Go-Lab has been a very successful project in Portugal with over 500 teachers actively using the ecosystem. The project has been endorsed by the new Ministry of Education and is now completely in line with the new education policy: in 2017, a very important document was published, the Student Profile for Compulsory Education, which introduced a paradigm shift in schools and the need to adopt a more student-centered approach. Schools have greater autonomy to integrate projects into the curriculum, combine subjects, develop practical or experimental work by organizing classes in different ways. The Go-Lab ecosystem is a perfect tool to support this new strategy.
During the academic year 2017-2018, NUCLIO (the national coordinator for Go-Lab in Portugal) invested in a teacher training event devoted to introducing teachers to the inquiry-based learning methodology. In line with the introduction of curriculum freedom, foreseeing a more interdisciplinary approach to learning, the course also encouraged teachers of different subject domains to work together. Teachers participating in the course were asked to implement this new model in the classroom and to create their own resources using the new components that they were introduced to. The experience was very rewarding for teachers and students. The Go-Lab ecosystem was used, not only as a basis to structure the course delivery, but was also adopted as the main tool of instruction in several cases.
For the academic year 2018-2019, the efforts are shifting towards supporting teachers with the implementation of the created inquiry scenarios in the classroom and introducing the Go-Lab Ecosystem to schools rather than only to individual teachers. This approach will tackle the difficulties we have identified while implementing Go-Lab.
On one hand, after creating their own ILSs, teachers face new challenges with classroom implementation; they need to analyze and follow-up on students’ progress, use assessment models and refine their whole teaching procedure. Our aim is to follow them closely in all these steps and provide them with feedback and opportunities to share and discuss their experiences.
On the other hand, teachers often face problems with their schools’ logistics to support them in implementing their ILSs in the classroom. To overcome this, we are focusing on getting schools to adopt the Go-Lab project, winning the support of the administration to help with logistic matters such as the use of computer rooms, internet connection, and time for teachers to work together on co-created ILSs, etc. To this end, students will also benefit learning with Go-Lab, not as an isolated experience, but as a solid system that can be used by different subjects.
NUCLIO is collaborating with the University of Coimbra, where the Go-Lab Ecosystem is being introduced in the curriculum of pre-service and in-service master students, as well as students of Educational Sciences. This joint effort, now in its second year, is bringing the opportunity to involve not only science teachers, but also to foster the cooperation between Science and other subject domains in schools, such as History, Sports Education, Literature etc.
Teachers’ feedback, as well as our own experiences show that students exposed to the Go-Lab ecosystem clearly manifest their satisfaction and motivation, and their interest in learning greatly increases.
In summary, Go-Lab is a reference project in Portugal for its innovative and adaptable characteristics. The network of users is growing and we foresee great results in terms of actual classroom implementation with more teachers and more students involved and collaborating to bring to schools a new trend in education.