Open Education Awards for Excellence celebrates its 10th anniversary with Rumpus!

In 2021, the Open Education Awards for Excellence celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Every year for ten years, Open Education Global has recognized the brilliance within the Open Education sector through its Open Education Awards for Excellence. The winners of these awards represent works that encapsulate the aspirations of the movement, further inspire outstanding achievements, and add immeasurably to the shared wealth of the open education community.

To celebrate this milestone, the OEG will host an online event on December 7th. The occasion will be a special look back at the outstanding achievements of the open education community in the last decade.

As a past winner of two special awards, OEG  invited Dr. Okada – representing Rumpus – to be part of the celebration.

Project/Initiative: ENGAGE – equipping the next generation for active engagement with science supported by fun in learning


Award: Creative Innovation Award

Year: 2017

Project/Initiative: VR classroom – Open APP using Virtual Reality with fun in learning


Award: Open App Award

Year: 2019

These awards were very important for the network led by Dr Okada in Brazil, UK and other European countries to support research-based practices and evidence-based policy on open education enhanced by Responsible Research and Innovation.  The network has just started another large European-funded project – CONNECT – inclusive open schooling with engaging and future-oriented sciences with a large number of teachers and students in seven countries. Participants of CONNECT phase 1  were more than 100 teachers and 1500 students from the UK, Brazil, Spain Greece, and Romania.

CONNECT team has developed a topical open schooling resource CARBON NEUTRAL launched during COP26 in the UK.  The aim of this OER is to help teachers to guide students to voice their views and develop competencies with scientific literacy.


The OER Carbon neutral  produced by CONNECT consortium team was designed to promote phenomena-based learning (PhenoBL) first popularised by Finland’s initiative of revolutionising their curriculum in 2016. This buzzword is back again, but this time it is connected to the Next Generation Science Standards.

“PhenoBL is a method of understanding a phenomenon—an observable event—using various methods and perspectives, which may often overlap. PhenoBL takes a broad, multi-faceted look at events and occurrences happening in the real world, such as climate change, migration, or even the European Union. Looking at these subjects from a number of different angles helps the students to truly understand the workings of natural and societal events.” (Twig Education, 2021)

CONNECT team led by Dr. Okada has also launched the platform built by the AI enterprise EXUS to engage teachers and scientists to work together for empowering students.

Through this platform, teachers can download open schooling resources produced by 10 partners in five languages.

Inspired by OE Global, open schooling educators, learners,  researchers,  entrepreneurs,  and policymakers are now connected in CONNECT for open sustainable education of this decade 2030.

“Open education goes beyond open access of knowledge, it also includes open approaches to cocreate knowledge responsibly. Open learners and Open educators are Open Researchers Innovators at heart.” (Okada, 2019)


Rumpus receives the BEST Conference paper award!

The paper entitled ” Should ‘meaningful’ online learning experiences be fun for Higher Education students in Indonesia?”    has been awarded the best full paper at the 8th LSME International Research Conference 2021 on Sustainable Development and Education  .

The paper was authored by Sujarwanto, Kieron Sheehy*, Khofidotor Rotofiah, Budiyanto,

Faculty of Education (FIP) , State University of Surabaya, Indonesia
and * Rumpus Research group of The Open University, UK.

LSME  is a prestigious conference on Responsible Research and Innovation in Education  held annually.

Sujarwanto,  Sheehy & Budiyanto’s contribution is a part of the OLAF research which examines Online Learning and Fun in Higher Education.

This paper highlights that 80% of institutions in Indonesia whose students have left campus and returned to their home locations are concerned about how to support students’ retention and progress. This study indicated  two key factors:  students’ epistemological beliefs and their beliefs about fun in learning.

Findings suggested that the lack of enjoyment with online study including a dissatisfaction with a content delivery approach to online teaching must be considered to reduce students’ dropout in Higher Education.

