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The Ministry of Education, part of the Federal Authority in Austria, is the main educational body. During 2000 – 2008 it undertook an initiative of consolidating the implementation of new technology in education. This took a number of forms, including:

  • eFit (2000-2006), a funding mechanism from the Ministry of Education which helped to launch innovative ideas and projects concerning ICT in education. Efit helped to consolidate and fund the implementation of new media across the education sector and spawned two companion projects (eContent and eLearning Cluster – see below);
  • eContent, the development of teaching/learning software and e-learning materials (further details below);
  • eLearning Cluster initiative developed pilot schools in each of the Austrian provinces which collaborated together in clusters to implement practical models of eLearning (further details below);
  • Future Learning Program (2007-2010), an initiative that supported new forms of teaching and learning using ICT in education, especially forms that moved aware from traditional teacher-centred classrooms towards a more individual learning pathway approach. This included the development of the 'Edumoodle' program which provided all schools with access to a free VLE;
  • IWB development, which has spread across some schools (a survey in 2007/08 found that 21% of state schools were equipped with IWB).

Several of these initiatives are worthy of further comment. Firstly, eLearning Cluster Austria is a network of clustered schools that work together to offer their students and teachers certified qualifications in IT and e-learning skills and knowledge. Secondly, the eLSA eLearning Project has funded a number of middle schools (students aged between 10 – 15) and provided a high level of up-to-date ICT infrastructure. This has a very positive impact on teachers 'new media competence. Thirdly, the Virtual School Austria, run in collaboration with the European Schoolnet, has been an important portal of ICT educational projects. It has become the centre for interdisciplinary ICT projects across Austria, leading to further e-content development and an exemplar of good practice for other educators.

Finally, the Future Learning Program has fostered a new concept of ICT linked to Web 2.0 technologies. The use of IWB has accompanied this program, but these are mainly focused in secondary education and adoption is slow. The Future Learning Program targets young people aged between 6 – 19, adult learners, teachers and other target groups (e.g. isolated children and children in hospitals). The various strands of activity include:

  • Digital content and ICT services;
  • Social software and Web 2.0 within the school setting;
  • New equipment including laptops, mobile phones for learning, PDAs, iPods;
  • Teacher training including e-learning didactic course, online academies;
  • Equipment guidelines and initiatives for schools;
  • Developing networks within other groups outside the immediate educational context (e.g. the Ars Electronica Centre in Linz).

The overall computer per pupil ratio in Austrian schools is 16:100 and 59% of schools have broadband (STEPS, 2009).