Efthimios Mavrogeorgiadis, English Teacher working for the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Afairs, wanted to address the problem of early exits from school for students in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city. He realized Moodle was the tool fit to do the job and the European Union agreed.
Through a scholarship from Erasmus+, the EU’s program for education, he was able to strengthen English skills at the Experimental Junior High School of the University of Macedonia.
But Efthimios could not have suspected the impact his Moodle idea was about to have all over Eastern, Southern and Central Europe. English is correlated with higher income and favorable trade balances on the national level, according to research.
Greece’s State Scholarship Foundation (IKY), the liaison for research and development funding with the rest of the continent, approached him with a modest proposition. Other countries were facing similar problems and were looking for people who could help with knowledge about learning technologies to address the modern “NEET” (“Not in Education, Employment or Training”) epidemic.
In 2015, on average across Europe, 11% of girls and boys ages 18 to 24 did not pursue or complete a degree in higher education or professional training. While the situation was not something to be proud of, it turned out that Greece was among the countries with notable decreases of the “early leavers”. In Spain and Turkey the rates were over 20% and 35%, respectively. Romania was at 19%. Although Poland was below the average, it was one of the few countries without any progress.
According to the European Commission, early leavers face greater risks of “unemployment, social exclusion and poverty“. Europe wanted to know what Greece had to say about English skills, systems of guidance and support for students in higher education and vocational training; and especially learning technologies and LMS. Therefore, IKY wanted to know what Efthimios had to say.
Flash forward a year. Thousands of students from Bucharest, Mersin, Żychlin and Andalucía have joined their peers from Thessaloniki in the English as a Second Language (ESL) courses developed within the “Our School My Future” Moodle website. This has spawned other learning initiatives, like school gardens and robotics clubs, whose development and coordination were only possible thanks to the Moodle site.
Short of a MoodleMoot, the project and their results were presented at the “Preventing Early School Leaving Through Formal And Informal Activities. Examples of Good Practice” event in Bucharest last November. Other outcomes of the project are:
- ESL Guidebook of activities
- Semi-structured interview guides for ESL skills. Compatible with competency-based frameworks.
- A volume, “Teaching Approaches to Robotics“
- And most notably, “Taking the Plunge into Moodle: Introduction to the Moodle Learning Management System“. The simple, high-school teacher oriented volume is also available in Slideshare:
Don’t forget to check out the Our School, My Future gallery!
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