Meet the EAPRIL keynotes!

It is with great pleasure that we introduce the three EAPRIL 2023 keynote speakers! They will provide a state-of-the-art speech in their field, sharing their research, expertise and inspiring ideas with you.

We are very much looking forward to their talks, you can find more information about each speaker and their speech below.

Contact, connection and collaboration: The role of shared education in a society transitioning from conflict By prof. Joanne Hughes - Queen's University Belfast (UK)

The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in 1998 signaled the end of more than three decades of conflict in Nothern Ireland. Some 25 years on society remains divided and this is mirrored especially in the education system where the majority of young people continue to attend schools that are characterised by ethno/religious separation. Seeking to capitalise on the role that schools can play in promoting social cohesion, and underpinned by contact theory, a Shared Education initiative was piloted by Queen's University in 2007. The approach promotes collaboration between schools from different sectors as a vehicle for improving educational opportunity for all children and building intergroup relations. Shared education has had significant impact in a relatively short time period, with the majority of schools In NI participating and an associated legislative and policy framework now in place. The approach has also attracted interest from other divided jurisdictions and shared education projects based on the NI model have been trialled in Israel and countries in southeast Europe. This presentation examines the evidence for shared education and explores its unique contribution to promoting social cohesion in a society still recovering from conflict.


Joanne Hughes is Professor of Education in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work, and Director of the Centre for Shared Education in the School. She also holds a UNESCO Chair in education. Her main research interests are in the role of education in divided societies, and inter-group relations in conflict and post-conflict societies. In recent years she has led a number of research projects on the implementation of the shared education model in Northern Ireland and worked with academics and educational stakeholders in regions across the world to explore the potential for adapted shared education models in other divided contexts. She has also advised Government Officials and Ministers nationally and internationally on the development of policies and interventions to promote good relations in schools.

In 2019, her work along with that of colleagues at Queen’s, was recognised by Her Majesty the Queen in a Queen's Anniversary Prize, awarded to Queen’s University for Shared Education.

In 2022 she was awarded an MBE for services to education and community in Northern Ireland

Conversations on difference, diversity, and discrimination
By Dr. Reinhilde Pulinx - UCLL (Beligum)

In this lecture, we reflect on the need for a renewed and sustained conversation about difference, diversity, and discrimination in education and society at large. In recent years, our society has been challenged to transform. We were faced with a global pandemic and, almost at the same time, with anti-racist, anti-inequality, emancipation, and decolonialization movements.
To understand social reality, for us and in interaction with others, we try to name that reality. We construct concepts, we define categories for objects, people, or experiences, and we assign labels. These are linguistic processes; through language, we want to try to understand reality while at the same time shaping it. Language, and consequently the concepts, categories, and labels we use, are not static but extremely dynamic. Language is constantly evolving, among other things, based on historical, social, or political developments. It is not just the distance caused by the COVID-19 pandemic that has made dialogue about history, inequality, racism, and decolonization difficult and complex. A new language and vocabulary emerged to address these topics, containing words such as "white privilege," "structural racism," "decolonialization, "woke, and "representation."

In this context, avoiding increasing polarization and re-engaging in dialogue and conversation is needed to move forward towards a more equitable and inclusive society. It is through exchange and dialogue that we can break down the barriers that divide us and build new bridges of understanding and empathy. Additionally, we will translate these more conceptual frameworks into everyday educational practices. This will involve creating "third spaces" where authentic encounters are possible. These spaces are essential for fostering open and honest conversations about difference, diversity, and discrimination and for challenging preconceived notions and biases.

By leaving the zone of comfort and engaging in dialogue, a more responsive and inclusive educational environment can be created that recognizes and respects the diversity of all individuals.


Dr. Pulinx has a PhD in Linguistics and Gender & Diversity Studies (Ghent University, Belgium). Her research interest includes discrimination, diversity, multilingualism and social participation. Reinhilde Pulinx is affiliated as a senior researcher and content expert on discrimination and equality with the Centre of Expertise Inclusive Society, University College Leuven – Limburg.

A Blended Collaborative Constructive Participation Model
By Prof. Beatrice Ligorio - University of Bari, Italy

I would present a model is called Blended Collaborative Constructive Participation (BCCP) and it is based on the Trialogical Learning Approach (Paavola ET AL., 2012; Sansone et al., 2016). The model combines various educational strategies, ranging from traditional lecturing to socio-constructivism educational approaches. The core of this model can be summarized around the following five elements (Ligorio & Sansone, 2014):

1) Structuring the educational content. The suggestion is to break the curricula content into modules so to repeat activities in each module and turn students’ individual responsibilities.

2) Organizing the groups. Jigsaw (Aronson, 1978) method is suggested in combination with role-taking (Cesareni et al., 2016). Jigsaw offers the opportunity to alternate “expert” groups that go in depth in a piece of the content whereas “Jigsaw” group are supposed to combine all the pieces. In this way, students can experience different groups, that are temporary and formed randomly. Role-taking guides students in participation. Traditional roles – such as leader, researcher, observer – can be accompanied to new roles, purposely designed (Impedovo et al., 2018).

3) Organizing the contamination between the learning context and other contexts, interesting and interested to the learning activities. Inviting external stakeholders, relevant to the course, makes it possible mind-set contamination. Learning is used right away, to build an object interesting also for an external community, and not just for the community building it – as usually happens in education (Ritella, et al., 2020).

4) Defining activities. The model includes two types of activities: a) within the modules; b) across the modules. In the first case, the modules always start with teacher’s or expert’s lecture, followed by group discussion aimed at building a product. Across modules, the activates proposed are aimed to support metacognition and reflection, such as e-portfolios and informal mediated discussions - it can be via WhatsApp, web-forum or within a Learning Management System.

5) Organizing the digital environment to support communication and content sharing. Any available technology is valuable; as long as it is clear what educational aim is serving. Many BCCP’s instantiations are already available, both in higher education (Ligorio et al. 2017; Sansone et al., 2020) and lower education (Barzanò et al. 2020).

Results have shown that students participating to this model develop agency (Ligorio et al, 2017), professional skills (Sansone et al., 2020), creativity and team work (Ritella et al., 2020). Technology becomes “invisible” since it is totally functional to the aim of the learning activities. Indeed, further applications are welcome so to improve the model and to make it suitable to a larger variety of contexts


M. Beatrice Ligorio is full professor at the University of Bari (IT) where she teaches Educational Psychology and a specialized course on E-learning. She has been a member of EARLI and ISCAR Executive Committee. She a co-founder of the Collaborative Knowledge Building Group ( and she is the main editor of a journal called Qwerty and she is in the scientific committee of many journals in the field of education. Her main research interests concern collaborative learning and socio-constructivism, educational technology, innovation in education, communities, identity, learning organization, intersubjectivity, blended and mobile learning, dialogical approach, virtual environments, sustainable learning, knowledge building, social networks and web-forum in education. She has more than 200 publications among scientific articles on national and international journals, chapters and edited texts