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Launch of European Schoolnet Academy

European Schoolnet, the organisation that coordinates the iTEC project, has recently announced the launch of the European Schoolnet Academy. The Academy is an online course platform, developed by European Schoolnet, to help deliver our training and professional development resources, free-of-cost, to a wider audience. European Schoolnet Academy is the first MOOC (massive open online course) platform developed specifically for teachers in Europe.

The first two courses that the Academy will deliver are the ‘Future Classroom Scenarios’ course, and the ‘Innovative Practices for Engaging STEM Teaching’. The ‘Future Classroom Scenarios’ has been developed by the pedagogical experts involved in developing iTEC’s Learning Activities and Toolkits, and is aimed at teachers, at both primary and secondary level, who wish to develop their own future classroom scenario, and innovate in their everyday teaching practice. The European Schoolnet Academy is already online and accepting registrations – so register today!

iTEC goes Cape Verde

The iTEC project and its toolkits were introduced to university students at Praia, Cape Verde, when one of the iTEC partners, Institute of Education at University of Lisbon, delivered courses as part of an interinstitutional Master's Degree in 'ICT and Education'. The degree is provided jointly by the Institute of Education and the University of Cape Verde.

During the workshop on "Learning activities for the future classroom" 32 students were introduced to the iTEC project, they got a change to explore learning stories and activities, and get familiar with the concept of the future classroom through videos and practical examples.

Webinar: Findings of the 4th iTEC evaluation

In spring 2013, teachers took part in the fourth cycle of iTEC pilots, which were focused on ‘real world’ challenges. 342 teachers across 19 countries took part in the evaluation. They reported that iTEC Learning Stories and technologies had a positive impact on student attainment, motivation and 21st century skills. Participation in iTEC also had a positive impact on teacher competences, attitudes and motivation. Moreover, teachers were motivated to expand the range of pedagogies and technologies they use and to develop their teaching in new, innovative ways.

Many teachers are keen to continue to use iTEC approaches within their teaching and are encouraging their colleagues to do the same. One teacher summed up their experience as follows: “It has the potential to change my future practice because now I have learnt about other ways to get my objectives, other ways to work in groups with my students, other ways to do collaborative work, and I’m going to use it in my future lesson” (Spain, teacher interview)

Join the iTEC webinar to hear more about this evaluation: Tuesday 26 November 2013, 16:00-17:00h CET

Opportunities for science teachers

inGenious competition for schools - participate now!

To participate in the competition, teachers are invited to create and upload successful pedagogical methodologies and resources that can be shared and replicated in classrooms across Europe. The materials should raise pupils’ awareness of STEM studies by exploring innovative sectors, breaking down stereotypes, addressing tomorrow's challenges, and understanding how we can make a difference. The inGenious competition is open to all teachers (primary and secondary school level) from 30 countries (28 EU member states, Israel and Turkey). Teachers can submit their entry in one of the inGenious languages (DA, DE, EN, ES, FR, IT, NL, PT, SE). Applications are open until 28 February 2014. Then 30 finalists will be invited to attend the inGenious European Award Ceremony in Brussels, Belgium, in 2014. See the competition page for further information.

Join the Scientix team and work as Scientix Ambassador in your country

Scientix is looking for science and maths teachers across Europe to support Scientix 2 in 2013-2014 as part of the Scientix 2 Teacher Panel. Members of the Teacher Panel will be working either as Ambassadors or Deputy Ambassadors of Scientix in their respective countries. The main tasks of the Teacher Panel include promoting Scientix at national level and in national teacher communities, supporting the Scientix National Contact Points or pedagogical quality control. Apply as soon as possible! Read about the countries involved and requirements here

Emerging trends in teaching and learning: interview with Kristen Weatherby

In the latest of the Future Classroom Lab interviews, Kristen Weatherby, Senior Analyst on the OECD's TALIS project (Teaching and Learning International Survey), speaks on emerging trends in teaching and learning, such as Bring Your Own Device and the use of social media in education. The video was filmed at the Every Classroom a Future Classroom conference, organised by the iTEC project, at Brussels on 10-11 October 2013.

