About UDEL21

Schools have become more and more diverse and this diversity will not stop growing. Teachers are faced with challenges and often they are not prepared and as a consequence see diversity as problematic and frightening. Diversity is found in language, culture, background, gender, learning (different talents, special needs, learning preferences) and more. There is no school that can ignore this. But are our schools ready? Challenges are often found in the integration of diversity in the school models, starting from initial frames of reference and the fact that teachers need practical support, material and training to work in a diverse classroom.

In this context, our project was born. 'Use diversity to enhance learning in the 21st Century' (UDEL21) was the project title and ambitious goal of a partnership that was initiated in a 'diamant' work- model: a university on academic level, 3 service providers and network organizations on middle level and two school groups on practical level. The general objective of the project was a mindshift from diversity as a problem to diversity as an asset: take the diversity in the classroom as the norm and use its richness to make teaching and learning better (learning and teaching in diversity). Next to this, use the diversity in the classroom to educate and build on attitudes and values of the learners to prepare them for a very diverse future society (learning and teaching for diversity).

Dealing and coping with diversity happens from different frames of references and is often based on stereotypes, prejudices, fear, and deeply rooted norms. This is not different in education, so first we needed a common frame of reference on diversity, based on literature, research, legislation and current practices. The university made sure that this common frame of reference was evidence informed and current and conducted a short pre-survey for schools in the partner organizations. The general frame of reference was further refined in introductions on language diversity, gender diversity, learning diversity and cultural diversity, the fields in which we worked. The frames were all written in an accessible and compact version, ready to use for schools. The second work package was the collection and design of 'tools'. We defined a tool as a class activity or a work method, to be used in combination with lessons or as separate activities, both in primary and secondary schools. The result was a collection of 89 tools. We made sure that all these tools were tried out in schools. The three network organizations (one in Czech Republic and two in Belgium) were the leading partners for the tools. The two groups of schools (primary schools in Slovenia and secondary schools in Austria) inspired the work, from bottom-up. They were our ‘practical’ guardian, a very important role, as our results needed to be usable in the class. The next step was designing support and training with the frames and the tools. This work was done by the partner organizations in their own context and finally processed in two international conferences, two courses and a train-the-trainer.

The two conferences were a mixture of state of the art academic input and practical work-sessions. We reached more than 60 participants in both conferences. The two courses were more practical, always accompanied by frames and an action plan for the school as end product. With the courses we reached more than 40 participants for each course, with a very rich combination of nationalities. After the courses, the participants returned to their own context with an action plan for further implementation in the school or training.

The overall objective of the project was met, considering the fact that we count on follow-up work in the schools. In some cases, working with the tools confirmed an already existing positive view on the richness of diversity. Other teachers appreciated the diversity of the tools and were eager to design new ones. By making teachers aware of the opportunities in teaching for diversity and teaching in diversity, teachers became stronger and valued the profession more while realizing the importance of the impact they have on the students. As one teacher formulated it so nicely: “If a mindshift happens with me as teacher, the mindshift will have its effects on the children in the classroom".

Also in the partner organisations the effect was visible, as the discussions at the project meetings showed, with more understanding, knowledge, skills and attitudes as outcomes. At the end of the project all partners learned a lot and were ready to work further with the results of the project which were continually shared within the organizations in the network and connections were made with the other units within the partner organizations. We do hope that this project has made a difference, even if it is only an oil stain that can be further spread out. We invite everybody to use our results and keep on spreading our work.


Course for teacher's trainers will be held in Castiglione Del Lago, IT, May 27 - June 1 2018.

2nd International Conference will be held in Perugia, IT, May 24-26 2018. Venue: Hotel Gió, University of Perugia. – see more

We are developing online environment for tools (activities, methods, approaches). Tools will be available from for practical use in a clasroom to support learning in/for diversity.