Xplore Health Programme – bridging the gap between RRI and education
Posted by Xplore, European Schoolnet, IrsiCaixa and Ellinogermaniki Agogi on 03 Oct 2016
To help bring RRI to life, the RRI Tools project has identified eight showcases, which are good examples of RRI in practice. We will introduce you to each of these, explaining what it is and why they are good representatives of RRI. At the end of the article, find a testimonial on how you could use the showcase training resource to have a better understanding of RRI, get trained and train others.
Science education has a very critical role for the implementation of the new paradigm of RRI where a different relationship between science and society is to be established. As stated in the European Commission document of Science With and for Society: “investing in making scientific and research careers more attractive for young people improves their culture, prepares them to act as well-informed citizens and equips them with the necessary knowledge and skills to match the current and future labour market needs“. How should scientific and research careers be made attractive for young people? How do we need to prepare our future generations to be disposed and prepared to participate in R&I and in R&I decision-making?
Xplore Health is a European educational programme that is a proof of concept on how to bridge the gap between research and secondary STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education with an innovative educational approach. Since 2010, this programme has inspired future researchers and it has promoted health by facilitating students’ participation in decision-making processes based on evidence obtained from quality research and learning contexts of real life challenges.
Xplore Health offers participative multimedia and hands-on educational resources to:
- Facilitate information about R&I such as virtual experiments, games, videos on current research
- Promote reflexivity around ethical, legal and social aspects (ELSA) related to R&I, such as card games with different formats and videos with different opinions.
- Provide teachers with innovative pedagogical approaches to implement the educational resources, such as worksheets for students and protocols of experiments promoting Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE), cooperative learning and formative evaluation.
The educational resources are concentrated within eight thematic modules covering topics such as how are drugs developed, biotechnology, malaria, HIV/Aids, obesity, mental health or skin cancer, among others.
However, the new paradigm of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) has brought formal, non-formal and informal education to collaborate together with other stakeholders (researchers, industry, policy makers and civil society). To address this new challenge, Xplore Health has added the extra objective of equipping citizens with the necessary knowledge and skills for RRI (i.e. scientific inquiry, critical thinking and engagement) to be able to participate in R&I processes and in R&I decision-making.
Within this new paradigm, Xplore Health has started developing new educational resources and activities. Among others, the project is now promoting participatory research and developing educational resources on scientific inquiry, combining the online activities with innovative participatory research projects. For instance, the “Sana Ment” (Healthy Mind) project is a Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) initiative, which is run in collaboration between educators, learners, researchers, CSOs and policy makers. This project follows the RRI quality criteria with the aim to design and implement health interventions for students and with students. IrsiCaixa has leaded it, in collaboration with “la Caixa” Foundation and the EC funded project EnRRICH.
This kind of projects complement the Xplore Health resources and give secondary school students the opportunity to collaborate with researchers to design and perform research projects. The collaboration ensures a better alignment of the research with their needs and expectations and at the same time, they are empowered to contribute to bring solutions to societal challenges. The result is an intervention that promotes health for students and with them.
Readers of this showcase will have the opportunity to follow the evolution of Xplore Health to adapt to the requirements of RRI. They will be invited to reflect on how to improve STEM education to better contribute to the implementation of RRI. At the end the showcase includes training activities to facilitate such reflections and also a power point presentation. They could be used in workshops with different stakeholders.
The training activities cover discussions and reflections on obstacles and opportunities of RRI in education, on pedagogical and learning characteristics of STEM education within RRI, on possible contexts and collaborations between different stakeholders; on methods for engagement during the different phases of the R&I process and on ethical, legal and social aspects. Finally one activity invites attendees to reflect on how to improve their educational activities with RRI.
Why is it relevant for RRI training and how to use it?
The Xplore Health showcase package comprises a document with background information on the project and the development of its concept and resources. It also includes the objectives, the context of use it with learners, a set of practices for training workshops with educators and other stakeholders and a model presentation to be used to introduce the tool.
The presentation can be adapted to match needs and thematic interests of stakeholders who are not in the health sector or teach subjects that are less related to health (such as IT), while maintaining its strong narrative.
The background information and the description of the project make it easy to link the Xplore Health showcase to other initiatives the participants of a training may be familiar with. The key aspect can be easily generalized to ask participants to reflect on their activities and to identify the RRI process dimensions that may be already included or opportunities to do it in the future.
The model behind Xplore Health supports inherently a multi-stakeholder approach to education and the inclusion of all relevant parties from the first steps of the needs analysis for any educational activity. Therefore, the practices proposed in the showcase can be used both within multi-stakeholders’ training or only with educators, including primary and secondary school teachers and staff and educators from VET institutions.
In the following, two suggestions of training activity.
Short workshop – 2 hours - Educators
- The website of Xplore Health project is shared in advance with participants, together with the project brief and the link to RRI Tools videos for Educators, with the suggestion to read the introduction to the project and to explore two or three resources
- The presentation is adapted to the participants’ profile (topic and roles) and used to present the project, with open questions at the end (suggestions can be also taken from the Self-reflection tool)
- Practice 1 - Obstacle and Opportunities exercise is carried out in small groups of 4-5 persons and a summary map of the ideas is drawn together in plenary
- Practice 2 – How to improve your educational activities is carried out in small groups and a brief proposal for one or two resources selected by the group is shared in plenary
Half-day workshop – 4 hours – Multi-stakeholders
- The website of Xplore Health project is shared in advance with participants, together with the project brief and a shorter version of the showcase document describing what the project is, its concept and story (focusing on sections 2.1 – 2.5), with the suggestion to read briefly all the materials and watch one video from the project’s resource repository
- The presentation is adapted to the participants’ profile (topic and roles) and used to present the project and the practices
- Practice 1 - Obstacle and Opportunities exercise is carried out in small multi-stakeholders’ groups and a summary map of the ideas is drawn together in plenary
- Practice 2 – About the contexts and the collaboration between different stakeholder’s exercise is carried out and participants are asked to outline a scenario of multi-stakeholder collaboration for an existing initiative selected by the group
- Practice 3 – A modified version of the exercise About the engagement during the different phases of the R&I process is carried out, where participants are asked to reflect on level of engagement and phases for the initiative and the group of stakeholders identified in Practice 2