Green Learning Network

4th Newsletter

Hello and Welcome!

Welcome to the fourth edition of GLN Newsletter. Here you will find all the latest information about the project and GLN related news and events.



Contents:

  • Online Survey
  • 5th GLN meeting in Vienna
  • GLN Website is Changing!
  • Launch of the GLN I.S.L.E Hub
  • Education in Agroforestry: Building Today’s and Tomorrow’s Agriculture
  • Enhancing Quality through OER
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Last Chance to Contribute - Online Survey

We are trying to understand the problems faced by educational organisations related to the dissemination, sharing and discovery of information on Green Open Educational Resources. If you are an educator, trainer or professional please complete one of these 2 questionnaires to help us design an appropriate solution that will solve your problems and enhance the services you offer to your members.


Educators / Trainers - CLICK HERE

Professionals / Learners CLICK HERE

GLN Goes to Vienna for the 5th Transnational Meeting

On the 21st October 2015 all GLN partners came to Vienna, Austria for a three day meeting at the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education (BMBF). The meeting was opened by Karl Lehner, head of BMBF IT Department for educational purposes and attended by the project officer Teresa Cuartero Lausin from the Executive Agency Education, Audiovisual and Culture (EACEA).


Since GLN is about to finish its second year this October, it was an interesting meeting, full of discussions and plans for the future. The first day focused on the recent project's evaluation by the Agency and partners' presentations of completed activities and achieved targets. Certain calls to actions were made and few points deliberated. The first day of the meeting ended with an interactive presentation of a local project called School of Eating, presented by Gerda Reissner, school teacher and Andrea Ficala, a nutritionist from Vienna. This was a great opportunity to learn about the school projects developed to change eating habits and raise awareness about the food among children. GLN partners welcomed the idea with a great degree of interest.


The second day, packed with more technical details and updates started with AE presentation of IBSE case studies and green idea fest activities. This was followed by the AgroKnow presenting the GLN hubs and tools. Several remarks and ideas came from the partners and it was decided to transform the GLN website as the landing page for the network. GLN target groups will be able to go to the portal that is best suited to their needs, establish social media connections, choose among the available collections and even create their own portals. The new version of the website will be ready by the end of the year. The rest of the meeting was mainly about individual partners contributions and discussion with the project officer. Similarly to the intermediately report, the project officer praised GLN work and highlighted strong points of the network. Ms Cuartero Lausin also gave very relevant tips to the whole consortium how to improve the work and make the project even bigger success. This was followed by the presentation of the AgroFe Database a project run in the framewrok of LPP. The AgroFE project aims at developing training in agro-forestry in several European countries. A database with resources coming from the partnership countries (France, UK, Belgium, Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania) has been set up. It is (and will be) regularly updated, at least for the next 3 to 4 years, because a new project on agro-forestry has been just accepted. The idea is to connect GLN with the AgroFe to enable people to use the database and to ensure better dissemination and sustainability of both projects.

During the third day, GLN partners discussed the minutes and agreed on next steps. In short, this was a fruitful meeting that helped to drive the project towards its successful completion in the last year as well as helped to extend the current network by inviting new collaborators.

GLN Website is Changing!

GLN project is moving forward and we are upgrading the website to guide our users and help them understand what the project offers to the four identified communities in terms of tools and services. It is of course important to remember that the resources are not limited to the pre-defined groups and can often be used by different group. Therefore, we invite all users to be creative and use resources to their best advantage!

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Launch of the GLN I.S.L.E Hub

The I.S.L.E. Association (http://isleassociation.wix.com/sdnetwork) is the continuation of the I.S.L.E (Innovation in the Teaching of Sustainable Development in Life Science in Europe) Erasmus Network, a network of more than 40 European Universities, which aimed at higher education teachers who wanted to improve the teaching of sustainable development topics in Life Science Universities all over Europe. The Association currently represents a vibrant community of Higher Educational from more than 30 European Universities that aim to facilitate and improve the teaching of Sustainable Development topics in their educational thematic contexts. Over the last weeks, the GLN project worked on the development of the I.S.L.E. Hub which will be available at http://greenlearningnetwork.com/isle.


The hub is actually a user-friendly discovery service/portal, which provides resources on four different categories namely courses, activities, exploration and case studies. For the time being, these resources are aggregated from five (5) content sources but this number can be expanded in the future. As expected, the content available through the I.S.L.E. Hub is aimed at higher education stakeholders (such as university teachers) while there is also material appropriate for professional development, continuing education etc. The content is mostly in the form of courses, but there are also multimedia files (videos, images and presentations), guides and other types of supporting material, appropriate for both teachers and learners.


