International Cook and Chat u Inicijativi
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The “International Cook & Chat” workshop encourages cultural integration and inclusive learning

In December 2023, at the Initiative premises, we held the first activity as part of the "Cultural Paperclip" project - the "International Cook & Chat" workshop – in an atmosphere filled with enticing aromas of dishes with sentimental value for each participant. The event brought together members of the local population, refugees and people displaced from Ukraine for a unique cultural exchange of food that is traditionally prepared in the area where the participants are from. The workshop was organised to promote cultural integration, and a diverse array of dishes was presented, reflecting the rich palette of cultural origins, from traditional Cuban delicacies to local Croatian specialties.

However, the true potential of this workshop lies in the creation of relationships between participants of different origins, cultures and traditions - each person became a cook and storyteller of their prepared dishes.

In addition to the exchange of different traditions and cultures, the workshop also served as an informal language learning session, thanks to intensive communication among participants in a relaxed atmosphere, thus facilitating the acquisition of the Croatian language. This added value not only helps with practical integration but also increases the participants' ability to connect with their new environment on a deeper level.

The "Cultural Paperclip" project is focused on the social and cultural integration of refugees in the area of the City of Zagreb. The goal of the project is to strengthen social ties and encourage refugees' feelings of belonging to the new community, by creating opportunities for refugees and local residents to come together. Cultural Paperclip activities, including this workshop, contribute to breaking down barriers, building mutual trust and promoting acceptance among different communities. By encouraging an inclusive social environment, the project simultaneously nurtures individual belonging while respecting different cultural, social and religious identities.


The City of Zagreb financed the project for 12 months. You can find out more about the project here.

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Supporting Diversity with Erasmus Plus: Navigating the Challenges of Intercultural Classroom Management
Erasmus, Erasmus blogs, Projects

Supporting Diversity with Erasmus Plus: Navigating the Challenges of Intercultural Classroom Management

Supporting Diversity with Erasmus Plus

Diversity in the classroom is an ever-present reality in today's globalised world. Teachers around the globe face the unique challenge of managing intercultural classrooms, where students come from a wide array of cultural backgrounds, bringing with them varying perspectives, experiences, and needs. This blog will explore the importance of supporting diversity in education and the challenges teachers encounter when managing intercultural classrooms. We will also delve into the role of Erasmus Plus in promoting diversity and providing tools to navigate these challenges.

The Significance of Supporting Diversity

 Why is Diversity Important in Education?

Diversity in the classroom brings numerous benefits that extend beyond the academic realm. It enriches the educational experience by:

1. **Promoting Inclusivity:** A diverse classroom fosters an inclusive atmosphere where students from all backgrounds feel valued and respected.

2. **Enhancing Critical Thinking:** Exposure to different viewpoints encourages students to think critically, question assumptions, and develop a more comprehensive understanding of complex issues.

3. **Cultural Competence:** Interacting with peers from diverse backgrounds equips students with essential cultural competence, a crucial skill in our globalised world.

4. **Preventing Stereotyping and Prejudice:** Diversity helps break down stereotypes and prejudices by promoting student empathy and understanding.

Challenges of Intercultural Classroom Management

While the benefits of diversity are undeniable, managing an intercultural classroom can be a complex endeavour. Here are some key challenges teachers may encounter:

Language Barriers

Language differences can impede effective communication, making engaging students in the learning process challenging. Teachers must find ways to bridge these language gaps.

Cultural Misunderstandings

Cultural norms and practices vary widely, leading to potential misunderstandings and conflicts in the classroom. Teachers need to navigate these cultural differences sensitively.

Diverse Learning Styles

Students from different cultures may have varying learning styles and preferences. Educators must adapt their teaching methods to accommodate these differences.

Inclusive Curriculum

Creating an inclusive curriculum that reflects the diversity of the classroom can be challenging. Teachers need resources and training to develop materials that resonate with all students.

Erasmus Plus: Supporting Diversity in Education

The Role of Erasmus Plus

Erasmus Plus, the European Union's education, training, youth, and sports program, is vital in promoting diversity in education. It offers teachers, educators, and students opportunities to engage in international experiences that foster cross-cultural understanding and competence.

