Policy makers Policy makers

Welcome to the first DESIRE Online Discussion Event for policy makers. The discussion is open from 15 to 17 October 2012 and is moderated by Professor Emilio Balzano from the University of Naples, Italy.

In this event, policy makers are invited to discuss the results of European and national science education projects and their dissemination strategies. During the event we will review various sources in Science Education and explore the potential of new media in informing different target groups about the latest develepment in STEM education.

Each of the 3 days of the event has a specific sub-theme. The sub-theme is introduced in details at 9 am. At 12pm and 4pm policy makers are invited to actively participate in the debate.

The themes of the three days are:

Day 1
The first day will focus on the STEM project dissemination strategies and on what feedback they get from the target audience.

Day 2
On the second day, participants will discuss their experience with applying new methods, tools and partnerships to their practice and will also concentrate on what and why certain media do not work with their audience ( i.e. with teachers or schools)  

Day 3

On the third day I would like you to tell about obstacles or circumstances that prevent teachers from/easy the integration of new tools and methods achieved though European and national project.
Decision makers from different countries are welcome to participate. We are looking forward to include your feedback and opinion in the analysis run by the DESIRE project.

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Meet the expert - Emilio Balzano Meet the expert - Emilio Balzano

Emilio Balzano teaches Physics at the University of Naples Federico II and is active in the field of science education since 1983.

His research activities aim at improving science learning and teaching through permanent training. He is (and was) a member of Steering and Scientific Committee of numerous national and international projects (LES, Piano ISS, Communication in Science, LIGHT, Pencil,  ISWA).

Recently, Prof. Balzano co-ordinated  the FP7 project TRACES. The main outcome of TRACES is a series of findings and recommendations on how to bridge the gap between science education research and actual teaching practice. They are aimed at all actors in science education, mainly researchers, policy makers and teachers in all grades.

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Today's session is still open
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Today, some people have reported several technical difficulties in the use of the platform.
To give the opportunity to the people of South America to intervene today's session will be open until tomorrow.
Tomorrow we will continue to discuss integrating the themes of the first and second day.
Thanks to all the attendees
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RE: Today's session is still open
16/10/12 00:47 as a reply to emilio balzano.
Sorry for arriving so late, I really feel as Latin american, not only because I have an Ecuadorian grand father but because this is my preferred time to participate.
In reality, I'm Italian, I was a physics teachers in secondary school, I've worked for someyears as researcher at the University, and for more than 20 years I was a researcher in the European Centre for Education near Rome, transformed now in the Italian Institution for National Evaluation (INVALSI) .
I was involved in many National, European and International projects, with special emphasis not only on STEM but also on Evaluation - I was and I'm still involved in PISA - on action research and on Education for Sustainability.
I tried to follow the discussion you had today, also if it was not easy because of the way it is categorized. I agree with many of the points raised but I want offer another point of view and propose another question: when normal STEM teachers have the possibility to be informed about STEM projects and/or to be involved? when in their daily practice an average teacher in our countries could receive a stimulus, an information, a request, that let her/him reflect on their own teaching contents and methodologies?
in my experience, while many teachers in Italy, in Spain, in Latin America, in Austria, in Germany, know about PISA framework and results, very few teachers now about the European projects, about the European documents on Science Education, about European web platforms as SCIENTIX. This is of course because PISA results have been presented to policy makers and discussed by the newspapers. May be PISA is not changing the every day practice but the educational community know about and have the documents and results to reflect upon.
What happen with the STEM projects? when and where they are presented and discussed? who between teachers is stimulated to reflect on their results? I
It is commonly accepted that not formal, and informal, education frame the formal education methods: we cannot change one if we don't change the others. In order to spread innovation, the basic ideas should be spread within the local and national communities.
Many projects - especially in Latin America - showed how involving the communities could be useful for supporting STEM implementation and innovation.
I have not definite suggestions but in these years I matured the belief that while we have strategies - slow but effective - to involve teachers in STEM research, we have very few strategies to 'mainstream' what we have found and to convince the policy makers that changes are not only possible but absolutely necessary.
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RE: What are the examples, models, tools that you think are effective?
18/10/12 03:50
I agree totally with Michela and Silvia and other that expressed themselves in more or less the same way. We need to work in both directions: to valorize teachers work and their involvement in innovative programmes and researches on one side, and generate a real recognition of Educational research both, at the highest level (universities, financing agencies) and in schools, that is to say at de governmental level. If science educational research is not valorized, teachers won´t have never the conditions and interests on innovative programs and researches and the practice of science education won´t notice of their results and recommendations.

I´m very sorry that my participation was so poor. I lost yesterday discussion and lost the opportunity of relating our interesting experience during TRACES Field Actions in our context, and so on.

Thank you Emilio and colleagues for the invitation and opportunity. Hope we can have a better interaction in another opportunity. Greetings!!!!
RE: What are the examples, models, tools that you think are effective?
17/10/12 20:49
I strongly agree with Silvia and with her Utopia. As she wrote we need to promote actions in several directions: we need to support and to to involve teachers, but we need also to ask for the recognition of educational research, and for orienting educational research to educational practice. In many countries, and Italy is one, educational research is not really valued, not at school as a teacher quality, not at the universities.
An European position on this point could be an important policy move: research is an intrinsic component of education. If education want to be effective while contexts and students competencies change, continuos innovation and teachers longlife learning are needed, and this is not possible without research.
The Silvia proposal of having a structural support by territorial lab, specialised in STEM and connected i suppose with educational research centres and museums, is very important. But they need minimum a 10 years implementation in order to become a structural component of the school system.
Also web sites could be useful, not just as 'repository' but as a stimulus for action and cooperative work.
RE: What are the examples, models, tools that you think are effective?
17/10/12 20:29
I totally agree that the conditions in which the teachers work in their schools are probably the most important factor that should be changed to attain the goal of improving the quality of education, of science education in particlar; the real problem is that this goal is "proclaimed" in the formal documents but is not coherently pursued through decisions and moves that affect the concrete school environment.
Whilst the focus is always put on the teachers, the Head of the school institute has a very important function in supporting or hindering the innovation. I think that the selection of these professional figures should be done with great attention to their crucial role in promoting change and they should be always directly involved also by researchers when promoting reasearch-action projects. The responsibilities of the Head do not end in just giving their agreement to innovative projects, or to educational programs offered by exernal agencies: they consist in an active participation with pedagogical competences, in managing the organizational aspects, in making the teachers a community which shares objectives and policies.
RE: What are the examples, models, tools that you think are effective?
17/10/12 14:12
I agree with Michelina Mayer on the need to work on two directions:

“We need to work on both directions: with a 'contamination' strategy involving more group and more teachers, and with a systemic strategy fighting for change some of the conditions of teachers work (more time for study and research, for following training courses, for participating to projects...) and for achieve more visibility and recognition for innovation in science education.”

Without this, the proposed innovation will remain isolated.
In several schools in Italy, the teachers involved in innovation projects are always the same. On the other hand, for example in southern Italy, due to lack of funds, schools often are forced to join the projects to do ordinary activities. I know of many situations where projects fail to engage the whole school and more active teachers are even isolated.

External stimuli are needed but I think that teachers must build themselves, working with other teachers and researchers, proposals for educational innovation: without experimentation and research is impossible to adopt any proposed change.

Policies should recognize the experimentation and the joint planning of learning activities as a structural part of teachers’ practice and provide appropriate resources in terms of time, spaces and training.

So the question we must ask is how to involve central and local institutions and policy makers in the education system with the aim of recognizing the needs of teachers and schools.