Ellinogermaniki Agogi (EA) is one of the most innovative schools in Europe with more than 60 years of operation. It has 2500 students (ages 5 to 18 years old) and 250 teachers in different disciplines. EA has a very strong vision-generated interest and rich research and development activity in the fields of Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE), Project Based Learning (PBL), and STEM education in combination with digital, online based learning environments and tools. Established in 1995, the Research and Development Department of EA is guiding the introduction of innovation in the school setting. The R&D Department acts as an interface between the pedagogical research, the technological innovation and the school community. It focuses on the design, implementation and support of pedagogical and technological innovation in educational practice, both through internal research as well as through collaborations with numerous educational, research and commercial institutions in Europe and the world. EA is an institutional member of EDEN (European Distance Education Network), of STEDE (Science Teacher Education Development in Europe), of ECSITE (European Network of Science Centres and Museums) network and a partner school of the German Excellence Network of STEM Schools “MINT-EC” (https://www.mint-ec.de/). The school operates, since 2001, a Center for Teachers Training, Certified from the Ministry of Education, to deliver course to teachers from East Attica (with physical presence) and from all over Greece (through distance learning).

The work of the R&D Department which currently employs 18 full time researchers (10 PhD level, 8 MSc) focuses also on the following areas:

  • School Innovation and Leadership. The team is developing models and strategies to support the introduction of innovation in school settings. EA school offers a unique testbed for implementing and validating innovative strategies.
  • Development of methodologies and empirical research to investigate processes of learning and knowledge acquisition in various subject matter areas (physics, mathematics, biology, history, etc.);
  • Design and development of educational learning scenarios based on the concept of storytelling, which has been developed and tested in various EU projects and applied within European educational communities;
  • Cooperation and collaboration with Universities, research centers, museums and private companies for the development and testing of educational material and software, using virtual and augmented reality;
  • Collaboration with computer science departments and artificial intelligence labs for the development of computational models and AI learning systems;
  • Design of technology-assisted learning environments that support the development of remote STEM activities and maintain distance learning as a teaching approach (tested extensively during covid-19 pandemic phase)

Its work in EU projects over the last 20 years has established EA as a leading pioneer in innovative approaches to science education. Since its establishment, the R&D Department has coordinated and supported the participation of EA, either as coordinator or as partner, in more than 200 national and international collaborative research projects and networks (H2020, eContentPlus, ICT-PSP, SiS in FP7 and FP6, IST in FP5 and ICT in FP6, LLP-ICT, Socrates, Leonardo da Vinci, Erasmus+), the majority of which have been concerned with the fields of science and new technologies in education. EA team has implemented numerous projects and initiatives that combine ICT and STEM education that include the development of innovative tools and approaches and development of contextual based storylines. Moreover, some of these projects have already combined STEM with Arts in a creative way to support students’ deeper learning, e.g. by developing and performing a global science opera that included the collaboration of students, scientists, artists, and educators form 35 countries.

In addition, EA is a founding member of the European Science Innovation Academy (ESIA – http://esia.ea.gr/), which is promoting a European standard-based IBSE competence framework that will facilitate the professional development of teachers in applying and implementing IBSE, as well as supporting the creation of a European community of practice among science teachers to modernize science education.

EA has developed a long line of EU and nationally funded research and innovation projects for the support and enrichment of education in rural schools, enabling them to develop into local community learning hubs and catalysts of development in rural areas. For example, the projects Rural Wings, Zeus, and Hermes investigated the use of satellite broadband connectivity to cover the needs of schools and local communities in rural areas, proving rich opportunities for innovative educational content and teacher training. The Muse, Zeus and NEMED projects focused in particular on small multigrade rural schools and their needs. The Teleaccess project fostered the development of a digital culture among rural citizens and demonstrated ways to bridge the digital divide, by turning local establishments into pilot telecentres functioning as learning and development hubs. The SoRuraLL project investigated the potential for enhanced lifelong learning offered by social networking to those living in geographically and socio-economically disadvantaged rural areas. The Rural Inclusion adopted state-of-art infrastructure to facilitate the offering of innovative services by public administration in rural areas. EA team has long experience in implementing large scale projects to school communities, operating a network of more than 5,000 schools at European level (https://portal.opendiscoveryspace.eu/en). EA had a leading role in the Open Discovery Space (ODS) and Inspiring Science Education (ISE) policy support initiatives. EA has coordinated the large-scale Coordination Action Open Schools for Open Societies (OSOS) (www.openschools.eu) that defined and implemented at scale a process that facilitated the transformation of schools to innovative ecosystems through the use of reliable analytics produced via a thorough self-reflexion process and currently is coordinating the Schools as Living Labs initiative (http://www.schoolsaslivinglabs.eu). These projects are forming the overall approach for the diffusion of innovation in school settings (see section that will be adopted in the framework of the Learning form the Extremes Action. EA will coordinate the process of the call for proposals (WP4) which is very crucial part of the project. EA will also act as International Coordinator of the rural schools’ network as it has well-established links with school communities across Europe and more specifically with rural school communities in Spain, Italy and Romania (to be involved in WP2, WP3, WP4, WP5, WP6 and WP7).