The school system will be critical in post-COVID systemic change

The COVID pandemic warns of a changing world.

It has brutally exposed the fragility of our existing systems. Our educators, young people and the school system itself will be a critical part of any deep systemic change required in its aftermath.

Like everyone, we are being forced to think differently.

Despite all of the uncertainty, EIT Climate-KIC’s Young Innovators programme sees a window of opportunity to prepare young people for this challenge using forward-looking, innovative and interactive tools and platforms that work towards a new age of e-learning.

Together, with our partners and learning designers, we have created a roadmap for implementing the Young Innovator’s programme at a distance. This translates into maximised connectivity through digital technology and experimentation with virtual and platform-based methodologies.

As a world leader in innovation, education, and systems thinking, EIT Climate-KIC is well-placed to explore new ways of learning and innovation in the digital space. It has never been more important for us to be responsive, flexible and work within our ecosystems to drive systems change through integrated communities.

COVID has compelled us all to reevaluate our agendas and our resources; to use this time for planning, development, testing and prototyping.

Resources without restrictions

Young Innovators is investing in digitalizing the programme to make it more interactive and responsive, allowing us to test the evolution of the tools in the online space.

Our digital toolkit leads students and teachers through climate-based challenges. It encourages two-way communication for participants to share opinions and provoke conversation, to distill commonality between thoughts.

With an online capacity developed, we will ultimately be able to scale the programme more efficiently by introducing it to other countries through a set of online, dynamic tools.

At present, we are creating more resource materials internally for our partners to utilise or to completely reiterate depending on their specific, local needs.

The effect being that of our partners can typically visit 10 schools and reach approximately 200 people over the span of two weeks. With an online delivery of the programme, they can approach thousands of people without restrictions in terms of time or geography.

Change is here

The negatives posed by the pandemic are purely practical. People are having to change their way of teaching and communicating at speed. Some countries are more equipped to do this than others.

Our partner at the University of Valencia is a stellar example of this. Olga Mayoral’s team has been incredibly reactive and admired for swiftly implementing an online educational programme for the surrounding school districts.

Our Netherlands-based partner, Stichting Technotrend, has been able to establish more online connections with potential stakeholders since virtual meetings have become the norm as a result of social distancing.

One could argue that eastern European partners have the hardest job of integrating climate education and systems thinking into the curriculum because of a reticence to online learning. However, these delivery partners have been able to spearhead digital education in a way that probably was not possible before.

These unprecedented, yet successful outcomes wonderfully capture the essence of the programme: to realise the potential of innovative ideas by creating new spaces for people to connect and work together.

Young Innovators and the EIT Climate-KIC community continue to drive forward hope of a system renewal – one that puts sustainable growth and an engaged future workforce at the heart of a post-COVID world and in the next step for humanity.

Kathy Jowitt, Programme Manager, Young Innovators, EIT Climate-KIC