We run trainings and workshop since our foundation in 2007. Initially, the trainings targeted academics but soon became more open facilitating discussions between the education sectors and with the wider society. Thus, we are committed to cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary approaches, since we believe that the respond to complex problems can be best found in open approaches.
Due to our research in border studies it soon became clear that in order to let people cooperate across borders, intercultural skills are needed. Consequently, we started in 2011 to develop the intercultural stimulation training series. The workshops help facilitators, trainers and teacher to develop intercultural skills through digital storytelling. The course had already 11 sessions with more than 150 participants.
Further on, we started to organize in cooperation with the Urząd Miasta Szczecin, Service and Consulting Centre of the Pomerania Euroregion to launch bi-lingual workshops on intercultural skills for German and Polish entrepreneurs, teacher and administrative workers. In this way, we incorporated our research findings in concrete actions in the border regions, helping the local capability to understand and interact with each other.
The community based approaches are not just important in border regions but as well in other contexts. In cooperation with our partner the Institute for Community Reporting, we develop and apply the approach of community reporting, enabling individuals to find their story and make their voice heard.
We design our approaches towards all learners, as we believe in creative pathways in lifelong learning. Our workshops contain Intercultural walks for school children up to digital storytelling courses for elderly.
Trainings contain nowadays topics such as:
Article, based on our approaches:
Diana Bebenova - Nikolova
Intercultural Competence – Key Competence of Multicultural Teams, Journal of Danubian Studies and Research, Vol 4, No 2 (2014).
The community reporting approach is based on the principle of developing a learning community that supports an asset based approach, i.e. seeing value in the skills, knowledge and experience of the learners. We use what we call the TiPPS methodology:
Blended learning or augmented reality had been a topic long before Pokémon Go became famous. In education, blended learning improves problem solving skills. Learners should transfer observations, experiences and knowledge from online to offline. Usually based on projects and partly on gamification, the learners work interdisciplinary and are challenged to explore new ways and solutions by themselves.
Finding digital solutions for analog problems directly addresses project management, transfer and entrepreneurial skills. With a set of methods like Hackathons innovative products might be generated in the end, but on the way learners will experiment, discuss and explore alternative perspectives on one problem.
Storytelling is the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, often with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment. Crucial elements of stories and storytelling include plot, characters and narrative point of view. The term 'storytelling' is used in a narrow sense to refer specifically to oral storytelling and also in a looser sense to refer to techniques used in other media to unfold or disclose the narrative of a story.
When assessing literature on pedagogics storytelling or its modern form, the digital storytelling is accepted standards. The techniques are used in classrooms for literature, language, art but as well for critical analysis in sociology, politics or geography. The teacher work with it oral, text and photo based or with film. Storytelling is helping to develop analytical, language, expressional and presentation skills. It fosters creativity and self-confidence.
21st Century Skills
Literacy has always been a collection of cultural and communicative practices shared among members of groups. As society and technology change, so does literacy. Because technology has increased the intensity and complexity of literate environments, the 21st century demands that a literate person possess a wide range of abilities and competencies, many literacies.
These literacies are multiple, dynamic, and malleable. As in the past, they are inextricably linked with particular histories, life possibilities, and social trajectories of individuals and groups. Active, successful participants in this 21st century global society must be able to obtain new forms of literacy, which is facing educators and facilitators with new challenges to teach new, ICT based,
innovative curricula with new innovative tools. The 21st century literacy contains:
The EU Youth Strategy seeks to encourage young people to participate in the democratic process and in society.
The methods include to develop mechanisms for engaging in dialogue with young people and facilitating their participation in the shaping of national policies and supporting ways of 'learning to participate' from an early age. Through strengthening formal and non-formal participatory education, the European Commission seek to tackle radicalization and strengthen citizenship in general and European citizenship. Since ‘learning to participate’ includes skills, such as digital literacy, entrepreneurship, project planning and management, social awareness and interaction, the young learners increase their employability. Through this ‘learn to participate’ is in accordance with the Strategic framework – Education & Training 2020.
The partners believe that a smarter Europe needs smart citizens. Smart citizens need smart learning paths helping to navigate in a life-long process of qualification, adapting new knowledge but as well providing space for self-determent learning pure out of joy and motivation.
Experiential Learning (Kolb)
The design of our training curricula is based on Kolb's experiential learning theory. Kolb's theory is typically represented by a four-stage cycle in which the learner 'touches all the bases':
Being ‘critical’ is central to the nature of design as through engaging in ‘critical’ processes we seek to refine and reshape the world “devising a course of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones” (Simon, 1969 p.54).
Likewise education is a critically reflective process that ultimately should shape our understanding of the world...
The rationale for identifying the location of Critical Design Education and examining the three critical theoretical frameworks is that each draws upon the term ‘critical’ in the search for something ‘better’ through challenging accepted norms. The collective contribution of all three locations therefore represents the undertheorised Critical Design Education (CDE) learning environment and recognition that neither the materials, technologies, theories, processes nor procedures we employ nor the educational contexts, assessments and pedagogies utilised are in any sense neutral. Each aspect of CDE, the content, context, pedagogy and underlying thinking have a strong cultural and political history such that when we engage in a process of criticality reveals the lack of neutrality and the often unintended consequences of such limited reflection and associated decision making...
...There is a need “to use education to mobilize students to be critically engaged agents, attentive to addressing important social issues and being alert to the responsibility of deepening and expanding the meaning and practices of a vibrant democracy.” Unfortunately such realities are often undervalued and not revealed or discussed , and as a consequence educators are often ‘delivering’ a curriculum, and students are engaged in activities, unaware of the complex interplay of the underlying political, social and cultural influences on their decision making or the unintended consequences of such decisions.
(Source: Spendlove D, Jachna T, (ed.). Locating the Contributions to Critical Design Education (CDE): Critical Theory, Critical Thinking and Critical Pedagogy. In Jachna T, editor, host publication. Hong Kong: DesignEd Asia Conference Secretariat. 2015. p. 247-254.)
Defining Smart Practices
Smart Practices are:
Assessing Smart Practices
The approach of CRN is to identify new aspects and potentials in existing curricula. Thus, we apply a two-step evaluation system which we developed together with our partners in various projects.
In a first step a check-list is used, which helps the educator to understand the topical aspects of the to be assessed method. When the method qualifies for a deeper analysis, a qualitative evaluation tool is used. In this way, the educator can identify the potential but as well weaknesses of a method.
CRN created within the Grundtvig Learning Partnership "Creative Pathways" Intergenerational Aspects, in the Erasmus+ Partnership "We are all Digital Natives" Digital aspects and in Educitizens participatory approaches. The lately initiated project Scie-Citizens will identify smart practices by Citizens Science, in order to bridge the non-formal education sector towards research.
CREATIVITy in training
Digital Tools in education
Participatory Approaches in Education