Erasmus Plus Supporting Diversity Initiatives

Erasmus Plus offers various initiatives and projects designed to support diversity in education:

Teacher Training Programs

Erasmus Plus provides funding for teacher training programs focusing on intercultural classroom management. These programs equip educators with the skills and knowledge to effectively teach in diverse settings

Student Exchange Programs

Through student exchange programs, Erasmus Plus allows students to study abroad, exposing them to different cultures and perspectives. This firsthand experience enhances their intercultural competence.

Inclusive Curriculum Development

Erasmus Plus supports projects aimed at developing inclusive curricula that reflect the diversity of the student body. These initiatives ensure that all students can see themselves represented in the materials they study.

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Discover innovative strategies to create inclusive and diverse classrooms. 

Join our course for educators in multicultural settings. Explore intercultural communication, anti-discrimination laws, storytelling and more

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Benefits of Erasmus Plus Supporting Diversity

Engaging with Erasmus Plus initiatives has several advantages for educators and students:

Professional Development: Teachers participating in Erasmus Plus programs gain valuable skills and experiences that enhance their teaching abilities, especially in diverse classrooms.

Enhanced Cultural Competence: Students participating in student exchange programs develop a broader understanding of different cultures, fostering tolerance and empathy.

Global Perspective: Exposure to diverse perspectives through Erasmus Plus initiatives prepares students to thrive academically and professionally in a globalised world.

Supporting diversity in education is not without its challenges, especially in the context of intercultural classroom management. However, embracing diversity brings invaluable benefits, enriching the educational experience for all. Erasmus Plus is pivotal in promoting diversity and equipping educators and students with the tools to navigate these challenges successfully. We can create more inclusive, empathetic, and globally competent educational environments by embracing diversity and engaging with Erasmus Plus initiatives.

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Erasmus plus Adventure
Erasmus, Erasmus blogs, Projects

My Erasmus plus Adventure: A Transformative Educational Journey in Malaga

The 4 Cs: More Than Just Buzzwords

I recently returned home from a rich educational journey that I'm certain will have a lasting impact on my further work and personal development. The course, aptly named "The 4 Cs," delved deep into the essential pillars of Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. Generously funded by the Erasmus+ initiative, these aren't merely trendy buzzwords but foundational life skills that are universally beneficial. This Erasmus+ adventure was a deep dive into skills that are not just theoretical but highly applicable in everyday life.

An Erasmus+ Adventure in Malaga: Where Learning Meets Personal Connection

I was fortunate to spend an enriching six days in the picturesque city of Malaga, situated in the heart of Spain's Andalusian region. Orchestrated by the highly competent Idevelop team based in Seville, this Erasmus+ adventure was nothing short of exceptional. Our trainer was not just an expert in the subject matter but also had an uncanny ability to connect with us on a personal level. Given that we were a compact group, the entire learning experience felt incredibly tailored, intimate, and personalized. We engaged in a series of thought-provoking exercises and meaningful discussions, with a special emphasis on honing our critical thinking abilities and mastering the art of non-violent communication. This Erasmus+ adventure was a catalyst for both professional and personal transformation.

Practical Application: The Real-World Impact

What set this course apart was its practical orientation. It wasn't just a theoretical exercise; we had ample opportunities to apply these invaluable skills in real-world teaching and learning facilitation scenarios. The course also served as a reflective mirror, prompting me to introspect about my limitations and biases. Confronting these aspects of oneself is never comfortable, but it's an essential step in personal growth and self-improvement. 

Exploring Malaga: The Cultural Bonus of My Erasmus+ Adventure

When the academic day came to a close, Malaga offered its own set of unforgettable experiences. The city is a treasure trove of historical landmarks, ranging from the majestic Alcazaba Fort to the enlightening Picasso Museum. Exploring Malaga is akin to stepping into a vivid, interactive history lesson. And let's not forget the culinary delights! The local cuisine was a gastronomic adventure featuring almonds, olives, avocados, and an array of aromatic Spanish spices.

Conclusion:

In summary, this Erasmus+ adventure is a must-attend for anyone who interacts with a diverse student body and aims to elevate their pedagogy and effective communication skills. When you combine that educational richness with Spain's cultural and scenic beauty, the result is far more than just an instructional course. It transforms into a life-altering Erasmus+ adventure that will undoubtedly influence both my future professional endeavors and personal growth.

Dženana Kalamujić

 This project was co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme.

Erasmus+ enriching lives, broadening minds.

