 17th May at 23.59.

 The objectives of the conference are:

  • To provide an inclusive platform fostering an active community of researchers collaborating on issues of social significance and societal concern.
  • To advance the principles and practices of Responsible Research and Innovations (RRI) in support of researchers at all stages of their research journey.
  • To provide an open and accessible mechanism for sharing creative contributions to the research agenda across various subject matter and discipline areas.

In the previous conference, six studies explored the value of fun and enjoyment as well the importance of  engagement  for learners to develop confidence, interest,  emotional awareness, deal with fear, increase motivation and prevent misbehaviour.  These studies developed in Brazil, India and Maldives explored Augmented Reality,  Epistemic Views,  Motivation,  Confidence and Misbehaviour Prevention.

Costa(2020) explored augmented reality applied to STEM  with teachers, researchers, and students from nine schools in Brazil. Finding shows that the majority of students enjoyed activities with augmented reality. Students were very motivated, found learning fun and  were willing to use AR in other disciplines. Teaching staff and students considered that AR application supported  learning of abstract concepts through an engaging  visual environment with interactive activities.

Jabeen(2020) discussed  xenoglossophobia, a growing issue in Indian society for Indian students. The main purpose of this  study was to explore the psychological state of the self-esteem of the students with their motivation and attitude towards learning English as a second language. Previous studies show that   emotional and social factors affect students’ learning outcomes. Emotional health and social well-being have been measured in terms of  self-esteem, coping tactics, affective states and optimism including enjoyment.

Khaleel (2020) examined the characteristics of teacher preventing misbehavior of students in classroom in an early secondary grade in male’, maldives. The findings showed there is no significant difference between teachers’ and students’ perception of the importance of ethical disciplining and interpersonal characteristics of the teacher, however, there was a significant difference between the perceptions of pedagogical characteristics in preventing misbehaviour. Various authors highlight that students   lack of interest affects their learning negatively, it is likely that they will misbehave  when they are bored. it appears The lack of fun can have deleterious effects on participation and the meaningfulness of a learning experience.(Beni et al 2017).

Moura (2020) introduced an exploratory study in development, which  examined women’s views on the types of violence during COVID-19 in Brazil. Preliminary findings supported the development of an open education project – Digital Angels – for rural women to access information on domestic violence, to use social networking resources and to enjoy online learning with fun to increase their confidence .

Mishra (2020)  focused on the need to uncover the diversity in emotional intelligence training across varied population groups in India to promote training programs in secondary schools.  According to Rantala, T., & Määttä (2012) traditionally emotions have been kept separate from learning  so when does the fun start? Emotions come forward at the beginning of the learning process.

Okada (2020) presented a mixed-method study about the value of fun in learning with 190 participants from Brazil during the pandemic.  Findings revealed that fun in online learning is essential for most students (99%). Approximately 44% mentioned that fun in learning means well-being, 30% self-improvement, 20% achievement, 6% motivation, 3% fun with friends, and 1% pause for distraction. Nobody considered fun as a waste of time. The principal component analysis revealed 3 groups: (1) socio-constructivist  emancipatory learning with fun; (2) transmissive learning with fun that humpers learning and (3) constructivist learning without fun. This work expanded a previous study developed in the UK(Okada & Sheehy, 2020)

More information about the Conference at:

International Research Conference 2021


Bennedsen, J., & Caspersen, M. E. (2008). Optimists have more fun, but do they learn better? On the influence of emotional and social factors on learning introductory computer science. Computer Science Education18(1), 1-16.

Beni, S., Fletcher, T., & Ní Chróinín, D. (2017). Meaningful experiences in physical education and youth sport: A review of the literature. Quest69(3), 291-312.