These results were used to provide recommendations for tertiary education in Indonesia.

The launch of Playful by Design: Free play in a digital world

THURSDAY 4TH NOVEMBER  16:00 – 17:30 (GMT) 

Register for the event here

In response to children’s views about what free play means to them, Baroness Beeban Kidron – 5Rights Foundation, will chair a discussion with:

  • Professor Sonia Livingstone OBE – LSE, DFC lead researcher and report author
  • Dr Sangeet Bhullar, Executive Director, WISE KIDS
  • Dr Tim Gill, Rethinking Childhood, Author of Urban Playground
  • Professor Mimi Ito, University of California – Irvine

The event will be followed by a Q&A with attendees.

Feel free to forward this invitation to interested others.

The Digital Futures Commission, hosted by 5Rights Foundation, brings together a unique group of organisations to unlock digital innovation in the best interests of children and young people. You can learn more about the Digital Futures Commission here and about 5Rights here.
  • 5Rights Foundation
  • BBC Research & Development North Lab
  • Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation
  • Erase All Kittens
  • EY
  • Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop
    • LEGO
    • London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
    • Technological University Dublin
    • The Alan Turing Institute
    • The Behavioural Insights Team
    • University of Leeds


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


‘Just’ fun – or fundamental?

Dr Mimi Tatlow-Golden Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology and Childhood examines constructions and assumptions of childhoods and development in a range of domains including education, food, and digital media.  She advocates for interdisciplinary accounts of childhood spanning psychology and Childhood Studies.

On Wed, 19 May 2021  13:00 – 13:50 BST

She will be talking about The role of fun in children and young people’s activities and relationships.

 ‘Just’ fun – or fundamental? A lunchtime talk with Dr Mimi Tatlow-Golden image

More details about Mimi’s work CLICK HERE (article and videoclip).

You are invited to REGISTER and join PEDAL for a free online lunchtime talk with Dr Mimi Tatlow-Golden from the Open University.

Fun is frequently invoked as a requirement for a good childhood and a necessary (if not sufficient) condition of play – yet fun is rarely taken seriously by the adult world. In this presentation, Dr Mimi Tatlow-Golden shares a key finding in a mixed methods study with 526 children aged 10-13 years in the greater Dublin region: the centrality of fun. In an exploration of early adolescent self-concept, participants drew, wrote, talked and created Identity Pies about their most salient activities and relationships and the meanings they associated with these. Analyses conclude that, from ‘fooling around’ to flow, fun is a kaleidoscopic construct through which young people refract key experiences – and that far from being ’just’ fun, it often indicates deep significance in activities and relationships.”

Dr Tatlow-Golden will also introduce interdisciplinary, international work currently underway at The Open University’s RUMPUS group for research into fun, with a focus on defining fun and fun in formal, informal and non-formal learning.

The Centre for Research on Play in Education, Development & Learning (PEDAL) is located in the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Education, and was launched with funding from the LEGO Foundation. Their mission is to conduct academic research into the role of play in young children’s education, development and learning to inform wider practice and policy. Find out more here.

To sign up to PEDAL’s mailing list, click here.

Engaging EdD/PhD induction for women in WELS-ECYS

‘My PhD journey’: Exploring the doctoral process with Body Mapping  and  fun

Alexandra Okada
& Mimi Tatlow-Golden

Body mapping can be a way of telling stories, much like totems that are constructed with symbols that have different meanings, but whose significance can only be understood in relation to the creator’s overall story and experience  

Gastaldo et. al.,( 2012) p.5



At RUMPUS, we research fun, in childhood and in learning.
But academic meetings? Even when interesting, meetings are rarely fun.

So when RUMPUS group members come together for research and planning, we try and honour the spirit of our interest in fun, using various means to lighten the atmosphere. Sometimes it’s as simple as ‘wear a hat’. It is surprising how easily the formal atmosphere of work can be punctured by looking at a work colleague in an incongruous piece of headwear.  (It has to be said that this approach requires trust in a group. We can imagine colleagues with whom this wouldn’t feel comfortable or particularly fun at all, but it does work for us).

