First of its kind
ICT has been introduced into the Nordic schools during the last 10-20 years. While many studies have analysed how and how often ICT is used in schools, hardly any studies have taken this analysis to the next level: What is the impact of ICT?
The inter-Nordic study E-learning Nordic 2006 focuses on the impact of ICT on education within three key areas:
- Pupil performance
- Teaching and learning processes
- Knowledge-sharing, communication and home-school co-operation.
ICT has a positive impact on the schools’ overall target
E-learning Nordic 2006 shows that ICT has a positive impact on the schools’ overall target – improving the pupils’ learning. However, the study also shows that the full potential of ICT is not being fully realized in many schools. Teachers are mostly focused on using ICT to support the subject content. Still, a positive impact of ICT on teaching is also seen on pupil engagement, differentiation, creativity and less waste of time. The study also shows that the preconditions for using ICT for knowledge sharing, communication and school-home co-operation are at hand, and ICT is indeed being used for this in many schools. However the positive impact of this is as yet only moderate.
Real life example: At Oslo Montessori Skole (a primary school in Norway) it is assessed that ICT specifically has an impact on pupils with special needs in the area of writing and reading. It is the school’s experience that ICT has been a valuable tool to support the concentration and motivation among this group of pupils.
Impact of ICT on Pupil Performance
The teachers assess that the impact of ICT is strongest on the pupils’ subject-related performance. However, a positive impact can also be seen on learning basic skills such as reading and writing. 60% of the teachers reported that they experience a moderate or high degree of positive impact of ICT on the pupils’ writing skills.
Also, teachers experience that ICT support differentiation both challenging the academically strong pupils in new ways or supporting the academically weak pupils so that they can more easily participate on equal terms with other pupils. Many teachers find that it is easier to differentiate their teaching with ICT than without.
Real life example: At Mörbyskolan (a primary school in Sweden) the pupils really like that they can manage their own learning to a much greater degree when using ICT. From the point of view of the teachers’ at Mörbyskolan, the computer is not seen as replacing the teacher, but supporting the pupils in new ways to be able, to a larger extent, to work in their own way.
Impact of ICT on Teaching and Learning Processes
Results from E-learning Nordic 2006 show that ICT generally has a positive impact on the teaching and learning situation. However, some people expected that ICT could in some ways revolutionise the teaching and learning processes at school, and compared with this view, the impact must be seen as more limited. ICT does not revolutionize teaching methods. The teachers are mostly focused on using ICT to support the subject content. However, the impact of integrating ICT in teaching can be measured in pupil engagement, differentiation and creativity.
It has been stated in the public debate – in for example Denmark – that a barrier to the integration of ICT has been that too much teaching time is wasted. The results of the study cannot support this argument, since the great majority of teachers do not experience that more teaching time is wasted with the integration of ICT.
Real life example: Oulun Lyseon Lukio (a secondary school in Finland), is a school with an advanced use of ICT. The teachers at the school emphasise, however the importance of that the focus remains on the subject of teaching itself. The choice to use ICT tools in education must be based on a sound analysis of whether the use actually can bring another dimension to the learning process.
Impact of ICT on Knowledge Sharing, Communication and school-home co-operation
E-learning Nordic 2006 shows that the use of ICT as an organizational tool has not yet fully matured. The preconditions for using ICT for knowledge-sharing, communication and school-home co-operation are at hand, and many schools, teachers, pupils and parents use the ICT infrastructure for informational and collaborative purposes. However, in spite of massive ICT-based communication within the teaching staff at many schools, the positive impact on co-operation and knowledge sharing is as yet only moderate.
Real life example: At Greve Gymnasium (a secondary school in Denmark), the headmaster finds that knowledge-sharing is not necessarily easier with ICT, but as the complexity of the school organisation and the management of daily activities increases, ICT is the only way to handle the intensified complexity.
The study shows that the potential of ICT is not being fully realized at all schools. To address this problem E-learning Nordic 2006 offers a number of recommendations for the future. A special key concern is the need for more focus on organizational implementation of ICT. If the potential impact of ICT in Nordic schools is to be further realised, school owners and management need to be more professional in their organisational implementation of ICT. Substantial investments in ICT have been made at both regional and local level, but often with no clear criteria for success and no structured monitoring of the benefits. At many schools, the situation can be compared to buying 10 new laptops and not un-wrapping them. For example, during the last few years a number of schools have invested in Learning Management Systems (LMS) with the ambition of improving education and knowledge-sharing. However, often the investments have not been accompanied by use of the new systems. Return on investment from ICT investments and ICT projects require a commitment to organisational implementation on the part of the school management. They must be visionary enough to initiate and continuously support the use of ICT as a strategic tool for developing the general ambitions of the school.
The E-learning Nordic 2006 study has been designed and launched as a partnership between the Finnish National Board of Education, the Swedish National Agency for School Improvement, the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, the Danish Ministry of Education, and Ramboll Management.
Data collection in the study was based on an internet-based survey conducted among 224 schools in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark as well as 12 on-site school visits. More than 8000 persons participated in the survey. Respondents were pupils in the 5th and 8th grades in primary school and the 11th grade in secondary school, teachers in these grades, the pupils parents, as well as the headmasters at the participating schools.
Studying impact is methodologically difficult. The method chosen was to ask different key participants in Nordic schools about their personal experiences using ICT and their assessment of the impact of ICT. This methodology does not necessarily prove a direct link between the use of ICT and learning impact, but it uncovers the impact as it is perceived by the headmasters, teachers, pupils and the pupils’ parents.
- Ella Kiesa from the Finnish National Board of Education,
- Peter Karlberg from the Swedish National Agency for School Improvement,
- Øystein Johannesen from the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research,
- Lilla Voss from the Danish Ministry of Education, and
- Sanya Pedersen at Ramboll Management.
Multigrade schools in Greece – result of necessity
In Greece multigrade schools are usually found in isolated rural areas, in small islands and in villages with rather shrunk population. Multigrade schools in Greece are a result of necessity rather than a pedagogical alternative practice. In their negative qualities often educational and research community mentions pressure of teaching time, non fair learning time per student compared to conventional schools, weakened antagonistic learning environment, absence of specialized teaching stuff (on music, foreign languages, sports, ICT, arts etc).
But there is a range of positive qualities that have to be pointed out, such as more coherent relations between students and teacher, faster and more effective socialization, stronger bonds with the local community, development of self-adjustment and self-learning skills, adaptability on a more demanding environment.
The reasons why multigrade schools can not be abolished is multiple and multi-rational: social reasons demand that population will be kept on its position and further expansion of urban centres will be avoided. Pedagogical reasons demand that students will avoid the trouble of daily long routes to more central schools, losing valuable time. The current tensions in Greece regarding multigrade schools’ possible evolutions are:
- Abolishment when there is no further local population of school age.
- Merge of two multigrade schools.
- Merge of a multigrade school and the closest monograde school.
- Reduction of multigrade school into a multigrade school with less teachers appointed, due to the recession of students’ number.
- Upgrade of multigrade school (=more teachers appointed in school which results to improvement of the ratio “teacher per grades) due to students’ number augmentation
From the total of approximately 5800 primary education schools in Greece, 2558 are multigrade, meaning that they function with less than six appointed teachers per school (whereas there are six grades: from A (7 years old students) to F (12 years old students)). More than 1300 schools function with less than 20 students as a total number of all grades. In percentage 40% of primary schools in Greece are multigrade. The current valid system in Greece demands 25 students for each appointed teacher.
