Ellinogermaniki Agogi (EA) is one of the most innovative schools in Europe. It has 2000 students (ages 5 to 18 years old) and 250 teachers in different disciplines. Established in 1995, the Research and Development Department of EA is guiding the introduction of innovation in the school setting. The R&D Department acts as an interface between the pedagogical research, the technological innovation and the school community.
It focuses on the design, implementation and support of pedagogical and technological innovation in educational practice, both through internal research as well as through collaborations with numerous educational, research and commercial institutions in Europe and the world. EA is an institutional member of EDEN (European Distance Education Network), of STEDE (Science Teacher Education Development in Europe), of ECSITE (European Network of Science Centres and Museums) network and a partner school of the German Excellence Network of STEM Schools “MINT-EC” (https://www.mint-ec.de/).
The work of the R&D Department which currently employs 18 full time researchers (10 PhD level, 8 MSc) focuses also on the following areas:
School Innovation and Leadership. The team is developing models and strategies to support the introduction of innovation in school settings. EA school offers a unique testbed for implementing and validating innovative strategies.
Development of methodologies and empirical research to investigate processes of learning and knowledge acquisition in various subject matter areas (physics, mathematics, biology, history, etc.);
Design and development of educational learning scenarios based on the concept of storytelling, which has been developed and tested in various EU projects and applied within European educational communities;
Cooperation and collaboration with Universities, research centers, museums and private companies for the development and testing of educational material and software, using virtual and augmented reality;
Collaboration with computer science departments and artificial intelligence labs for the development of computational models and AI learning systems;
Design of technology-supported learning environments.
Its work in EU projects over the last 15 years has established EA as a leading pioneer in innovative approaches to science education. Since its establishment, the R&D Department has coordinated and supported the participation of EA, either as coordinator or as partner, in more than 150 national and international collaborative research projects and networks (H2020, eContentPlus, ICT-PSP, SiS in FP7 and FP6, IST in FP5 and ICT in FP6, LLP-ICT, Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, Erasmus+), the majority of which have been concerned with the fields of science and new technologies in education. The EA team has implemented numerous projects and initiatives that combine ICT and STEM education that include the development of innovative tools and approaches and development of contextual based storylines. Moreover, some of these projects have already combined STEM with Arts in a creative way to support students’ deeper learning, e.g. by developing and performing a global science opera that included the collaboration of students, scientists, artists, and educators form 35 countries. The EA team has a systematic and exhaustive knowledge of the science curriculum in the Greek primary education, as it has been assigned to create the science text books for the last two grades of primary schools in Greece. The books of the series “Primary Science: Researching and Discovering” which introduced the inquiry based science education model for the first time in Greece are now being used in the 5th and 6th grade in all schools across the country.
In addition, EA is a founding member of the European Science Education Academy (ESEA - http://esea.ea.gr/), which is promoting a European standard-based IBSE competence framework that will facilitate the professional development of teachers in applying and implementing IBSE, as well as supporting the creation of a European community of practice among science teachers to modernize science education. Overall, EA has a very strong and proven experience in actively extending the dialogue between scientific and the educational community, enforcing the collaboration between schools and research organizations, centers and museums, and helping young people to acquire better understanding of the role of science in the society.
EA has a very strong vision-generated interest and rich research and development activity in the fields of Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE), Project Based Learning (PBL), and STEM education in combination with digital, online based learning environments and tools that use virtual reality, augmented reality and story-based education.
EA is continuously modernizing STEM education by promoting and creating user-driven learning environments for students and offering numerous opportunities for teachers’ professional development to be prepared and thrive in the landscape of unprecedented challenges and opportunities in the 21st century. Under this approach, EA has taken up the challenge to embed innovative pedagogical practice that effectively uses a range of ICTs in STEM classrooms, as well as driving up student academic outcomes across the school. Moreover, a large range of previous projects were focused on developing and implementing technological tools which leverage both digital science repositories and IBSE/PBL learning.
As part of this, EA has developed numerous scenarios for STEM education in which participators live their learning experience in every place. EA, apart from being a primary and secondary education school, is working closely with children groups as part of its outreach activities and has interests in the research findings, access to training for teachers to introduce immersive technologies in their schools and classrooms as well as the projects reports regarding the new pedagogical and didactic methodologies in science teaching and the introduction of ICT tools. Suitable provisions will allow such access to project results as to promote scale – up in the participating to the pilots countries and beyond.
The EA R&D team believes that Virtual & Augmented Reality Labs are not just a new technological hype. Startups are emerging from all over the world, creating the virtual and augmented reality environments needed for many fields of science. The success of these efforts will be based on two very important factors: users & content. EA aims to become a significant transnational player of the Digital Storytelling industry, producing innovative educational scenarios and assets for the new era of digital education, generating young people who are skillful in and enthusiastic about science and who view science as their future career field, aiming to innovate and change the world and also creating teachers willing to embrace the virtual laboratories and exploit their full potential.
Finally, EA through its very rich research and innovation activities in the last more than 15 years in the fields of education and learning more widely, has established a very large network of collaborations and links in the academic, industrial, policy-making and everyday school practice worlds. EA will utilize this network for the wide, carefully targeted dissemination of the concepts and outcomes of the project to all stakeholder groups both in Greece and Europe-wide. EA is standing at the 11th place in the European Research ranking for Greece for 2017 (http://www.researchranking.org/index.php?orgtype=EDUCATION&c=5&country=GR&year=2017&action=ranking)