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Experiential vocational training through digital escape rooms

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the University of Thessaly, and in particular the informal Creative Technologies Learning Lab (https://ctll.e-ce.uth.gr), designs innovative digital experiential learning activities for vocational training. The activities prepare trainers to address emerging learning design challenges in today's ever evolving professional environment that introduces the need for lifelong learning aiming at the continuous renewal of professionals' qualifications in a way that enhances their future employment prospects.

The proposed learning intervention implements innovative skill development practices based on digital escape rooms. The method offers learning benefits through active learning, interaction, and enhancing the internal motivation of professionals to participate in educational processes that contribute to the building of basic knowledge and soft skills, such as problem solving, communication, and critical thinking, and enhance their professional profile thus broadening their employment choices. As part of the learning intervention, educational content aimed at teachers is also developed aiming at enhancing their skills in the practical application of digital escape rooms in learning processes as well as in the creation of their own related activities.

The learning intervention is carried out within the framework of the research project ELMET: Experimental Learning Methodologies addressing Vulnerable Employed and

Employed People (http://elmetproject.eu) funded by the European Commission's Erasmus+ programme and implemented from 2020 to 2022. In addition to the University of Thessaly, educational organizations from Spain, Cyprus, and Bulgaria participate in the research project.


STEM for all through digital technology

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the University of Thessaly (DECE), and in particular the informal Creative Technologies Learning Lab (https://ctll.e-ce.uth.gr), participates in the design of learning actions that target adults and aim at developing knowledge and skills on science, technology, and mathematics (STEM).

STEM contributes to the understanding of our surrounding world, innovative thinking, and the ability to solve problems that concern both industry and society at large. The importance of STEM in a person's development is recognised by the international PISA survey carried out every 2 years that records the relevant student performance. Many learning interventions aim to develop STEM skills as well as analytical and critical thinking among young students. However, similar activity aimed at adults and targeting the development of STEM skills is limited. Reasons include the difficulty of approaching this group, the perception that STEM is not related to everyday life, and less familiarity with digital technology.

The STEAMPEOPLE (http://steampeople.eu) research project has developed a number of digital educational activities that aim to improve STEM knowledge among adults. The activities are designed to address the interests of this group, to be linked to everyday life, and to be feasible to implement thus developing knowledge as well as self-confidence on problem-solving. Activities can be accessed through a digital platform, which is in pilot use, and can be implemented both on a computer and on mobile devices (https://virtual-campus.eu/steam/).

In addition to the University of Thessaly, educational and research organisations from Spain, Portugal, Turkey, and Estonia participate in the research project. The project is funded by the European Commission's Erasmus+ programme and is expected to be completed in September 2021.



Web Conference AgriTexSil Successfully Completed

On Monday, January 25, 2021, the web conference AGRITEXSIL was successfully completed as part of the research project "AgriTexSil".



Tailoring Pseudomonas putida for optimal functioning in industrial biocatalysis

OMIC Webinars: Tailoring Pseudomonas putida for optimal functioning in industrial biocatalysis
OMIC-Engine, the National Research Infrastructure on Synthetic Biology, coordinated by the University of Thessaly, dives into the world of Metabolic Engineering.
In our second Webinar, titled “Tailoring Pseudomonas putida for optimal functioning in industrial biocatalysis”, held on Thursday 28th of November 2020, OMIC-Engine welcomes Christos Batianis, PhD candidate at the Laboratory of Systems and Synthetic Biology of the Wageningen University.



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.


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