Costa (2020) Augmented Reality to Enhance High School Learning Proceedings of the 7th LSME International Conference 19th – 20th of August 2020

Jabeen(2020) Analysing xenoglossophobia among the indian students. Proceedings of the 7th LSME International Conference 19th – 20th of August 2020

Khaleel (2020) The characteristics of teacher preventing misbehavior of students in classroom in an early secondary grade in male’, maldives. Proceedings of the 7th LSME International Conference 19th – 20th of August 2020

Mishra(2020) Emotional intelligence in adolescents – present scenario and future prospects. Proceedings of the 7th LSME International Conference 19th – 20th of August 2020

Moura (2020) Empowering Women Through Information and Communication Technologies to Combat Violence. Proceedings of the 7th LSME International Conference 19th – 20th of August 2020

Okada (2020) OLAF – Online learning and fun to increase enjoyment and retention in higher education. Proceedings of the 7th LSME International Conference 19th – 20th of August 2020

Okada, A., & Sheehy, K. (2020, December). Factors and Recommendations to Support Students’ Enjoyment of Online Learning With Fun: A Mixed Method Study During COVID-19. In Frontiers in Education (Vol. 5, No. 1).

Rantala, T., & Määttä, K. (2012). Ten theses of the joy of learning at primary schools. Early Child Development and Care182(1), 87-105


“The impact of the pandemic on open schooling”

by Alexandra Okada

Understanding the impact of the pandemic on open schooling projects is a key topic of the European online event using “fishbowl approach” organised today March 24th  by  OStogether a network with nine European projects – all part of the European Commission Horizon 2020 programme – Science with and for society. The moderator was Maria Zolotonosa (from Make it Open). There were four speakers who started the debate.  

  • Alexandra Okada (The OU, UK – CONNECT): How can we help schools to connect and cooperate with local communities during the COVID pandemic?
  • Matteo Merzagora (Association TRACES, France – SALL) :the challenge of building trust at distance – difficulty of stakeholder engagement when actors do not know each other  
  • Nicole Salomon (OVOS media, Austria – COMnPlay): experience of organising a virtual makerspace
  • Erik Knain (UNIVERSITETET I OSLO, Norway – SEAS): Open schooling can help teaching during a pandemic, but maybe not teachers

The rapid spread of the new COVID-19 variants has put the world on alert. The various school lockdowns have affected the educational system in our countries.  Challenges and opportunities must be considered to better respond to these issues. How can our open schooling projects support schools during and post-pandemic? What can be done, and what can be done differently?

Open Schooling (OS) is a key approach promoted by the European Commission through nine funded projects to support the cooperation between schools, scientists and local communities for youth to become more engaged with science through real-world problems.

These OS projects have been developing a variety of relevant approaches to bridge formal, non-formal and informal science education to improve students’ experience in science. These approaches include a variety of relevant scenarios, themes, pedagogical methods, tools, environments and multi-actor platforms with high-quality resources, learning materials, and events, for example, workshops, courses, coaching and mentoring programmes.

A relevant issue suggested by a member of OStogether was

“How could we help schools connect and cooperate with local communities through open schooling in science during COVID-19?”

This question leads to many others.

Are schools interested in connecting with communities? What type of connections are they willing to establish? Will they benefit from cooperating with external partners? What are the advantages of cooperation for schools and partners involved in open schooling?    

To respond to these issues, more questions are necessary.

What are participants’ needs (what they care)? What are their priorities (what they need to know)?  What are their expectations (what they can do) during and post-pandemic? 

CONNECT is an open schooling project with 10 partners led by the AI enterprise EXUS  responsible for project coordination and technology and the Open University responsible for scientific coordination, ethics and evaluation.

Our aim is to increase students’ confidence towards using science in life now and future by connecting them with science professionals, family, and community members.

CONNECT is designed to facilitate teachers’ work through the curriculum enhanced by multi actors’ cooperation. Our open schooling model focuses on socio-scientific issues and societal challenges that:

  •   activate students and their local communities interests, concerns, “CARE”,
  •   create the need to KNOW linked to the curriculum supported by teachers and,
  •   offer opportunities for students to DO science-actions and develop skills guided by scientists and STEM professionals.

To facilitate connections and cooperation, schools are provided with future-oriented support by scientists, engaging activities, fun participatory science tools, and more inclusive teaching strategies with special attention to disadvantaged students, gender equality, and educational equity.

Pandemic has affected significantly the education system. Schools and universities had to move to distance education during various lockdowns. Many teachers and students were not prepared nor equipped to work with technology. A large number of disadvantaged students of state schools with free meals missed social relationships, learning, and food.

UNESCO (2021) has been calling our attention to the human capital loss during COVID-19.

