On Thursday 21 February, DOIT, its partner organisations Salzburg Research (Austria) and YouthProAktiv (Brussels, Belgium) and the Vienna-based e.e.si–Impulse-center for Entrepreneurship Education and ifte – Initiative for Teaching Entrepreneurship co-organised an expert meeting at FLiP – Erste Financial Life Park Vienna under the title Education of Young People for Social Innovation, and Entrepreneurial Educational Practices in and out of Makerspaces: Evidence, Challenges, Cooperation Strategies and Future Policies. Through a programme of interactive activities, participants got the chance to learn more about the topics of e.g. entrepreneurial learning as well as makerspaces/STEAM, social innovation and entrepreneurship in education from both policy and practice perspective, make new connections, and share views and agree concrete recommendations in round-table discussions.
At 9 am, participants were welcomed by Philip List, Director of FLiP, Europe’s biggest financial education initiative, and by Prof. Johannes Lindner, Head of ifte, Head of EESI and professor at KPH Vienna/Krems, as the local host and co-organiser of the event. The moderator for the day was Radovana Jágriková, Project Manager at YouthProAktiv. On behalf of the project, she extended a warm welcome to all participants of this first expert meeting, “DOIT project partners but also other national and international stakeholders, who together drive forward innovation in education and beyond”. She introduced the context of the event and a video message from MEP Petra Kammerevert, Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education at the European Parliament and an MEP for Germany. As Mrs Kammerevert could not join the meeting, she wished to connect with the participants at least this way and present the current European policy context of education and the skill agenda, good practices and challenges. “While we can observe that politics is still lacking behind in the field of digital education and the provision of the necessary skills for living and working in 2019 and beyond, many civil society organisations and networks are already very committed to tackle these challenges through all kinds of projects. DOIT is one very good example,” she noted. (The full video message can be found on DOIT Europe’s YouTube channel and below.)
The participants had the chance to hear from young social entrepreneurs. Of those who joined the event, two took the stage to share briefly their entrepreneurial story and current work: Alexander Neubauer, whose young team has been tackling the problem of air pollution, and Karim Abdel Baky, who seven years ago co-founded a start-up Re-Green. The session was introduced and moderated by Valentin Mayerhofer, Member of the Board at ifte and co-ordinator of their Changemaker Programme. He also reflected that, based on his experience e.g. in ifte’s Changemaker Programme, “the biggest thing that you can offer young social entrepreneurs is to provide them access to a network”.
The keynote talk on “Europe: becoming (socially) entrepreneurial”, the key impulse for the event, was delivered by Elin McCallum, Director of Bantani Education, a Belgium-based non-profit organisation driving entrepreneurial & creative learning across Europe, who is also one of the members of DOIT’s International Advisory Board. Elin looked at some existing challenges and presented overview of the various EU-wide initiatives and European policy milestones in the areas of entrepreneurship education and digital and other skills. With terms such as entrepreneurial, transversal, employability, life or 21st century skills used frequently in relation to education, she emphasised the need to have a common language and a shared understanding of what entrepreneurial skills and competences are and what we should try to achieve through entrepreneurial learning, drawing attention specifically to the EntreComp framework and its preferred definition of entrepreneurship as proposed by the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship & Young Enterprise: “Entrepreneurship is when you act upon opportunities and ideas and transform them into value for others. The value that is created can be financial, cultural, or social” (European Commission, ‘EntreComp’). She emphasised the important transformative and social element of entrepreneurial action which does not have to be about making money – “you can make change” – and the fascinating process of wider entrepreneurial learning of young people, such as through “self-directed discovery, where you really take them into a ground where they understand their strengths, can compensate for what they’re not good at, and move forward into a successful future”.
In a short follow-up interactive exercise, all participants had the chance to find a person they had not talked to before and share one surprising or inspiring thing they had heard up to that point and what they hope to learn or achieve by the end of the event.
