Offline games

In preparation for the meeting, students reflected on games they know which could be played together in a (small or large) group. As the meeting was taking place in February, one prerequisite was that the games should be suitable for indoor playing (within the school).

It was possible to make several interesting observations:

Students from several different countries chose similar games to present and introduce to the group (e.g. dodgeball and musical chairs). Also, many games did not need explanations, as they are internationally well-known.

Many games may be labelled “children’s’ games”. The teenage students, however, participated voluntarily, joining in of their own accord and had a lot of fun.

Some of the games that were played during a social get-together are explained here.

Musical chairs (Stoelendans, Reise nach Jerusalem, Chaises musicales, …)

For each player, one chair is placed into the centre of the room, in a circle, the seating facing outward. One chair is removed (in the case of large groups, also two chairs may be taken away). Music starts playing, players start walking around the circle. When the music stops, everyone tries to sit down as quickly as possible. Those players left without a chair have to leave the game. Everyone stands up again. One chair (or two or three chairs) is taken away. The music starts again… This continues, until only one chair, one sitting person is left (the winner).

Rope jumping

Two people are holding a long rope on each end. They swing it around while those standing in the middle try to jump over it. The group tries to continue for as long as possible.

Dodge ball

Two teams are playing against each other in the gym. They are each in their “own” half of the gym and are not allowed to leave the playing area. They throw (soft) balls at each other, trying to hit someone without the opposite being able to catch the balls. If someone gets hit by a direct ball (without having first touched the floor or walls), that person is “out”. This person now is outside the playing field – and changes to the outside of the opposing team. Also from here, s/he can catch balls and throw them at the members of the opposing team. If this outside person hits someone from the opposing team (who then is “out”), the successful thrower gets to re-enter the field of his/her own team. The game is over when there are no more players on the inside field of one team. The team with remaining players on their inside field wins.

Koekhappen (Bite the cake)

Slices of cake (or other “soft” food) are hung onto a thread. Two people hold this up – about as high as the players’ mouths.

The player is blindfolded and now has to approach the line of cakes/cookies/… without using any hands. If s/he manages to bite off a piece of the cake, this is hers/his. Now it’s the next players turn.


A number of empty bottles are opened and placed on the floor. A string is attached around the players’ waist – at the end / the back the string is left dangling at about the height of the knees. At this end, a nail or screw is attached.

The goal of the game is to insert the nail into the bottle without the use of hands. To achieve this, players squat above the bottles, trying to insert the nail attached to their string into the bottles.

and more…

Social contact

Mobile phones and the content on these phones seem to be the focal point of students’ lives. They chat and share pictures with friends when they are not around. They look at pictures together, take selfies or create TikTok videos together when with friends. Activities during the meeting were chosen to bring students together, to have them have fun without mobile phones.

Ice skating

One hour of skating. Some students almost looked like professionals, gliding across the ice. Some were “amateurs”, more or less getting along, and for quite a number of participants this was a first time challenge. No matter what the skill: They got together in groups fitting with their level of competence, helped each other, and taught each other.

Capoeira workshop

To most participants, Capoeira still was unknown. So they first learned about its history, starting in Brazil, and how it now is a sport practices all around the world. Even though Capoeira is a martial art, it also combines music, dance and almost artistic elements. In addition, it encourages working together and the appreciation of each other’s skills.

Finding and using information

The internet provides us with a wealth of information. But what if we could not use it, if we did not have our mobile phones?

Several activities included the (offline) acquisition of information and knowledge.  This included for example the visit to various museums such as the Van Gogh Museum or the Anne Frank House; the walking tour of the Jordaan neighbourhood and the canal boat tour and (last but surely not least) a visit to the central branch of the Amsterdam library.

Reflecting especially on the museum visits, students observed that on their phones and on the internet, they usually do not have the patience to spend more than a few moments looking at information. Spending two hours (like they did for example in the Van Gogh museum) on just one topic – and not feeling bored, actually being entertained – usually does not happen on the internet. Instead, their first (and last) stop on the internet is the respective Wikipedia article, of which they read the introduction (but not the entirety). Even though the internet provides colourful, interactive presentations of topics, the variety of a museum visit, the movement within the space and the interaction with peers during the visit help with keeping the attention for a much longer time and thus discovering a lot more. => Internet off, information on

Creativity: What’s your motto? Wear your motto!

Too often people on the internet copy pictures and slogans to express their “individuality” – only to actually do the opposite and to become one among millions with the same profile picture, motto, …

In a workshop, students got creative. They reflected on what is important to them, what is an important part of their life and personality. They then set to work to show this to the world – not with the help of a profile picture, but by making it part of their outward appearance (e.g. as a label on their clothes or as their bag).

They created logos and emblems first on paper and then transferred them with the help of a computer and a laser cutting machine into wood, onto transfer foil (to iron onto clothes) or stitched patterns/symbols onto their clothes. In the end, they shared their results and the stories behind it with their partners.

Creativity: Selfie without phone

The internet presents us with a lot of content. Apps on our mobile phones help us with many everyday tasks. Also, there are creative apps which help us to enhance our photos, which give us pictures to colour in, which help us to choose matching colours etc.

A journey back in time is the question of how people would have taken “selfies” before the availability of cameras in mobile phones, before the invention of the camera.

In a first step, we visited the Van Gogh museum, particularly the collection of self-portraits. Each of these self-portraits is different, in a different style, with different accessories etc. The only thing that combines them, is the subject within the pictures (Vincent van Gogh) and his typical features (colour of his eyes, his hair, his beard).