In 2019 we welcomed our first two Ph.D. students to RUMPUS. Both came with expertise in previous careers and after an extended application process including collaborative proposal development and competitive interviews for Faculty research funding. We had therefore already had multiple meetings, ideas development and exchanges and knew one another reasonably well. Still, we wanted to introduce them to the inevitable peaks and troughs of the Ph.D. journey ahead, and although we can’t dispense with dynamics of power in a supervisor-PhD student relationship, we wanted to set a more egalitarian tone, and to set the tone for an exploratory, playful feel to the path we were about to step into together.

So this session, a work/funshop for eight researchers, aimed for lecturers, professors and researchers to share their own Ph.D. experiences, the joys and challenges, together with our new group members.

Rather than working our way through yet another set of slides, Mimi chose body mapping for this. Ale supported the session by taking photos, notes, generating data and integrating previous studies about body mapping from the literature to initiate this article.

Body mapping - what is it?

Body mapping is a simple visual drawing approach that requires no skill or previous experience. First, a rough, life-size outline of each group participant’s body is drawn on paper. This can be done in pairs, as each person lies on the ground on large sheets of paper and the other draws around it – but equally a free-hand life-size body outline can simply be drawn (see below for variations on this approach).

Next, each participant writes, draws or colours, in their body outline and around it – filling areas in or leaving them blank, responding to the theme of the session. The idea is to express experiences, thoughts and emotions that relate to the experience under discussion. Participants can use keywords, sentences or symbols; graphs, maps, icons, texture or collage.

Body mapping can represent a specific context or personal moment, or a longer journey, and It is limited only by time, imagination, materials and engagement. It reiterates that as humans, all our experiences are embodied. As with hat-wearing, it does also require an atmosphere of trust, and it is important that a genuine opt-in approach is taken so that participants feel free to choose another route or to sit this out altogether.

Body mapping can be used in reflective workshops. It can also be used to collect qualitative research data about subjective experiences associated with one’s embodied self (Coetzee et. al, 2019) through a life-size human body figure (McCorquodale and DeLuca (2020) or a smaller one drawn on a standard sheet of paper.

Location and materials

A special location suggested by Prof. Fergurson was selected for this workshop/funshop, the Creative Room in the Jennie Lee Building of the Open University. At RUMPUS, we often try and meet off campus, again to step away from the formal constraints of much of our academic lives. This location was a next-best to capture that atmosphere of stepping away: unlike a standard meeting room, the Creative Room is a large and cosy space with brightly coloured walls and a carpeted floor. that lends itself to drawing, interaction and dialogue.

The materials we used were basic: flipchart paper sheets, handfuls of colourful marker pens, sticky tapes and staplers.


Our induction meeting started with an open conversation with the whole group so those who had not yet met could start to get to know each other. We chatted about each others’ current research ideas and the key ideas and concepts the students had drawn on in their proposals and interviews. As is so often the case, discussion about fun – what it is, how it’s experienced and how to research it – quickly became quite animated.

This was followed by a brief presentation of images associated with current research underway at the RUMPUS research group.

Mimi then explained the body mapping activity.

The objective was to learn from each other about doctoral journeys. The four supervisors and another research group member illustrated their experiences of completing their Ph.D. research studies. The two Ph.D.  students – women – described their journey of preparing their successful doctoral proposal.

Mimi highlighted the ethical protocol of keeping the conversation private to the group, and that no one was obligated to share if they preferred not to. Individual approval to report on this event has been obtained by email from each participant.

For this blog article, the participants provided their consent for photos and comments about the body mapping session that occurred before the pandemic – a year ago.  Since the induction, our meetings have been implemented only online.