There is a legislated way of grades division per teacher:
|1 teacher school|| Teaches all six grades (A,B,C,D,E,F) |
|2 teacher school||1st Teacher teaches A+C+D |
2nd teacher teaches B+E+F
|3 teacher school||1st Teacher teaches A+B |
2nd teacher teaches C+D
3d teacher teaches E+F
|4 teacher school||1st Teacher teaches A |
2nd teacher teaches B
3d teacher teaches C+D
4th teacher teaches E+F
|5 teacher school||1st Teacher teaches A |
2nd teacher teaches B
3d teacher teaches C+D
4th teacher teaches E
5th teacher teaches F
Of course the above are directly correlated to the number of students per grade. For example if there are only 10 students studying in A grade and 10 in grade B, while there are only 2 students in grade C and 2 in grade D a division A+B for first teacher and C+D for second teacher would not be feasible.
Current problemtics in multigrade schools
- There are no specially designed multigrade school books.
Multigrade school’s teacher teaches the same books that are taught in conventional schools, in other words, ministry of education has not produced specially designed books to copy with the special needs and conditions of multigrade schools.
- There is no specially organized multigrade curriculum
In a multigrade school, curriculum follows the conventional school curriculum with changes as far as teaching time available for each subject is concerned. That means that multigrade teachers teach the same objects as in a monograde school with the differentiation of the parameter of week time per subject.
- The factor of synchronous teaching of more than one grade
What gives the quintessence of a multigrade class is the coexistence of more than one grade (of both age and level) in the same class. So, a multigrade teacher is expected to address his/her teaching to more than one grade at the same time. In that way, there are two viable conditions that may be produced: one is the synchronous teaching of more than one grade. In that way, a teacher treats all grades that he co-teaches as one homogeneous grade.
- The factor of time pressure
Time is the most crucial factor of difficulty during multigrade teaching. Teacher has to address teaching procedure to more than one student’s target group. He/she also has to make edges meet as far as teaching time that analogically is referred to each group. Most importantly, he/she is expected to find a method to exploit student’s time when he/she is not directly addressing to them. Than can be achieved with a range of theoretically established methods, such as self-learning activities, peer-learning etc.
- The factor of dead time
One of the greatest challenges of multigrade teaching is dealing with what pedagogical theory studying multigrade schools is referring to as “dead time”. That term is eloquently mentioned to the situation emerging when multigrade teacher excludes some present student’s level from his teaching, specially addressing it to a specified target group. The excluded group then faces the parameter of “dead teaching and learning time”, unless teacher is adequately prepared to guide them into alternative learning procedures.
ICT and multigrade teaching
ICT is essential for education in general. But in case of multigrade school can be the absolutely irreplaceable solution. ICT have a multiple role in multigrade schooling: a) ICT and teaching, b) ICT and teacher’s training, c) ICT and administration. ICT use demands and pre-requires special tools and methodology:
a) ICT and teaching. For student’s training there is a wide range of educational software, of educational internet portals and also of original digital material developed by a specially trained teacher.
b) ICT and teacher’s training. For teacher’s training there are special on distance seminars training them how to achieve best use and implementation of ICT as a teaching tool or as a learning object. Distance training can only use ICT to train teachers on a very different aspect, e.g teaching methodology for multigrade schools. Distance education is of great importance for multigrade schools, since it allows in situ training and school can remain open and functioning.
c) For teacher’s administrative duties ICT can again be of capital importance. Archives, student’s files, grades, statistics, annual curriculum, scheduling holidays can all be easily handled with the help of specially developed software.
EE official expected ratio for 2006 is one PC for every 20 students. That can cause severe problems for Greek multigrade schools, since many of them function with less than 20 students. It would be a safer measurement to create a second alternative ratio of PC per teachers. ICT enrollment requires a range of necessary factors. In this point, it is worthy to mention the Greek project “Society of Information” which aims to train all Greek teachers of primary and secondary education in ict educational use. Factors that obstruct ICT enrollment could be summoned up to the following points: cost of equipment, cost of equipment’s maintenance, cost of teacher’s training, ICT lab (existence of an adequate extra available classroom), helpdesk to solve technical difficulties, pedagogical methodologies of ICT best practices as far as educational implementation is concerned. One of the major problems that hinders ICT enrollment maybe is retrogressive mentality according to which technology impedes teacher’s work adding difficulties to an already demanding task. So, one of the essential things to be done for ICT best possible educational implementations is to try and persuade this portion of reluctant teachers that ICT can be there best ally.
ICT can be implemented in a variety of methods in classroom routine:
- A simple way would be to transform books into e-books.
- Another suggestion would be to create a functional, palpable data basis with titles of tested and suggested educational software.
- An other viable suggestion would be Distance teaching and training exploiting all ICT’s available tools and introducing them into teaching routine
- Asynchronous teaching is also feasible via specially designed internet educational portals
- ICT can be a powerful tool for multimedia teaching
All the above, combined according teacher’s, students’ and schools’ needs can develop a harmonic cooperation of ict-centered teaching and traditional teaching.
ICT and multigrade implementations
ICT can be the best method:
- To train teachers how to develop their own educational interactive material,
- For teachers to develop this educational material
There are dozens of software that support web design and simple java programming. With no great or time consuming training, a teacher with accented initiative and improvisation skills can create his/her own original educational material. This material can be available in
- School’s intranet lab
- School’s server and accessed via internet
- Classroom’s PC and accessed via cd rom
This material can be uploaded into a specially designed internet portal in an environment that supports remote exchange of digital material. If teachers are sufficiently motivated this portal can be soon a gigantic source of original and perpetually refreshed educational material
Teachers can also train their students to develop educational material, as a well guided and organized team (or personal) project. Specially designed sites host these students’s material, allowing download and free educational use, counting visitors and “downloaders”, announcing popular and mostly praised material. That way, school is constructively advertised and students who create digital educational material are constructively motivated and spurred for extra similar action.
Results from a multigrade case study in Greece
University of Aegean has carried out an investigation about the situation of multigrade schools in Greece. The questionnaire was sent out to the total number (835) of 1 teacher multigrade schools of Greece. 220 replied, while it is important to mention that almost 15% the initial 835 were abolished and the questionnaire was returned. The whole article will be later available in NEMED project’s website (COMENIUS 3 project): http://www.nemed-network.org/
Curriculum and time. Teacher of a Multigrade classroom faces intense time problems, since he/she owes to address his/her teaching. Teacher can not deal with the curriculum of all grades synchronously. So he/she has to use auxiliary teaching techniques. One of the most popular techniques for copying with the problem of shrunk time is assigning homework to the students to replenish time. But since home work can not solve the problem of time spherically, there are several other parallel measures to deal with shrunk time, such as shrinking breaks’ time, shrinking the chapters that should be taught for each subject, shrinking the exercises per chapter etc.
It is important for the ministry to create and provide:
- Special guides for best practices in Multigrade teaching
- Best practice guides for ICT implementation in Multigrade teaching
- Methodological approaches for Multigrade learning
- Educational material or a data basis of relevant titles.
- Tools (software) for production of original educational material
Cooperation with local organizations. Cooperation with local institutions, bureaus and organizations is essential for the best possible function of a Multigrade school. Municipality can support Multigrade school with funding for maintenance, extra personnel occupation, ict infrastructure etc According teachers’ opinions regarding this issue, funding from the central qualified offices of the ministry is not sufficient.
Training issues. What is worth while mentioned in this paragraph is that during tertiary education there is no special Multigrade training. When teachers are firstly appointed in a Multigrade teaching environment, there is not even a previous seminar training them in special Multigrade teaching conditions. Teachers’ advisors, that visit schools in regular interspaces, are not regularly specialized in Multigrade teaching. So Multigrade teachers most of the time needs to solve their teaching problems on their own or by being advised by other experienced Multigrade teaching.