Her keynote presentation is available here: Challenging visions of the future classroom. Find other conference presentations here.

Are schools in the 'futures business'?

Why is the innovation that we have experienced in schools involved in iTEC not part of the culture of all schools?

Schools are in the futures business – after all, their role is to help children become their future selves – but do they think about their own future in a changing world enough? Evidence in the ‘Survey of Schools: ICT in Education’, the largest survey of ICT in schools since 2006, suggests that many do not.

The survey found that fewer than half of secondary school students are in schools with a change management programme – typically, sessions to enable teachers to cope with changes in schools and the educational environment generally. While an encouraging 80% of students are in schools where the principal reports initiatives to encourage innovation, almost all school heads and teachers feel this may not be enough to take full advantage of the possibilities afforded by technology.

Such evidence seems to suggest that in some schools a ‘business as usual’ approach is being adopted, with little thought given to change; in others, innovation is encouraged; and in a larger number, there may be a feeling that bigger changes are needed, but that making it happen is outside schools’ control. However, what principals and teachers – and students even more so – have in common is a highly-positive attitude towards the benefits and importance of ICT, and this is consistent between countries.

It’s a truism to say that we live in an era of rapid change, much of it brought about by technology. Amidst this turbulence, schools are expected to be a point of constancy, helping young people chart their way through it, by both transmitting enduring cultural values and preparing them to be actors in an unpredictable future. Much will change in the coming decades, but one probability is that there will still be schools, even if the future of other institutions is less secure. And most will be more autonomous and free to determine their own future than in the past.

This gives school leaders the responsibility to think and plan ahead for the long-term: schools are not going to disappear, but the form of education that they offer – pedagogy, and use of ICT – needs to be relevant. Yet, in recent interviews with policymakers engaged in the scaling up of the iTEC project, the point was made that public debate on education in many countries tends to be backward-looking – comparisons with the previous year’s examination results, a ‘golden era’ in the past, better-behaved children – rather than forward-looking.

Enter iTEC. In the words of one interviewee, iTEC “allows schools to seize the future”, challenging them to engage existentially on the big issues: forecasting, identifying trends and challenges, plotting where they are in terms of a maturity model, and designing scenarios and activities to bring about the future classroom. Crucially, iTEC makes the teacher the agent, not the object, of change, providing a framework for experimentation, allowing schools a degree of risk-taking within safe limits, and to exercise a degree of self-determination.

The tools developed in iTEC are designed to help schools create and manage change, and to bring about, not just the future classroom, but the future school.

Article by Roger Blamire, Senior Manager, Policy and Practice, European Schoolnet

Read more articles at the iTEC magazine

iTEC conference presentations available

Over 150 participants took part in the iTEC mainstreaming conference Every Classroom a Future Classroom on 10-11 October in Brussels.

The conference focused on presenting the initial results from the iTEC project, that has evaluated innovative scenarios and Learning Activities for the future classroom in over 2,000 classrooms across 18 countries; and agree on scalable processes for the adoption of advanced competences by teachers, 21st century skills for learners, and change management for schools.

The conference included contributions from:

  • Patricia Manson, Head of Unit: Inclusion, Skills and Youth, DG Connect, European Commission
  • Showkat Badat, Principal, ESSA Academy, UK
  • Kristen Weatherby, Lead for OECD’s Teaching and Learning International Survey
  • Niel McLean, Head of Centre, Futurelab Research at National Foundation for Educational Research, UK
  • Lord Knight of Weymouth, Director of Step-A International Ltd
  • Xavier Prats Monné, Deputy Director General, Education and Culture, European Commission

Find pictures, presentations and other outputs on the conference webpage.

