Category: NEWS

Awsomeness of co-creation!

Awsomeness of co-creation!

Co-creation is an act of creating something together in order to jointly produce a mutually valued outcome. As part of CONNEXT, in Karlstad we have recently been co-creating together with migrants to develop a Swedish version of the #WORK game. The co-creation process was conducted according to the S_U+G® methodology consisting of three consecutive workshops called ‘Labs’:

  • LearningLab: gain insight into the specific serious theme.
  • GameLab: co-creation of stories and game mechanics.
  • TestLab: play and evaluate the game in development.
A group of people testing #WORK Sweden.
Testing #WORK ™ Sweden!

In May 2019, the CONNEXT partners Bram and Marie from [ew32] came all the way from Flanders to guide us through this process and it was truly a great experience! The Swedish Core trainers did a brilliant job in guiding over 25 migrants in these labs (with good support from [ew32]!). The atmosphere was great with buzzing energy, vivid conversations and many laughs.

With help of the structure of the labs, together with the experience, knowledge and wisdom among the participants, we got a lot of valuable input and ideas to put into the creation process of #WORK ™ Sweden. In the LearningLab we gained new insights to the theme of the game and in the GameLab and TestLab’s we got feedback on how different missions work, the level of difficulty, practical issues, ideas on how to make the missions work better, topics that were missing and topics that were the most valuable.

We also got feedback showing us that empowerment through game-based learning is indeed possible! Although we were “only” in a co-creation process, the participants told us stories about the experience that almost put tears in our eyes. Statements like “doing it this way, I am never going to forget what I learned today, “this is the first time that I have spoken to Swedish people that I don’t know” and “now I’m no longer afraid to approach people I don’t know” really moved us. The missions that the participants appreciated the most were missions involving interactions with “strangers”. This made us realise that the S_U+G® methodology could help migrants overcoming thresholds when it comes to interacting with other people.

Selfie of the game participants. Three ladies and a man smiling.
Every game session starts with taking selfies!

Co-creation is becoming more and more common as many companies and organizations have discovered the benefits of involving their customers, clients and consumers in developing ideas, products and services. We can now see why. Thanks to the feedback from the participants in the Labs, we have been able to make a lot of adjustments and improvements to #WORK ™ and are now proud to declare that we are #WORK ™-Sweden-good-to-go!

Text: Marie Andersson, Municipality of Karlstad

Pictures: Marie Andersson, Maria Svärdsén and participants in the labs of CONNEXT Sweden

 

Motivation is the key!

Motivation is the key!

The aim of CONNEXT is to empower migrants and refugees to be part of our societies and believe in their own future. Self-determination theory (SDT) –  a theory on motivation –  serves as the basis for all CONNEXT actions: we should support autonomous motivation and game-based learning seems to be a fabulous tool to get there!

While writing the project application, designing learning labs for a CONNEXT training or playing games, the self-determination theory has served as a framework. According to SDT (Ryan & Deci, 2000) different kinds of motivation exists. When there is controlled motivation, a person feels HE HAS to do it, he feels obligated and there is pressure in order for him to get things done. On the otherhand, autonomous motivation means that a person WANTS to do it. Research has showed that autonomous motivation has more qualitative outcomes and is accompanied by more sustainable behavioral changes.

The self-determination theory argues that the quality of motivation is more important than the quantity of motivation (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Thus, the type of motivation is more important than the amount of it. The SDT defines three types of extrinsic motivation (see 1-3 in Figure 1). For example a person can be very motivated by extrinsic rewards such as money or bonuses (see 1 in Figure 1), but that is rather a less effective type of motivation. Not surprisingly, autonomous motivation (including both intrinsic and identified regulation) is most beneficial because people are motivated in their actions because of their own will. They feel psychological freedom and there well-being has shown to be better.  This is in contrary of controlled motivation, where people are obligated and feel pressure (external or internal) to do things.

Figure 1. Different types of motivation; adapted from Ryan & Deci (2000).
Figure 1. Different types of motivation; adapted from Ryan & Deci (2000).