The body mapping portion of the workshop took about an hour in total: 10 minutes to prepare the real-size body outline in pairs, 15-20 minutes to illustrate the research journey in the body outline. Finally, each of the seven participants took the rest of the group on a tour of their body maps, for a few minutes each, sharing and explaining as much as they preferred.

Working in pairs and threes, seven of the eight participants supported each other to attach paper sheets and outline their bodies.

Findings and Discussion

According to Gastaldo et. al.  (2012, p.5). “Body mapping can be a way of telling stories, much like totems that are constructed with symbols that have different meanings, but whose significance can only be understood in relation to the creator’s overall story and experience”.

Therefore, dialogue about the body mapping contributes to capturing the full nature of the experience.

It’s important to recognise that – like many aspects of the doctoral relationship – and indeed like fun itself, body mapping can be experienced in various ways. As McCorquodale and DeLuca (2020, p.1) highlight,

“Body mapping can be a fun and expressive experience for participants of social research [but] It can also be a confusing and overwhelming experience for researchers and participants new to the method.

Building relationships before body mapping is important so participants know each other. This also creates the flexibility to make choices about how to participate, and conversation – and allowing silence – is important so that everyone feels as comfortable as possible.

For reflective educational researchers and practitioners, the following extracts selected from participants’ comments about their experience were very meaningful to explore the nuances of fun that emerged, for example,   get to know each other; incorporate and keep fun up during supervision meetings; face uncertainty or silliness as well as activate imagination and anticipation. Last but not least, being aware of any awkwardness related to the activities and environment and finding ways to sort out any discomfort with the facilitators as well as being open to exciting emerging pathways … led participants to find precious joy in the process of learning.

‘Non-work focus elements’  became pearls for meaning-making, bonding and identity with body mapping.

Data: participants'views

Final Remarks

Body maps can be completed by individual research participants or collectively in groups (CORNWALL, 1992). The body maps become springboards for discussion to fully understand the lived experiences depicted. These discussions can take place while the maps are being drawn. They can also take place afterwards either as one-to-one interviews or in larger groups.

The body mapping enabled participants to identify thoughts, relationships, feelings and emotions associated with their research journey . Drawing events using our real size body activated memories, feelings, emotions and senses that triggered a rush of past events or even seemingly forgotten em”body”ied experiences.

Listening to each other’s body mapping was very meaningful as well as brought the participants close together strengthening group identity.


Gastaldo, D., Rivas-Quarneti, N., & Magalhães, L. (2018, March). Body-map storytelling as a health research methodology: Blurred lines creating clear pictures. In Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research (Vol. 19, No. 2).

Coetzee, B., Roomaney, R., Willis, N., & Kagee, A. (2019). Body mapping in research. In Pranee Liamputtong (ed.), Handbook of Research Methods in Health Social Sciences. Springer Singapore. pp. 1237-1254 (2019)

McCorquodale, L., & DeLuca, S. (2020). You Want Me to Draw What? Body Mapping in Qualitative Research as Canadian Socio-Political Commentary. In Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research (Vol. 21, No. 2).

Cornwall, A. (1992). Body mapping in health RRA/PRA. RRA Notes16(July), 69-76.











RUMPUS BLOG celebrates 1 year with a new project: fromBLOG2book!


By Alexandra Okada

The Rumpus Blog  launched in April 2020  was designed as an interactive dialogical space to engage many communities, networks, and institutions to discuss fun and learning.

Underpinned by the Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), our aim is to establish communication with a diversity of participants across the globe including professionals, researchers, students, teaching staff, consultants/entrepreneurs, and individuals interested in exploring, understanding, and discussing fun in education.

This multimedia blog in WordPress linked to Google Analytics includes a variety of interactive components such as videoclips, 360 images, audio/podcast, SlideShare, images, graphs, drawings and posters.

The design of this blog is supported by eight RRI principles.

