Empowering Education Through Passion-based Learning

Learnlife's "Passion-Based Learning" programme is training 90 teachers across 10 schools in Catalunya to transform classrooms into student-centred learning environments.
Empowering Education Through Passion-based Learning

The "Passion-Based Learning” training programme by Learnlife aims at transforming traditional classrooms into student-centred learning environments that prioritise individual interests and passions.

The programme empowers teachers to guide students in exploring their passions, fostering creativity and autonomy. This training initiative significantly impacts both educators and students, enabling an authentic shift towards more personalised and engaging learning experiences.

Imagine a classroom where students of different ages work in the same maker lab, focused on their own personal projects. There are prototypes, sketches, half-finished models and scraps of fabric on the tables. Students organise themselves using Kanban Boards and document their processes in Google Drive folders. 

The atmosphere is relaxed and collaborative, and students give each other feedback and advice. The teacher guides the students by asking questions so that they find their own solutions.

If we talk to the students, we would see that they are aware of their challenges and areas for improvement, and we could look at the rubrics assessment that they have co-created with the teachers. This is the classroom of the 21st century. 

This scenario and type of learning environment speaks to the specific needs and skills of the modern world. However, while it may be easy to envision, it can be notably more difficult to put into practice, to take down the walls, so to speak, and rebuild a learning environment, perhaps both physically and metaphorically. 

Under the umbrella of the Impuls Digital project designed by the Catalan Education Department and EU Next Gen funds, Learnlife has created an exciting and impactful training programme: "Passion-Based Learning: L'interès personal com a motor de l'aprenentatge" to train 90 teachers at 10 schools across Catalunya. 

Passion-based learning is an approach to education that emphasises the importance of following students' interests and passions in the learning process. It’s based on the idea that students are more motivated and involved in their learning when they can explore and delve into topics that they are passionate about.

“This public-funded course is the continuation of the work we have been developing since 2021, supporting teams of educators adopting new practices to enhance learning in their schools.

"The training has three main goals: to boost the educator’s digital competence, to implement passion-based learning in the classrooms, and to weave a network between 10 schools. I’m particularly enthusiastic about this last point because of how powerful it is,” explains training leader Joan Urgell.

“When we designed the training, our vision was to establish a network of support between educators and schools, bringing together a community of practitioners that support each other to achieve a common goal: Implement passion-based learning. It’s very fulfilling to see we are heading in the right direction and bringing value to our trainees, the learners, and their communities.”

Through this kind of work, Learnlife hopes to transform the educational world beyond its own hubs. To support other schools wishing to become more adapted to students’ interests and passions, and to create a programme, which meets the EU Educator's Digital Competence at a B1 level, to help schools adopt this methodology. Moreover, the training allows the work to happen on the schools’ terms, adapted to their unique needs, physical limitations, and personal goals. 

Live Training Kick-off: Workshops and Hackathon

On 5th October, we hosted the live training kick-off event of the project, which brought together teachers and leaders from the 10 schools to meet, collaborate and exchange ideas. 

Through workshops and a hackathon, teachers engaged with the concept of passion-based learning and explored tools used in the Learnlife Urban Hub, such as 3D printing, woodworking, and video and photo editing. 

In the hackathon, they were given a challenge which they used as a prompt to envision a solution, create a prototype, and present it to their colleagues.

The training is designed to boost teacher empathy towards their learners. Thus, the participants take the same steps their learners will go through once they implement the projects in the classroom. Through this experience, they were able to take control of their own learning as their learners will do.  

“We can see how it works from the students' perspective. It helps us remember what it’s like to be a student, how they learn, how they experiment. It’s very interesting because it offers students a lot of opportunities for creativity and exploration,” says Constanza Burton, a teacher at the American School of Barcelona.


Building a Community of Passionate Learners

Learnlife’s training model serves to meet the schools where they are and accompany them during their transition to a personal learning, human-centred model that empowers students and teachers alike.

The schools working with Learnlife this year will be supported throughout the implementation of their Passion Projects in both online and in-person sessions. 

Following the maker philosophy of 'Studios' or 'Labs, ' each school will set up and run thematic labs where students can channel their interests using different tools and materials. 

Each term, the students will work in a different Lab, guided by their interests and developing skills to lead projects. In this model, the teacher assumes the role of facilitator rather than lecturer or instructor. 

They work with students to identify their interests and help them develop projects (Passion Projects) that align with those interests. This approach allows students to take control of their learning and encourages them to be more independent and autonomous.

Building on Success: Acesco School Case Study

This training programme is not the first that Learnlife has led. During the 2021-2022 academic year, Learnlife accompanied the team from Acesco, a school located in Parets del Vallès,  to implement Passion Projects. 

That year, the school affected 96 students from first to third ESO, creating a project with technological roots that they called 'Know Pro'. Know Pro was a subject block of two hours per week in which the students became the protagonists of their own learning processes, and motivation was born from their own interests and passions. 

During this block, students created a variety of products such as project managing, organising and marketing school events, producing video games, and creating a fashion garments. This kind of project is exactly what Impuls hopes to achieve with this new cohort of schools.


A Vision for Autonomy and Empowerment

We are excited to see how passion projects take root and flourish in the ten schools involved in the "Passion-Based Learning: L'interès personal com a motor d'aprenentatge" programme.

The training will have an impact on 90 teachers and has the potential to impact many more learners, helping both groups to achieve a sense of autonomy, self-growth, and pride in new skill sets and new understandings. 

Interested in transforming your classrooms into student-centred learning environments? Learn more about our training for schools and educators here

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