“Adapting skills to resist radicalisation”, an extraordinary project with exciting project partners, started in November 2020. The aim is to adapt interactive online educational materials from our British project partner Ariel Trust (LINK) for free use by multipliers in Germany. The project is financed and coordinated by the Belgian Evens Foundation (LINK), which we have known since 2017, when we were nominated for their Evens Prize for Peace Education.
Skills to resist radicalisation” (STRR) is an interactive website with short films, online exercises, handouts and manuals to prevent radicalisation and strengthen young people’s resilience to inhuman ideologies. Ariel Trust’s approach is very similar to that of planpolitik: Through role plays and interactive exercises, young people between the ages of 11 and 14 develop and test communication and action strategies. While the English-language materials were developed for teachers in British schools, the adapted German-language version now includes three workshop concepts with a total of nine 90-minute modules that multipliers will also be able to use in extracurricular educational work from October 2021.
Besides the exciting content, it is also our project partners that make STRR a favourite project: We are particularly pleased that we are once again working with the Protestant Support Group for Social Youth Education (et) and the “Respect Coaches” programme. They accompany us in the adaptation process and test the materials. Another great partner is Daniel Müller from dkmnews, who designs and implements the illustrations and animated short films. We presented a first sample at a workshop with Respect Coaches at the beginning of February and were pleased to receive a lot of positive and helpful feedback.
All over Germany there are schools where some of our simulation games have become an annual tradition. But as popular as our workshops are at many schools, we occasionally hear some teachers that the entire timetable has had to be moved around to enable the whole year to take part in a simulation game. As a result, we have launched another successful test format of digital teaching. If we can’t be there ourselves (which we would much rather be), we might as well take advantage of the flexibility of digital formats. We have developed a serialised version of our simulation game Just Transition, which we normally run as an on-site block event. This means that it can now be conducted across four double periods within the regular weekly teaching schedule.
The time between lessons can also be used: Familiarisation with the roles becomes homework, allowing the game to get going right away in the second session. The students always have all the information at hand via our simulation platform Senaryon. They can also communicate and negotiate with each other between lessons. Due to plenty of good feedback, a total of seven events are already scheduled to take place in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. The format works so well with home-schooling that we had to wonder why we hadn’t thought of it before!
2020 – the year of extremely steep learning curves! This also applies to our know-how in the conception and facilitation of interactive online workshops, whether they include a simulation game or not. We have passed on this knowledge directly in many online training courses, e.g. to teachers, trainers from the civil society sector and lecturers at universities. The basic principle of our training courses is always that all interactive methods are best explained by trying them out in practice.
Several training concepts have been developed: These include the 90-minute crash course and the somewhat more detailed 3.5-hour version, which provide an overview of common methods and tools as well as the basic rules of workshop design and facilitation. For the less experienced participants, these are the first steps towards being able to independently design and conduct workshops with interactive methods in the future. The more experienced trainers will enjoy the exchange and the inspiration for their own work.
Our longer formats usually deal with specific methods. Our most “classic” training is on the development and implementation of simulation games, which has since been augmented by a section on the development of simple online simulation games via video conference or our simulation game software Senaryon.
Equally exciting was the request to transfer the Design Thinking method to the digital world and to accompany this with a training course for independent implementation. But how can a method that draws heavily on haptic experience and fast, direct exchange within the team work online? To answer this question, we went a little further and researched what ideas the Design Thinking scene has for an online implementation. The result is a mural-based Design Thinking experience with upstream training for independent use. So here, too, we can say – mission accomplished.
EU and LGBTI rights – does this have anything to do with each other? We certainly think so. Therefore, we have developed a one-day modular workshop concept for teachers on behalf of QUEERFORMAT, the agency for Queer Education. The extent to which LGBTI rights are protected by the EU and what the individual EU countries think about this are just some of the insights that the participants will take away with them. At least as exciting is the look at the situation in the individual member states. In order to illustrate this, we have revived a classic of children’s games – the card game known as Happy Families! But instead of comparing car engine sizes or the weight of dinosaurs, we compare EU countries with regard to the protection and rights of LGBTI persons – and we frequently found ourselves amazed when researching this. Do you know which country has the most LGBTI-friendly laws in the EU? If so: Congratulations! If not, print out LGBTI Top Trumps, cut out cards and off you go on the next game night. The materials will soon be available at queerformat.de and of course here, at planpolitik.
(PS: It’s Malta)
At the annual Tiergarten Conference held by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in November each year, experts from all over the world discuss security and foreign policy. This time, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was in charge of the opening, delivering a fascinating speech on Social Democratic foreign policy, the role of the EU and international cooperation. Of course, it was also about how to deal with those who do not really want to play along with multilateralism. Afterwards there was some time for questions from the audience. This part was moderated by us, always keeping an eye on the nervous faces of Mr Maas’s entourage, who had the Minister’s tight schedule in mind. Björn had the pleasure to give the floor to his lecturer from his very first university seminar: Professor Gesine Schwan.
After this rather traditional start, our actual core competence came into play: With the help of a fancy survey tool (digital, of course) and discussions in small groups, we tuned the participants into the topics of the panels that were to follow and thus brought them into conversation with each other. We had developed the questions up for discussion together with the organisation team of the Tiergarten Conference. In this way, the moderators of the two subsequent panels were able to refer directly to the results of the surveys and use them as a way into the conversation.