Principles Features
Diversity and Inclusion Through our national and international projects, our blog posts are elaborated to interact with people from all levels of education; valuing diversity in terms of age, gender  and culture.
Anticipation and reflexivity Our posts are written before, during and after events to keep our participants informed and to establish a continuous dialogue space.
Adaptation and responsiveness Our work is designed to respond to societal needs. It centres on co-creating scientifically new frameworks, methods, and tools for constructing and extending socially knowledge-in-context
Transparency and Openness Our ongoing open research is based on RRI and open Science, linked to ORO (Open Research Online) and ORDO (Open Research Data Online)

To celebrate the second year of Rumpus Blog, we are editing a digital multimedia book

“Engaging methods to explore fun in education”

This book organised by Okada, A. Tatlow-Golden M., Fergurson R. & Sheehy K., 2022 is supported by our interactive blogposts.  Our objective is to generate a reflective dialogue with our participants about  “engaging methods to explore fun in education”. The reflections with our participants will be useful to   refine our engaging methods and transform our posts into chapters.


Chop-chop, Cut-cut: Moments of Re(connection) with/in digital presentation.

by Emily Dowdeswell and Sarah Huxley

When we were asked to write something about our presentations, we thought about conventions of academic representation, and of ways to elicit fun in our own process of reflecting upon the experience of presenting with/in a digital conference. Focusing on the conference title “Research Re(imagined)”, how could our writing be a provocative contribution for change and growth (Koro-Ljungberg & Maclure, 2013)? A part of wider conversations in progress around the need to reimagine academic conference in a time of intersecting pandemic and climate crises.

Being with/in digital presentation

How might we convey the lived experience of doing digital presentations. This is different from the fixed content of the presentation itself. Whilst completing her doctoral research, India Amos of the School of Health and Society at the University of Salford, explored ways to ‘carry forward’ human experience if human experience is conceptualised as ‘more than words can say’ (Amos, 2019). She adopted found poetry to bring the meaning of her research experience alive. Poetry can capture complexity, heighten creativity and invite reflexivity (Pithouse-Morgan et al., 2014). Monica Prendergast, professor of drama and theatre education at the University of Victoria, advocates for poetic inquiry, and particularly found poetry (e.g. Prendergast, 2006), as a way of doing qualitative research differently. So, could found poetry be created from presentation texts as an arts-based approach to describing the complexity of doing digital presentations? In order to discover and communicate that experience in a multidimensional, evocative and more accessible way (Cahnmann, 2003).

Chop-chop, Cut-cut

Found poetry is created by taking words and phrases from other sources and reframing them to convey a different meaning to the reader. Sometimes described as literary or poetic collage, it also references the dadaism of Marcel Duchamp, and reimagines the communication of meaning in ways that are unexpected. Natalie Franks has a very useful account here if you are interested in having a go. Creating poetry to represent research experience is a non-linear process that involves physically or electronically cutting and pasting selected words and phrases together (Pithouse-Morgan et al., 2014). The process itself reframes research presentation away from a description of fixed findings, towards the unfolding of ambiguity, tension and precarity. The process highlights that our understanding is always partial, contingent and subject to change (Pithouse-Morgan et al., 2014).

Photo 1: In blue, words/phrases from Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, and in orange, text from Sarah’s PowerPoint.

So, having discussed our approach, Sarah went off and scribbled, chopped, and collaged. We had agreed our theme: the lived experience of digital presentations, and her focus was to find a poem that represented her experience of ‘disassociation and reconnection’. A quick search surfaced several articles about dissociating as an embodied response to significant trauma. It’s a serious condition, and some common signs of being in a dissociate state can be: mind wandering; a sense of the world not being real; and watching yourself from seemingly outside of your body.

