Project managers Project managers

The second Online Discussion Event for project managers takes place on 7-9 November 2012 and will be moderated by Marisa Hernández. During the three day event the participating project managers are invited to discuss which European and national science education project results they have knowledge of. The issue of impact in educational practice or effectiveness of dissemination methods will be further discussed.

Bellow you find a summary of the themes we will discuss each day of the event.

Day 1
The first day will focus on the STEM education projects about which the participating project managers have had some information or involvement in order to share experiences on dissemination strategies of certain projects.

Day 2
On the second day, project managers will be asked to explain the perceived impact of specific projects and the way they use the results of previous projects.

Day 3
The last day project managers are invited to reflect on the needs of each target audience concerning dissemination and  to exchange ideas about how to make project results not only available but also more understandable and usable to help each target audience apply these results in practice efficiently.

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Meet the expert Meet the expert

Marisa HernandezMarisa Hernandez is a research assistant and member of the Executive Board of the Centre for Research in Science and Mathematics Education (CRECIM) of the Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona, Spain. She  has a BA in Physics and PhD in Science Education.

With a staff of 9 full-time employees, 5 part-time secondary school teachers, and 3 PhD students, CRECIM manages a number of national projects and local initiatives on science and technology education. They cover a broad range of topics, from digital classrooms in science lessons (ADIGIC) and technology enhanced science learning for children in hospital (TEACH); to school-university (REVIR) and school-industry (Prat de la Riba) collaboration.

On the European scene, CRECIM has been actively involved in the management of several EU-funded projects: STISS, IKUITSE, Materials Science, TRACES and ECB/inGenious.

 

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European projects: How do they disseminate?
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Have you ever heard of any of these 7th FP projects: Nanoyou, S-Team, CoReflect, Traces?
And have you ever heard of any of these LLP projects: Compass, ICT for IST, Spice?

In case you did, what do you know and how did you know about these projects? Do you know any of their publications, their website or have you received their newsletters? What did you learn from them?

I case you did not heard of any of these projects, could you please share your experience on dissemination of other STEM education projects of which you have heard or in which you have been involved?
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RE: European projects: How do they disseminate?
07/11/12 12:06 as a reply to Marisa Hernandez.
Hello everyone,

I have heard of the Nanoyou project after it was finished, mainly because I was involved on another Nanotechnology related project. And Nanoyou produced a lot of material, some of which is of great quality (the film, the role playing game), and easy to use. So, as simple as it may seem, it is the good quality of some material produced by the project that ensured that it was not forgotten...
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RE: European projects: How do they disseminate?
07/11/12 13:39 as a reply to Marisa Hernandez.
Marisa Hernandez:
Have you ever heard of any of these 7th FP projects: Nanoyou, S-Team, CoReflect, Traces?
And have you ever heard of any of these LLP projects: Compass, ICT for IST, Spice?

Hello, my friends,
I have heard of Nanoyou. I have followed a course about Nanoyou on the eTwinning platform, and learnt how we could work with this even if we are not science teachers (I myself am a teacher of English as a foreign language). We have ”looked” at nano-particles, and found out how they might benefit society, industry, communication.
I would have liked to know about the other projects as well. I just started checking the Compass site and I could be on the right track - I mean, better late than never. emoticon
Thank you for your attention,
Looking forward to the discussions here,
Thank you, Marisa, for all your help (getting me in and all),
Daniela.
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RE: European projects: How do they disseminate?
07/11/12 13:44 as a reply to Didier Laval.
Didier Laval:
...Nanoyou produced a lot of material, some of which is of great quality (the film, the role playing game), and easy to use.

