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.
“eTwinning represents a new and complementary approach to European action in education”, said Jàn Figel’, Commissioner for Education, Training, Culture, and Multilingualism. “The eTwinning action differs from our other education programmes because instead of funding individual projects, it provides an infrastructure, tools and services, to make it as easy as possible for schools to form all types of partnership, from short term projects to longer term cooperation, in any subject area. The service is free, and there are no burdensome administrative procedures. It is a very effective way to foster the use of ICT, language and intercultural skills in school education.”
eTwinning brings innovation into teaching and motivates pupils to learn. Pupils, teachers, headmasters, librarians and other school staff use eTwinning to add a European dimension to school life. Using the Internet, they work together in many varied ways with peers in other countries: they chat, send emails and exchange ideas and learning materials. Thérèse Hagberg, a teacher at lower secondary level in Sweden said, “eTwinning has contributed to increasing our European contacts and has opened our school to the surrounding world”.
Prizes for the best eTwinning projects will be awarded for the first time in January 2006. Schools wanting to compete for a prize are invited to submit their project results before 27 November via the eTwinning portal. The prize-giving ceremony will then take place at the eTwinning conference on 13 January 2006 in Linz, Austria.
For further information about this action, please consult the European Commission eTwinning portal.
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.
Therefore we want to commit ourselves simultaneously to both goals. On the one hand, we face the challenge to work on the educational objectives in an efficient and child-centred way. On the other hand, we want to respond adequately to the expectations of society and continuing education with regard to ICT competencies. That is why we are looking for instructive activities that reinforce our education sector in the first place and strengthen this ICT competency at the same time.
Competencies focusing on the learning process
As a consequence, the core of the ICT competencies is embedded in the skills that are inherent in the vision of attainment targets and developmental objectives. They are competencies focusing on the learning process. They enable pupils to use the possibilities of ICT in a functional way so that their own learning process is backed and reinforced. Indeed it is all about ICT as a means for co-operation, independent learning, making differentiated exercises, exchanging information…
For that reason they are explained by or concretised in sub-competencies and classified in a manner that fits in the learning process in the classroom : respectively planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating. Where they are specific to the core competency, also operating subskills or attitudes are mentioned. These subcompetencies are only important in relation to the core competency to which they belong.
The competencies focusing on the learning process are the core of the ICT competencies in primary education. In this brochure we distinguish two other competency levels apart from those focusing on the learning process.
Technical and operating skills
A second category of ICT competencies encompasses technical and operating skills. Being able to use the computer, the peripheral equipment, the operating system, the software also requires specific knowledge and attitudes. And yet we consistently use the concept of skills. In doing so we want to emphasise that these competencies are different from those focusing on the learning process.
These technical/operating skills are not an objective in themselves in primary education. That is why they are called operating or supportive skills. They are best learned when a practical and constructive application comes up within classroom practice. Thus technical skills are never an aim in themselves. Indeed practice teaches us that many children find it easy to master the procedures to work skilfully with ICT or to explain them to each other. Some children will already have acquired a lot of skills outside the classroom. Therefore, it is not at all our intention to develop a curriculum with technical/operating skills that has to be systematically mastered by all children. We do not opt for an ICT curriculum, but for a vertical integration of ICT across the school.
This integration does not have to start at the same time for all competencies. It is possible that schools only start with the “communication” aspect in the upper years of primary education, while ICT are already used for independent learning and practising in nursery education.
Social and ethical competencies
A third category of ICT competencies contains the social and ethical dimension of the application of ICT. These social and ethical competencies refer to the development of attitudes : to cope in a justified and responsible manner with the new technology. They are about complying with agreements, approaching ICT in a critical way, helping each other in case problems occur… They directly anticipate the impact ICT can have on the development of (learning) children and that is why they are very important. Obviously, these competencies are interwoven with what children do with ICT and are gradually acquired thanks to the permanent effort the teacher engages himself in to draw the children’s attention to them.
These competencies are to be read against the background of primary education, taking into account the potentialities and the limitations related to the age of the children and the material equipment of the average primary school.