Cultural and social issues. Since Multigrade schools are most of the times located in isolated areas, a Multigrade teacher is also expected to function as a socializing factor for the local inhabitants. Most often, Multigrade teachers in Greece, organize competitions, training seminars for adults in ICT, theatrical plays with the contribution and participation of locals, sports organization and more, trying to offer the community a variety of chances to keep in touch with civilization and education.
Teachers’ distance training. There are several training projects that aim to train Multigrade teachers in situ, that is without their needing to leave school and attend training away from school. University of Aegean has participated and completed a number of distance Multigrade teachers (MUSE COMENIUS, DIAS, NEMED, RURAL WINGS). In that way Multigrade teachers can gain the train necessary to teach using best practices in methodology and ICT implementations. Great role in Greek Multigrade teachers’ needs analysis plays the training on using software which allows them to develop their own digital educational material. That is easily explained if we remind the reader that there are no specially designed books for Multigrade schools in Greece.
Multigrade teacher’s opinions about the institution of multigrade schooling. The majority of primary education teachers are women. On the contrary, the majority of multigrade schools’ teachers are men. Multigrade schools’ teachers often need to cover great distances to reach their school unit. They all tend to believe that a multigrade school position is not sufficiently motivating.
Some of the motivations that multigrade Greek teachers themselves suggest are the following:
- Increase of multigrade teacher’s wage
- Improvement of multigrade schooling working conditions
- Expenses coverage
- Extra bonuses
In spite of the Multigrade teachers also state that Multigrade schools offers certain positive qualities:
- Environment where Multigrade schools lies are more natural, with less traffic and pollution. So it is more healthy and less tiring
- Relations between students are warmer and more essential
- Relations between students and teacher are warmer and more essential
- Relations of the total school community and the local community are stronger and more effective when a problem rises.
Main disadvantages are reminded to be the following, as mentioned again in this archive.
- Teaching time that corresponds to each student is less
- Often changes of personnel
- Lack of competition between students
The authors work in NEMED project. NEMED (Network of Multigrade Education) is a transnational network supported by the Comenius 3 Action of the Socrates Programme of EU. NEMED brings together educationalists and researchers from ten European countries, who share an interest in researching, enhancing and supporting multigrade education, in their countries and at the European level.
In the e-learning business in Finland, there are around 160-170 companies that provide elearning solutions. The total turnover was around 140 million euros and it employed nearly 2000 people in 2003. This does not however reflect the digital learning solution markets as a whole, since the figures of the companies providing only partly elearning solutions, universities and other public institutions are not included. The companies are mainly small.
A part of the companies export and take part in international development projects.
The e-learning markets are mainly between companies and institutions. The business of institutions is developed with the help of digital medias. Big consumer markets are still to come, since they require for example proper distribution chains and changes in the buying behaviour of education.
Typical services in e-learning business sector are personnel, product, customer, partner, distributor and change management training. The benefits of these services are pace, savings in costs and time, the unique context and quality and possibility to multicentralized exchange of expertise and interactive discussion.
According to the latest barometer of Federation of The Finnish Information Industries (8/05) there is an upswing in ICT business and nearly half of the companies expect business to grow in the future. According to this study the employment has continued well and new employees have been hired.
The expectations for the autumn are positive and personnel will be recruited even more.
E-learning in Finnish schools
More and more education which include e-learning is given in Finland.
Upper secondary school can be passed entirely by studying in the internet and in many comprehensive schools e-learning ensures the possibility to study also rare subjects. Different kinds of networks between schools enable producing the contents.
The purpose of the basic education is that the teacher utilises information and communications technologies in his work and is able to guide students to reach the basic level in information and communications technology. This means practical skills in work, skills in data systems, co-operation and interactive skills and understanding data security and ethical issues.
The projects of the Post-comprehensive school education and adult education have created dozens of good development networks. Virtual schools have been networked both regionally and nationally. In the project networks there have been developed solutions for e-learning, searched answers to problems caused by new studying methods and produced services. The technical solutions and infrastructure of the e-learning are in quite good condition except that the number of computers in upper secondary level schools needs to be increased. The context produced in the networks could be utilised more efficiently. The self provided teaching is found cheaper than one bought from the network.
The present context of teachers´ education is more teaching of the pedagogic models and developing teaching methods, not that much teaching of the software anymore.
There is also a lot of self studying material available for education. Education is given to wider group of people, which means all who will need e-learning in their work. In Finland many schools offer studies which lead to graduation including e-learning. Häme Polytechnic launched this autumn as a first institution offers fully virtual education for teachers.
Experts of e-learning are being trained in almost all units offering supportive education such as eOppimaisteri by the University of Joensuu, e-skills by Häme Polytechnic and Ota-e by the Helsinki University of Technology.
Active research of eLearning
There are 52 higher education institutions including 21 universities and 31 polytechnics in Finland. In all of them there are e-learning related development projects. Universities and polytechnics have both built a virtual consortium, which offer virtual studies for the students, but also a lot of information about developing virtual teaching, work of quality and research. Many fields of business are offering possibilities to study and graduate fully or at least partially virtually.
The research focuses on e-learning including media reading, multicultural phenomena, competences of teachers, usability of learning objects, usage of simulations in teaching, controlling practises of smart mobile device, usability of teaching technologies, using common educational material and management of e-learning. The studies result in thesis, articles, conference performances and also international conferences.
The studies have generated many in national and international contacts and there are several international co-operative projects going on.
For example in the University of Helsinki, which is the largest university in Finland, educational environments were used only about 200 students and teachers in 2000. In October 2005 there were around 17000 users. At the same time the supply of educational contexts have grown from less than 200 to 1200.
There is still lack of good contents all the time. Therefore, University of Helsinki is taking part for example in EU eContent programme in EURES project, which aims at creating European multi lingual teaching portal, which is a unique way of producing and delivering materials.
This could be the future
E-learning has become a part of everyday life whereas the meaning of technology has moved backwards. E-learning is one developed procedures in supporting learning and it is available for everyone. The equipment are easily available, they can and will be used creatively and when needed.
Technical environments and equipment belong automatically to the different processes. The electronic web will connect actors, functions and fields of business tightly and in real time.
Tailor-made teaching has increased and modular type learning objects based on individuality or learning trays are everyday life. Increased supply of educational material and connectibility prevent also withdrawal.
E-learning offers a totally new learning culture. It requires breaking down the previous role models, giving up from being tied in place and time and absorbing new models of interactivity. The change should be based on competence of an individual and flexible practises should be offered for the development of individuals.
The key for professional growth is not individual skills but collective skills that offer flexible procedures for individual development. Common data building is power. Organisations focus on right targeting of resources, which includes directing, control of time and priorising issues.
Motivating, good arguments and encouragement and support will ease up the change.
The basis for good reaction for change in organisation is open flow of information and transparency of actions.
The business in the e-learning field will be segmented and focused. E-learning products and services will be integrated more tightly in developing competence in companies in general. Cost efficient and risk free solutions will be underlined in solutions for customers. The market will grow at least the following five years. The business will become global. Alongside the globalisation, companies will operate on genuinely global markets in the far networked global economy. In the pressure of efficiency, the companies are highly specialized and most of their actions are outsourced, but on the other hand, new products and services enabled by technology and networked economy and new concepts of business will give companies chance to find their way to the new markets.
The Association of Finnish eLearning Centre
The Association of Finnish eLearning Centre (NGO) promotes the use of eLearning and digital education solutions in Finnish companies and organisations. The purpose is to develop and increase the skills and knowledge of eLearning in education, teaching and business operations.
The Association is a national meeting point, providing networking links. It helps to create contacts to both, companies, organisations and individuals. The Association co-operates with the best experts and provides up-to-date information about research, development, trends and experiences of eLearning.