In order to encourage the most qualitative type of motivation (namely autonomous motivation), we need to stimulate three psychological basic needs. These three needs are explained by Richard Ryan (animation by Laura Kriegel) in this short video. They are also visualized in the Figure 2 below.

Figure 2: ABC of the selfdetermination theory, inspired by Aelterman, De Muynck, Haerens & Vande Broek (2017)
Figure 2: ABC of the selfdetermination theory, inspired by Aelterman, De Muynck, Haerens & Vande Broek (2017)

In CONNEXT the aim is to support these psychological needs in a balanced way. It is done by allowing participants to define their role and actions in a game-based learning context themselves. The participants are giving a lot of choices while playing and become owner of their own game process.  They have choice in defining the group roles of each group member, they can choose the order of missions the encounter in the game, their voice is being heard and many more game elements stimulate their autonomy. Additionally it is important to carry out games together. The small group provides support and serves as an opportunity to feel connected to others and so belongingness is stimulated. Commonly, game-based learning in CONNEXT also challenge participants to become and feel competent in new tasks by expecting different challenging tasks to be carried out. In order to win a game they need to make an effort and they are challenged and perhaps even exceed themselves. This is often rewarding for all, because even if not winning, playing a game is useful and fun at the same time!

 

Text: Liese Missinne, Artevelde University College Ghent

Picture: Unsplash/ Kevin Jarrett

 

For more information:

Heart Mind Online: The ABC of Self-Motivation at https://heartmindonline.org/resources/the-abcs-of-self-motivation

 

References:

Aelterman, N., De Muynck, G. J., Haerens, L., Vande Broek, G., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2017). Motiverend coachen in de sport. Acco; Leuven.

Deci, E.L. (1975). Intrinsic motivation. New York. NY: Plenum Press.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York: Plenum.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The” what” and” why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological inquiry11(4), 227-268.

Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classic definitions and new directions. Contemporary educational psychology25(1), 54-67.

Vansteenkiste, M., Soenens, B., Sierens, E. & Lens, W. (2005). Hoe kunnen we leren en presteren bevorderen? Een autonomie-ondersteunend versus controlerend schoolklimaat, Caleidoscoop, 17, 18-25.

“Dear diary…” Reflections from Ghent by Swedish delegation

“Dear diary…” Reflections from Ghent by Swedish delegation

S_U+G Serious Urban Game® – challenge + location = mission

by Sofia Gustavsson

In March 2019 the Swedish project team from Karlstad travelled Ghent in Belgium to participate in training on how gamification as a pedagogical methodology can promote learning, motivation and integration. Eight professionals from Karlstad became game masters of the S_U+G Serious Urban Game® #WORK ™. It was the start of the transnational learning network that will be developed in the project.

During four intensive days didactics, target groups, participation and horizontal perspectives were discussed. Theory was mixed with practical exercises and we as participants got to experience and learn about the SUG-platform by playing a game and completing different missions. The energy level increased as the participants completed the missions and we learned about how our different personalities could be strengths in different missions as well as competitive driving forces. How can we as professionals create a learning environment that offers both the swiftness and competitive elements as well as creating opportunities for reflection and deeper knowledge?

Apart from training on the SUG-platform where we also got to create our own missions, we played the S_U+G® Business Angels which is about entrepreneurship. It was very positive to learn that all the S_U+G Serious Urban Game® are developed in a co-creative process between professionals and the target groups. A lot of thoughts and ideas came up on how we could create our own games together with our target groups. The work with developing the S_U+G® methodology will continue through the learning network.

During the last day we got an insight to the Flemish part of the project. Staff from Artevelde University College Gent described how they will evaluate the project based on the Most Significant Change (MSC) method. MSC will be used both on national and transnational level.

As an addition to the training, workshops and lectures we were also given the opportunity to participate in a variety of study visits – all with the incredibly beautiful skyline of Ghent!

