ICE proposes one of the best digital innovations at the
international #DigiEdu hackathon
On November 12 and 13, the European Union (EU), the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany and their partners held a large offline and online education hackathon #DigiEduHack2020, which welcomed the best leaders in education, national representatives from 36 countries, with the aim of creating the best virtual solutions for digital education.
The goal of this event is to link the best education practices and digital competencies and create a sustainable, practical and efficient digital solution at the global level that will significantly enhance teaching in an online environment. Since online teaching is a safe trend in education, creating innovative approaches has become a necessity for every education system.
Among Serbian representatives at this year’s #DigiEduHack2020 were our colleagues from the Institute for Contemporary Education (ICE) and the LINK Innovations team: MSc Aleksandra Ikonov, Dr. Andrej Bunjac and Dr. Svetlana Belić Malinić. Among 2,400 entries, their fantastic idea was selected as one of the best digital innovations on the topic: Hack the Great Online Pivot.
What does the digital innovation that has conquered the world look like?
The main challenge facing ICE and LINK Innovations representatives was to design a platform that would address a range of challenges teachers around the world are facing today. The platform should solve the problems regarding the approach to learning, and the students’ and teachers’ level of digital skills; it aims to promote a practical pedagogical model of online teaching, eliminate challenges related to limited social interaction, knowledge level assessment and methodology, and enable quick, simple and easy conversion of learning materials into new teaching modalities.
Their platform U-turn-4-U-learn: EM-OWL platform for social-emotional learning managed to meet the strict criteria of this year’s edu-hackathon and overcome all digital challenges, delight the international jury and receive a prize as one of the best innovations for digital education.
The foundation of this innovative platform for social and emotional learning is contemporary constructivism and the active learning theory, supported by AI and social interaction in an online environment; all of this promotes social and emotional aspects of the learning process.
EM-OWL communication platform: Innovative digital solution for online teaching challenges
EM-OWL is an inter-institutional communication platform that combines the best features of many popular social media applications, possesses a range of unique functionalities and puts everything in an educational co-curricular context. It is designed to enable instant communication between students and the faculty, i.e. the school system. The main purpose of this platform is to provide actors in education with a unique tool for quick social, emotional and academic interactions. Hence, this unique platform provides:
- the freedom to create and moderate subforums in apps;
- anonymous sharing of emotions during online teaching;
- chats organized around hashtags that can direct participants to specific posts;
- a unique post rating system (hoots) which enables users to anonymously rate other users’ posts so as to filter unwanted behavior;
- possibility to gain academic credits through peer support and problem solving;
- instant sharing of text, photos and voice messages;
- personalized analytics for students and teachers indicating the behavior that led to the most successful social outcomes;
- AI (Artificial Intelligence) chat filters for removing unsuitable content;
- emotion detection system based on AI, video communication which alerts the teacher to the overall mood in the classroom.
Why is the EM-OWL platform one of the best educational innovation?
One of the main reasons why the EM-OWL platform was chosen as one of the best at this year’s hackathon is that it includes all actors in the education sector – school administration, pedagogical and psychological services, parents, teachers and students (junior and senior). This connection creates a stimulating network environment that nurtures and develops social and emotional interactions and forms an empathic communication triangle between students, parents and the school.
The main goal of this platform is to preserve a sense of community during distance learning, while enabling fast, efficient and accurate communication between students and teachers at all levels.
The main benefit of the EM-OWL educational platform
Unlike other platforms, the EM-OWL digital solution is based on the positive psychology approach, which, in an online environment, engages students in a highly creative fashion and initiates peer learning and mutual learning, which certainly triggers mutual motivation. A unique feature of this platform is that it allows students and teachers to convey their feelings about teaching and learning using an emotion barometer, rather than likes, grades or points, which are then processed using an AI-integrated algorithm.
The creators of this platform, Dr. Andrej Bunjac, Dr. Svetlana Belic Malinic and MSc Aleksandra Ikonov, point out that the motto of the platform could be “Teachers who love teaching teach students to love learning”, since EM-OWL is an educational tool that encourages the academic achievement of every student while fostering the social and emotional aspect of the entire education process.