Strengthening SELFIE across Europe with the SHERPA project

We interviewed the coordinator of the Erasmus+ project SELFIE HElpeR & Pedagogical innovation Assistant (SHERPA) professor Avgoustos Tsinakos from the International Hellenic University, AETMA LAB.

What is the main goal of the SHERPA project?

The SHERPA project is a 2-year project to strengthen the systematic adoption of SELFIE across Europe. It will develop two key outputs: the SELFIE Helper and the SELFIE Pedagogical Toolkit.

The first output is a chatbot system that will help schools use the SELFIE platform. We noticed that when schools use SELFIE for the first time some common practical and logistical questions come up about how to set up the tool. Most of these questions end up at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) with the SELFIE team. As the team has to reply to each question individually in different languages, responses can be delayed. The SELFIE Helper chatbot will draw on the knowledge of recurring questions and answers to generate automated replies. This will free up the SELFIE team to work on improvements, and help schools to quickly set up SELFIE.

The second output, the SELFIE Pedagogical Toolkit, is a comprehensive package aimed at helping schools transform their SELFIE results into concrete innovation strategies and actions for employing digital technologies in teaching and learning more effectively.

The Toolkit will support schools once they have completed the SELFIE process and have received their customised report.

A lot of teachers and school leaders are very pleased with the reports they receive, but find it hard to know how to follow up and who to involve. We would like to help schools in this area by creating a framework or roadmap with best practices and suggestions.

How did you discover SELFIE?

I came across the project back in 2016 in the context of my work with the research lab AETMA LAB in Greece. The AETMA LAB researches technology-enhanced learning and we discovered the early work on SELFIE as part of a literature review. Inspired by SELFIE’s innovative approach, we got in touch with the team, joining many meetings and becoming one of the first countries to introduce a SELFIE ambassadors’ scheme.

Now I am the current national SELFIE ambassador in Greece alongside three local ambassadors: Nikos Tzimopoulos (High School Teacher & ETwinning), Theodoros Karounos (GFOSS representative and NETMODE Researcher) and Antonios Bletsas (High School Teacher and Headmaster). The ambassador scheme has helped us step forward to introduce SELFIE to the wider Greek school community.

What are some of the results you would like to see from SHERPA?

The SHERPA project will be a success when we manage to create the SELFIE Helper and are able to integrate it into the SELFIE-tool. The development of the feature will not only help schools use SELFIE but also help the SELFIE team by gathering data which can be used to improve the tool. The SELFIE Pedagogical Toolkit is a complex task and may take longer than we have envisioned.

Who are the partners of the project and how do you plan on working with them?

The SHERPA consortium comprises six partners:

Most partners were involved in some way in the early design of the SELFIE tool with the JRC. We all share a similar vision and passion for its goals. As project coordinator, I believe that each partner has a critical role to play building on their different backgrounds. Some have a more technical background, like the University of Jyvaskyla and Tallinn University, while others have a pedagogical focus, like our Italian and Cypriot partners. We share our expertise and knowledge and benefit from the different skill sets we all bring to the project.

Header image: Avgoustos Tsinakos at the European Parliament. © SHERPA4Selfie, 2020