As part of the training and the transnational learning network we will create a new S_U+G Serious Urban Game® together. The game will be about creating trust in society. To feel trust in society is essential to participation in a democratic society. Our target is neither modest or impossible and the journey towards our goal started in Ghent!

Sofia Gustavsson is a teacher in Swedish for immigrants at the adult education division in the municipality of Karlstad, core trainer in CONNEXT for inclusion.

Reflections by Swedish steering group members

Four out of five members of the Swedish steering group had the opportunity to come to Ghent for two days. They got an introduction to S_U+G Serious Urban Game®, participated in study visits, listened to different local experts on labour market integration and participated in world café discussions. Here are their reflections.

Gunilla Gröndahl Ohlsson

First, I want to say that it was a wonderful trip. We had a lot of fun and it was very useful to get to know each other and the work we at home do in different departments in the municipality. Belgium and Ghent offered some nice experiences. The whole trip from beginning to end was very well prepared and organised both from the Swedish side and the Belgian side.

The first thing that I realised when I arrived was that we were expected and welcomed and got a nice framing presentation and a description of S_U+G Serious Urban Game®. The staff from [ew32] exuded strength, dedication and faith in their model. This transferred to us and we became carriers of the same dedication. The fact that [ew32] will be very involved in the local adaptations of their games is very positive as it shows protection of their model which is very important as you develop new methods and ask yourself “are we doing what we are supposed to do?”.

I found several of the S_U+G Serious Urban Game®’s interesting and I think they could be useful in our Swedish context, one of them being MindFits ™, a game abour mental health. The time frame for playing the games, 3 hours devided into 30 minutes for preparing, 2 hours for plaing the game and 30 minutes for debriefing might need to be adjusted for our target groups in Karlstad, we will have to think about how we can make the best adjustments to fit our local contexct.

Another thing I realised was how tight the connections between the Swedish participants were and how they expressed their job satisfaction and happiness at work. It is a very nice group that seem to have found each other and that are eager and excited to bring S_U+G Serious Urban Game® to Sweden. New collaborations among professionals working with the target groups have been established.

The days in Ghent were well organised with fun and interesting study visits where I could see both similarities and differences between the Belgian and Swedish ways of working. The learning ateliers were very interesting, and I realised that the issues concerning the target groups in our two countries are very similar. One difference is that the participants could stay in the ateliers for many many years which would not be possible in Karlstad. There didn’t seem to be any work or treatment addressing the social or psychological issues which might obstruct the rehabilitation process.

It was a journey that gave me concrete knowledge about S_U+G Serious Urban Game® as well as different labour market integration activities. It will be fun to host the Belgian and Finnish delegations in Karlstad in December. They will probably notice that we are better at gender equality than Belgium!

Gunilla Gröndahl Ohlsson is Manager in Unit for young adults, department of integration, income support and employment, labour market and social service administration, Municipality of Karlstad

Malin Rådman

It was interesting as a steering group member to be able to participate in Ghent for a couple of days. Apart from experiencing Ghent which is a very beautiful city, we got to learn more about Belgian labour market politics, about CONNEXT and about S_U+G Serious Urban Game®.

I got a deeper knowledge about how S_U+G Serious Urban Game® works and what is required in terms of preparations and follow-ups to play the games. It became clear that we will have to work on finding good Game Companions in Karlstad to make it work. An important part of the journey was also to get to know the Swedish project team better and I realised that we are all from different platforms and therefor our possibilities to play S_U+G® with our participants will be different and that we will have to consider how we can arrange the set up differently for different target groups.

An interesting reflection for me was that Sweden has come a lot further when it comes to gender equality. For is it’s natural that women work full time but this was not as natural for our Belgian partners. That this is an issue in other EU-member countries made me realise that we realise that we have a big challenge in Sweden working with immigrants and refugees when it comes to gender equality and women working full time.

I look forward to continuing working with the development of the project and that we get started and can try our and adapt the games to our local context.

