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Science education was the leading topic when approximately 40 members of the European Commission's Science in Society Programme Committee visited the Future Classroom Lab on 1 March 2012. Science in Society is a special programme under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) aiming to support interaction between science and society. For example the Scientix portal is financed under this programme.
During the afternoon the participants got a change to see how technology, including among others interactive whiteboards, dataloggers, animation software and brainstroming tools, can be used to deliver more engaging and inspiring science education.
European Schoolnet has a strong foothold in the science education through various projects including InGenious (EC-FP7), NanoChannels (EC-FP7), Pathway (EC-FP7), UniSchooLabS (EC-Lifelong Learning Programme) and Spice (EC-Lifelong Learning Programme).
European Schoolnet has set-up an "Observatory" which is primarily designed to provide evidence about the use of technology to improve teaching and learning for decision makers in Ministries of Education, practitioners in schools and other ICT in education professionals at national, regional or local level across Europe.
As part of the Observatory, European Schoolnet is publishing a monthly Briefing Paper. The Briefing Papers aim to present the findings of the Survey of Schools: ICT in Education on a specific topic and to relate them to the results of European Schoolnet projects on the topic. The first issue of the Briefing Papers is on the 'teacher effect' on the use of ICT in the classroom. The first issue features the CPDLab project.
The objective of the Survey of Schools: ICT in Education was to benchmark progress in 31 countries (EU27, Iceland, Norway, Croatia and Turkey) in ICT in education by surveying students, head teachers and teachers on the availability and use, including opinions and attitudes, of ICT in schools, thus contributing to the development of updated, relevant and efficient indicators as well as to the establishment of a long-term and continuous monitoring system on ICT access, use and impact.
The survey was funded by the European Commission Information Society and Media Directorate General. It was a partnership between European Schoolnet and the Service d’Approches Quantitatives des faits éducatifs in the Department of Education of the University of Liège.
In recent years, emerging technologies and advances in pedagogical practices have led to significant advances in the field of education, but there still remains room to innovate in delivering the best possible education for the next generation of pupils.
There appears to be an emerging consensus among education stakeholders that a more holistic approach, rather than a top-down strategy, is required to introduce innovation to the teaching/learning process. In order to mainstream innovation, dialogue must take place between all education stakeholders: education ministries, teachers, technology providers and, of course, pupils.
The Future Classroom Lab provides a space for dialogue and interaction between all stakeholders in the education process. Visitors are immersed in a learning environment that contains a wide range of innovative equipment provided by our industry partners, allowing teachers the space to innovate and develop new pedagogical practices, and providing policymakers with a focal point on which to base strategies for change.
On Tuesday 5 February, the Future Classroom Lab hosted a visit from Pascal Smet, the Flemish Minister of Education. The minister, who was visiting as part of the pan-European Safer Internet Day celebrations, indicated the imminent launch of a strategic plan supporting innovation and ICT integration in Flemish schools.
In mid-January, the Future Classroom Lab welcomed pupils and teachers from Immaculata Instituut, Malle, Belgium. Pupils, teachers, the ICT coordinator and the school headmaster took part in the iTEC learning activity ‘Observe and design’, with the theme of redesigning the school classroom. Both pupils and teachers offered contributions on how they would like the education system to evolve, with an emphasis on more interactive learning environments, and self-directed learning.
Through providing a space for dialogue between all interested parties, the Future Classroom Lab is a space where policymakers and representatives from the education industry can develop grassroots approaches to realising the future of education.
Bart Verswijvel, Pedagogical advisor, Future Classroom Lab
Just over a year after the Future Classroom Lab opened, we are now able to integrate technology solutions from 17 industry partners both in workshops and briefings for policy makers as well as in training courses for teachers.
New industry partners include Samsung which, towards the end of 2012, installed its integrated Samsung Smart School solution in the FCL and started a dialogue with European Schoolnet on how it sees 1:1 computing approaches developing under the impact of tablets such as the GALAXY Note 10.1 and other mobile devices. Samsung will also be one of five industry partners in the European Schoolnet Creative Classrooms Lab project that will start in April 2013. This new, two-year project is funded under the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme and involves nine Ministries of Education. It will carry out policy experimentations on the use of tablets in secondary schools to inform and help steer national initiatives related to the implementation of 1:1 pedagogical approaches.
In January 2013, Gaia Technologies installed its 3D Viewer software and a selection of of its latest 3D content in the FCL, including immersive walkthroughs of WW1 trenches and Amazon Rainforests. 3D visualisations and content are proving to be of considerable interest to teachers visiting the FCL, particularly as schools increasingly have access to DLP 3D ready projectors, including as part of new deployments of interactive whiteboards from other FCL partners.