In the next talk, the first experience impulse, Dr. Sandra Schön and Dr. Veronika Hornung-Prähauser from Salzburg Research looked at “The maker movement, social innovation and the DOIT Programme: Pilot experiences and first policy recommendations”. In the first part of the talk, they presented core aspects of the DOIT project, such as the three strands of its learning approach – social innovation, makerspace and digital fabrication tools, and entrepreneurial education – the European context, and selected project results. Next, we looked at concrete examples from first pilots, in which, for example, children from Belgium designed prototypes of personal fans to deal with hot summers in the classroom and children in two separate Austrian pilots addressed safety and accident prevention in their school and means of dealing with excessive air moisture. Facilitators in the Austrian pilot coordinated by the Centre for Social Innovation (ZSI) have reflected positively on the children’s observed self-efficacy and pride in their work as well as their gained ability to collaborate with children of very different ages, from six to eleven. Finally, DOIT’s first draft European policy brief and its four main recommendations were presented, in preparation for deeper discussions during the round-table session later in the day. (The full presentation is available through Slideshare.)
Dr. Wilfried Lepuschitz, coordinator of the project Makers@School on behalf of Practical Robotics Institute Austria, gave an overview of the work within his association and the project, whose main aims include increasing people’s understanding of the maker movement and the development of various skills related to and interest in entrepreneurship, STEM and innovation. Their focus is also on young children, primary and middle schools, “in order to have more people attracted to entrepreneurship, to making…”. Through their workshops and other activities, they have already achieved positive outcomes in terms of interest and confidence, among others; they also acknowledged challenges encountered, such as limited time for extra-curricular activities the older the children get.
In the third experience impulse, Prof. Johannes Lindner with the help of Eva Jambor, Youth Start programme director at ifte, looked at several questions around entrepreneurial learning and evidence from the Youth Start Entrepreneurial Challenges (Empowering Each Child) programme and the follow-up UKids project, targeting primary schools and teacher training. In order to find a more comprehensive answer to “Why entrepreneurship education?”, participants again worked in pairs and small groups to briefly discuss their views. Prof. Lindner joined a group of young social entrepreneurs, for whom entrepreneurship education is important in preparation for their future jobs; it is also a very different way of learning, doing rather than just listening, and being allowed to make mistakes and try things at least twice, to experience different teams or different approaches. Similarly to earlier presenters, he emphasised the different possible interpretations of entrepreneurship and the transformative, social nature of entrepreneurship that is of importance to him – “I have potential, I can change things”. He highlighted the potential of entrepreneurial challenge-based learning, especially in combination with learner-centred approach. Participants had the chance to hear more about the two ifte initiatives and the evaluation of their wide-reaching impacts and also take away an Entrepreneur: Changemaker card game inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals.
Adj.Prof. PhD. Martin Ebner of Graz University of Technology, another member of DOIT’s Advisory Board, concluded with a presentation on maker education in curricula and beyond. He highlighted the important role that maker and STEAM education can have and presented the various ways in which his university offers these, from labs, clubs, maker days, diverse technical areas and an idea lounge and for children and young people to the educational offer for adult educators. (The full presentation is available through Slideshare.)
After the morning break, the programme focussed on round-table discussions. Participants had an hour and a half to choose and debate one of five questions and their related sub-topics:
Does the “social” matter in entrepreneurship education in early stage Entrepreneurship Education, and, if yes, how? How can it be assessed?
What are the barriers and enablers for social innovation, social entrepreneurship & maker education policies and practices? What are success factors for social entrepreneurship and making as a cross-curricular activity in schools?
How to integrate young role models (youth social entrepreneurs) and idea challenges (competitions) for social innovation and maker projects (e.g. Changemaker Program, Social Impact Award) into effective educational initiatives?
What degree of professionalization and skill development for teachers is needed in entrepreneurial education through social innovation and making/digital?
What investment in infrastructure and resources is needed in order to use makerspace settings in formal education? Is there potential for better cooperation with FabLabs and MakerLabs?
Each table group heard from a lead expert with experience in the topic and was given time for individual reflection, formulation of provisional answers, group discussion as well as final formulation of concrete common recommendations. Members of the DOIT partnership acted as table leads. After the group discussions, all participants returned for a summary of each group’s discussion and their collection of concrete outcomes and recommendations presented in writing, ahead of closing remarks by the moderator Radovana Jágriková and the local host Prof. Lindner, who thanked everyone for their contributions and highlighted the importance of exchanging experience, collaboration and celebrating achievements. The event officially concluded with a networking lunch.