@Agencija za mobilnost

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Erasmus
Erasmus, Erasmus blogs, Projects, Uncategorized

Erasmus Experience: Learning and Traveling for All Generations

Erasmus is not only for young people, but also for the elderly

Erasmus+ is a program that is innovative and inclusive, allowing all age groups to join and improve their skills. As life expectancy increases, so does the need for elderly people to receive additional training and education. One area that is particularly challenging to keep up with is rapid technological progress. In order for the elderly to live harmoniously and navigate in the 21st century, they need new skills. Through the "European Senior Exchange" project, we are focused on strengthening the digital skills of the elderly.

Through this project, we are focused not only on strengthening the health and physical abilities of the elderly, but also on mental health, the development of digital and language skills.

Throughout the 3 years of the project, elderly people participated in English language training that enabled them to communicate more easily and better with consciousness in a common and universal language.

Furthermore, in Kranj and Belgium, we learned how to use tools to make traveling easier.

As the last trip and training for our seniors, we visited Ghent. From Croatia, we had a team of 6 members made up of our dear students, teacher Domagoj and me. The training took place from May 15-19, and the topic was improving digital skills. The tools we adopted during the training were: the use of Google maps, and applications for public transport, such as Belgian Lijn, and their application for tracking train schedules.

In addition to digital skills, the social skills and connections we developed throughout this project were much more important.

We became richer for 40 new acquaintances shared across Europe, which enriched our lives and paved the way for us.

This experience was best described by the participants themselves:

Ankica Budimir: "This Erasmus trip to Ghent, for me, was indescribably beautiful, easy, educational, without any stress, even cheerful considering the team I was in." I met wonderful people and cities, learned to use applications that I have never used before."

Sjajna Zemčić: "I was in my own world and I was afraid of the courage with which I agreed to this Erasmus trip. And then Kranj opened up to me, many people for learning, socializing, walking, joy to show me how life is joy and happiness. And now the magic of Belgium, how to be relaxed and enjoy with good people. Most importantly, we learned (we should learn more) how to use computers and mobile phones to make every day easier and more beautiful in the beautiful areas of Kranj and Ghent. Thanks to the people in Kranj, Gent and the team. Lots and lots of praise means that the soul is touched."

Vesna Nikšić: "It was really a great pleasure for me to participate in this project, to see and learn a lot of things. The impressions from Kranj were wonderful, I think we "matched" well as a team and I was really looking forward to Belgium, which exceeded all expectations. I met so many wonderful and interesting people and I consider that the greatest value of the project. I am glad that I had the opportunity to see Kranj and Ljubljana and all the three cities we visited in Belgium, we walked and absorbed a lot, saw how everyday life works (e.g. public transport in Belgium), learned something about characteristic dishes, and especially Belgian chocolate and beer. The opportunity to listen and speak in English is precious to me and it is a big plus of this project. All the skills we learned at the workshops were both useful and fun. I'm sorry that the project is over, but somehow I believe that as a team we will continue to stay in touch and see each other for a coffee."

Katica Budimir: "This trip meant a lot to me, because when a person learns something, he is immediately richer, more satisfied. In addition to my knowledge of English and digital skills, on this trip I was enriched by pleasant human encounters and beautiful pictures of cities. Simply put, this trip was "soul food" for me. She would be overjoyed if there was a sequel."

Domagoj Biondić: "This is my fourth Erasmus trip under Jelena's baton and, just like the previous three times, it was absolutely fantastic. Visiting the country of the best chocolate and beer in the world is a truly unique experience. Every day was filled with adventures, unreal landscapes, fairy-tale buildings, places and events. In addition to all that, I learned how to use interesting, practical and very useful applications, and as an additional precious bonus I single out cooperation, connection, and socializing with other participants of this education. However, the most valuable gift that I personally received were all those wonderful moments spent with Ankica, Zabjana, Katica, Vesna and Jelena, which additionally taught me kindness, simplicity, patience, and living in the moment, and so generously provided me with the opportunity to practice everything those virtues. You are five in 5"

At the end of this trip with our wonderful participants and partners, we are grateful that we had the opportunity to witness the change we see in people during socializing, education and travel, because every new contact and learning enriches us and makes us better. We also remember with joy the memories that were given to us by the project participants who unfortunately left us: Giancarla, Dragica and Edvard. Thank you for everything.