The Association works together with several companies, polytechnics, universities and training institutions. It is also a networking organisation for the numerous Finnish eLearning projects and regional clusters.
We provide contact information for international organisations and experts interested in co-operating with Finnish eLearning experts, organisations and projects.
The Association of Finnish eLearning Centre
Tel +358 3 651 5255
Fax: +358 3 621 5200
- Tietoalojen liitto: Suhdannekyselyn tulokset / Elokuu 2005
- Lith P. Digitaalisen median toimialaselvitys 2005, Digitaalisen median, sisältötuotannon ja oppimispalvelujen osaamiskeskuksen julkaisusarja
If we seek to determine the characteristics of the digital era, we will realize that the parameters mainly influenced are the speed and volume of information. A seminal consequence of the influence of Information Society is the acceleration of all processes, a fact that keeps users in a state of vigilance and in a permanent process of updating their knowledge, in a permanent state of alert. In the digital world, solutions of communication that up to now were inapplicable, today begin to materialize.
The volume of information carried via networks is rapidly accelerating. Billions of e-mails and sms run through our planet daily. During the recent years the messages have become more complex, transporting accompanying files mainly photographs and videos, as attachments.
A large part of this information is recorded and a percentage ends in the internet. Human history now walks hand in hand with the machines and the conjunction of human being and machine has already become centerfold in human life and experience.
Questions raised by the digitalization of information
No era has left in its wake so many visual and audio traces as ours. Should we pity the future historian who will be forced to also study the terabytes of the electronic files that are created daily? There are historians who predict the demise of historiography, while others are heralding the explosion of information as the beginning of "real" History.
One thing is certain, the model of historical writing of the past century cannot possibly serve the next one. The epistemology of History will have to change, if historians wish to continue recounting the past in a way that interests the public.
A few moments after an important event, such as the tsounami or the bomb explosions in the London Tube of the 7th July 2005, the BBC was deluged by pictures and videos sent by eye witnesses through their mobile telephones. History runs in madly diverse transcontinental orbits from one monitor to another as, thanks to our cell phones, we can all become participants in its recording The relation between transmitter and receptor has changed radically.
The meeting of Technologies of Information and Communication with the science of History raises a series of questions and the historians face challenges that lead them to new forms of recording history.
The main advantage of the digitalization of sources is that they automatically become accessible to their remote visitors. Most of the digitalized files are organized within powerful databases, thus making it possible for information seekers to easily locate the information they look for.
It is well-known that from the moment a source is digitalized, it automatically changes character. The fluidity of documents after their digitalization constitutes a real nightmare for historians. Nowadays a number of databases have opted to safeguard the integrity of their collections by locking them in pdf files. However, for those who know transforming a ‘locked form’ file, such as pdf, to a file that can be modified, presents no challenge and can be done easily. "What locks, unlocks" whisper the residents of the internet. Mark Poster contends that digital files, because of their fluidity, will limit historians’ false sense of objectivity, since there will be a turn towards the constructional approach to historical texts 1.
Applications of the Technologies of Information and Communication to the subject of history. The didactics of history in the society of knowledge.
Technologies can certainly support the development of student skills required by the science of History. They provide them with opportunities to select sources through a variety of means of information transmission, to re-enact historical events, to make use of databases, in order to reach safe conclusions and acquaint themselves with historical thought. Cd-roms and websites promote, to a large extent, the incorporation of visual forms both in teaching and in research. They allow the "visually prone" students to approach the past through visual re-enactments.
By using historical sources in digital form, the students study the past through discovery. At the same time, however, they need new skills for critical thought 2, new ways to evaluate visual evidence, not only with respect to their authenticity but also to the knowledge that they offer. The possibility of digitalizing pictures and sounds influences historical research as historians have already been creating new types of hypertext with visual and audio content. The internet functions as a novel place for the publication of historical work, where, however work loses its immutable nature, and acquires new possibilities for permanent updating.
Technologies facilitate us in the process of production and control of historical hypotheses, thus providing us with opportunities to approach historical investigation. Multimedia fully correspond to the collective character of history. In the majority of lesson plans submitted to educational portals students are encouraged to delve into sources and reach their own conclusions 3.
The use of technologies may promote student collaboration while contributing to the development of historical thought 4.
The analysis of lesson plans at the Educational Portal of the Greek Ministry of Education reveals that in quite a few cases hypertexts have been used, which helped students look for historical sources as well as discover relations among the topics. The development of analytical and interpretative skills is supported by the hierarchic organization of hypertext. The hypertext facilitates the correlation of sources because of its non linear nature. It encourages a multidirectional reading, yet its effect on historical narration certainly needs to be studied
The multimedia nature of the internet permits the coexistence in the same source of multiple forms of representation. If we take for example a lesson plan for the conquest of Constantinople 5we will realize that it includes hyperlinks to written texts, pictures, maps and plans. The instructions guide the students in forming their own historical path. The educator is integrated in the team of students and supports them during the research process.
Lesson plans utilizing presentation software also frequently appear in educational portals. The integration of activities of text production and presentations helps students develop historical thought, creates and promotes suitable conditions for co-learning, and strengthens creativity and imagination.
With the facilities provided by word processing we overcome the limitations of writing and we are facilitated in rethinking, analyzing and comprehending. Researchers use the term “bricolage”6 to refer to the students’ ability to reuse parts of digital files –an item or a software, a piece of code, a text in a unique way, thereby creating a new original composition. The students develop new dexterities as they creatively integrate pieces of information in their work. This naturally presupposes preparation of activities by the teachers, so that simple cutting off and pasting of information is avoided.
The use of information bases in particular helps students trace trends, formulate historical hypotheses, investigate theories 7. The educational value of databases is multiplied if we put students in the position of those creators. Classification and categorization skills are developed in the process of base construction.
The utilization of electronic environments of communication, eg discussions forums, allows students to develop both their abilities in formulating arguments and their comprehension skills 8. It allows educators to locate student misapprehensions with regard to historical thought, something that is not always easy in classroom discussions. In the electronic environments of communication, shy or reserved students are also encouraged to express their opinions, and this leads to the discovery of misapprehensions.
In case an electronic environment of communication is utilized, the students, beginning from the activity hypertext, may support the creation of a network of observations, comments, contributions, etc. This network of messages reflects the exchange of experience and knowledge among members of a school community, and constitutes a capital of knowledge for this community.
Simulations allow the dynamic handling of historical concepts and support the deeper comprehension of the significance of certain choices made by historical personalities under the influence of either their environment or situation.
The use of digital video especially in projects of local history facilitates the collection of oral evidence. Especially if the collection is preceded by the study of such testimonies, then the students may develop more effectively the necessary interviewing skills 9.
The technologies of Information and Communication provide educators with tools essential for the reenactment of historical concepts by individualizing the students’ educational needs. Visualization is enhanced through the utilization of Technologies since the structural concepts of historical thought can be dynamically enacted. The dynamic conceptual maps for example facilitate the development of historical thought because they are constructed with the students’ help and allow the exploration and comprehension of complex historical terms such as social stratification, synergy of factors, social class, alternative/monetary trade. If we take one more step and approach students as producers and transformers of historical thought, then we realize that the concepts are transformed into analytical tools of interpretation of historical material. In this way, students are led to the development of a spectrum of cognitive skills.
Even traditional teaching aids such as the blackboard have been reinstated in our era. In the recent years we have seen a new type of board, the electronic interactive board. The teacher may prepare his or her lesson in an electronic file which includes different sources of media, plans, videos and sound files. The board turns into a dynamic tool, the maps, the tables of data are transformed in front of the eyes of the class, and the students can store their work or even take it home in a portable storing medium.