The round-table discussions were meant not only to allow for an exchange of experience and views but also to result in concrete recommendations and proposals.
For example, when it comes to professionalisation and skills of teachers for entrepreneurial education through social innovation and making/digital, table no. 4 agreed that “the teacher needs to be able to become the role model, the coach at school, and for this you need a lot of training, a lot of skills”. There should be an external learning space for them, a “hands-on campus for teachers” free from the usual constraints, with a bottom-up approach to curriculum development.
As for investment and collaborations needed for learning in makerspace settings, table no. 5 acknowledged challenges and also pros and cons of various approaches and proposed a multi-actor collaboration: not just schools with makerspaces/fablabs, but also involve ministries, universities, industry and perhaps some famous people; they concluded that “once we do want to collaborate, how we do it, the end goal, should be – exactly what number four was, table number 4, so: teacher education, but also the peer-to-peer learning and the education that kids can bring to each other.”
Table no.3 thought that the goal of challenges and competitions for young social entrepreneurs should be “that we create a culture of celebrating and sharing successes as well as ‘failures’,” or what might mistakenly be seen as failures, and recommended using very relatable role models, possibly local ones, such as former participants, instead of just celebrity “heropreneurs”.
An overview of the tables and their written outcomes can be found below.
1. Does the “social” matter in entrepreneurship education in early stage Entrepreneurship Education, and, if yes, how? How can it be assessed?
Table lead: Elisabeth Unterfrauner, ZSI, Austria; Lead experts: Eva Jambor, Elin McCallum
Expected outcomes: policy recommendations
2. What are the barriers and enablers for social innovation, social entrepreneurship & maker education policies and practices? What are success factors for social entrepreneurship and making as a cross-curricular activity in schools?
Table lead: Santi Fuentemilla, IAAC, Spain; Lead expert: Johannes Lindner
Expected outcomes: policy recommendations, recommendations for schools interested in introducing social entrepreneurship/ innovation and making approaches into their learning offer
3. How to integrate young role models (youth social entrepreneurs) and idea challenges (competitions) for social innovation and maker projects (e.g. Changemaker Program, Social Impact Award) into effective educational initiatives?
Table lead: Roberto Vdović, Faculty of Architecture, University of Zagreb / FabLab Zagreb, Croatia; Lead experts: Jonas Dinger, Valentin Mayerhofer
Expected outcomes: recommendations for integrating young role models and challenges/competitions into educational initiatives
4. What degree of professionalization and skill development for teachers is needed in entrepreneurial education through social innovation and making/digital?
Table lead: Isabel Allaert, eduCentrum & Fyxxilab, Belgium; Lead experts: Aristidis Protopsaltis, Susanne Spangl
Expected outcomes: recommendations for providers of training offers for teachers interested in exploring entrepreneurial education through social innovation and making/digital
5. What investment in infrastructure and resources is needed in order to use makerspace settings in formal education? Is there potential for better cooperation with FabLabs and MakerLabs?
Table lead: Borko Jovanović, PolyHedra FabLab, Serbia; Lead expert: Martin Ebner
Expected outcomes: recommendations for schools interested in using maker-space settings or for maker-spaces able to collaborate with schools
Have a look at the photo slideshow from the event:
We would like to say a big thank you to all the people involved in the planning and organisation of the event (from Salzburg Research, YouthProAktiv and ifte in particular); Prof. Lindner, the FliP and its director Philip List for kindly hosting us; and all the wonderful people, be it DOIT partners, Advisory Board Members or other professionals from across Europe who contributed: those who took the stage to share their experience with us and give us new information and inspiration, those who led round-table discussions and also who took part and enhanced the conversations, and all those who came to share and learn from other people. We believe that the new insights and connections will help enhance the important work we all do.
“DOIT – Entrepreneurial skills for young social innovators in an open digital world”
(http://doit-europe.net, 10/2017-09/2020, H2020-770063)
This article was also published on the website of DOIT Europe. Photo: DOIT.