Dear Didier,
I agree, material that is of good quality, user-friendly and easily understandable for the ”common person” is the ace up the sleeve in my opinion too.
Daniela.
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RE: European projects: How do they disseminate?
07/11/12 13:48 as a reply to Didier Laval.
Hello Didier,
Thank you for being the first one contributing to this event. So you told us that you knew about Nanoyou because you already had been involved in a previous project. When you talked about the good quality of the material, I was wondering which is the target audience of this material. Could you tell us more about the kind of materials you find useful from that project as a project manager?
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RE: European projects: How do they disseminate?
07/11/12 14:08 as a reply to Daniela Bunea.
Welcome Daniela!
Thank you for your contributions. It was my pleasure to help you.
You also know about Nanoyou. How did you get to know about this project? What were you looking for when you found out about this project or in which sense does this project match your interests? The same questions could be applicable to the Compass project. In Desire project, we are curious about these issues since our purpose is to propose better or more effective dissemination models. In this sense, knowing which kind of project results or characteristics make them appealing, interesting, understandable and useful for project managers (as one of the target audiences of dissemination) is very important to us.
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RE: European projects: How do they disseminate?
07/11/12 14:13 as a reply to Marisa Hernandez.
Hello everyone,
just starting to join this discussion, not sure if I am in the right place to contribute to the forum!
Answering Marisa's question, I have heard of the project S-Team and Nanoyou... the first one via the contact with the researchers involved, the second one was introduced to us (an audience of teacher educators and science teachers) in a teacher education summerschool. In the case of S-Team, I have gone to their website in order to consult some of the documents. I have done the same regarding other FP6 projects, such as Mind the Gap and Parcel, also CoReflect... Some of them have been very interesting for me as researcher and teacher trainer. Most web pages, however, are not very user friendly
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RE: European projects: How do they disseminate?
07/11/12 14:35 as a reply to Digna Couso.
Hello Digna,
Thanks for joining us in this online event. You are on the right place, of course.
As you told, in your experience, the most interesting and useful resources from these projects for you, not only as a project manager but also as a teacher trainer, are the teaching, learning and assessment materials they have produced for teaching or for teachers' training. Could you please tell us more which kind of project results you find relevant or look for in these projects as a researcher?
I agree with you that many project websites are not very user-friendly. In my opinion, some of them tend to describe the content of each workpackage and do not include all the produced material, maybe because project managers want to know how many people request their materials. Which aspects do you think a project website should include to make it more user-friendly and facilitate the dissemination of its results?
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RE: European projects: How do they disseminate?
07/11/12 17:35 as a reply to Marisa Hernandez.
As some of you have mentioned specific projects you know, we could look at their dissemination strategies more in depth in order to infer good practices (or not that good).

For instance, S-TEAM project, which stands for Science-Teacher Education Advanced Methods. S-TEAM is a Seventh Framework Programme Science-in-Society project, funded by the EU, which aims to disseminate inquiry-based science teaching methods (IBST) to the widest possible range of teachers and teacher educators across Europe and associated countries.

The main methods of dissemination planned to be used in S-TEAM project are training events or reflective workshops, together with materials for teachers and teacher educators including DVDs or other media. The underlying principle of S-TEAM is that teachers are to be consulted and listened to throughout the project, recognizing that there is need for cooperation with teachers to try to have large-scale change in the pedagogy of science education. The involvement of policymakers and their power to effect change at a structural level has been considered essential. Training events and workshops were only considered useful if they were going to be supported by continuing development activities which connect teachers and their ideas, and resources which enable them to implement their ideas inside and outside the classroom. The S-TEAM project has been connected to many of the key networks within science education and teacher education, including: The MIND THE GAP project, ESERA, EERA, ASE.

In the project's website (http://www.ntnu.no/s-team), you can find the description of the dissemination strategies they planned to carry out, which include: national workshops, conferences, reports, training packages, books, DVDs, workbooks for teachers, guidelines for teacher educators, TV documentary on IBST, website and digital repository, and newsletters. Furthermore, you can find some of these materials on the website.

