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Problem-based learning in Europe and Asia

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the University of Thessaly (TMY), and in particular the informal Creative Technologies Learning Lab (http://ctll.e-ce.uth.gr), develops active learning interventions that deploy problem-solving methodologies and digital technologies in engineering higher education.
The problem-based approach to learning promotes the development of knowledge and skills through the introduction of solutions to complex problems that are usually inspired by real life. The method offers significant learning advantages. It contributes to the development of fundamental field knowledge as well as soft skills such as critical, analytical, and entrepreneurial thinking and collaboration capacity. Through industry-inspired challenges, it links learning with the world of work facilitating the transition of students from academia to the professional environment and building their ability to transfer new knowledge to real-world design and development processes. Finally, it contributes to the modernisation of higher education through innovative educational design and a transition to the digital era.
Despite the advantages, problem-based learning is not adequately implemented. Reasons that discourage its use include the lack of physical facilities, such as laboratories, lack of access to open educational digital applications and simulations that contribute to exploration and experimentation, and the need to build educators skills in emerging learning methodologies supported by digital technology.
The research project ALIEN: Active Learning in Engineering Education (http://projectalien.eu) aims at the exchange of know-how between 17 universities in Europe and Asia towards developing the capacity of engineering departments in the practical application of problem-centred approaches to learning. The project involves universities from Greece, Portugal, Estonia, Bulgaria, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Vietnam, Nepal, Pakistan, and Cambodia.

ALIEN has developed laboratories at 12 universities in Asia that support problem-based learning processes through appropriate digital equipment and a setup that encourages experimentation and contributes to collaboration. In addition, the ALIEN project has developed a digital repository of problem-based learning activities that deploy digital applications, learning games, and simulations. The activities, which apply to polytechnic courses, promote the active engagement of students in learning and increase interaction in the classroom. The repository, which is constantly being enriched, already offers over 200 problems and encourages the reuse of learning content and the creation of new activities from existing ones. Educators can directly use the suggested challenges in their classrooms. They can further be inspired by them for synthesizing new activities or adapt them to the needs of their students. The ALIEN infrastructure is used in real learning scenarios at the 17 participating universities. The goal is its broad deployment in at least 170 courses with the participation of over 1.500 students and 500 educators. Finally, the project promotes the active exchange of good practices in problem-based learning through a series of digital seminars with international participation as well as local events.

The ALIEN project is funded by the Erasmus + Capacity Building in Higher Education program of the European Commission and is implemented from 2017 to 2021.


Brainstorming Workshop for partners of the EmpathyInHealth Project

The Physiotherapy Department of University of Thessaly is participating in the project ‘Curriculum Development using VR technology to enhance empathetic communication skills in future health care professionals’ (EmpathyInHealth) which is funded by the Erasmus+ programme (KA203 Strategic Partnerships for higher education).
The main aim of EmpathyInHealth is to develop a curriculum for empathetic skills development in healthcare practitioners and home carers based on up to date evidence and cutting-edge technology tools.
The partners had a fruitful Brainstorming Workshop as part of Intellectual Output IO4. The workshop took place on 7/10/2020. The workshop focused on brainstorming ideas on how to develop scenarios that were derived from the focus groups conducted by the partners in Germany, Belgium, Greece and Cyprus. In addition, an in-depth discussion took place with regards to the selection of the best scenarios to be used for virtual reality, educational videos and role plays.


A day of tasting aquarium cucumbers

Tasting day was organized on October 29, 2020, in the courtyard of the School of Agricultural Sciences. Organizers consisted of the research teams from the two Departments of Agriculture (Plant Production and Rural Environment & Ichthyology and Aquatic Environment) of the School of Agricultural Sciences of the University of Thessaly participating in the FoodOasis (Project coordinator: Prof. Dr. Nikolaos Katsoulas)
The aim of the event was to inform about the production of aquaculture products. There were 3 different types of cucumbers on the counter: 1) hydroponic cucumbers 2) aquarium cucumbers with additional fertilizers and 3) aquarium cucumbers. This event definitely gave the participants the opportunity to try and discern any differences that may exist compared to the conventional cucumbers on the market.
In the space created for the needs of the event, we could see the banner of the project '' FoodOASIS '' leaflets of the program, hand antiseptic, questionnaires, pens, and samples of cucumber fruits whole and sliced into plastic plates divided into three different categories .
The taster was informed about the Research Program,  then according to the procedure followed the consumption of cucumbers for their evaluation in terms of appearance, crunchy, taste and juicy flesh, and finally completing the questionnaire where the taster was asked to choose whether to buy one of the three products and which.
The taster was informed about the Research Program,  then according to the procedure followed the consumption of cucumbers for their evaluation in terms of appearance, crunchy, taste and juicy flesh, completing the questionnaire where the taster was asked to choose whether to buy one of the three products and which.
Certainly there is a lack of information to consumers about new cultivation methods and especially for aquaculture for this reason the research program "FoodOASIS" acquires greater value by supporting the distribution of quality products in the market with a smaller environmental footprint