Whilst we most certainly did not experience a trauma induced experience of disassociation during our digital presentations, we did jostle alongside some of these sensations. We share a vignette of Sarah’s memories as an example of what we mean:

“I recall saying ‘Um’ – a sound I too frequently use to hold the space, as I search for the verbalisation of my thoughts. Immediately I became aware of my self-critic: the sound reverberated, and I was suddenly watching myself give the presentation. As someone behind – looking at the body present, and then, the digital screen. This sensory moment was transitory, and I was soon drawn back into re-connecting with the movement to the next slide, drawn into the digital visualisation of text and colour. Slides – a packaged extension of thoughts being shared with others, all neatly placed on a digital screen. It felt good. I was re-plugged back into the virtual experience”.

In reworking our presentations, through remembered sensations, and poetry that resonates with our experience, we rethink digital presentation as “something more complex and creative, even agentic” (Banerjee & Blaise, 2018). “A digital hokey cokey”, created by Sarah from her slide presentations, sensations and the poem ‘The Whole Self – by Naomi Shihab Nye’, seeks to carry forward our experience of doing presentations. In drawing on poetic inquiry, we intentionally adopt a method that is partial, serious, playful and imperfect (Banerjee & Blaise, 2018).

Photo 2: Bringing different possible versions of the found poem together.

Figure 1: A digital hokey cokey by Sarah Huxley

[Audio] recording of the poem, read aloud by Sarah Huxley

Moments of Re(connection)

We were curious to understand more about the potential for collective poetic inquiry to engage with the polyvocality (Pithouse-Morgan et al., 2014) within our educational conference space. We have (re)presented our digital presentations using found poetry, in order to share our experience as a poetic performance, evoking the diverse voices of body, wire, screen, key, soundboard, pixel, text and image. Did we succeed in carrying forward the collective, multifaceted aspects of digital conferencing? Did our approach capture the risk we feel as we move away from familiar forms of conference presentation?  As argued forcefully before, poetic inquiry can push us “to the precarious point of confronting and publicly revealing ambiguities in what and how we come to know” (Pithouse-Morgan et al., 2014, 167). Our approach to representing our research is a risk, a provocation to reimagine how research experience can be shared, which we hope aligns with the goals of the conference itself. It is an approach that also seeks to disrupt conceptualisations of digital presentation as known, familiar and inert (Koro-Ljundberg & Maclure, 2013). We have paused to wonder what is possible if we reconfigure and reimagine our digital presentation experiences differently. We now are left to wonder what might be possible if we make room for fun to entangle readers in different and unknowable ways (Banerjee & Blaise, 2018)?


Amos, I. (2019). “That’s what they talk about when they talk about epiphanies”: An invitation to engage with the process of developing found poetry to illuminate exceptional human experience. Counselling & Psychotherapy Research 19(1), pp.16-24.

Banerjee, B. & Blaise, M. (2018). An unapologetic feminist response. Research in Education 101(1), pp.17-24.

Cahnmann, M. (2003). The craft, practice, and possibility of poetry in educational research. Educational Researcher, 32(3), pp. 29-36.

Dowdeswell, E. (2021). (Re)imagining learning and research: invitations to create and reflect. WELS Postgraduate Researchers Conference. Research re(imagined): (post)pandemic perspectives. 20th March 2021.

Huxley, S. (2021). Changing method: how I shifted from a ‘blended’ to fully online ethnography. WELS Postgraduate Researchers Conference. Research re(imagined): (post)pandemic perspectives. 20th March 2021.

Huxley, S. (2021). A digital hokey cokey.

Shihab Nye, N. (1995). The Whole Self. From Words Under Words – Selected Poems. 4th Edition.

Koro-Ljungberg, M. & Maclure, M. (eds) (2013). Special issue: Data. Cultural Studies <-> Critical Methodologies 13(4), pp. 219–372.

Pithouse-Morgan, K., Naicker, I., Chikoko, V., Pillay, D., Morojele, P., & Hlao, T. (2014). Entering an ambiguous space: Evoking polyvocality in educational research through collective poetic inquiry. Perspectives in Education 32(4), pp. 149-170.

“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?