A number of reports10 that "in spite of the significant infrastructure program concerning computers in schools, their use by the students is insufficient". It is also reported that the students have made shallow use of computers and that the teachers’ computer literacy is still deficient.
Certainly the obstacles are numerous. A prerequisite for the improvement of this situation is sufficient teacher training in the effective use of ICT; this, however, must be accompanied by changes in the organization of schools and in pedagogic methods. Conclusions drawn from case studies suggest that even if the technologies of Information and Communication are the cause for the change, or the means through which change is effected, the use of ICT must be closely connected to other aspects of school development 11. As in the case of enterprises, the full dynamics of Technologies will show only if the introduction of these technologies is effectively combined with other innovations.
Read the complete article in the "Resources" area
- Poster, M., (2004) “History in the Digital Domain”, Historein Vol 4 (2003-4) Nefeli Publishers.
- Giakoumatou T. IT adoption in Greek secondary humanities education. Issues and reflections. e -Learning conference 2005 "Towards a Learning Society" Brussels 19-29/5/2005
- Hennessy, S., et al., (2003). Pedagogic Strategies for Using ICT to Support Subject Teaching and Learning: An Analysis Across 15 Case Studies. Research Reports, No. 03/1, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge .
- Brown, L., and Purvis, R., (2001). What is the impact of multisource learning on History at key stage 3? Technology integrated pedagogical strategies (TIPS) website case reports, http://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/TIPS/brownpur.html
- Seely Brown, J., (1999), “Learning, Working & Playing in the Digital Age: Creating Learning Ecologies.” Transcription of a talk by Brown at the 1999 Conference on Higher Education of the American Association for Higher Education.
- Martin, D., (2003) ‘Relating the general to the particular: data handling and historical learning’. In: History, ICT and earning in the secondary school (Haydn,T. and Counsell, C. (eds)). RoutledgeFalmer. pp. 134-151.
- Thompson, D., and Cole, N., (2003) .‘Polychronicon - Keeping the kids on message...one school's attempt at helping sixth formstudents to engage in historical debate using ICT’. Teaching History, (113), pp. 38-43.
Wellman, E., and Flores, J., (2002).‘Online Discourse: Expansive Possibilities in the History Classroom’. NECC 2002: National Educational Computing Conference Proceedings (23rd), San Antonio, Texas , June 17-19. http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/ch-ssp/2002conf/wellman_necc.pdf
- Wolfrum, M., et al., (2001).‘Capturing History: How Technology Helped Middle School Students Learn History’. EdMedia 2001,World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia &Telecommunications, Tampere, Finland , June 27.p.126.
- OECD, 2005 Education Policy Analysis, 2004 edition
- Fullan, M.,2001, Leading in a culture of change, Jossey-Bass, San Fransisco, California
When should we start the process of introducing children to computers? Is the technology good or evil for the learning process? Joel Josephson from Kindersite Project gives some insight on this topic.
2 years, 3 years, 6, 8, 12, 15, never, when do we start the process of introducing children to computers? Educators, parents, even gray-haired and learned professors cannot agree. The second question that then arises is whether computer based content positively or negatively affects the learning process. I can hear the screams of protest and support in full interactive, multi-media, broadband enhanced detail even as I write. Meanwhile millions of dollars are being spent to bring computers and the Internet to elementary schools around the globe. The only area all agree on, well maybe, is that all students should be taught how to use computers and the Internet eventually. As all will need an understanding of technology to enjoy the products of technology and in many cases within the future work environment. In this article I will try to summarize some of the arguments for and against technology in early education and finally to make a synopsis of how I believe we should address this vital issue. Firstly lets take a look at the arguments for early introduction.
Future Needs: The use of computers and an understanding of how to use the Internet are already critical to modern society today in manifest directions. These include, the work environment, information gathering for work orpleasure, shopping, communications etc. and if true today, how much moretomorrow. The Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment predicts thatthe computer industry will continue to show the greatest growth of any industry in the USA. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than half of all workers used a computer on the job in September 2001. And nearly three-fourths of those workers connected to the Internet or used e-mail.
Early Skills Acquisition: As with all fundamental skills, the earlier the education system allows students to become familiar with technology the greater will be their depth of understanding and effectiveness in using it. It is immaterial to argue that skills acquired today by a five year old will not be relevant later in life because technology will develop beyond comprehension. This is because skills acquired can focus on an understanding of what computers can do rather than just how to interact with today’s computers. In addition, once the initial ground work has been obtained the potential for adaptation to a dynamic system can be incrementally updated in the same way as adults have to adapt to new technology.
Personalization: Computer based content allows a level of individual engagement and interactivity that comparative learning systems fail to deliver. By its nature learning with the computer is a one-on-one experience or at worst, small groups. This alleviates the paradigm of large classes with minimal personal intervention.
Learning Levels: Computers allow users to individualize their speed of attainment to suite their personal needs and capabilities. The speedy are not held back and those that need greater repetition are not passed over. Additionally special groupings can be more easily and effectively catered for.
Wide Distribution of Quality Teaching: Computer based learning allows the maximum effectiveness and distribution of the best quality teaching and content. A great teacher is not limited by the classroom but can reach out across the Internet to thousands either through building digital lessons or distance learning software and programs. Most distance learning systems today can be configured as live broadcasts with high levels of interactivity with the teacher. Now, here are the equally strong arguments against.
Accessibility and Suitability: If an individual does not have access to a computer or does not understand the content through a language deficiency or cultural differences, they will be relegated to the digitally divided, 44 million at the last count just in the USA according to Professor Howard Besser, The Next Digital Divides.
Interfering with Natural Development: Young children should be utilizingtheir natural propensity for physically based activity rather than be ‘stuck’ infront of a computer. They already spend damaging amounts of time glued to televisions, as researchers have discovered, that impairs development. Our children, the Surgeon General warns, are the most sedentary generation ever.
Lack of Depth: Computer based content is a long way from offering the depth, flexibility and tried and tested results that a trained, dedicated and experienced teacher can offer children. In addition, the interaction with a sophisticated adult allows critical advanced vocabulary and personalization skills.
Quality of Content: Most digital content is overly simplistic in its structure. For example, a sum can only be wrong or right. The content will not explain to the student why the sum was wrong. A real teacher will mark a piece of work and offer the essential logic reasoning for the decision that will enable the student to gain a fundamental understanding of the system behind what constitutes correct/incorrect.
Health Hazards: Computers pose health hazards to children. The risks include repetitive stress injuries, eyestrain, obesity, social isolation, and, forsome, long-term physical, emotional, or intellectual developmental damage.
Safety: Children must be protected from the dangers of the Internet, stalkers, adult content, hate and violence. Filtering software is notoriously inefficient.
By no means am I attempting to articulate all the arguments or cover them inreal depth but just to raise some of the issues we all face. In my opinion both the Pros and Cons are very strong arguments all of which need serious consideration and answers.
Now to put this in to an importance perspective, digital technology is invading virtually every aspect of modern society and its impact is becoming fundamental to how we work, play and learn. Technology within education also has a huge role to play but its’ effectiveness and impact has not been studied in the depth and breadth that such a fundamental development requires.
In the work environment, mistakes in the use of technology are paid for inmonetary terms. How much less can we afford to make mistakes with introducing technology to our children, mistakes made here cost far more than damaged business, with education we are talking damaged lives. At the moment we just seem to be ‘throwing’ computers and the Internet at teachers and children, as I state above, without any real understanding of what we are actually doing to the children or should I call them ‘guinea pigs’.
The logic seems to be, at least on the governmental level, that we cannot afford for the coming generation not to be computer enabled, as this ability will be critical for a country to be economically competitive. In fact every country is being driven to ensure it’s digital competitiveness. At a governmental level this logic is difficult to fault but it is our job as educators and parents to ensure thatthe effectiveness of the headlong plunge is in the best interests of all the children.