A digital learning game for problem-based learning

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (TMY), and in particular the Creative Technologies Learning Lab research team, has developed a learning game that aims to develop problem-solving skills for students that encourages them to synthesize solutions to the pressing challenges of the 21st century. The learning game is based on active learning methodologies in which students develop knowledge and skills by doing and by undertaking on roles. Active learning challenges students to integrate knowledge from across the curriculum towards designing solutions to complex problems that are inspired by real life. Active learning prepares students more effectively for their transition from the academic environment to the world of work.
The learning game has been developed within the framework of project HERA: Re-engineering Higher Education through Active Learning for Growth (http://heraproject.eu) which is funded by the European Commission's Erasmus+ programme through the Hellenic National Agency IKY (http://iky.gr). The learning game is multiuser, meaning that multiple players undertake roles in a team towards a common goal. In addition to the overall team objectives, each student has personal goals to his role. The game invites students to solve problems related to raising the quality of life in a city. Examples of learning scenarios include designing festive lighting, planning zero-waste economy activities, designing smart parking services, and protecting the city from flooding. The game provides rich features for city design, including terrain formatting, diverse weather conditions, buildings and services of various uses, vehicles and others with the objective of providing the necessary flexibility that allows the structuring of rich learning scenarios that simulate real-life situations. The game also has a comprehensive learning scenario design service for teachers. The first version of the game is available at http://heraproject.eu/index.php/results/.


Greek Diaspora Alumni Fellowship

A Greek Diaspora Alumni fellowship was granted to the Department of Agriculture Crop Production and Rural Environment for Associate Professor Eleni Pliakoni from Kansas State University, U.S.A..
The fellow is expected to develop methodology on individual phenolics identification in fruits and vegetables and their products and on analysis of cannabinoid constituents of hemp (Cannabis sativa) grown in central Greece. An available HPLC instrument properly equipped to analyze individual phenolics in horticultural products is available and will be set by the fellow in the Department to be used from departmental personnel for analyses. Similarly, the methodology for cannabinoid constituents will be set to develop a reference laboratory for analysis of locally-produced hemp before processing. Training of available qualified departmental personnel will follow.
The fellow is also expected to develop cooperation with departmental personnel and students on matters related to horticultural product analyses, protected cultivation of vegetables, and urban/peri-urban food production possibilities and its cons and pros.


Sea-level changes & coastal floods. Sort-time forecasts. Climatic changes

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Project STEAMPeople on building STEAM skills for adults through digital tools

Modern society is constantly evolving. The technological and scientific achievements of the last 20 years show a rapid technological and societal transformation with a wide scope that covers almost all aspects of everyday life. In this context it is important to review educational models to provide learners with the ability to develop skills and values necessary to the active citizens of today's world.
The STEAM learning model aims to develop knowledge and skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. Unlike past learning interventions, the model introduces an interdisciplinary education framework that incorporates not only scientific and technical but also artistic aspects and highlights how their combination is directly related to real life, encourages curiosity and exploration, and improves science and knowledge and skills.
The STEAM model is applied to varying degrees in knowledge development among school and higher education learners. However, developing science and technology skills in adults remains a challenge. This is a result of the difficulty in designing STEAM learning paths that target this group and perceptions that the subject is too "technical" or that it is linked to specific professional areas.
Project STEAMPeople (http://steampeople.eu) develops a digital app that targets adults and aims at enriching STEAM skills for the 21st century. The digital application encourages critical thinking towards solving everyday challenges through technical means. It applies game based approaches that encourage participation in learning and knowledge retention. It is accessible online and can be used individually or in groups. At least 60 ADULT STEAM learning activities are under development and will be available through the digital app.
The project is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme and is implemented from 2019 to 2021 by a consortium of organizations that consists of Moviendote (Spain), Virtual Campus (Portugal), ViTEC (Sweden), Robootika (Estonia), the Governorship of Istanbul (Turkey), and the Creative Technologies Learning Lab of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the University of Thessaly (Greece).


Integrated Learning Design for Sustainability Education

The goal of High5 project is to create a new methodology - Integrated Design that is based on already existing methods and approaches. Integrated Design combines valuable areas such as problem solving methodologies (Design Thinking and Problem Based Learning), sustainable development, circular economy, innovation thinking and entrepreneurial skills. Integrated Design is an answer to complexity of the world and projects undertaken at universities, in companies and various institutions. It has also its roots in the requirements of the European labour market where people have to be able to analyse a situation, define a correct problem, provide suitable solution and be aware of all consequences of implementation of the chosen solution. This wide perspective is covered by Integrated Design.
The project implements digital educational content for students and teachers aiming at enriching educational experiences on sustainability. It also organizes two summer schools for students that will take place in 2021 in Aveiro, Spain and Volos, Greece. During the summer schools the students will have the opportunity to apply the proposed Integrated Design learning methodology to design solutions to the problems of today.
The project is being implemented by the University of Lodz (Poland), the University of Thessaly (Greece), the University of Aveiro (Spain), State University (Bulgaria), and Euroacademy (Estonia). The project is funded by the Erasmus+ program of the European Commission and runs from 2019 to 2021.


Research and Innovation at the Department of Agriculture Crop Production and Rural Environment, University of Thessaly School of Agricultural Sciences

The University of Thessaly, the third largest higher education institution in Greece, has as a key priority the continuous development of research and innovation. Based on the belief that the priceless wealth of the Public University is the people who constitute its staff.



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