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European Innovative Teaching Award
Project

Creative and Innovative Training based on Digital Material and Games

School: Ankara Provincial Directorate of Education

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Topic(s) addressed

The project’s main objective was to create a physical and digital learning environment that addressed the needs of both learners and teachers in the 21st century through the development of new gamified diverse digital learning materials, teacher training for improvement of teachers digital competencies, evaluation methodology including 21st century skills that can be applied on digital platforms, and a new learning methodology that combines traditional learning methodologies with 21st century targets to improve both basic and transverse skills. Intellectual outputs created through the project included 5 digital game modules that were created to support learners and teachers in the subject areas of English, Art, Music, Physical Education and Algorithmic Thinking. Such digital game modules gave students the opportunity to learn at home with their parents by playing educational games outside of the school environment. Moreover, it helped students and their parents learn how to properly utilise technology for effective education. The games also supported teachers in the fields of language learning, music, art, and the teaching of algorithmic thinking, given that preschool and primary school teachers are often not well specialised for these fields during their university education.  All games were created by experts (field teachers, technology experts, artists, academicians) in a multidisciplinary manner, which provided them with insight on both new learning strategies using digital platforms and gamified education. Another important intellectual output was the evaluation platform created by technology experts together with academicians. This platform provided the opportunity to collect data from digital games and evaluate learners’ progress while the game is being played. All data obtained by the games were then analysed via the evaluation platform with teachers later notified of the results. Also, students were able to obtain feedback from the platform, which motivated them to further improve their skills. The second target group were the teachers, with the online teacher-training module helping teachers improve their knowledge and competencies with regard to the digitalisation of education. In total, 9 of the online teacher-training modules focused on basic technological knowledge and the use of technologies, 21st century skills, gamified learning, digitalisation in teaching and evaluation, ethical rules in the digital world, Common Creative License project-based learning, and, collaboration with international teachers and schools through the eTwinning platform. This training was prepared primarily in English, and was then translated by the project’s partners into Turkish, Bulgarian, Italian, and Slovakian. The “Digital Library” supported online teacher training by functioning as a large library stocked with various digital learning materials such as presentation videos, guided applications for practice, and written instructions for printed versions. The library includes over 300 short learning modules that teachers may use to effectively prepare digital content for their classes, such as educational graphics-pictures or videos; the editing, copying, or creation of videos, various free Web 2.0 and 3.0 tools, instructions on using the eTwinning platform, YouTube, and other such platforms. Moreover, the Integration Guide is another intellectual output that helps teachers integrate digitalisation into their traditional learning methods. This guide supports teachers to blend their teaching strategies and use physical materials together with digital materials in their classroom and outside the school environment. Additionally, there are other intellectual outputs that support those stated above with regard to the digitalisation of education. Throughout the project, both students and teachers were supported in the digitalisation of traditional learning, while being able to expand their out-of-school learning through a gamified and enjoyable manner.  

These study outcomes come with innovative approaches that address the needs of students and teachers during school, as well as parents outside of the school environment. While digital education materials with game-based activities increased student motivation in both education and training programmes, they also supported teachers in meeting individual needs and expectations and in the use of participatory approaches and ICT-based methodologies. The digital learning modules, digital English game, and the online teacher-training activity provided participants with the opportunity to deal with social, linguistic, and cultural diversity. As a result of this study, a more modern, dynamic, committed, and professional environment was created among partner organisations, where students integrated good practices and new methods into their daily activities throughout the study.

Target groups

The project’s primary target groups were preschool and primary school students between the ages of 3-7 and their teachers, with said schools affiliated with the Ankara Provincial Directorate of Education – the coordinating institution. The coordinating institution was the framework organisation responsible for the integration of educational technology into the curricula as well as the digitalisation methodology of classroom applications that were used throughout the project. During the project’s duration, there were 1482 preschool teachers and 3709 primary school teachers who were under the purview of the Ankara Provincial Directorate of Education, with 112 pre-schools and 621 primary schools in total. Together with their students, all of these teachers were involved in activities such as digital games and online trainings, with 10 of these schools having directly and physically participated in planned activities with project partner schools from the UK, Italy, Bulgaria, and Slovakia. In addition, the project aimed to influence parents, academicians, and policy makers, with said target groups having already been considered by all project partner countries. Although more than 10,000 students had enrolled in the project, only 1200 was included in the application and evaluation process due to time, physical, and environment limitations. These 1200 students joined the pre-test and post-test evaluation exercises, both of which aimed to evaluate the efficacy of our new teaching strategy. Results were published in the SSCİ scientific journal “European Early Childhood Education Research Journal 28 (2), 231-241,” printed by Taylor and Francis. As previously indicated, approximately 100 teachers and policy makers (from both Turkey and Bulgaria’s Ministries of Education) had joined the physical trainings sessions, consisting of “Game Based Learning through Digital Materials,” “Technological Education for Teacher Training-Gamification in Education,” and “Digital Photography & Montessori Methodology.” Moreover, over 1500 teachers (consisting not only of preschool and primary school teachers, but also teachers from other fields such as Physical Education, English, and Art) joined the digital training session and were included in the project. The number of teachers continues to grow, as the project’s webpage (https://www.playlearntrain.com/Pages/Web/), which includes intellectual outputs, remains active and is still used by them. Bulgarian, Slovakian, İtalian, and UK partners consisted of preschools and primary schools, whereas Turkish partners were made up of the Ankara Provincial Directorate of Education, Hacettepe University, Hitit University, and Mersin State Opera and Ballet. The Ankara Provincial Directorate of Education also invited 10 preschools and primary schools (over 1000 individuals) to physically participate in trainings and events. Furthermore, there were 2 preschools from Bulgaria with a total of 900 students and teachers, and 8 schools from Italy’s province of Perugia. Lastly, both Slovakia and the UK participated in the project with 1 primary school and 1 preschool respectively.

