PILOTS: Professionalisation in Learning Technology and Science


Pilots (2008-2010) centred around the role of explainers in science centres and museums by developing European training courses and by research on the role of explainers.

Science explainers – the main target group of the project – are education professionals working in science centres or museums who come into face-to-face contact with the public. The project followed two principal lines of action:

  • the collection of data on European practices concerning explainers;
  • the planning and testing of training modules to enhance the role of explainers in lifelong learning in science, with particular attention to the new needs of explainers in response to the requirements of adult learners: facilitating dialogue and discussion, tackling controversial and sensitive issues, taking into account gender differences and presenting current research.

The main outcomes include:

  • Four training courses, with over 150 European explainers participating;
  • A complete Resource Pack of pedagogical materials in four modules, available online;
  • An online community with over 500 users - the Pilots Hub to disseminate, discuss and share the project outcomes and information;
  • The results of a qualitative and quantitative survey based on detailed focus group interviews and a full survey of the explainers' community on the role and training needs of explainers;
  • Over 40 multiplying events (Co-Pilots events), carried out by explainers who participated in the Pilots training courses (with over 560 participants across Europe).

The activities started by the project continevery ue beyond the project lifetime: the Pilots summer school is organised year; the Pilots Hub facilitates collaboration among explainers at European level.

Basic information

Country: Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia

Coordinator: ECSITE, the European Network of Science Centres and Museums, www.ecsite.eu

Programme: LLP

Project Acronym:

Target groups: researchers, teachers, other

Topic: Education, Other

Start year: 2008

End year: 2010

Url: http://thepilots.eu

Contact person: Marzia Mazzonetto, Ecsite Project Manager, mmazzonetto (at) ecsite.eu

An important part of the project activities was collection and analysis of data on explainers' status and roles, on local training practices, both through a desk survey and through focus groups and other research.

The Pilots partners produced an international multilingual commented bibliography on explainers' role, status and training, a report on explainers' status and needs and a report on the state of the art in adult learning.

The project training materials were also supplemented by theoretical instructions on the role of explainers and inquiry-based learning.

Pilots organised four training courses: two four-day local courses (Mechelen and Paris) and two two-day international courses (Milan and Dortmund), during the Ecsite Annual Conferences 2009 and 2010.

All participants in Pilots training courses were required to organise a training activity in their own institution, for their colleagues (Co-Pilots events). This allowed explainers to share their experiences from Pilots in their own language, and ensured that as many explainers as possible benefited from this best practice in each participating institution.

The pedagogical materials produced by the project include:

  • Role of Explainers
  • Inquiry-Based Learning
  • Developing Debate
  • Science Shows

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