Last November, we reached another milestone in our ERASMUS+ project #TEVIP: After two years of work, it was time to share the project results with our own colleagues and those of our partner organisations. In beautiful Piemont, 25 trainers and teachers from seven countries were exploring how our personal values shape our work as trainers in political education. The basis for this was the #TEVIP position paper, in which we summarized our position as a project team.
Of course things also became practical and the participants tried out many of the new simulations, role playing games and activities themselves. Finally, the participants developed their own event concepts suitable for their working context in order to use the #TEVIP methods themselves. Also, the exchange between the participants was enormously enriching thanks to a multitude of backgrounds and experiences.
We would therefore like to draw your attention to our #TEVIP closing conference in Potsdam on June 3rd, where we will present our project results and would like to exchange ideas with you. By then all developed methods will be available online on tevip.eu.
For the online department, the launch of the “Parents’ Quiz” as part of the project “Opportunities and creative possibilities of digital media” was scheduled for December 2019. This quiz supports parents and guardians in finding their way through the maze of media education. How do I react when my child can no longer go to the toilet without a mobile phone? Do I possibly have the same problem? The parents’ quiz approaches the everyday problems of children’s use of media in a playful way and gives some helpful advice. By the way, you play it on your smartphone.
At the same time our simulation game software Senaryon continues its journey into classrooms and university seminar rooms. In a recent project of the universities of Krakow, Antwerp and Göttingen, the “EU lobbying game” proved itself on the international stage without the students having to come together – a promising approach, since this is exactly the strength of pure online simulation games. In Lower Saxony, a whole series of online simulation games on EU topics took place in schools, and hundreds of young people played the Unionslabor and our digital media literacy game Junait.
But we are not stopping there. We are currently working on the development of a simple universal structure for online simulation games. This project bears the title “Platinum Standard”. It is intended to facilitate all kinds of conflict situations – whether political, economic, historical or simply regarding the flat share cleaning plan – which can then be simulated as an online simulation game.
At the same time, we are pressing ahead with the forward-thinking integration of digital and analogue event formats in order to internally overcome the division into analogue and digital formats and departments in the medium term – an exciting process of organisational development, which we will perhaps report on in more detail in a later newsletter.
When the last young guests left the “Iserlohner Partizipationstag” (Iserlohn Participation Day) on 6 November 2019, a great project that had accompanied our Department of Democracy and Society for almost the entire year came to an end. Rewind to February 2019: in close cooperation with the Children’s and Youth Office of the City of Iserlohn, we defined the objectives and framework conditions, and on this basis developed a tailor-made concept. The mission? To train a team of committed young people to independently conduct three interactive workshops on the Participation Day, each with groups of a good 100 peers – in three successive rounds. In mid-July, the first stage of the event kicked off: 17 great talents took part in the two-day interactive moderation training, during which they learned about the World Café, simulation game and ideas workshop methods and how to use them. In addition, they learned how to work with very large groups, how to work in a team and of course how to deal with stage fright, small mistakes and unavoidable mishaps.
In the following months, the young people honed their moderation skills, while we provided tailor-made schedules and methodological know-how. Finally the big day: while we moderated the supporting programme with cheerleaders, beatboxing, the Children’s and Youth Council, the German UN youth delegates and a colourful market of possibilities, the moderation teams took their starting position in their three rooms. When called upon, the 370 young people present spread out over the workshops – and off they went! During the next four hours, they discussed how to deal with racism and mobbing, negotiated municipal climate policy in a simulation game, came up with a rich palette of creative ideas for an even better Iserlohn and laughed a lot. Our role in this primarily consisted of amazement and joy (and not forgetting about the big picture)! Nervousness had no place in the workshop room and the young presenters rocked the show with self-confidence and a lot of charm. Hats off!
Our classic simulation game “Shaping globalisation – multilateral cooperation or national solo efforts?” is now in its 15th year and has once again received an update, albeit not in terms of content – which we of course keep up to date anyway – but with regard to the way we communicate it to the participants. We now use our online platform Senaryon, which can be very helpful for the introduction, monitoring and evaluation of a simulation game.
The participants need nothing more than their smartphones. They use them to log on to the platform and answer questions on the topic of globalisation or the course of the simulation itself. The collected results are projected onto the wall and discussed together. The big advantage of this is that really all participants are involved and can take part.
Another new feature: the participants can test for themselves whether they have understood their roles and positions correctly and are fit for the negotiations. To do so, they take short quizzes on the different topics and actors in the simulation game.
The first three runs were very promising. The technology is up and running and will soon be used for other games and formats.
In cooperation with the University of Göttingen, we are once again facing a new challenge: an EU simulation game for teaching in the pre-vocational training year (BVJ), for which suitable materials for (European) political education have so far been absolutely scarce.
The BVJ is attended by pupils who are of school age but have not received a regular training place. Many have had very negative experiences in the school system and are threatened with dropping out of school, some have drug problems, have a criminal record or are confronted with serious family problems.
The team around Prof. Dr. Monika Oberle of the Chair of Political Didactics of Göttingen University is planning two-day workshops, of which our simulation game will fill about three hours. The students will discuss plastic-packed fruit and vegetables as members of the EU parliament and will decide on a regulation. This will be followed by a reality check with a “real” Member of the EU Parliament. We will find out if all this has an effect, because of course the success of the EU-funded Jean Monnet Project JUMPER will be researched.