Special thanks to the project managers: HIHSTAS from Belgium, and partners: CDI Ljubljana, LU Kranj, Agora from Italy

Thank you all and we hope to see you again soon.

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Erasmus, Erasmus blogs, Projects

Photo and Video Making in your Classroom: The Educational Power of Multimedia

Article also avaliable on EPALE.

Photo and Video Making in your Classroom: The Educational Power of Multimedia

May in Florence – doesn’t that just conjure up the most beautiful visions. Florence certainly did deliver. A picturesque and historic Italian city, blooming with flowers, alive with locals and tourists alike.

I visited Florence to attend a video-making course in order to learn some new techniques and ideas for our own school’s lessons. As I already create marketing and educational videos, I was really keen on finding out different ways to introduce video into our regular English lessons.

Our instructor was Riccardo, a young and technologically-savvy trainer, who taught us about different apps and special effects. My classmates were high school teachers from all over Europe, and we were all very interested in different methods we could incorporate into our own classrooms. Hearing about everyone’s teaching experiences really enabled us to understand the differences between our education systems, but also gave us an opportunity to connect over the similarities. I have made some great friends over this short course, and we keep in contact through social media. Some of them even follow our school now on Tiktok where we publish educational language videos.

Our course for the week in Florence was very hands-on and interactive. After some warm-up activities and introductions, we got right into shooting and creating our first video so that everyone could get familiar with cutting and editing clips.

The next day, after a fantastic tour of the centre of Florence, a paradise for art lovers, we made our own videos on Nearpod, a fantastic shared platform where teachers can post, share and utilise a great number of interactive videos, lessons and activities. We were given some great tips, like how to automate subtitling, how to simplify the editing process, and how to add quizzes and activities to our lessons. With such an abundance of content on this app, it will definitely be something to introduce into our own classes. Since most of our lessons are now online, it is only natural to expand our way of teaching and cross over more and more into the online world. Each of our teachers can create their own lessons, and then we can share content between ourselves, as well as any other teachers using the platform. It provides an array of ideas, many of which can be used in our own courses, and simplifies the way in which we create and share interesting lesson plans.

Kapwing was our next app, and although I had already used some basic Kapwing for some of my own videos, it was great to learn a few more tips from our trainer. Riccardo really helped us understand how and why to use special effects, stock photos, audio, etc.

On Thursday, we had a field day, trawling the streets of Florence during our ‘Goosechase’. We had downloaded this app which helps run real-world interactive experiences. Our trainer had marked about a dozen significant spots on a map of Florence, and we went on a treasure hunt, taking photos at the scene, and sending them back in real-time. We were competing against each other and had to find a tactic on how to reach every spot before the other teams. If one team reached a spot, we got a notification, which pushed us to speed walk back and forth across the Arno River and through the narrow streets in search of our next post. Florence is not so tiny – I think we walked over 7kms in those few hours! J Unfortunately, my team didn’t win the contest, but we had such a blast playing! This activity would be a fantastic addition to an outdoor learning lesson, which we could incorporate into our own lessons with our students. Not only would they learn more about the history and hidden spots of Zagreb and Split, but they would definitely enjoy the competitive nature of this activity.

Our last day focused on Claymation, the art of moving objects little by little, taking photos and creating videos from them. It is a very meticulous process, taking us nearly an hour to produce a video of only a few seconds. It was my first encounter with a stop-motion exercise, but saw that it could be a great activity for children, requiring a high level of concentration, energy and attention to detail.

Our final task was to make a video about Florence, utilising the skills we had acquired over the week. Some of us used a little stop-motion, some created an interactive quiz embedded in the video. We used our own footage and some online photos, and created mini-lessons as part of the video. This is a very dynamic way to teach any subject, and I think that it will enrich our own students’ learning experience, giving them different ways to immerse themselves in learning languages. As we all know, some of us learn better visually, some of us through audio, some of us with hands-on activities. I can’t wait to introduce some of these techniques into our lesson plans, giving our students a more colourful and proactive approach to learning.

Ema Barbir

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Intergenerational learning and study trip to Kranj

In partnership with the European Senior Exchange project, we took part in a study visit to Kranj with our students from the 24th to the 28th of October.

The meeting was planned for socializing and learning, as well as the exchange of experiences of senior citizens who had the opportunity to participate in several activities.