The I.S.L.E. Hub is expected to be a central point for exchanging OERs in the context of sustainable development, serving a large community based (but not limited to) on the I.S.L.E. Association members - in addition, the Hub allows sharing of resources of interest with other communities, colleagues and friends through Facebook and Twitter, thus maximizing the reach and impact of these resources. Last but not least, the I.S.L.E. Hub provides university teachers with the option to have their own, custom educational discovery spaces which they can customize according to their needs!

Education in Agroforestry: Building Today’s and Tomorrow’s Agriculture


While the debate on agroecology has never been so intense and the discussion on the revision of the new Common Agricultural Policy has already started, it appears that educating the different agricultural stakeholders is essential for the development of some production systems such as agroforestry. Education is the main objective of the European project AgroFE - Agroforestry Education in Europe - whose results will be presented to the European Parliament on the 9th of December.


Pedagogy, appropriate professional education and guidance on what agroforestry covers, its benefits and its practice are fundamental. Indeed, the effective development of agroforestry and its ownership require notably that all professionals (farmers and future farmers, students, advisors and tutors) are well informed, trained and advised in order to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills. This is the challenge of the European project AgroFE - Agroforestry Education in Europe - launched in 2013 and ending in December 2015. Bringing together partners from France, Belgium, UK, Hungary, Czech Republic and Romania representing research centres and universities, farmers and civil society, the project's overall goal is to build an education system in agroforestry thanks to the use of new technologies and the involvement of all professionals.


Agroforestry, which associates trees with crops and / or livestock on the same plot, is an ancient practice. It was gradually abandoned after the Second World War due to the development of large-scale machinery, the petroleum industry and tree diseases, amongst other factors. It is applying again mainly because its environmental and economic benefits are significant. Combining production and the preservation of the environment, this innovative farming system optimizes the use of natural resources and production inputs (water, minerals, soil, light etc) and it is a source of productivity.


In 3 years, the AgroFE project organised trainings in all partners’ countries addressed to farmers and future farmers, students, advisors and technicians in agroforestry. For instance, 51 French farmers were trained, 120 Hungarian students and 38 British technicians benefited from training sessions. Moreover, one of the great achievements of the project is the creation of a European professional reference document for agroforestry practionners that outlines the activities that those people should be able to perform. This reference document is the result of an important joint work from all the partners.


If you want to know more about the many promising achievements of AgroFE, come to the final conference of the European project which will take place Wednesday, December 9th from 13.00 to 15.00 in the European Parliament. You will be able to discuss with the partners and the other participants around a buffet lunch to be served from 12.30 in front of the meeting room. To register, please send an email to Mélanie Lamaison, AliénorEU: melanie.lamaison@alienoreu.com.

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Enhancing Quality through OER

GLN partner, the South African Institute for Distance Education (Saide) is supporting its network to embrace open education resources (OER) as a way of enhancing the quality of educational provision in Africa. In October 2015 Saide facilitated OER workshops at the University of Swaziland. The workshops that were supported by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) targeted academic staff as well as senior managers from the University and from the Ministry of Education. The first workshop that was facilitated on the 13th October at the Piggs Peak Hotel involved academic staff from the Faculty of Health Sciences. The second workshop took place on 14th October and it involved management from the University and from the Ministry of Education. It also involved people from teacher training colleges.


The objectives of the workshop were to:


  • enable UNISWA staff to demonstrate an adequate understanding of the potentials of OER in promoting educational access and quality;
  • identify the specific ways in which OER can be used to enhance access to education and improved curricula in Swaziland;
  • enable the target groups to demonstrate greater awareness of the context, rationale and processes of developing sustainable institutional OER policies; and
  • share with UNISWA staff good practice and examples of OER development and utilisation by credible worldwide universities.

Due to the involvement of policy makers and managers in the second workshop, the workshop also focused on policy issues relating to the use of OER.


During the same week, several workshops were facilitated by John Lesperance, the COL Education Specialist responsible for the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC). John was coordinating the UNISWA OER intervention. John facilitated the workshop for the Faculties of Agriculture and Science & Engineering on Monday, 12th October, Faculty of Humanities and Education on 15th October, Faculty of Social Science and Commerce on 16th October, and UNISWA Institutes, Centres and Library on the 19th.


This brief story is evidence of the importance both Saide and COL place on the power of OER to improve the quality of education in Africa. The next stage is to further support the institution in developing an OER policy