Malin Rådman is Manager at  Jobbcenter, department of integration, income support and employment, labour market and social service administration, Municipality of Karlstad

Kristian Roos

The journey to Ghent gave me the opportunity to understand the different challenges and possibilities of the different partner countries and platforms. There were many commonalities but also some things related to different national structures that has led to different solutions for working with integration and inclusion.

We were presented many good examples that can be put in to action in our project platforms and in other administrations in the municipality. The way they were dealing with recycling disposed food was interesting. The ateliers for recycling bicycles and other items were similar to Solareturen in Karlstad.

An unexpected bonus of the journey was the internal cooperation within the Swedish delegation. Both within our own administration but also with the other participating administration. It made us realise the scope of possibilities for cooperation between professionals on different levels in the municipality.

I got a better knowledge about S_U+G Serious Urban Game®, how it has been applied previously and what experiences this has led to. It gave me an insight about the challenges and possibilities we have in relation to our own implementation. I really appreciated the competitiveness of the games which I believe our target groups will do as well.

Kristian Roos is Enhetschef, department of newly arrived refugees, labour market and social service administration, Municipality of Karlstad

Jennie Holmberg

The week in Ghent was very well planned and organized and we had a warm welcome. The training had a high standard with a good variety of exercises. Study visits and workshops also gave us some new perspectives and we’ve seen both similarities and differences between our countries. There is a lot of experience to exchange about how we solve different issues and situations working with our target groups.

For me it has definitely confirmed the feeling I had when we first started developing the project together with our Belgian and Finnish partners, that this is a future way for us to work if we want to engage target groups that don’t feel motivated by our traditional ways of teaching and supporting. There was a variation and joy in the method that engaged us all whilst learning new things.

The Swedish participants that will become core trainers through the project and cooperate with each other are very professional and creative. Both them and us had questions that we needed answers to during these days in our eagerness to get started and try out the method with our target groups. I think that our internal cooperation in Karlstad will strengthen through CONNEXT in many ways and on different levels.

The fact that we had both the steering group and the core trainers in Ghent was very valuable and shows that the project is very well established in our own organisation. This will facilitate a good implementation and sustainability of the project.

I am really looking forward to continuing the work in the project and disseminating it to other municipalities in our county.

Jennie Holmberg is Project coordinator, Värmland Tillsammans, labour market and social service administration in collaboration with the department for adult education, Municipality of Karlstad

Madeleine Bäckström

The fifth steering group member is Madeleine, but she was unfortunately not in Ghent.

Madeleine Bäckström is Principal in Unit for Swedish for Immigrants, adult education division, Municipality of Karlstad

Pictures: Pixabay/ Pexels (cover), CONNEXT project (portraits)

What do we mean by horizontal perspectives?

What do we mean by horizontal perspectives?

All projects funded by European Social Fund need to determine their relationship with horizontal perspectives. To make it more concrete, CONNEXT arranged a world café discussion in the Ghent partner meeting to clarify what could horizontal perspectives mean in view of ethnicity and gender.

First, the importance of cross sectorial training for professionals on horizontal perspectives to make sure that the professionals are not emphasising stereotypes was discussed. We should be careful when talking about cultural differences in general and instead try to identify the core of the topics we want to discuss. Perhaps it’s the gender spectrum and redefining gender roles that we should be talking about instead of cultural differences? How to we work with career counselling? Are we being gender sensitive when we talk about the possibilities for women and men when it comes to different education and jobs?

The group discussed also the importance of always thinking twice before separating groups for different activities. We need to make sure that we don’t create more segregation in our attempts to integrate. Separate groups could initially be beneficial to create trust, getting to know the group and identifying different needs, but the aim should eventually be to work towards integrating different groups.

A good example of working with integration and inclusion is through positive role models and mentors. By creating opportunities for people to meet and to get to know each other beyond gender, age and culture we combat prejudices and create a better understanding for each other’s differences as well as similarities. This also gives people a chance to start building networks that can be very useful when it comes to practicing the language, understanding society, finding jobs etc.