An important new development in 2013 will be the move to provide more FCL webinars and online training, building on the extremely positive feedback we have received from teachers attending face-to-face courses and workshops in 2012. Key to this is a new FCL partnership with Cisco which in February will install its Telepresence Content Server and Lecture Vision solution in the FCL.
The Future Classroom Lab is pleased to announce the addition of a new sponsor to the lab. Gaia Technologies, one of the leading developers of 3D learning technologies, will work in partnership with the Future Classroom Lab in developing visual learning scenarios for the future classroom.
For those interested to know more about 3D in education, we recommend the following resources:
What will schools look like in 2025? How will innovations such as fast Wi-Fi connections, 1:1 computing at bring-your-own-device affect the teaching/learning process? Will learning take place in the traditional classroom dynamic, or will there be more flexible, open spaces, and more independent learning?
These are the questions and challenges that Ministries of Education across Europe are contemplating as they develop strategies to engage with developments in educational technologies and pedagogical practices. The Future Classroom Lab, Brussels, provides a space for all stakeholders to assess the impact of new developments in the field of education, as well as providing teachers with an opportunity to create new teaching practices, and to explore new educational technologies.
On 14 January, the Future Classroom Lab hosted teachers and pupils from Immaculata Instituut, Malle, Belgium. The theme of the visit, which took place part of the school’s iTEC activities, was ‘Redesigning the School’. Both pupils and teachers offered contributions on how they would like the education system to evolve, with an emphasis on more interactive learning environments, and self-directed learning.
When asked what they thought the classroom would be like in 2025, the group offered some interesting responses:
“You work more in a group, and you work more with your teacher. It’s not that the teacher is a level above, it’s more on the same level. You can answer questions in a bigger group rather than a teacher picking out one person.” - Axel Zimmermann, pupil
“Do we still need to put pupils in large groups only according to age? Or is there a new way to move around that; do we perhaps put them in groups together according to interests and how far they are developed in certain topics?” – Eef Dubois, teacher
Sometimes we travel to to other European countries, but sometimes the Europe comes to us. This happened within the latest FCL course which hosted 33 teachers from 11 European countries. The teachers participated in the course "eTwinning in the future classroom" that had an emphasis on eSafety.
The course lead Bart Verswijvel tells: "I want the participants to go home with skills and ideas that teachers can put into practice the next day. But of course we also want a long term change. The FCL courses can inspire in the teachers a new view and attitude on teaching. After the course they most likely feel they are more connected to enthusiastic colleagues from across Europe. I can tell from my own experience that active participation in networks like eTwinning and Partners in Learning leads to continuing professional development of the best kind."
The special thing about taking a course in the Future Classroom Lab is that teachers can try out with their own hands a wide range of tools and software. When going back to school they can better evaluate the needs their school has and what they should invest on.
One of the teachers tweeted after the course: Home after a very successful trip to Brussels for #etwinfcl, learned loads, met great people & feel more positive about technology + education
What will emerging trends in technology mean for the way in which we teach and learn in the future? How will developments affect the classroom dynamic, and the manner in which we teach and learn? Each month, the Future Classroom Lab will feature an interview with an expert from an area of the field of education. The series will contribute to the wider debate on innovation in education, and the deployment of technology across schools: technologists, pedagogical experts, academics and thinkers will explore issues surrounding the mainstreaming of innovative practices in teaching and learning. In the first interview, Lord Puttnam, Chancellor of the Open University, former Chair of the General Teaching Council for England, and award-winning film producer, gives his views on how emerging trends in technology will affect education, and what he envisions as the classroom of the future.
See the FCL Interview Series here
The evolving role of the teaching profession and the role of teacher networks in response to changing skills needs in society are discussed in a new book "Teacher Network - Today's and tomorrow's challenges and opportunities for the teaching profession". The book argues that teachers can be the main change agents for reforms of education, provided that they are well supported and enabled to do so. Recently, various teacher networks have emerged at the local and international scale, and questions around their role in supporting teachers, both in their Initial Teacher Training (ITT) and Continuous Professional Development (CPD), have been raised.
The book is a result of the Tellnet project (Teachers’ Lifelong Learning Networks, 2009-12), supported under the Lifelong Learning Programme. The project aimed to better understand the construct of teacher networks and how they can offer informal ways to support teachers’ competence building and personal and professional development.
The book is available online: you can browse the following presentation or download the file as PDF.
Download the publication here (pdf).