In your opinion:
- Which aspects of this dissemination strategy are original and would be considered good practices?
- What difficulties or obstacles could you foresee in this dissemination strategy?
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RE: European projects: How do they disseminate?
07/11/12 20:14 as a reply to Marisa Hernandez.
There are also European projects on STEM education that completely focus on dissemination. That is the case, in my opinion, of the Fibonacci project, which is aimed at disseminating inquiry-based science and mathematics education in Europe. Two of its pillars as structuring elements are:
- Local and regional initiative for innovation and sustainability: The potential for innovation is strong because of the reduced scale, the greater concentration of actors, and better integration into local policies. Schemes and tools can be tested previous to their replication on a larger scale.
- Twinning strategy for IBSME dissemination: Dissemination of innovation is neither top-down nor bottom-up, but rather a transfer of semi-formalised practices and experiences that have reached a satisfactory level of recognition, expertise and
sustainability on a local scale. Consequently: special efforts must be made with regard to the application of successful strategies, twinning and peer-learning through visits, tutoring, sharing resources and strategy transfer are the key to a broad and successful dissemination.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the previous statements? Which obstacles or difficulties can you foresee on the application of these principles?
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RE: European projects: How do they disseminate?
08/11/12 08:36 as a reply to Marisa Hernandez.
Dear Marisa,
I knew nothing about nano-particles and the like prior to the course on the eTwinning platform, nothing about the Nanoyou project either. We were introduced to the project in this course, and involved in tasks based on the project activities. I do not remember much about the course, but some details have stuck with me, such as the painting thing, and have used that example ever since. Projects such as this match my interests in the sense that I use the English documents/facts/findings/research and try to accommodate them with the different science topics that come up in textbooks - I am a teacher of English as a foreign language and my students are 11-19 of age. So for me the resources in the form of text and/or text with video would be of most help. But this is me the teacher of English speaking. As a project manager, I will need to think some more... Thank you,
Daniela.
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RE: European projects: How do they disseminate?
08/11/12 08:54 as a reply to Marisa Hernandez.
Marisa Hernandez:

- Which aspects of this dissemination strategy are original and would be considered good practices?
- What difficulties or obstacles could you foresee in this dissemination strategy?

I believe training events and training packages together, followed by constant contact with, and feedback from, peers and trainers would work best. In my opinion, there is nothing more immediate and usable than having at your fingertips documents to rely on, and similarly interested people guided by good facilitators at an arm (or computer)'s distance. Obviously, many of the others can have their (additional) place.
Difficulties can lay in the organisation, the selection of trainees, the language(s), the recognition of the trainings.
Daniela.
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RE: European projects: How do they disseminate?
08/11/12 10:37 as a reply to Daniela Bunea.
I could not agree more with you, Daniela. I also wonder which format of workshop or training event would be a suitable one so that it turns out to be understandable and useful for teachers or for any other target audience.

Have anyone of you had good experiences on the organisation of workshops? Or have you ever attended workshops that you found very powerful for the purposes they pursued?
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RE: European projects: How do they disseminate?
08/11/12 10:36 as a reply to Marisa Hernandez.
In your opinion:
- Which aspects of this dissemination strategy are original and would be considered good practices?
- What difficulties or obstacles could you foresee in this dissemination strategy?


Marisa, thanks for the complete description of the S-TEAM dissemination strategy. I have found very innovative the TV documentary you mention, as something that I have not heard before in other projects. However, sometines this sort of materials are mostly a sort of propaganda with a very poor effect on disseminating project results or ideas... in this sense, for me it is interesting to address the issue of what we do consider dissemination? I am sorry if you have already discussed this in previous forums, as this is my first contribution, but for me it is not really clear. For instance, one thing is to disseminate the project itself (its objectives, intentions, etc) in order for the project to become wellknow, to have people interested in it, following it or even becoming participants... A project web-site, brochures, etc are common instruments for this. Another different dissemination is the one you for potential beneficiaries of the project regarding project results and resources, that is, the dissemination you do for those who would benefit from the project outcomes. This, in STEM education, can include teachers, teacher trainers or even science education researchers and politicians and it is basically done via guidelines, teacher education courses, etc. An even more sophisticated version of dissemination of a project is devoting part or all the project to the creation of a dissemination insfrastructre and strategy, such as a network or the creation of twin partners, etc. Fibonacci, for example, is a project that basically develops an strategy for identifying and spreading reference centers via twinning.. Of course, in most projects all three dissemination types are used and sometimes combined (for instance, when disseminating teaching and learning materials also the project is disseminated and depending on how are they distributed, a dissemination infrastructure could be created) but it is important, at least for me, to think about them separately so that you realise what dissemination strategies are you using for each purpose. In my case, most of the projects in which I have participated were devoted to the second type of dissemination, making the project rather invisible and not concentrating enough effort in thinking on developing an infrastructure to spread results and resources... From my viewpoint, this was not problematic in itsefl, as some projects must be more concentrated on creating something to be further disseminated than on disseminaton...but it is problematic if this projects are not followed by other projects, of the fibonacci sort that exploit further its results.