Methodologies

The project simultaneously focused on the development and application of innovative teaching methods, as well as the blended use of these methods with traditional approaches. In addition to algorithmic thinking, the project’s aim was to develop basic skills in foreign languages and basic motor skills in early childhood education, as well as artistic skills such as painting and music. The project’s most important and innovative aspect was the opportunity it provided to evaluate and identify talented students by the age of 3. All of the project’s digital games, especially the music module, is capable of evaluating the data of each student so that students who are especially talented may be recognised early and given specific training for their future success. For example, the music game can identify students who are particularly adept at differentiating tones; the game was implemented with specialists who, in their line of work, manage entrance exams for the Conservatory. In 2015, such blending of different areas and their provision to students through the use of digital technologies and materials was still a completely new perspective in both preschool and primary school education. Moreover, holistic practice was achieved through the use of digital teaching materials and application guides that were required for the development of digital skills among teachers. All teachers were actively included in online training sessions, with the eTwinning platform actively used for collaborations. Some of the digital tools engaged during the digitalisation of education included digital games, online teacher training, the digital material library, and online integration guides. Students were actively engaged throughout the learning process by playing games, whereas teachers were actively engaged in the project given that they had prepared and implemented a number of multicultural digital materials for the integration guide following their training.

Environments

The development of digital teaching tools was one of the project’s key intellectual outputs, with direct implications for the field of digitalisation, as well as in the development of teacher-training materials such as online training and the digital library – including face-to-face training in the transfer of knowledge to practise within classrooms. A collaborative guide was created by teachers towards combining the traditional curriculum with the digital curriculum, which allowed teachers to lead the process and be a part of the digital transformation. Such innovative approaches were more actively applied in schools through resources provided for both teachers and students. Throughout the project, all teaching-training meetings provided physical environments for collaboration in the process of digitalization, a collaboration that was further expanded during the 2018 International Educational Technology Summit in Istanbul where the multiplier event was implemented: https://twitter.com/hashtag/ETZ18?src=hashtag. Moreover, the project team had the opportunity of collaborating with different sectors (technology experts, Microsoft team members, etc.), several universities (Bahçeşehir University, UCL in the UK, etc.) and schools from all around the world.

Teachers

A number of the project’s intellectual outputs were not only planned for teachers, but also completed and implemented with them, consisting of a digital library to improve teachers' digital skills, online teacher training modules, elaboration on 21st century learning pedagogy, and a teaching guide that explains the blending of traditional and innovative methods. There are various tasks in online teacher education that require virtual peer collaborations; furthermore, supportive cooperation among teachers was directly observed in school practices. In order to combine the traditional curriculum with the digital curriculum, a guide for teachers was collaboratively created so teachers can lead the process and be a part of the digital transformation. The project also positively affected academicians' perspectives as to what young students can do and the ways in which changes are necessary with regard to learning methodologies for digital natives in preschool and primary schools, with several articles and related studies published among universities in support of this perspective.

Impact

The project resulted in a number of positive effects within the learning environment of all partner institutions. In particular, the Bulgarian partner presented a study of the entire project at the Bulgarian Parliament, and it was decided that similar studies are introduced in the country's policy. Given that Bulgaria was responsible for the EU’s management throughout the project’s duration, results had also been introduced and demonstrated in the EU Parliament during a meeting on education policies, with the project being awarded a letter of compliment. In Italy and Slovakia, the studies were explained to local authorities and the press, while in Turkey, the project’s outputs were implemented across a broad range of areas encompassing both universities and the Ankara Provincial Directorate of Education. During the project, a collaborative undertaking was formed with YEĞİTEK (for online teacher-training modules and all other parts of the project), from which new projects arose, which resulted in YEĞİTEK initiating an EU project that included teacher training in STEM fields. Moreover, Turkey’s Ministry of Education focused on the gamification of education, with the Director of the Educational Technologies and Information Department having met and shared the project’s results with the Minister of Education, Ziya Selçuk. The “Vision 2023 Educational Policy Booklet” demonstrates that most of the project’s intellectual outputs and results have had a great impact on Turkey’s educational policies. Also, new national projects were launched by the Ministry of Education that were directly related to the project, with the project’s studies elaborated and implemented in cities such as Istanbul and Ankara (two of Turkey’s most-crowded cities) Mersin, Çorum, Tokat, and Amasya. Lastly, 2 PhD theses were produced that focused on the digitalisation of education at Hitit University, with said digital materials still in use and its methodologies still undergoing evaluation and improvements following each revision.

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Stakeholders

Participants

Cromwell Junior and Infant School

Address
United Kingdom

Detska Gradina Mecho Puh

Address
Bulgaria

Hacettepe University

Address
Turkey

Hitit University

Address
Turkey

I Circolo Didattico San Filippo

Address
Italy

Mersin State Opera and Ballet

Address
Turkey

Základná škola Turnianska

Address
Slovakia