Service-Learning in Croatia
The social entity that Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (University
of Zagreb) collaborates with in the academic year 2019/2020 is IRIM – Institute for Youth D
evelopment and Innovativity. IRIM is a Croatia-based NGO, which has developed and implements the largest extracurricular STEM program in EU – the Croatian Makers movement, encompassing now over 150,000 schoolchildren in Croatia. IRIM’s core mission is to empower all children to develop STEM competencies necessary for them to be equal citizens of 21st century, by providing the equipment and education on a family of platforms (see Fig.1), ranging from the development of children’s digital competencies to advanced coding competitions (WER Croatian Open) and STEM revolution in libraries (where the aim is to empower public libraries to become centers for developing digital competencies in local communities).
IRIM expressed the willingness to collaborate on a service-learning project with graduate students of Information Sciences at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (University of Zagreb) in 2019, since their career choice is to become school teachers or librarians and since IRIM recognized the need to boost cooperation between NGOs and universities by involving students in satisfying community needs.
Among the more demanded service areas in Croatian primary and secondary education system is digital competence, which, according to EU’s Digital Competence Framework 2.0 encompasses five areas: Information and data literacy, Communication and collaboration, Digital content creation, Safety and Problem solving.
In the winter semester of the academic year 2019/2020, university students will help IRIM develop educational resources for teachers, pupils and others interested in using micro: bit and mBot in schools and make their materials freely available at the web portal: https://izradi.croatianmakers.hr/
Apart from developing educational materials, students will also use BBC Micro: bit as a teaching tool in primary school to encourage pupils through a series of workshops to become actively involved in writing software and building new things, rather than being consumers of media.
Furthermore, they will use mBot educational robot set to provide children with hands-on experience in STEAM (science, technology, engineering and math).
By Nives Mikelic Preradovic
National Coordinator of Rural 3.0: Service-Learning for the Rural Development,
University of Zagreb