LINK edu Alliance institutions constantly work on enhancing teaching and modernizing education, and one of the ways to turn our vision into reality is to take part in numerous international projects. One of such projects is TOGETHER, in which we partake owing to the fact that the EU has recognized how important it is that we contribute to creating the education of the future.
The mission of the project is to transform schools into “open learning organizations” that become cultural hubs for the entire community. This will result in the development of pedagogical and organizational skills of teachers and pedagogical leaders through collaborative research, networking, and continuous professional development.
For this reason, the LINK edu Alliance, together with partners from several European countries, is developing an innovative methodology based on the principles of service learning and project-based learning, designed to encourage high school students to take part in community activities that are primarily aimed at digitalization and the protection and improvement of cultural heritage.
The concept behind the project is to teach high school students how to create presentations, websites and digital souvenirs to promote local culture. This way, they learn about history and culture, and help their community promote its cultural heritage. The teachers’ task is to compile and process all these ideas and tools in a guide, with recommendations for all EU countries, for the purpose of implementing them in the curriculum.
The TOGETHER project is funded by the National Agency of Germany.
More resources for the creative sector and the arts
The COVID-19 crisis has affected much more than just public health – it’s had an impact on our economies, industries, sports, education, transport, etc. European culture is also under pressure, and the lesson we’ve learned from these hard times is the following:
- We need to invest more money and attention into the modernization of the creative sector and the arts. This task rests primarily on the younger generations.
For years there has been talk of the need for the digital transformation of culture; however, this endeavor has long been a dead letter. According to the post-pandemic balance, the process should gain pace and this will require large investments for the purpose of providing future artists and creative thinkers with the necessary skills.
The goal of TOGETHER is to help high school students learn about their cultural heritage and promote it in a creative and critical manner through the use of technology.
Teachers – a key link in the digitalization of culture
Teachers play a key role in the process of innovating culture. However, experts have noticed that they lack the confidence and experience to develop students’ new age competencies.
With this in mind, even outside the TOGETHER project, the LINK edu Alliance is supporting them through training and professional development aimed at enhancing their digital creativity and using it to protect the cultural heritage, to the benefit of the local community.
Teachers can find different programs, educational tools and methods designed for their professional development at the Institute for Contemporary Education.
What is service learning?
One of the staples of the TOGETHER project, service learning is based on creating a link between learning goals and the needs of the community in which the students live.
The idea is to move learning beyond the classroom to real-life situations. This is how students attending primary and secondary schools within the LINK edu Alliance start the school year, given that, in accordance with the best global educational practices, we developed the “classroom without walls” concept that entails different curricular and extracurricular content.
According to research, outdoor activities contribute to the development of children’s cognitive, motor and intellectual skills. They are often connected to learning about culture and its values. This is why activities in locations such as Kalemegdan, Ada Ciganlija, Avala, as well as visits to exhibitions and museums, are precious for all students.
In addition to learning about the world they live in, students get closer to other members of society and develop long-lasting relationships.
We encourage students to commit to the needs of their community and create cultural capital. Outside the classroom, they quickly apply knowledge and skills while building a sense of social responsibility.
The Council has adopted a Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning based on the European Commission proposal, which identifies 8 key competences for personal fulfilment, a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, employability, active citizenship and social inclusion. These include active citizenship, cultural awareness and expression, entrepreneurship, digital and technology-based competences.
LINK edu Alliance institutions used these competences for reference when they created their curricula and introduced lifelong learning, but also when they designed the TOGETHER multidisciplinary project together with their partners.
The main idea and expected outcomes of the TOGETHER project
1. Handbook and framework of competences for teachers
The handbook, which is being prepared as part of the TOGETHER project, will serve as an important educational tool for the continuous professional development of high school teachers and principals. This way, relevant actors in education will have an innovative educational model that is aimed at the development of digital skills and based on the concepts of service learning and project-based learning.
This will enable teachers to include their students in initiatives for improving their local cultural heritage through digitalization.
2. Digital academy for creativity – TOGETHER
The academy is designed as an online educational platform. It will entail numerous digital tools, instructive materials and multimedia content based on the handbook modules.
Owing to their decades-long experience in developing and using their own Distance Learning Platform, LINK edu Alliance institutions will significantly contribute to the TOGETHER academy.
In addition to the fact that the platform will enhance the learning process, the TOGETHER academy will be a virtual gathering place for users scattered around the EU who, despite the physical distance, will form a community for exchanging experiences.
We stuck together even before we got TOGETHER
When they wrote the description for TOGETHER, representatives of the LINK edu Alliance included all the guiding principles we’ve been using at our institutions, particularly the Faculty of Contemporary Arts.
Students of this art faculty learn how to express their talents in ways that were unknown to Van Gogh, Donatello and other greats who were responsible for shaping European culture because they live in a time when brushes and spatulas have somewhat been replaced by tablet pens and 3D modeling programs. For this reason, it’s highly important for them to be able to create art using different technologies and digital tools and software.
Despite the fact that we’re already contributing to the modernization of the cultural heritage, through the TOGETHER project we are intent on giving even more.
Together for a more digital, modern, flexible, available and inclusive culture!