Network Science and Education Symposium

NetSciEd 2020: The Symposium on Network Science and Education will be held as a standalone online event this year, following the previous editions held in 2012–2019

NetSciEd 2020 is going to be an online venue to discuss anything related to network science and education, including educational activities to teach/learn network science and applications of network science to understand, model and improve educational systems and practices.

NetSciEd 2020 Programme


NetSciEd 2020 this year will be a standalone online symposium, with free registration and an open call for contributions. NetSciEd 2020 will take place on October 27, 2020. Please register here on this Google Form for free and then use this Zoom link for joining the meeting.

If you are interested in presenting at NetSciEd 2020, please submit a brief abstract to the Main Contacts (see down below) by October 9, 2020. Your abstract should:

*  Contain the title of your presentation, the list of authors and their affiliations, and the contact information (email) of the corresponding author.

*  Include a summary of your presentation (up to 300 words).

*  Be formatted as a single PDF (about 1 page, with a maximum of 2 pages, including figures/tables, if any).

The call for contributed abstracts is currently CLOSED.

Accepted contributions will be eligible for a 15 mins talk, followed by a 5 mins Q&A session (for a total of 20 minutes).

Your submission will be reviewed by the organizers and a notification will be sent back by October 19. 

Relevant topics include, but are not limited to:

> >   Outreach activities, tools, and materials;

> >  Curricular development and practices for teaching network science;

> >  Use of network-science concepts and tools to teach traditional subjects in K-12 education;

> >  Teacher education, informal education;

> >  Network modeling and analysis of educational systems, curricular materials, classroom/school dynamics;

> > Applications of network science for the improvement of education.

We look forward to having active, productive discussions on this important area of network science!



A network analysis of terms “Science” and “Scientific Knowledge” as they are used by different authors in Science education research: Do different accounts indicate communication across different views?

Prof. Ismo T. Koponen

Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland;;

Nature of science (NOS) has been a central theme in science education and research on it for nearly three decades, but there is still debate on its proper focus and underpinnings. The focal points of these debates revolve around different ways of understanding the terms “science” and “scientific knowledge”. In this talk, I summarise results based on lexical network analysis of how such terms are used by different authors [1]. The results of the suggest that the lack of agreement is at least partially related to and reflected as a lack of common vocabulary and terminology that would provide a shared basis and converging meanings for finding common grounding for discussions across different schools with different thoughts about NOS. Here, I discuss results obtained by using a network approach to explore the lexicons attached to terms “science” and “scientific knowledge” in texts by three different authors writing about NOS. The results of the analysis reveal clear differences in the lexicons. The most divergent views are related to epistemology, while regarding the practices and social embeddedness of science the lexicons overlap significantly. The basic vocabulary, in the form of a lexicon, can reveal much about the different stances and the differences and similarities between various disciplinary schools, but also similarities, which when recognised, can provide a good basis to find convergence of views and help to avoid unnecessary disputes about the views of nature of science and scientific knowledge.

[1] Ismo T. Koponen. Usage of Terms “Science” and “Scientific Knowledge” in Nature of Science (NOS): Do Their Lexicons in Different Accounts Indicate Shared Conceptions? Educ. Sci. 2020, 10, 252; doi:10.3390/educsci10090252


Proposal for global project-based complex systems activities for high school students

Dr. Aleksandra Aloric

Institute of Physics Belgrade and Petnica Science Centre, Belgrade, Serbia; aleksandra [dot] aloric [at] scl [dot] rs;

Dealing with global events such as the current pandemic reminds us that complex systems ideas should be communicated and thought as broadly as possible. As changing formal education is a slow process, in this talk, I will advocate for a project-based informal education platform. Project-based learning has a long and successful tradition in both formal and informal science education as students acquire various skills and learn different extra-curricular topics when they learn by taking actions to address a problem they are motivated to solve. These features of project-based learning can be particularly interesting as a way to introduce complex systems topics. But, thinking of appropriate problems for project-based learning is hard, as is coming up with introductory literature and mentoring and guiding students, and these should not all fall on the teachers’ shoulders.

Motivated by two educational communities with a long tradition of practising project-based learning - Petnica Science Center and International Young Physics Tournament, in this talk I will layout motivation to learn from them and collectively work towards complex systems project-based learning. As in both communities projects related to complex systems were done over the years, I will share some lessons learned that can be implemented in various workshops, school clubs and classrooms. Building on these two and their benefits and drawbacks, I will finish with a call for global action that can help us introduce complex systems to a wider group of interested high school students. If we carefully design the problems, we can omit the disciplinary divide and work towards undisciplined science.


Optimal Learning Paths in Information Networks

Prof. Vittorio Loreto

SONY Computer Science Laboratories, Paris, France

Sapienza University of Rome, Physics Dept., Rome, Italy

Complexity Science Hub Vienna, Vienna, Austria

Each sphere of knowledge and information could be depicted as a complex mesh of correlated items. By adequately exploiting these connections, innovative and more efficient navigation strategies could be defined, leading to a faster learning process and enduring retention of information. In this talk, I'll discuss how the topological structure embedding the items to be learned can affect the efficiency of the learning dynamics. To this end, we introduce a general class of algorithms that simulate the exploration of knowledge/information networks standing on well-established findings on educational scheduling, namely the spacing and lag effects. While constructing their learning schedules, individuals move along connections, periodically revisiting some concepts, and sometimes jumping on very distant ones. To investigate the impact of networked information structures on the proposed learning dynamics, we focused both on synthetic and real-world graphs such as subsections of Wikipedia and word-association graphs. We highlight the existence of optimal topological structures for the simulated learning dynamics whose efficiency is affected by the balance between hubs and the least connected items. Interestingly, the real-world graphs we considered lead naturally to almost optimal learning performances.

Lessons from Antarctica: Women in STEM changing the narrative of leadership

Prof. Emma Towlson

University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Today we face some of the most urgent and existential challenges humanity has ever known. Unfortunately for such a crucial moment in history, trust in our leadership is at an all-time low. Young people in particular feel afraid for their futures and are stepping into the leadership vacuum en masse. Our modern problems are increasingly complex and globally interconnected in nature and demand new approaches that are rooted in the collective and motivated by a legacy mindset. Homeward Bound, a transformational leadership program for women in STEMM, aims to shift our leadership style and narrative to one that is better able to collaboratively tackle these problems. In 2019, I completed a year of remote training with Homeward Bound. This culminated in 3 weeks of intensive in-person training as part of the largest cohort of women ever to voyage to Antarctica. In this talk, I will share my experiences, and advocate for the power of a new kind of authentic, vulnerable leadership. Moreover, for the necessity for us all to model this constructive and compassionate way of thinking, especially for our young people and planetary future.

Researchers and academics interested in complex networks are strongly encouraged to join the NetSci 2020 conference, a massive international scientific event separate from NetSciEd2020.