Approximately half of the world’s population (some 3.6 billion people) still lack an internet connection… 463 million or nearly one-third of students around the globe cannot access remote learning. The pandemic shows that connectivity has become a key factor to guarantee the right to education. Digital skills and learning must be incorporated into education systems in order address the injustice of the digital divide”

 The context that we have now with COVID-19, school lockdowns and self-isolation,  is completely different from when we develop our open schooling proposals. To identify the needs, priorities, and expectations the OU team developed three studies with students, open education researchers, and teachers during the pandemic.  

The first study examined students’  views of an introductory module of the Open University (Okada & Sheehy, 2020). We contacted 4,500 students, and 550 participated in our exploratory study about online learning during the first lockdown in the UK. Our aim was to understand their views about collaborative learning, cooperation with others, problem-solving and inquiry based-learning, traditional teaching approaches, and the value of fun/enjoyment in distance education. The OU is the largest university in the UK open to all learners with a significant number of disadvantaged students, 72% work full or p-time, 26% live in the 25% most from deprived areas, 34% of new students come from secondary schools or failed to complete it and 33% with a lower qualification at entry. (OU, Facts, and Figures)

 Our findings revealed that more than 85% of students valued fun in learning to support well-being, motivation, and performance. However, approximately 15% indicated that fun within learning could result in distraction or loss of time. Three groups were identified   (1) students who value fun in collaborative learning wish more interacting activities and cooperating with others, (2) students who think that fun gets in the way of their individual learning prefer to learn at their own pace and on their own with useful activities problem solving and inquiry-based activities to succeed in their exams,  (3) students who mentioned that there is no fun in online learning think that online learning is transmissive – focused on content, they do not want to waste time with discussions, teamwork, and participatory approaches. There are also students who cannot see the point of cooperation, fun and engagement. They  are struggling to study, feeling depressed, or stressed, they mentioned that are not capable nor ready to engage with collaborative projects 



The second study focused on a workshop organised at the OEGLOBAL conference with 700 attendees, 277 presentations with 12 studies about open education and COVID-19 pandemic.  We investigated the key issues for open education – open schooling including learners’ competencies, learning environments, open partnerships, and education 2030 with SDGs. In this workshop, we also discussed the recent reports of UNESCO, World Bank, and OECD about Education and COVID – technologies.

Four key topics emerged in our discussions – a significant loss of human capital: 1. learning disruption including low achievement and high dropout rates; 2. students’ health (mental, physical, and emotional);   3. teachers’ workload (pressure and stress) and 4. Inequalities (increased gap of disadvantaged students).

Participants highlighted eight key drivers: education for all, special attention for girls, affordability, free education, pedagogy, new education policy, each one –  teach one, the added value of open school/ open education. Fifteen recommendations were grouped to enhance open education to support learners’ access, learners’ retention, learners’ attainment, and learners’ progress.  


The third study focused on various communities of teachers from Amazon, Pantanal, and the large semi-arid area of Brazil. This study will be completed for the book  “Adversities in Education” edited by Dr. Holliman and Prof. Sheehy.

While all eyes are on COVID-19, both the Amazon forest and the world’s largest tropical wetlands Pantanal face fire… Conservation and environmental protection are in crisis

BBC (Nov. 2020) Highlighted that  “The number of fires blazing in Brazil’s Amazon region in October 2020 was more than double those in the same month last year, satellite data suggests. The Institute of Space Research said there were 17,326 fires in the Amazon, compared to 7,855 in October 2019. Data released by INPE   suggests there were 2,856 fires in the Pantanal region in October.

Our study reached more than 7,000 teachers from these areas. More than 1,000 teachers completed our questionnaires, participated in our webinar, discussed their issues, practices, needs, and expectations related to open schooling through webinars, questionnaires and interviews. We are now discussing what type of connections and kinds of cooperation are relevant for state schools and communities considering not only the effects of the pandemic, digital divide but also environmental socio-scientific, and political issues.  