My opinion is that large-scale research in to the issues needs to be carried out. Not on the scale of a few dozen subjects over weeks as many examples of current research do, but thousands or even tens of thousands of subjects over years.
These subjects need to be from 2 years to 8 years old. They need to bewidely dispersed geographically. Come from all levels of the social andattainment spectrum. In fact technology and the Internet is a perfect platform to carry out this type of research. I founded the Internet based Kindersite Project to enable researchers to accomplish this type of wide-scale program.
I believe that only significant research that studies thousands of subjectchildren over a long-term, years probably, will allow the educational community to really gain full and meaningful answers to the questions such as:
- Does the early introduction of digital content positively or negatively affectyoung children?
- What should be the parameters of the introduction (if any)?
- What content types should be employed within the introductory process?
- What constitutes 'good' or 'bad' content and why?
- What parameters define 'good' or 'bad' content?
As a result of sustained and profound research, guidelines should be drawn. These guidelines should offer teachers and parents tried and tested parameters for the use of computers for their children at each age level. It should include areas such as; how long should a child use a computer over a period, maximum and minimum attainment levels to be expected for each age group based on set proficiency standards, how digital content should be integrated in to standard lesson plans in a similar way that other media isused.
Most importantly, set standards for educational content providers must be laid down that they must adhere to if they wish to produce educational content utilizable by educationalists.
In addition all young childrens’ content, educational or leisure should be labeled with its appropriateness for each age group. These standards should be defined by the research.
In conclusion, it is fairly obvious that computer based educational content is becoming a feature of schools, whether we like it or not. In the home we see increasing evidence that even the smallest children are gaining access to computers either with parents or through watching older siblings. It is unreasonable to expect to turn back the clock and bar children below a certain age from computers, this is unenforceable and ineffective.
It is our duty to ensure that clear usage standards are set, content guidelines are drawn and sites rated at a governmental level so that children, parents, caregivers and educators have a clear and safe basis for using computers and the Internet with their charges. Anything less is an abrogation of all our responsibility.
At present, the majority of German schools are only open until midday, but they are soon to remain open until 5 pm. Students will spend more time learning in school, and the German government wants them to do so for the most part through internet and new media. The final decision depends on each federal Land, but the general trend is moving in this direction.
We spoke to Ursula Esser, Head of the International Unit of Schulen ans Netz, an initiative that was launched in 1996 to connect the 34,000 German schools to internet. This objective having nearly been reached, Schulen ans Netz is currently developing a series of innovative pedagogical and didactic programs to help teachers use new technology in daily schoolwork in a critical manner.
How will the extension of school hours be organised?
We want to offer material through internet that the teachers can use with their students in the afternoons. Furthermore, students will not continue in their usual classes, but will join groups divided according to specific topics. For instance, if a student has problems with mathematics or languages, he/she can attend the courses offered in the afternoon on those topics. We want students to spend their afternoons learning through new technologies.
How do you approach teaching students through the ICT?
We have developed the ‘Medien Konzept’ philosophy. This consists in the students making a portfolio of their knowledge in new media, such that if a new teacher walks into the classroom, he/she can see, for instance, that those students have already worked on mathematics with Excel, and for languages, they have used such and such a function of Word. Work with the media can be documented. In addition, students will receive a certificate when they graduate indicating their knowledge of the new technologies.
What type of training on new technologies do you provide to teachers?
The majority of teachers in Germany are slightly older and there is a certain sentiment of rejection of new technologies. At times, students know how to apply the new media better than their teachers and conflicts arise. Many of the teachers rejecting the use of new technologies in their classroom cannot see what value they contribute. Our task is to demonstrate the existence of added value, and that is why we offer the service, Weblotsen (web guides), which consists of having a team of trainers travelling throughout Germany and providing training. In the first phase, they travelled to all German Länder, and now we are especially addressing the ‘multipliers’, which are the school directors, the administrators and information technology teachers, that is, people who can train the remaining teaching staff.
I suppose you also do more specific training...
Yes, we do. For example, we have a workshop that lasts a day or two where teachers learn how eTwinning functions and how to work with internet using portals. We teach them how to create a ‘virtual’ class, how to organise a website and things of this sort. In the second part of the workshop, they reflect on the intercultural aspects of bi-national projects. Furthermore, we have developed the portal, Lehrer Online (www.lehrer-online.de ), with many pedagogical resources for all sorts of schools and subjects.
Do many teachers use the portals of Schulen ans Netz?
Thousands of teachers connect with our portal every day. And we have ascertained that they use our portals from their homes more than from school, which means that schools do not yet offer the facilities they need. There is still not enough equipment at the schools. Germany has a certain level of equipment, but it is not enough. More resources must be invested.
I believe that in Germany, gender issues have been worked on a great deal.
Yes, that’s true. We have created the portal, leanet, designed for female teachers, for women involved in the field of education. The portal motivates them to connect to internet and offers them courses, materials, information in the field of education and an account for their personal electronic mail. We have also created Lizzynet, a portal for women where users can create discussion groups on certain topics or create their own page to introduce themselves personally. These services are used a great deal.
Are schools motivated to create digital content?
In Germany, the number of students is decreasing and the schools have to demonstrate how attractive they are. This situation favours the creation of good websites. Practically all secondary schools have a website where they present their projects and activities. At Schulen ans Netz, we have developed a tool that is very easy to use for schools to create their own websites. It is called Primolo, and it is above all for primary schools.
And what role does the technological aspect play in all of this?
Our concept is that the information technology infrastructure must be outside of schools, so that they need not concern themselves with matters beyond their pedagogical task. We therefore try to have the information technology material located in other places, such as town halls or libraries.
You are the director of the international section of Schulen ans Netz. What do you offer teachers from other countries who are interested in making contacts?
We inform them of contents and educational trends in Germany. We also foster the exchange of ideas, know-how and new initiatives among European countries. It is very important to consider education – or rather learning – as something international, global. Furthermore, Schulen ans Netz is the National Support Service (NSS) of the eTwinning action, and we maintain close contact with the NSSs of other countries to put schools and their teachers in contact with one another. The information on our projects is available in English, French and Spanish.
Se inaugura hoy la edición de 2005 de Online Educa Madrid, como puente de enlace, entre Europa y América, para pasar revista al estado de integración de las tecnologías de información y comunicación en nuestros sistemas educativos y para avanzar en común, colaborando en la búsqueda de las mejores estrategias para su aportación eficaz a la innovación educativa y la mejora de los procesos de aprendizaje.
Buscamos como objetivos, la mejora de la calidad de la educación a través de las metodologías activas y cooperativas que facilitan las tecnologías y la formación de nuestros escolares en las herramientas que permitan su plena integración en nuestra sociedad del conocimiento. Destacamos entre las ventajas del conocimiento de esas herramientas la mejora de la capacidad para la formación permanente, que se viene haciendo ya imprescindible para todos, tanto profesional como socialmente.
Proponemos un incremento en la colaboración entre nuestras instituciones, compartiendo el resultado de nuestra investigación, nuestras experiencias y nuestros desarrollos.
Vamos a estudiar en estos días políticas educativas, estrategias y proyectos, materiales educativos en línea, materiales para la formación del profesorado, ideas innovadoras y preocupaciones sobre la implantación de las tecnologías en las aulas.