With this inspiration, we returned to school and into the arts classroom. After some theoretical input on the typical proportions of the face, everyone set to work. With the help of mirrors (so not the phone camera) and with an individual choice of colours, we got creative.

Some of the results can be seen here.

Internet off – exploring our environment

The online world is a big part of students’ everyday life. The different activities in this section led students to (re-)discover the offline world.

Hear, See, Smell

On the first day at the hosting school, students were asked to leave their mobile phones in the classroom and then to explore the school building and its immediate environment with their senses. The task was to concentrate on things you can see, hear, and smell (and remember) when not constantly being side-tracked by messages etc. – and without being able to take pictures to remember. After returning to the classroom, students discussed and wrote down their perceptions in small groups. Together, they collected a large list of sensory impressions.

“Old fashioned” walking tour of Jordaan quarter

In the afternoon of the first day, a walking tour of the neighbourhood was scheduled. Students received a map, tasks and descriptions to guide them through the area. The subsequent evaluation of the activity revealed interesting observations.

When in an unknown area, we nowadays use online maps quite naturally. These maps can guide us correctly (if used correctly…) without large detours to the places we want to go to. This would then constitute a positive example of the use of mobile phones and the internet.

Orientation with the printed map proved to be very difficult for students. Finding their position on the map, finding the direction to walk into, was not always easy and took some extra time. To be honest, also in the past (in “pre mobile phone times”) people used to take a moment to orient themselves using printed maps.

On the other hand, students reported positively on the printed information of the tour (pictures and informative texts). The larger format (compared to the small screen of a phone) makes information more accessible. When following a similar tour with only their phones, the textual information would go unnoticed and thus get lost. The paper version also allows for easier collaboration / filling in of answers during this “treasure hunt”.

Canal tour – changing perspectives

A sightseeing tour of the city of Amsterdam mostly has touristic components. As the mobility is about going new ways, a perspective off the beaten path was chosen. During an hour-long canal tour only for the exchange group, both historic and modern aspects of the city could be discovered. Another positive aspect of mobile phones was focused on: taking photos without having to carry an extra camera. However, also the importance of not only blocking one’s view (either with a traditional camera or one integrated into the phone) was discussed.

Our rules: Table manners, etiquette, and netiquette

At the beginning of the meeting in Amsterdam, students gave themselves rules on how to work together during this week in accordance with the topic of the meeting.

Starting out by looking at table manners which they have known since a young age, they realized that those rules are there to make both children and everyone else focus on the topic (i.e. food and eating).

In addition, you have to follow rules of politeness (which of course are valid everywhere but have a particular focus when it comes to behaviour at, for example, the family dinner table).

Accordingly, when working inside a classroom, etiquette should dictate that you focus on the work at hand (and not the phone in your hand). Students agreed to using their phones during the meeting only when this was required for work on the project, and to leave it inside their bags at all other times. While the use of phones inside classrooms has become increasingly normal, making use of the advantages of having all available information at one’s fingertips, phones most of the time distract students from the actual topic (e.g. by reading and sending solely social messages or by browsing the internet). A majority of activities during the meeting had been planned in such a way, that the use of the internet and mobile phones would not become necessary.

Go, stop, or proceed with caution?

In an activity during the meeting, students were given a number of realistic examples, some also mixing the offline and the online world. The question with each situation was whether it presented a dangerous situation. In groups, they had to agree if in such a situation, the persons in the examples could go ahead, proceed with caution, or stop immediately. While some situations were clearly safe or clearly the opposite of safe, some situations caused intensive discussions among the groups (and later in the complete group). The different possible view-points on seemingly clear situations showed students that the online world (as well as the offline world) can hold hidden dangers. During these discussions, students exchanged both advice and more personal stories of themselves, their friends and family having been in similar situations.

The realization that the invented situation of this exercise made almost everyone remember a personal example emphasized for all students the dangers of the internet. Of course, they will not stop using it. But when encountering “strange” situations, they will – as the exercise suggested – proceed with caution or stop.

Dangers of the Internet: Presentation

Before the mobility, students in each participating country looked at the dangers of the internet. While this in theory is known to them, in practice they often forget about it and do not adhere to safety rules. In each group, students reported on either having come into contact with abuse and crime on the internet or of knowing victims of internet crime. They shared, among others, stories of cyberbullying among classmates, of viruses destroying data, of goods purchased & paid for that never arrived, of cybergrooming. In some cases, students admitted to not having been careful enough and thus not having seen the warning signs. In other cases, they did catch the give-aways and thus saved themselves (or sometimes their friends) from becoming victims. They presented their finding and advice to each other during the mobility.

The internet: Both useful and not so useful

In a survey (mostly quantitative, but also qualitative) completed by all students participating in the program, the current situation of internet use was discovered. We chose to have the same survey for every country, but to have country- specific questionnaires. In this way, each school does get a picture of internet use and abuse at their individual school. Furthermore, it was possible to compare the use of mobile phones and the internet across the different participating countries.

At each school, students looked at the results of “their” survey. They critically assessed and interpreted the data, also taking into account theoretical knowledge (e.g. the results and explanations of “professional” surveys conducted by, for example, psychologists).

The students then shared the most interesting findings of their national surveys with their peers during the meeting. The different presentations of results showed many similarities between young people across Europe – but also interesting differences. For example, the preferred apps for communication among students differed. While all used the same apps (Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp etc.), the percentages of which app was used the most was significantly different. One possible explanation / assumption was that in areas where the speed of the internet is slower and where internet availability might not be as reliable, picture based communication (Snapchat, Instagram) could slow down communication. So for quick communication, mostly text-based apps are preferred. For “only” social contacts, however, apps with an emphasis on the exchange of pictures are given a preference.