To sum up, CONNECT project was designed before the pandemic and started during the peak of COVID-19. Understanding the stakeholders’ needs and more inclusive and future-oriented strategies are fundamental especially in the UK, Brazil, Spain/Catalunya, Greece, and Romania.  Some research studies developed with schools during various lockdowns in CONNECT indicate some challenges and drivers. In terms of challenges, the negative effects of the pandemic for schools to implement open schooling are :

  •   More emphasis on completing the curriculum and fewer opportunities for external activities.
  •   More teaching time is needed and fewer learners’ centered opportunities.
  •   More emphasis on preparing students for exams and less time for inquiry-based learning and community-based projects.
  •  More concerns with students’ achievement – knowledge acquisition (short term) rather than scientific skills development (long term).
  •  More resources and support online but limited opportunities for the most needed students, who do not have access to the internet nor digital devices.

In terms of drivers, the positive effects of the pandemic for schools to consider open schooling integrated into their lessons are:

  • More high-quality learning resources linked to the curriculum.
  • More enjoyable activities – fun and relevant – that are meaningful for students’ learning.
  • More opportunities to help students become more confident, more interested in, and more capable to succeed in science.
  • More strategies to deal with outbreaks and foster scientific and digital literacy
  • More support through cooperations to help a large number of disadvantaged students, educating girls and the various minority groups.

To open up further discussions, our preliminary findings suggest that there will plenty of relevant societal issues for developing useful open schooling projects. There will be some meaningful practices to evaluate the value of open schooling approaches/ models in-depth. However, …

…will there be opportunities to scale up our open schooling models before the end of our projects and keep it sustainable after it? How?


Questions discussed during the event:

  • What are the challenges for open schooling? How have these challenges changed with the pandemic? 
  • How can we engage parents/families in your open schooling projects, given that their role changed a lot during the pandemic? 
  • How can we best support teachers?  And the rest of the stakeholders including policymakers? 
  • How do we find the balance between being on time with your open schooling projects (in terms of following the Grant Agreement) and not pushing schools too much?
  • Have we made any big adjustments to our projects due to the pandemic? 
  • How can we convince schools to stay on board when things get tough? 

EducACTION with fun through open schooling !

by Alexandra Okada

Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná (PUC-PR) organised a large international event  in Curitiba – Brazil on the 16th to 19th of September, with three conferences that were joined together to promote significant discussions around the theme “Teacher professional development”:

  • EDUCERE – National Congress of Education
  • SIRSSE – International Seminar on Social Representations, Subjectivity and Education
  • SIPD / UNESCO –  International Seminar on Teacher Professionalization

This event brought together more than 3,000 teachers and 200 experts in the field to discuss Education in Brazil and tackle  societal issues and global challenges.

Alexandra Okada, educational research member of Rumpus from the Open University, was invited as a keynote, to present international initiatives with Brazil that are focused on new approaches to enhance education for the 21st century. She discussed various examples from two large European projects with Brazilian universities who were collaborators. These projects were underpinned by the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) approach whose aim is to align scientific development with societal needs by engaging all representatives in all phases of research and innovation.

Currently, Alexandra is exploring fun and engagement in education. She is passionate about “engaging approaches” to connect formal and informal learning effectively. She explores the role of “fun” for a contemporary education that is enjoyable to empower teachers and students with scientific knowledge, skills and attitude that they need to succeed by facing the pace of science and technology including local and global challenges. This includes mixed-realities, knowledge mapping and open science.

Alexandra invited teachers to reflect about the meaning of “action” in  educ”action” . She also introduced the concept of “open schooling” and engaged three sectors of participants: Higher Education, Schools and Society to reflect about RRI key issues: public engagement, gender equality, open access, ethics and research integrity, and science education.

There were a full range of participants interested in this relevant topic: undergraduates, teachers (pre-service, in-service) from public and private schools, researchers and research organisations, policy makers at global, national and regional level, business and industry representatives in the area of Education including publishers, science education members, and civil society organisations.

Various issues were raised by participants and discussed using “fun artefacts” to share and integrate their views and concerns about Education in Brazil:

  • How will educational managers, policy bodies and decision makers promote efficient management with limited resources?
  • How can educational institutions increase quality of education using bottom up approaches?
  • What are the strategies for the educational system to promote equity considering the large number of disadvantaged students?
  • So that, How important is teacher professional development and in what ways can teachers (from all levels) be better equipped to tackle these questions above?

The event was a great opportunity to envision collaboratively the next steps of open schooling and RRI  in Education including in terms of impact, policy and funding opportunities.  This session ended with a nice proverb “If you want to go fast – go alone, if you want to go far – go together”