VIRTUE-s Project recognitions
The co-founded Erasmus+ VIRTUE-s project, in which SUBMON took part as a scientific partner, officially ended on 31st August 2020. After a thorough evaluation, VIRTUE-s was awarded by the EU reviewers with 91 points out of 100, labeling it as a “Good Practice Example” project!
VIRTUE-s (Virtual Interactive Resources and Tools in Universal Education-of the Sea) project started in 2017, and it focused on developing innovative, digital, and practical tools to increase the quality of natural science education in schools, using ocean-based examples. VIRTUE methodology allows educators and students to learn about and measure the biodiversity of aquatic environments, marine or freshwater, studying the accumulation of organisms on CD-shaped discs (biofouling). Once retrieved from the waters, the discs can be used to perform several activities in the classroom. For instance, the observation and identification of animal and vegetal species, the calculation of individuals using image-processing software, and the quantification and analysis of ecological indicators.
SUBMON collaborated successfully with the experts from the other scientific partners, namely the University of Gothenburg, GEOMAR, and the University of Maryland Centre for Environmental Sciences, as well as with the three school partners in Sweden, Spain, and Germany. Within the 3-years project, VIRTUE-s achieved several outputs to support teachers and students in working with marine ecology topics and discovering the biodiversity found in shallow coastal waters.
Here is a list of some of the most valued achievements in three years of VIRTUE-s project:
- The training courses for teachers, involving approximately 136 in-service teachers and educators in Sweden, Germany, Spain, and the USA. These courses provided training on VIRTUE-s methodology and project-based learning in the formal and non-formal education contexts to monitor local marine biodiversity with pupils. Participants were engaged in lectures on marine biodiversity and ecology and hands-on activities using VIRTUE-s tools.
- The Massive Open Online Course “Promoting Ocean Literacy and Project-based learning by monitoring Biodiversity” held in May 2020. The MOOC offered four learning modules with the following aims: to present the VIRTUE-s project together with the materials and hands-on activities; to enhance knowledge about biofouling and marine biodiversity; to introduce the Ocean Literacy concepts and practical tools. The MOOC exceeded the initial expectations in terms of global participants, with 365 participants (teachers and educators) from 27 countries. The University of Gothenburg is now offering an updated and adapted version of this course, converted to a 7.5 ECTS long-distance course.
- The VIRTUE-s website gathers all the interactive teaching resources developed throughout the years, such as the species identification (ID) plates, the resources for quantification and analysis of discs, prefabricated worksheets and protocol sheets for students, the sample class projects, games to introduce ecological principles to the classroom and the biodiversity calculator tool. The website is available in 5 languages: Spanish, Catalan, English, Swedish, and German, and all the contents are freely downloadable.
- The virtual activity OCEAN, an “Online Classroom for Education and Networking”: the program has run for six weeks during the pandemic, involving 75 students from Sweden, Germany, and Spain. This online course replaced the face-to-face summer school scheduled for the partner schools.
- The handbook on “how to produce collaborative media productions” to help students working with videos and media to effectively present and communicate the results of their scientific work. Also, a training workshop on media literacy was organized within VIRTUE-s.
Quoting the EU evaluators:
“VIRTUE-s is a very well-run project which has addressed a real and specific need – better tools for teaching science at the upper secondary levels with a focus on marine ecology. If well exploited, VIRTUE-s could have a positive impact at teaching Biology and Environmental Science at secondary schools in Europe.”
Check out more about VIRTUE-s here.