Entre estas preocupaciones está presente el distinto derecho de acceso a la educación de calidad para alumnos de distintas regiones de nuestros territorios y de distintas extracciones sociales y económicas. El acceso a las tecnologías de información y comunicación está empezando a ser generalizado en algunos países avanzados de nuestros continentes, mientras que en otros, tanto el equipamiento de escuelas y hogares, como las posibilidades de acceso a la comunicación en banda ancha, son apenas existentes. Los siguientes escalones de acceso, como la existencia de contenidos digitales disponibles en nuestras lenguas y relativos a nuestras culturas - que tanto tienen en común - y nuestros currículos, y la formación adecuada de nuestros profesores, serán también seguros temas de reflexión en estas jornadas.
En Europa la introducción de las tecnologías en los sistemas educativos está realizándose con distintos ritmos. Los indicadores empleados para medir esta integración hasta ahora en la Unión Europea han venido siendo de tipo cuantitativo, como ratio de alumnos por ordenador, porcentaje de centros educativos conectados, número de profesores formados. En el último Eurobarómetro de 2002, publicado por la Comisión Europea, sobre estos indicadores en los Quince, la media de alumnos por ordenador estaba en torno a los 9,3 y 16,9 si tenemos en cuenta sólo los ordenadores conectados a Internet. La distribución variaba fuertemente entre unos países y otros, estando en primer lugar los del Norte de Europa, donde se llegaba a una ratio de 4 alumnos por ordenador conectado, mientras que en algunos países del sur, esta ratio subía de 30. En estos países con una ratio alta hay además una gran desigualdad de equipamiento entre sus escuelas. Se iniciaba además un fenómeno en los países mejor equipados, de transferencia de los ordenadores, desde las aulas de informática hacia las aulas corrientes, a la vez que se remodelaban los espacios de los centros.
Aunque estos parámetros fueron tomados mediante encuestas de opinión a profesores y directores de escuelas europeas y no son por tanto objetivos, sirven para darse una idea aproximada de la situación. Otros estudios parecen indicar que la situación real en cuanto al acceso a las TIC en las aulas era algo menos favorable. En cuanto a la formación de los profesores, el 44% de los profesores europeos reconocía no haber recibido ningún tipo de formación en TIC. Un 91% de los profesores europeos declaraba tener ordenador en casa, pero sólo un 77% disponía de Internet. Las encuestas sobre la utilización en las aulas daban resultados bastante bajos para lo que parecían indicar los valores anteriores de equipamiento y formación, llegando la media de utilización de ordenadores en aula, por profesor y semana a 2,5 horas, en asignaturas distintas de Informática. Este parámetro desciende hasta 0,9 horas semanales si se trata del uso de Internet.
En los estudios puestos en marcha actualmente por la Comisión Europea se tiende a restar importancia a estos indicadores cuantitativos, al pensar que los indicadores orientados exclusivamente a las infraestructuras pueden contribuir a distorsionar políticas de inversión adecuadas en este campo. Los indicadores estudiados en adelante se orientarán preferentemente a los resultados educativos de las TIC, y a la integración de las TIC en los programas de enseñanza y aprendizaje. El próximo Eurobarómetro encargado por la Comisión deberá ser realizado dentro de este curso escolar. Las recomendaciones actuales de la Comisión Europea van en el sentido de englobar las políticas y estrategias sobre TIC en los objetivos educativos a largo plazo, asegurar nuevos servicios de apoyo a la educación, ayudar a los agentes educativos en el proceso de cambio y desarrollar la investigación, estableciendo nuevos indicadores y haciéndolos accesibles. La Comisión ha favorecido la identificación e intercambio de prácticas innovadoras de enseñanza-aprendizaje entre los Estados Miembros, organizando visitas entre Ministerios para su difusión y su evaluación entre pares.
Entre las preocupaciones actuales del Grupo de Trabajo sobre TIC de la Dirección General de Educación y Cultura de la Comisión Europea están:
- La falta de estudios suficientes que relacionen la frecuencia y la forma de uso de las TIC con la mejora de los procesos de aprendizaje;
- la consecución de infraestructuras bien desarrolladas, como requisito imprescindible para la participación plena en las nuevas metodologías de aprendizaje basadas en TIC;
- la obtención de datos sobre la integración de las TIC en el currículo de los países europeos y el tipo y frecuencia de su utilización;
- la distribución de presupuestos entre infraestructuras y recursos humanos, principalmente en lo que se refiere a la formación de los profesores.
Respecto a este último punto, las investigaciones recientes indican un cambio favorable en la tendencia, hacia una inversión mayor en recursos humanos, pero no hay todavía datos suficientes de la mayoría de los países.
En España la ratio actual está en torno a 11 alumnos por ordenador conectado en banda ancha, habiéndose conseguido en los últimos años acercar los niveles de infraestructuras entre regiones. La colaboración entre las administraciones central y autonómicas, dentro del Convenio Marco Internet en el Aula, ha conseguido además desarrollar recursos en línea para el currículo de los niveles de educación reglada. Otra importante actuación ha sido el incremento de la formación del profesorado en el uso pedagógico de las tecnologías. Se debe destacar principalmente esa colaboración eficaz entre todas las administraciones implicadas para compartir investigación y desarrollos, aprovechando economías de escala.
El Centro Nacional de Información y Comunicación Educativa es la unidad del Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia encargada del desarrollo de la integración de las TIC. Ha coordinado las actuaciones del Ministerio en materia de nuevas tecnologías desde el curso 84-85, almacenando en sus equipos humanos y en sus desarrollos la experiencia de estos veinte años de labor innovadora. El CNICE mantiene un portal educativo en el que están registrados 130.000 profesores, centros educativos y alumnos adultos de enseñanza abierta y a distancia. Estos usuarios reciben del portal acceso a Internet, correo electrónico, correo web, foros, y espacio web para poder publicar sus experiencias y desarrollos. El número de visitas mensuales que recibe este portal es de 1.250.000. Entre otros contenidos, se mantienen en el portal recursos para el aula correspondientes a las enseñanzas de Secundaria Obligatoria y Bachillerato, y se están produciendo, en colaboración con las Consejerías de Educación de las Comunidades Autónomas, los recursos para Infantil, Primaria y Ciclos de Formación Profesional. Este desarrollo de contenidos para la educación reglada se enmarca dentro del convenio Internet en el Aula, en el que la Administración Central (Ministerios de Industria, Turismo y Comercio y Educación y Ciencia) y las Administraciones Autonómicas colaboran en el progreso significativo de equipamiento y comunicaciones en las aulas, la disponibilidad de contenidos y aplicaciones educativas y la formación del profesorado.
En cuanto a datos de formación, en este momento el servicio de formación de profesores del CNICE tiene matriculados 16.500 alumnos, atendidos por 360 tutores, en 34 cursos distintos relacionados con la aplicación educativa de las tecnologías, a través de convenios con 11 comunidades autónomas.
Nuestro Programa MENTOR, de formación abierta y a distancia de adultos tiene matriculados a lo largo del curso 2004-2005, 16.250 alumnos, en 103 cursos distintos, con un plantel en activo de 260 tutores, y 336 aulas MENTOR abiertas en todo el territorio nacional.
Nuestro Centro para la Investigación y el Desarrollo de la Educación a Distancia (CIDEAD) tiene 1200 alumnos cursando enseñanzas de Primaria, Secundaria Obligatoria y Bachillerato, con residencia en 70 países distintos. El próximo curso se incorporará a estas enseñanzas el Centro Virtual de Educación, plataforma desarrollada en el CNICE para facilitar a todos sus profesores y alumnos los servicios personalizados de información y comunicación necesarios para su interacción educativa.
Todas estas actuaciones serían estériles sin el importante esfuerzo de nuestros profesores, base fundamental del cambio en los procesos educativos, para estar al día en el manejo de las herramientas tecnológicas y en su aplicación pedagógica.
