– Digital learning to overcome school failure –

Initiated in September 2016, together with Imaginatorum, Head in the Clouds took important place in the daily program of the center. The need for different, additional, educational program in Roma communities as such, emerged from two different sides. One side, where partners from Czech Republic (SCIO), Austria (Verein Offenes Lernen) and Slovakia (Technical University Kosice) and coordinator from Austria (Vienna University of Technology) saw the need to address difficulties children and youth faces in everyday schooling. Other side is us, GAIA (Imaginatorium) and two other schools in Romania (Fundatia Crestina Diakonia Filiala / Sfantu Gheorghe) and in Slovakia (Súkromná ZŠ) as implementing side of the project realization. Project was involving around 30 children from Roma neighborhood in Gracanica, form 8 to 15 years of age.

Medina, Becir, Denis, Sebo, and Senjur / Programming Box – “Makey Makey time”

Lasting for two years, project team created educational program in form of six learning Boxes, each addressing different topics, relevant to the community, consisting of various subjects and multiple learning methods, all intended to increase interest and motivation for learning. Main method of implementation was envisioned in liking to Sugata Mitra‘s „School in the Clouds“ for which he received TED Prize in 2013. All boxes were design to be simple and easily implemented, to offer option between individual and group setting, accompanied with teachers handouts, task sheets and online hand-in tools , follow modular structure with as little text as possible, allowing ones whit poor reading and writing skills to engage too.

Albena / English Box – “Sheep, Snake, Cow,..”

First box was dealing with basics of photography and video making, applications for editing and tool for promotion of made contents. Its purpose is to familiarize participants with devices (smartphones, tablets, cameras, recorders, programs and similar), develop practice of using internet as assistance, not only as means of entertainment and work with QR coding, essential for program evaluation. IT BOX, was second box, created with intention to strengthen previously acquired knowledge and build on it with tasks using Raspberry Pi, include useful Google apps and start with basic of programing using Scratch program. Third box was using various methods and games to teach and familiarize participants with English language, allowing anyone to join and be able to progress further in the language. Ecopolis – board game was carrier of the forth box. Dealing with socio-environmental topic it provided numerous valuable lessons in sustainability, pollution and ecological footprint making it perfect starting point for development of right values and practices in early age.

Ermin / IT Box – “Learned Scratch”

Programming box, consisting of four different topics: Makey Makey boards, Ozobots, Lego WeDo and Minecraft basic programming was build-up to most of the previously mentioned boxes. Introducing different methods and tools, participants were engaged in constant exploration, fun and learning processes. Intention of the last box was to address the reality of the participant and offer something more concrete and useful for their environment. Real life box was offering many tasks reflecting identity and social topics involving Roma issues of today in the community and outside of it, also providing useful solutions and tips that could be applied in household, school or at work, during the trip or in a visit to restaurant or theater.

Srki / Video Box – “Reverse, upside down selfy”

Implementation in Kosovo took part from September 2016 until January 2018, in the rooms of the Imaginatorium center, with help of educators engaged in project and volunteers and guest of GAIA. Even though it was the beginning of the center, boxes served as suitable icebreaker between GAIA and the community, it strengthen relationship and increased activity of children and youth in mahala. Tasks induced need for understanding texts, programs and devices, but also gave opportunity to work with tool and on topics not reachable to the community. Practice of supporting individual efforts led to nourishment of leadership skill or incising self-esteem, and group effort resulted in less conflicts and more dynamic relationship between participants, with older helping younger and girls and boys working together.

During planning and implementation of the project all involved had meetings and seminars that provided insight into the technological, program, methodological and evolutional aspects of the project. Part of the project included seminars with practical work done in the centers and schools where boxes were realized along with experts and coordinators of the project. Evaluations of all aspects of the project were also done during the meetings and based on the feedback and further study of the success behind the boxes follow up of the project was planned, boxes were revised and tasks were adapted to better suit participants. GAIA will be continuing with implementation of the boxes after the project and its involvement in this initiative. Soon, we will have more information about next sessions.

Carine, Denis and Medina / Real Life Box – “Cleaner, electrician, engineer,..”