In this sense, and sorry for being so long, I consider that it is not only necessary and interesting to identify original strategies for dissemination, but to clarify what sort of dissemination should a project have (for instance, always type 1, creation projects will add type 2 and dissemination projects will concentrate on type 3, or all projects will need all of them) and what strategies are better for each purpose... if not we can conclude that all projects will need to develop huge opearting networks or communities, and this could end up in projects that have enormous dissemination strategies but not so much knowledge to be disseminated.

Again, sorry if you have already discussed these issues... I only wanted to point out that for me different projects need different dissemination strategies and that this depends a lot on the main purpose of the project: generating new knowledge, changing existing practices, spreading already created knowledge, etc.
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RE: European projects: How do they disseminate?
08/11/12 12:55 as a reply to Digna Couso.
Digna Couso:
for me it is interesting to address the issue of what we do consider dissemination? I consider that it is not only necessary and interesting to identify original strategies for dissemination, but to clarify what sort of dissemination should a project have and what strategies are better for each purpose: generating new knowledge, changing existing practices, spreading already created knowledge, etc.


Thank you very much Digna for raising such an important issue concerning dissemination. Let me tell you that within the Desire project, we understand dissemination in a wide sense as the process by which, using certain strategies, results of a project are made available, comprehensible and usable to be adopted by potential users.

In that definition there are several keywords, one of which is (project) result. Although a website (for example) can be also considered a product / result of the project, we refer to results as the outcomes of a project. In this sense, we agree that the actions aimed at making a project (and its objectives) known by others are commonly considered dissemination actions but in this project we mainly refer to dissemination when we invest time and effort (and money) making the project outcomes available, understandable and usable. This idea of dissemination would mean reaching different target audiences to facilitate the adoption of project outcomes at a small or larger scale. I completely agree with you that different strategies are more or less appropriate depending on the goals of the dissemination plan.

We have tried to distinguish between two actions: dissemination of results and exploitation of results. Although the second one is influenced by the first one, exploitation also depends on the needs, constraints, capabilities and boundary conditions of the potential users of the outcomes.
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RE: Thinking of potential stakeholders of project outcomes: What do they ne
09/11/12 12:29
Petr Kaufman:
I'd say that teachers needs and dissemination activities are two separate things. Needs finding should be at the very beginning of the project cycle, dissemination at the end.


Thanks for your contribution, Petr. I will tell you how I see it. I agree with you that we should take into account teachers' needs before starting a project since any funded project is addressed to specific stakeholders' needs or problems. However, although projects' outcomes addressed these needs, the dissemination plan could not take into account aspects as which are the channels that teachers prefer or which characteristics (language, format, length, duration, cost, etc) facilitate teachers' engagement and understanding.

For example, let's say that one project's outcome consisted of a teaching and learning virtual environment with a repository of activitites addressed to facilitate the introduction of socioscientific issues in the science class. Which actions should this project carry out to disseminate these outcomes to a certain number of teachers? In case, the project had a budget for organising face-to-face workshops, which would be a suitable format for helping teachers understand and use this product? And in case the dissemination should be done through online courses?

I consider that there are also some specific needs to take into account when talking about dissemination plans.
RE: Thinking of potential stakeholders of project outcomes: What do they ne
09/11/12 12:01
I'd say that teachers needs and dissemination activities are two separate things. Needs finding should be at the very beginning of the project cycle, dissemination at the end. If your project doesn't address teachers's needs then you can have the most brilliant dissemination plan that reaches every single teacher in Europe, but teachers simply won't use your project results.

In my opinion the steps should be as follows:

1. needs finding, needs assessment, based on that >
2. project proposal, based on that >
3. project execution, based on that >
4. dissemination

The dissemination should always be tailored to the type of products you develop; eg. dissemination of teacher training opportunities would be different from dissemination of learning resources, etc...
Thinking of potential stakeholders of project outcomes: What do they need?
09/11/12 11:00
According to some experts on dissemination, the most successful dissemination strategies will be those that actively engage users and deliver what the users both want and need. Then, ensuring the engagement of potential users in an early consultation exercise to
establish their needs should be an essential part of a project's work. Moreover, the outputs/outcomes of a project should be presented as benefits and solutions to the users.

If we focus on teachers or teachers trainers, who usually are one of the main stakeholders of science education projects, which of their needs do you think should be addressed in order to effectively disseminate project's outcomes to them?