Press release: iTEC sparks innovation in over 2,000 European classrooms

iTEC, a flagship four-year EC-funded project involving 14 Ministries of Education, has doubled its original target by now involving over 2000 classes across Europe in its future classroom pilots. The project evaluation is also showing an extremely positive impact on students’ knowledge, skills and understanding, and a beneficial effect on teachers, especially on their technology-supported pedagogy, digital competence, and motivation.

Led by European Schoolnet, a network of 30 European Ministries of Education, the iTEC project, with its €9.45 million EC-funding (FP7) and 26 partners, including Ministries of Education, ICT providers, and research organisations, has piloted learning and teaching activities using integrated technology solutions in more than 2000 classrooms in 19 European countries.

The iTEC pilots, now in their fifth and final cycle, have developed ‘Future Classroom Scenarios’ and ‘Learning Stories and Activities’ to inspire teachers to change their pedagogical practices with the support of ICT. ‘Learning Activities’ and ‘Learning Stories’ have been developed through a participatory design process with teachers. Moreover, European Schoolnet has also delivered an international programme of online and face-to-face training, including courses at the Future Classroom Lab in Brussels on teaching and learning activities for the future classroom.

The newly published meta-analysis of the evaluation data over the first three cycles shows that the project has had a positive impact on students’ knowledge, skills and understanding – in particular on their 21st century skills, motivation, engagement, attitudes, and learning practices. iTEC has also had a beneficial effect on teachers, having a positive impact on their technology-supported pedagogy, digital competence, and their motivation and attitudes. “The project evaluation has demonstrated that iTEC is leading to many innovative changes in pedagogical practices”, said Professor Cathy Lewin, the evaluation coordinator. “Almost 90% of teachers agreed that the iTEC process enabled students to become more deeply engaged in their work, and allowed them to undertake more collaborative activities. Teachers observed also a higher student attainment, an increase in student autonomy and independent learning, as well as more opportunities to learn beyond the boundaries of the classroom”.

According to the meta-analysis of the evaluation data,iTEC is fully seen as scalable, having the potential to support pedagogical and technological innovation, to increase the effective use of ICT and to enable teachers to experiment with innovative technologies and tools. “We are confident that iTEC products and processes can have an impact on key educational policy areas and ensure that the advancement of teaching practice keeps pace with changes in society and technology,affirms Marc Durando, Executive Director of European Schoolnet.

More information

Apply for participation grants now - Future classroom, adapting pedagogical practice course

The five-day course “Future classroom – adapting pedagogical practice” is aimed for secondary school teachers and will provide a very practical workshop-based experience to help teachers adapt their current pedagogical practice, and learn new tools and skills.

The course will run two times, in February and in March 2014 in the Future Classroom Lab at Brussels. The teachers from most European countries are able to apply for Comenius in-service training grants through their National Agency. The deadline to apply for the Comenius grants is 17 September 2013.

Exploring Future Classroom Scenarios

At the end of August, the iTEC project hosted workshop on creating iTEC Learning Activities for the future classroom. Twenty-four teachers from 13 countries across Europe came to the Future Classroom Lab in Brussels to collaborate, share experiences and exchange ideas. The teachers worked in groups to produce innovative classroom activities using methods such as the flipped classroom, bring your own device, and environmental learning. 

Some of the key messages that the teachers participating on the course agreed upon was the importance of teamwork and collaboration activities, the need to redesign the traditional classroom’s ‘grid’ structure (i.e. rows and rows of desks facing the teacher at the head of the classroom), and allowing pupils more independence in their learning.

Carlos Cunha, who drafted the ‘bring your own device activity’, spoke on the need for schools to adapt their policies to allow teachers and pupils to harness existing technology for teaching and learning:

“I had a kind of battle with the board of my school - I had to convince them that in my classroom, especially in the lab, the cellphone – especially the smartphones - are very important to use, because they are incredible machines. I encourage students to bring their own laptops, their own tablets, their own smartphones, and use them in the lab, to photograph different steps of the work, to film, to measure…”

Participants were enthusiastic about the future classroom methodology, and many said they would share the tools and ideas that they had learned on the course with their colleagues during the coming school year.

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