One practical example of how this could work was presented by one of the participants from DUO for a JOB. Their aim is erasing disparities and inequality in access to the labour market for young people with an immigrant background. DUO fully values the experience of our elders, breaks down age barriers, encourages inter-cultural and inter-generational activities through a mentorship programme. Simultaneously it combats stereotypes such as ageism and xenophobia, by recreating close social ties based on understanding and solidarity.

The use of ambassadors is another good example that could inspire and motivate people, as well as strengthening the ambassadors themselves.

 

Text: Marie Andersson, Karlstad municipality, Sweden

Picture: World Café Community Foundation/ Avril Orloff

Ready – steady – S_U+G®!

Ready – steady – S_U+G®!

It’s necessary to experience it before you know it. This was very clear with S_U+G Serious Urban Game® methodology, because oral or written descriptions just didn’t help curious CONNEXT partners to understand what S_U+G® is all about. In March 2019 the partners had a chance in Ghent to play two games developed by [ew32], namely Business Angels and #Work – and to understand it all.

Welcome to get acquainted with impressions from the S_U+G® training in a film. (The article continues under the film.)

The reaction of training participants on S_U+G® was enthusiastic. Many felt it was exactly what they needed when working with immigrants. One participant stated in the evaluation: “By knowing and playing this new method, I’ve got new oxygen in order to empower youngsters and groups.” S_U+G® was considered a suitable method also with vulnerable groups: “It’s important for me to make my students feel secure, safe and have confidence and have fun while learning. Using this method I am sure they will.”

Others felt playing a game was a journey to themselves: “The creative aspect in the game was an eye-opener for me. Through the game I discovered a creative part in myself.” It is true that S_U+G® gives an opportunity to apply many different approaches, as documentation of missions can include for example photographs, voice, films and written documentation. For example in Business Angels game real life entrepreneurs were interviewed and business logos were created on a pavement by drawing with colourful chalk.

The S_U+G® methodology can be used to support immigrants to get acquainted with different places, organisations and people in their new home country. It can also be a tool to promote the practicing of new language skills. Best of all, it is meaningful to use S_U+G® in pairs or small groups, which means that nobody needs to carry out tasks or explore the surroundings on their own.

During CONNEXT for inclusion project new S_U+G® games will be developed and trainers trained in three countries, Belgium/ Flanders (Ghent), Finland (Helsinki) and Sweden (Karlstad).

Text: Mai Salmenkangas, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Finland (quotes from training evaluation material)

Picture: Screen shot from CONNEXT film produced by [ew32]

Youth cycling and recycling in Ghent

Youth cycling and recycling in Ghent

The idea behind CONNEXT for inclusion project is to empower and motivate migrants and refugees. In order to get a good start, we wanted to share best practices and see how the project partners are working on the topic. So, after two days of theoretical brainstorming and S_U+G Serious Urban Game® training, we got on our feet and went to see how problems like social exclusion of youth and school dropouts are tackled in practice in Ghent.

Our first stop was the organization called vzw aPart . In their De Werf workshop we saw how youngsters’ sense of belonging can be increased by encouraging them to create their own space. This was carried out by letting them to furnish and decorate their own meeting place by using different recycled materials.

The same idea was also followed in our next location, an organization called Groep INTRO  . There the youngsters had refurbished and styled an old caravan to be their own “hang out” place. In the same compound they also had a bicycle repair shop and bicycle riding lessons were carried out on the yard.

 

While these organizations are implementing a whole bunch of other really important activities like group and individual tutoring, workshops and counselling too, the first mentioned examples are still small things that can have a big influence to an individual. For example, learning to ride a bicycle can significantly open young girl’s world. Not to mention what it can do to her self-esteem when she is able to move around more freely by using the popular mode of transportation of her new country.

So, let’s not forget that small things can lead to something big. All connections start with an encounter, which is a central element also in CONNEXT.