The meeting was attended by over 30 elderly people from partner organizations of the Initiative, AGORA' - Laboratorio Terza EtàProtagonistaonlus, CDU Ljubljana and Human University Kranj, as well as the managers of the HIHTAST project.

When we arrived on Monday, we presented our organization and programs to our partners, and after the lunch break, socializing continued outdoors through a guided tour given by one of the participants of the People's University of Kranj. As a small town, Kranj offers a lot to its residents, and it is known as the most respected high school in all of Slovenia. Furthermore, there are gourmet delicacies, especially for meat lovers – most notably Carniola sausage and beer. One of Slovenia's most famous poets comes from Kranj, after whom the main square in Ljubljana is named; France Prešeren. The cultural and economic wealth of Kranj comes from the past when Kranj was one of the main industrial cities in Yugoslavia. The city centre is located in the old part, which still has ramparts and underground tunnels.

After a good hike and a very interesting review of history, we sat down to hot tea and rested before going to bed.

Human University of Kranj under the slogan "Learning for a better life" emphasizes intergenerational learning, encouraging cooperation and transferring knowledge and experience from older generations to younger ones, and vice versa. For the purpose of these activities, they also opened LUK - an intergenerational centre where all generations are welcome. The purpose of LUK is to bridge the lack of time and space for intergenerational learning, which used to happen spontaneously, but is today hindered by the modern way of life. On Thursday, we had the opportunity to see what LUK looks like and what activities can take place there. Among other things, there is a large kitchen intended for the transfer of culinary skills from generation to generation.


In order to enjoy a real Slovenian dinner, we all first put on our aprons and got our assignments. The preparation of food started with the collective cleaning of mud, while others started kneading the bread cake. The final result was a traditional soup with pumpkin and Carnivoran bread.

Throughout the dinner, socializing and singing, we were presented with traditional customs, costumes and songs from Kranj, and a special part of the evening was marked by an emotional speech by a participant from Belgium who emphasized the importance of European values, peace, and cooperation, especially in these areas.

On the last day, we finished with the evaluation and the final joint discussion of all participants.

A special thank you to Sjajna and Vesna, who were with us as the representatives of our students on this wonderful trip, and to teacher Domagoj, who always brightens up every gathering and trip with his energy!

See you again soon!

Jelena Posavec Smilović

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Projects

First partner meeting as part of the project “Digital Integration for Equality“

The starting point of our role in this project is that if we have knowledge and skills that can assist anyone – we are there to help. With this idea in mind we went from a thought, to writing a project, and in the end, we were incredibly lucky to get this project. We can't wait to tackle this project and develop a new and innovative digital learning platform!

We have created and written the project “Digital Integration for Equality“ which arose from our wish to provide digital education to those of lower socio-economic status – migrants and Romani people.

With this project, we aim to support lifelong learning for adults with poor access to education. We held our first online meeting with partners from Slovenia, Germany and Belgium, in which we coordinated and set the schedule for the project's activities.

We are very happy to be cooperating with international organisations that are leaders in adult education.

Ljudska univerza Lendava (Slovenia) is an adult learning centre, founded in 1959, which has evolved from a regular school into a modern centre for lifelong education. It has become one of the leading institutions for adult education in Slovenia.

Institut für Roma und Minderheiten (Germany) is a leading Romani organisation in Europe, whose employees have been certified trainers since 2008 thanks to the programme Open Society Foundation. They implement courses with the aim of increasing employability, including promoting social entrepreneurship in vulnerable groups.

Welcome Home International (Belgium) is an NGO founded with the aim of finding innovative and advanced methods for stronger socio-economic integration of refugees in Belgium.

We will publish all activities regularly on our website.

✔This programme is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme. Erasmus+ changing lives, opening minds 🇪🇺

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Projects, Uncategorized

We are never too old to start learning

Learning new things keeps our brains sharp. Keeping curious, active and thirsty for knowledge are traits we should all cultivate, and this is most important for senior citizens. Not only does it keep our brains alert, but we can meet new people through education, make new social contacts, and improve our overall psychosocial and emotional health. Education opens the door to new friendships, and travel gives us a new outlook on life.

That is exactly what happened at our school in Zagreb between the 11th and 15th of March when we organised a partnership meeting and training session as part of the European Senior Exchange project.

The aim of the training workshop was to introduce senior citizens to the Callan Method and improve their English language knowledge.

