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Building FutureClassroomlab.dk

by Lasse Remmer, Future Classroom Lead Ambassador for Denmark

 

Two years ago, UCC was contacted by the Danish National Agency for IT and Learning (part of the Ministry of Education) and asked to take charge of implementing the Future Classroom Lab initiative under European Schoolnet. The Ministry required a Danish version that could help Danish teachers understand and use innovative technologies in teaching. Enhancing the learner’s role as producer – a feature of 21st century learning skills recently introduced to the Danish national curriculum – was particularly targeted as a key objective.

After an initial kick-off meeting in Brussels in November 2014, our work began by defining why we, and Danish teachers, even needed a Future Classroom Lab. This made us reflect, not just on the job at hand, but also on our prior experiences from a multitude of courses, seminars and in-service training programs for schools, schools managers and policy makers; which had had very diverse and not always successful outcomes. Key experiences and developments were identified as:

  • Far too often, the technology tended to dominate didactic and pedagogical considerations, and teachers were often forced to adapt to what was technologically possible. Technological potential and constraints became the pivot of education, rather than technology serving as a tool to solve relevant real-life challenges. If things couldn’t be done on an IPad, they couldn’t be done at all.
  • Many 3rd generation technologies, such as 3D printers, laser cutters, drones and robots, are now within a feasible economic range for schools. They are characterized by being designed for production and/or application and thus not developed with a didactic purpose in mind. Teachers at schools who had purchased or borrowed such technologies found themselves without guidelines or materials to inspire actual use. This meant that practical experimentation was often down to a few tech aficionados with a passion for technological implementation of the newly acquired gadgets. The demand for narratives about practical application and best practice implementation increased.

  • Danish local/regional administrations (official label is ‘municipalities’), who are responsible for school management, spent vast amounts of money on 1:1 solutions without asking why or how new technologies might be used. This often resulted in poor value-for-money solutions: pupils did not show improvement of skills and knowledge, and teachers increasingly expressed frustration about not feeling prepared or qualified for implementing new technologies. Many teachers, understandably, returned to blackboard and pen-and-paper practices.
  • Technology producing companies also experienced an emphasis on prices, rather than potentials, of their products, and they often lacked partners to develop new products specifically aimed at the educational sector.

  • UCC (and CFU as the UCC Resource Facility Centre) is moving into a new campus site in the summer 2016. The construction plans, however, contained very limited information about integration of new technologies into the everyday lives of students and educators. UCC management requested input about how this might be done.
  • CFU/UCC had spent considerable resources over some time with Microsoft to make a Danish educational version of the ITL Research Framework for 21st century learning skills. Among other results, this had resulted in the website 21skills.dk, where teachers can plan their lessons with a special emphasis on bringing the 6 competences into the classroom.
  • A variety of maker cultures and design process facilities began to appear, and the subject Arts (and Craft) changed its name to Craft and Design. Several Danish municipalities had chosen MIT/Stanford University’s FabLab and made a Danish version Fablab@school.dk , which combined the new process driven education with use of new technologies.

 

Consequently, we set out to find a solution which could embrace as many of these new challenges and trends as possible.
www.futureclassroomlab.dk

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