JANUARY 2014 Read previous issues here

What is INVOLEN?
The project objectives, methodology and activities
INVOLEN is an innovative project promoting intergenerational learning through game-based learning, targeting nature conservation volunteers in 5 European countries (Italy, Greece, France, Hungary and Slovenia). INVOLEN brings together two different age groups, adolescents and senior citizens and encourages their participation in voluntary activities for the protection and preservation of the European ecological heritage, focusing on NATURA 2000 sites. Seniors and youth are challenged to work together in groups and design their own interactive ICT games on nature conservation. A wide dissemination campaign of the INVOLEN model is launched by initiating school competitions leading to European awards in all participating countries.

The objectives of the project include promoting volunteering for nature conservation, making adult education more attractive to all ages, enhancing the preservation of protected areas including NATURA 2000 sites, contributing to the cohesion of communities living inside or near protected areas by enhancing their awareness of the ecological value of their surroundings, bridging the generations’ gap by deriving benefits for young and old and by involving schools and the civil society and promoting the culture of active citizenship.

For more information read here:


A participatory process in Italy
The Italian pilot group is located in Livorno town, a city placed close to the protected area ‘Provincial Park of Monti Livornesi’, an area characterized by an historical aqueduct, but also by relevant Mediterranean vegetation coverage. The project team gathers students of the secondary school Micali, their teachers (Prof. Demi and Prof. Lucarelli) and two more facilitators, five seniors of local associations active in nature protection (part to the local project Occhi sulle Colline), two facilitators and two experts on informatics and ICT to help in the mobile game development.

At first, the project involved the whole classes to make all pupils aware about the knowledge of the area and the importance of nature protection. The area has been described by seniors on the base of their past experience and knowledge. Indeed, they shared with the youth different aspects: their personal experiences (stories from their youth, animals they used to see and hunt when it was allowed, how they used to play, historical events happened there), their knowledge about nature, environment and history (explaining the history of the aqueduct, flora and fauna, rare species of orchids etc.). 

Therefore, pupils collected information and pictures during the site visit, which took place in November. Then, along with seniors and facilitators, they drafted several stories and scenarios for the mobile game. Through a participatory process, the final story for the mobile game has been selected and it will be discussed with ICT experts for its implementation on ARIS games platform.

A lot of questions to be answered in France!
Since the end of October, youth and seniors are working together to create the local based game. The French pilot group met every afternoon during the week of 28th to 31th of October and then we meet every two weeks on Wednesday afternoons until February. In regards of the beginning of the courses, as the focus group of April was quite far away, we had to explain the project’s concept and the choice of the  dune area of Gâvres-Quiberon.

During the last week of October we particularly worked on discovering the ARIS platform with youth. And the best way to learn how it works is to practice!
In two afternoons, we asked them to create a very simple game about the city (“A la des souvenirs perdus”/ “Looking for the Lost Memories” / “A la recherche d’un ordinateur” / “Where is my computer?”) so they now understand perfectly how ARIS works.

Afterwards, we made a visit of the area with a specialist who explained everything about the flora, the fauna and the reasons for the conservation of this zone, plus we made some research on the web in order to obtain additional information about the area.
So now our team can make decisions about the game on WHAT? FOR WHOM? WHERE? HOW? WHEN? If you’d like to know the answers to those questions, read the next newsletter!

Vravrona on the spot in Greece
In the framework of the INVOLEN project pilot implementation, the Hellenic Ornithological Society cooperates with the 3rd secondary school of Gerakas town in Eastern Attica. The Environmental Education group of this school has been actively involved in several environmental projects for many years. The wider group that implements the pilot phase of the project consists of 15 students, 3-4 seniors and 2 facilitators.

The 2 CE hour meetings, also attended by the HOS and PRISMA project managers, started in November and are held every Friday, within the framework of the school’s Environmental Education group’s weekly meetings.
So far, during the meetings the participants had the opportunity to get familiar with the ARIS game platform and game design, to be informed on the natural resources, the uniqueness and the environmental issues of Vravrona by an expert in the respective fields, to discuss with the seniors and record their stories regarding the protected area, to integrate all the obtained information into their games’ storyboard and, last but not least, to create their very own first game on the platform!