Partner organisations CDU Ljubljana and LudskaUniverza Kranja also attended, as well as the project holder, HIHTAST.

A total of 15 people participated in the workshop.

The first day was reserved for introductions. Our organisation introduced the Callan Method, as well as the whole array of work our organisation is involved in.

After getting familiar with the Callan Method, the participants were tested to determine their level of English knowledge and subsequently divided into groups, so that they were ready to learn English for 5 days.

Working with senior citizens is a pleasure on so many levels. The elderly are aware of their abilities and have experience with lifelong learning, which they can easily apply to language learning. The Callan Method itself enables learning to be easier, faster and, most importantly, focused on speaking – allowing students to communicate in English as easily and quickly as possible.

On Day One, we had already divided the participants into two groups – an advanced group and an advanced beginners group. As is the case with the Callan Method, teachers from various English-speaking countries took turns teaching their lessons. Participants were able to get to know teachers from Canada, South Africa and the UK. The Belgian participants were amazed that they could speak Dutch with our South African teacher J

Besides the Callan Method course, participants had a chance to learn digital skills, and they created their own collage using the PicCollage.com and Snapseed apps.

To provide our participants with a cultural experience, we prepared a Callan Method course for them in the Croatian language, as well as a pop quiz about Croatian culture.

Our teacher, Tamara, prepared a digital 'scavengehunt' for them, which lead the participants on an exploration of Zagreb using the Actionbound app. To participate in the digital tour, participants had to learn how to use the app with a QR codescanner, as well as the app itself. On top of that, participants had the task of discovering the wonders of Zagreb within a set time, competing to see who could solve the puzzles first.

We concluded the day with a cultural dinner at Medvedgrad Pub, where everyone had the opportunity to try traditional specialties and local beer.

On the last two days, we held our 'Talk Like A Native' workshop, and continued with leaning English.

On our last day, we enjoyed some Belgian chocolate and coffee, and had the evaluation.

In conclusion, we provided the senior citizens with a lifelong learning experience we will all cherish and remember!

Thanks to everyone for a wonderful week of learning and socialising!

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Croatian Language Courses for refugees from Ukraine

As the name of our organization says - we have taken the Initiative!

In order not to remain a passive observer and considering language integration as one of the key steps towards social integration, we launched Croatian language courses for refugees.

The initiative came in response to inquiries about the course of Croatian refugees from many refugees from Ukraine, but also from other NGOs working with refugees. Although the course is currently attended only by refugees from Ukraine, it is open to all third-country nationals who can to register at: dzenana@inicijativa.biz.

We are proud that our volunteers have been working with two groups of refugees for the second week in a row, who found themselves in an unenviable situation in Croatia. With our mission of including vulnerable groups in non-formal education, we are happy to have the opportunity to help with this kind of support in integration.

Croatian as a second language courses are held twice a week, and classes are currently taught by four volunteers, but we are happy that applications for volunteering are still arriving. This is showing us that there is empathy everywhere we look, i.e. that citizens are willing to volunteer and set aside time for those who are in dire need of help at this time. Our teacher volunteers are trained in the Callan method.

They are native Croatian speakers using only their native language in teaching. This method, along with the Croatian  curriculum, facilitates teaching of groups in which participants do not speak the same common language, which makes learning the target language (in this case Croatian) faster and more efficient. Since we wanted to provide this opportunity to refugees from all areas of the Republic of Croatia, we organized our classes in an online format.

For several years now, the initiative has been actively involved in the integration of refugees from the Middle East, North Africa, Central Asia and now Ukraine. We hope that in the future we will continue our work in the direction of successful social integration of all those who, regardless of which country they come from, find their way in our local community.

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Gamification and game based learning- How to get lost in Italy!


Article avaliable also on EPALE.

Now February tends to be one of those months that never ends. Christmas is a vague memory and spring seems like it will never arrive- what better way to put a shine on this dull month than an immersive week playing games, solving riddles and exploring the riveting world of game based learning and gamification in the beautiful, ancient city of Bologna.
I arrived on the evening of the 5th after a slight mishap which saw me re-routed through Milan (tough life! :)) The sun was beginning to set and as I disembarked the train, the smells of charcuterie and fresh focaccia hit me in the food capital of Italy. Dinner was the first port of call, after which it was time to grab my first sleep in Italy and prepare myself for an exciting week.
The first day started with an ice-breaking exercise, my new colleagues and I had to write three facts and one lie about ourselves and then as we made our introductions, we had to guess one another’s lies- this set the mood for the entire week. This was followed by a tour of Bologna and a fantastic dinner. The next day the “serious” work started, Sara our trainer explained how things were going to work, the week was organized into a big game, first we had to create our player “avatars”, and then as we were separated into our respective teams the game began. Time for level 1!