Text and pictures: Karoliina Zschauer-Lilja, Stadin ammatti – ja aikuisopisto (vocational education), Finland

Getting started in Sweden

Getting started in Sweden

In February there was a kick-off meeting for the core trainers in the Swedish CONNEXT for inclusion. There is representation of professionals from different parts of the municipality working with newly arrived migrants and refugees, both youngsters and adults, which is a good platform for cooperation and dissemination of the work in the project. Here is a short introduction of the Swedish core trainers:
Petra and Sofia, teachers from the adult education department working with Swedish for immigrants.

Jenny and Anna-Maria from Värmland Tilsammans where they will develop new methods for Swedish for adult’s education. Värmland Tillsammans is an ESF-project working with 10 municipalities aiming at facilitating labour market integration for newly arrived refugees or migrants who are far from the labour market.

Saleh from the labour market and social services administration, department for integration, social welfare and employment, Jobcenter, where he works in the labour market unit with newly arrived refugees and migrants in the projects Värmland Tillsammans and Insteg Karlstad.

Pontus from the labour market and social services administration, department for integration, social welfare and employment, Värmlands Framtid, where he works in a unit with support for young NEET’s.
Eva from the labour market and social services administration, department for newly arrived refugees where who works with networks as a way of supporting unaccompanied minors and newly arrived youngsters.

Daniel from the labour market and social services administration, department for newly arrived refugees where who works with supporting unaccompanied minors to become independent citizens.

In the picture you can see the core trainers, the project manager Marie and the steering group members Gunilla, Jennie, Kristian and Malin.

 

Text: Marie Andersson, Karlstad municipality, Sweden

Picture: CONNEXT for inclusion

Kick-off CONNEXT Flanders

Kick-off CONNEXT Flanders

In the end of January [ew32] organised first two LearningLabs as part of CONNEXT for inclusion project. They marked the kick-off of the project in Belgium, Flanders. The LearningLabs were the first phase in the development of a new Serious Urban Game® that focuses on the topic ‘Trust in education’.  

LearningLabs are co-creative workshops in which input is asked from the target group. To get some insight in the relation between youth and education today we start by asking the opinion of the target group themselves. What do young people think about their education? What makes school fun or less fun for them? How do they like to be addressed by the teacher? Do they think their education is preparing them for their future?

Through activating methods we bring several theories into practice. Participants get to talk about motivation, involvement, different ways to communicate and ways to give and handle feedback. This way, while giving their opinion about school, they’re simultaneously evaluating these theories and whether these might help in improving their overall school experience. The central question is: how do they experience it?

The first two labs took place with two class groups that gave away not being satisfied with the school’s approach. The groups came up with different ‘superlikes’ and ‘superdislikes’ and formulated some advice towards the school and the teachers. Needless to say it wasn’t always fun to hear for the teachers… But feedback goes both ways. So the voice of the teachers must be heard in this workshop as well! It’s about gaining trust on all levels.

We’re currently planning the next labs so we can gather a lot more input. After these LearningLabs we’ll get started applying game-mechanics in a series of GameLabs. In those sessions we will attempt to gamify the input we received. The goal is to come up with a game that can help youth and teachers feeling more ‘at home’ at school.

Text and picture: Jolien De Ridder, [ew32], Belgium/ Flanders

Grand opening of CONNEXT

Grand opening of CONNEXT

What happens when people from three countries put their minds together to support migrants and refugees? Marvellous plans for game-based learning!

In November 2018 partners from Belgium (Flanders), Finland and Sweden gathered in Helsinki in order to plan, how to benefit internationally from S_U+G Serious Urban Game>® methodology and arrange trainings on it. This city race related methodology has been developed by Belgian [ew32] and it can be applied to various topics, always engaging the so called target group in the planning. One ready made game exists e.g. on the use of money and debts (see a clip).

The partners of CONNEXT for inclusion project are eagerly looking forward to apply the S_U+G® methodology e.g. in preventing early school dropout, in promoting access to the labour market and as a tool in career counselling. Belgian, Finnish and Swedish professionals working with immigrants are invited to join the development process in 2019–2021.

Stay tuned!