Another significant experience was the visit of the focus group at Vravrona, where the students with the assistance of seniors collected audiovisual footage in order to create their games, motivated by the guided tour at the area’s Archaeological Museum but, most importantly, by their tour at the wetland. Now the focus team drafts the final scenario for the implementation of the final game, which will be tested (playtesting method) on a field trip at Vravrona, with the guidance of the expert facilitators.

The pilot phase of the INVOLEN project is expected to end in March 2014.

Pilot courses in Hungary
Unfortunately, we have to announce that the PΑΝ Parks Foundation, due to its recent cease of operation, has withdrawn from the project. It is with great pleasure, though, that we welcome our new partner, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre for Regional Studies West-Hungarian Research Institute in Győr, Hungary, that will soon take over the tasks of PΑΝ Parks.

A lively project in Slovenia!
Last autumn, the Slovenian team started to implement the INVOLEN learning methodology. Young people and seniors are exchanging their knowledge and skills. Flow of information transfer became very alive. Seniors have taught the younger members how to create baskets. Basket weaving is an ancient practice our ancestors engaged in  during winter time when nature rests and people do not have work on their fields. Basket weaving enhances sensitivity towards nature as it is strongly linked to biodiversity. It is good to be familiar with plants, to know the biodiversity of the area, and it is also important when and where the plants are gathered to be used for basket weaving.

After all, this traditional craft, which is almost dying, can actually represent an opportunity to create new jobs for young people or to enrich learning programs that already exist on farms and other tourist locations.
More work was conducted in the classroom, where the pilot group tried to learn how to create games in the ARIS environment. The intergenerational group has not yet mastered programming, but it still has the time and willpower to learn about ICT in depth!

We all had a good time during the learning process and we look forward to further meetings, in the framework of which we will try to prepare learning games on the selected Natura 2000 protected area.

European Competition in 2015!
In each country of the project partnership (Italy, Greece, Slovenia, France, Hungary), the pilot groups are currently working hard for the accomplishment of the “volunteer conservationist’s mobile game” using ARIS games platform. The wider competition is open for the next school year 2014-2015, addressed to any kind of environmental organization, association, NGO, school, university etc. who are willing to apply INVOLEN methodology for intergenerational learning and produce a mobile game using any kind of game platform.

The “volunteer conservationist’s games”, translated into English, will be uploaded on the project website and will be open for public voting. Prizes for the three finalists will be sought from the private sector in the form of sponsorship. Representatives of the finalists will be invited to participate in the final conference to be held in Italy in 2015. If you are interested, do not hesitate to contact the national partner of the project for receiving further information about whom can participate, how and what to do!             

Involen presented in International Workshop
The International Workshop “Science Education and Guidance in schools: the way forward” (21-22 October 2013, Florence, Italy) was the frame in which Involen has been presented by the Institute of Biometeorology to an international public of academics and secondary school teachers. Relevance has been given to the innovative didactic methodology targeted to two groups of different ages (intergenerational learning), and to mobile technology as a tool to engage these groups in nature conservation actions.

The workshop, organised by the Institute of Biometeorology-CNR, the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna of Pisa and the University of Florence (Department of Science Εducation and Psychology), was held in the gorgeous location of the Auditorium Sant’Apollonia. About 70 delegates from different parts of the world (European countries, but also Mexico, Guatemala and Georgia) and some high school Italian students took part actively, listening and posing questions to the contributions brought by the delegates (oral presentations and posters). The presentations concerned science and environmental education and dissemination, including experiences of innovative teaching methodologies, for instance those based on inquiry, inclusive learning, or using Information and Communication Technologies, but also on learning assessment.

The INVOLEN project, the only one concerning Intergenerational Learning, was presented. The experts expressed curiosity and interest, especially on the way the two generations might be involved during the project, and the game creation as key to engage the two groups in raising the awareness for nature protection. The challenges of creating the mobile game through
α variety of related activities (seniors' story collection, volunteering activities in the protected area etc.) and of changing the common view on stereotypes (youngsters more skilled and stronger in attitude toward ICT), were also very much appreciated. Students and experts in ICT posed also several technical questions.

The program and the contributions (papers and presentations) of the workshop can be downloaded at the page "Eventi" in