We were first introduced to the differences between Gamification and Game based learning (GBL).
To keep it brief, introducing gamification into the classroom meant using techniques such as; timed challenges, point earning tasks, and other “game inspired” motivational techniques to engage students. On the other hand,” GBL” is the use of actual games in the class to promote the same goals, for example “matching crosswords”. We also delved into the pedagogical value of playing, how it promotes the acquisition of soft skills and stimulates problem solving, encourages experiential learning and increases the motivation of students.

Of course, behind all of the fun and games there exists theory, do students benefit from this type of learning? Can gamification and GBL really influence the classroom experience positively? Here we looked at the “Octalys method”, a study that looked at the motivations of the different types of players, their core drives and some real life examples. Level 2!

Level two delved into the extrinsic motivators and intrinsic motivators, how we could use “white hat” and “black hat” motivators to immerse students in their tasks, and encourage them to move through the game and accomplish their goals.

Games such as “Lupus in Tabula” were used to highlight these types of players, goals and motivations.

Level 3 started with an introduction to more traditional games and web-games that could be used in the class. From here, it was time to start the “10 quest challenge”- we were separated into teams, and each team was given the same set of “quests” to complete i.e. singing a song for 3 minutes, memorizing the core motivators etc. The benefits of this game were:

  • To enhances group atmosphere and energy
  • To create choice-based lessons and learning pathways that are both personalized and differentiated
  • To break down topics/assignments into a menu of choices, mission-sty
  • To give learners a sense of agency or autonomy!
  • To provide a simple way to gamify learning

In level three we looked at, and played many games “Battleship”, “Omars game”. These games are intrinsically connected with enhancing creativity and imagination, promoting positive atmosphere and energy and providing multiple and inclusive ways of expression.

Now for the last level. Level 4!

  • Using game-based mechanics to engage learners and motivate to act and learn outdoor
  • Learn to create online Scavenger Hunts to be performed indoor or outdoor
  • Learn to create Digital Escape Room style experiences

This was by far the highlight of the week, Sara created an unbelievably fun and interesting outdoor treasure hunt of Bologna. She imparted her knowledge and taught us how to use various applications to create these interactive activities ourselves. The main goal of this type of activity is getting students to apply acquired knowledge to real life, and at the same time, increase focus, and create a positive and fun atmosphere. During the game, we were able to consider the different motivation factors that were introduced to this activity, and see how it pushed us to achieve the overall outcome. Winning!

As we moved through the “levels”, we learnt more and more about how we can introduce these methods into our respective classrooms, and how each game can be adapted to fit the needs of our students. I was particularly interested in the online quiz making tools, the “actionbound” treasure hunt and the google sheets “escape room” activities.

Now I know this all seems like “lots of work and no play” but aside from the fantastic, interesting educational adventures we had with Sara, another person deserves a special mention- Alona. Alona facilitated our city tours, helped drive the dynamic of the group in the classroom and out of the classroom and overall made the trip extra special for all of us.

A massive thank you to Inicijativa for organizing this trip, to Sara for creating and leading an unforgettable course, to Alona for guiding us from one beautiful, interesting site to another, to the wonderful staff of Camplus who made us feel welcome in comfortable surroundings, but most of all to the colleagues I met.


Manuel and Juan- the Spanish “cheers” will never be forgotten, Gruia- you exuded positivity all week and helped cohere the group with your good humour, Alexandra- a real tem player, Cristina and Andreea- the good witches, and Edyta, Paulina, Aneta and Gabriela- you all imparted your own special touch to the week.

I look forward to using these new acquired skills to help create fun and interesting activities that engage our students in Inicijativa and promote inclusive learning. Fun times ahead.

Mobility of course participant is enabled within the project "Step up", code number: 2021-1-HR01-KA122-ADU-000018329. The project is funded by the European Union. Erasmus +: Enriching lives, opening minds.

Stephen Breslin

Step Up – KA 1 Erasmus+ projekt
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