Finalmente quisiera destacar ese espíritu de colaboración mencionado antes entre las instituciones educativas europeas y entre las administraciones españolas en el desarrollo de la sociedad de la información en nuestras escuelas. Sé que hay también buenos ejemplos de colaboración entre instituciones educativas iberoamericanas en este sentido. Nos gustaría que este encuentro sirviera para incrementar ese trabajo en común.
Since its launch by European Schoolnet in May 2000, this project has focused on European citizenship and intercultural education through on-line activities and classroom practice examples. myEUROPE has become one of the largest school networks in Europe and has encouraged contacts between, schools, teachers and pupils from European Member States and beyond, by involving students in collaborative educational projects.
The new Web site is available in three languages: English, French and German and is the one stop shop for teachers to cooperate with their European peers to establish European collaborative projects, exchange knowledge and enrich the learning of their students.
With a network of over 2,600 schools, myEUROPE brings the diversity of Europe into the classroom via the Internet, and draws pupils together to work on cooperative projects.
The computer in a nursery environment is also often one of the few areas that an autistic child may not object to sharing either the activity itself, or the space around it. There are also often opportunities to focus a child’s learning through the use of particular types of software such as software that introduces the notion of counting or sequences and thereby also introducing the notion of cause and effect.
Children in the main are not as computer phobic as a lot of adults, it therefore is much more advantageous for those children who initially require a large degree of support to be introduced to the computer and software, by an adult who can find their way around the programme. This will save the adult and the child a great deal of time and a great deal of frustration. Once the child has become familiar with both the computer and the software they are able to use the environment without a great deal of adult support and in fact help adults who are not computer literate to navigate through the software.
Although all of the above can be true for autistic children it is also evident in the early years environment that those with speech and language difficulties can also benefit from the use of ICT. These children again are often the most adept at the use of the computer and it is encouraging to see how often children who have difficulties with communication can become so excited and animated by the achievements that the computer gives them. This often gives these children much more self-confidence and self worth and they are often valued by their peers for their ability. I have observed this happening with children as young as two and three years old.
Similarly children who may not be as intellectually able as their peers can again at an early age use computers to build their self esteem and to give them learning opportunities. Particular types of software again with one, two or three word sentences can also encourage speech and language using again the opportunity for repetition and a feeling of success.
There are opportunities for children to increase their hand-eye co-ordination, an opportunity to identify colours, matching, sorting, grouping and to take advantage of the ability to achieve an outcome or if one tires of it, to press escape.
It has been estimated that the 17th Century man received as much information in his lifetime as is packed into a single Sunday edition of the New York Times. This illustrates a dilemma we have in education today: we need to learn and to absorb vastly more information, but our brains are not growing any larger. Moreover, in addition to the "classical" subjects we used to emphasize in schools, modern students need to spend additional time to learn tools necessary for living effectively in today’s society. Our grandparents were able to be educated once -- in elementary school – and that was sufficient for them to be literate all their lives; students of today must learn increasing amounts each year to remain fully literate and to be able to function in society (e.g., after a new software release they may not be able to log in to bank account, fill in an online tax declaration etc.) Thus, the Information Age makes us learn whole categories of information we never imagined even 20 years ago. There is much less time for so called "classical subjects" in schools. We need to rethink educational system and move from a fact-based model to skill-based educational model.
What Learning was/is in the ‘paper era’
In the “paper era” the educated person was the one who knew a lot.
The educational process was/is a matter of consuming information, which was given to learners in a predetermined sequence. The learner had/has a source (validated, certified, approved) in a form of a book and was expected to acquire data. The primary role of the teacher was/is to be a second information carrier, functioning in a partnership with books.
Educational publishers of the "paper age" provide students’ and teachers’ resources, which are "written in stone". Learners accommodate themselves to the study material. For largely technical reasons (it is hard to change the content already printed on the paper) modifying the learning material is a major effort, which few could afford. Moreover, the educational content is subject to copyright law, which forbids changes in original content.
What Learning will be...
The Information Age is different. It is no longer possible for any individual to know everything. The educated person is, instead, the one who knows where to find correct answers quickly. So 10 “fools” who possess outstanding information sources and communication and information sharing skills can do far better in the future than 10 "fact based" geniuses who work separately in their closed cabinets.
Learning is about creating our very own unique understanding of the world we live in. There will still be a traditional educational process and state requirements, because one needs basic facts as a platform on which to build the understanding of the world. However the main focus is learning to learn, to refine critical thinking skills, and on the ability to obtain data, process it, share it, do collaborative work etc.
Schools in the future will be learning environments, where the learning experience is student centered and creative, but also systematic. Flexibility and creativity will be the keys for future learning. Teachers will always be in the classroom to perform facilitative roles. It is also possible to deliver information over the Internet to kids and teach kids even the fundamentals (e.g. 2+2=4), but teacher’s role will be to acquaint students with human component of the life and to teach students nuanced, context-appropriate knowledge. The student’s spiritual development, psychological balance etc. will always benefit from the human touch and from detailed knowledge of the background of each learner. The role of the teacher will be to be responsible for students’ teamwork. The line between the teacher and the learner will blur (the “teacher” becomes the “learner” who is responsible in the classroom). Many services, which support learning, will come from outside the classroom.
Educational publishing - perfect service instead of perfect product (schoolbooks)
The educational publishers who used to sell books/worksheets to schools will become more like information brokers and community management facilitators. Their roles will be to help learners (teachers/pupils) to construct their knowledge as virtual teacher assistants.
Basic educational content will reach the classroom in electronic formats and will be available free, with copyright policies that allow users to modify the original content. This means that learning materials will be more in the form of "drafts" which enable pupils (with the help of teachers and others in their online communities) to write their own books, thus creating their own unique understanding about the world they live in.
During the “paper era” the educational content which reached classrooms had to be perfect and to represent the “final truth” on any topic.
In the future, publishers will endeavor to develop perfect services for learning teams of students and teachers – providing rich and appropriate information and collaborative learning events to enable learners to construct their own knowledge. There will be multiple sources of information instead of one book. Inevitably, these materials will often contain correct and incorrect information. Developing systems which enable learners to access a wide range of information and give them active role in validating and in thinking critically about information will provide a crucial role for educational publishers..
Core questions which need to be worked out fully include safety and security issues which achieve a balance between rich and varied learning environments while warning learners about content which has destructive nature (racism, porn, terrorism propaganda etc.). In addition, new assessment standards will have to be worked out – assessment strategies that focus not so much absorbing factual information as on skill development for finding and assessing information and processing it accordingly.
Learning Folders Net: offering online support for schools
Miksike LearningFolders has worked in Estonia with "Open source" educational publishing and online support for regular schools since 1994. Miksike gives away more than 25 000 worksheets in HTML eWorksheets and offers a variety of collaborative learning services to facilitate learners in constructing their knowledge.
During the January of 2004 Miksike servers in Estonian got 100 000 page views per schooldays. The number of Estonian speaking people is approx. 1 million. Speculating that German-speaking learners use the same server as frequently, this server gets 10 million page views per day.
Miksike Support Center offers organized community settings where students act as information providers, and provides online tests and a range of contests and different online learning activities to engage the learners at every age level.
The "Open source" educational publishing concept is developed further in transEuropean environment through a LearningFolders (LeFo) project supported by Socrates/Minerva.
Partners: Miksike, Estonia; University of Bremen, Germany; Katolska Skolan av Notre Dame, Sweden, Behacker & Partner, Austria, Center for Scientific Visualization, Slovenia; and EGO-Creanet, Italy. University of Brighton, UK does external evaluation.
Please read more about LeFo. You are welcome to test drive our new server (still in development) If you have any further interest, we invite you to communicate with us at email@example.com