It should be stressed that it is not the individual teacher who is accountable for the degree to which ICT is integrated at school. The teaching team draws upon a relational approach to determine how fast the school integrates ICT. This varies from school to school. A high-quality use of ICT stands or falls with a well-considered vision of the impact of ICT as a supportive means to reinforce learning. This is teamwork.
The competency diagram and the core competencies
Competencies focusing on the learning process
1. The pupils can co-operate in a functional way in order to perform a straightforward search assignment by means of ICT.
2. The pupils can represent information multimedially with the aid of ICT.
3. The pupils can learn independently in a ICT supported learning environment.
4. The pupils can collect, process and save information by means of ICT.
5. The pupils can send their own messages and receive messages for their attention with the aid of electronic communication resources.
6. The pupils can practise independently with the support of ICT.
7. The pupils can engage independently in an assignment by using ICT.
8. The pupils have the requisite operating knowledge and skills to be able to use the ICT equipment in relevant contexts.
Social and ethical competencies
9. The pupils use ICT adequately and in a responsible manner.
Competencies focusing on the learning process
When I pass by, the children are sitting in front of a computer screen in small groups of four or five. On closer inspection, they are dividing the tasks of an assignment with regard to environmental studies. Some of them propose to look for information in the library. Others suggest that they will find something on the Internet…
Computers in primary education ? Many teachers are afraid of the image of pupils sitting on their own in front of a computer to study, process, practise subject matters independently. Indeed, the computer is an adequate resource for children to set to work individually, at their own pace and level. But children also learn in group, with each other and from each other.
It is all about learning processes that allow pupils to decide jointly how to comply with an assignment. They finish together this assignment, respecting the contribution and the personality of their fellow pupils. From the diagram of ICT competencies it appears that “working together on an assignment” takes a special place in relation to other competencies. They are supportive to and interwoven with other competencies. We have in mind situations in which children consult each other in view of a talk, retrieve or pass on information as a result of a partnership with another school, work on a project in small groups, practise educational software in twos, etc.
The attention paid to co-operation has still another advantage as children have a largely differing starting position with regard to computer use. A lot of children are already very successful in using the computer and their expertise may be very rich and wide-ranging. It would be very regrettable if this expertise were not used. The children – as well as the teachers – can learn from and with each other to use this tool efficiently.
Core competency 1: The pupils can work together in a functional way on a straightforward search assignment with the support of ICT.
1.1. The pupils are able to jointly decide for which parts of the assignment it would be helpful to use ICT as a tool.
1.2. The pupils can discuss with each other how they will use ICT for working on the assignment and who will take on which tasks.
1.3. The pupils can gather and compare information, insights and opinions in a targeted way and process these data into group results.
Monitoring and evaluating
1.4. The pupils can make a provisional assessment of the group’s progress, thereby exchanging and using constructive feedback.
1.5. The pupils can assess the specific benefits of the use of ICT for their co-operation.
1.6. The pupils respect each other’s contributions and opinions.
1.7. The pupils respect agreements and timetables.
1.8. The pupils are willing to help each other taking the differences in ICT competencies into account.
2. Proposals of information
After an educational walk to a piece of wet meadow each group has further elaborated another aspect : birds, insects, other animals, flowering plants, trees. They collected more information, summarised the main issues, typed them in on the computer and linked them to the material they brought with them (they made labels) and to the photos and drawings they found (text + photo on one sheet)… With this material they presented their small project to the whole class.
By presenting the information we mean that the pupils, alone or in co-operation with others, are able to communicate or show information to others with the support of multimedia. This does not mean that the whole presentation must be done with ICT. Here we have in mind simple things such as making the class listen to a music fragment, supporting their text with a photomontage composed via ICT, showing a number of (parts of) web pages to the whole class. A simple presentation, made, if possible, by means of a specific presentation programme is also an option.
Core competency 2: The pupils are able to represent information multimedially with the aid of ICT.
2.1. The pupils can decide in which order and in which form the information will be presented.
2.2. The pupils can decide which ICT applications are most suitable to present (parts of) the information.
2.3. The pupils can present information (text, images and sound) in a targeted way to their target audience with the help of ICT. Monitoring and evaluating
2.4. The pupils can reflect upon the procedure followed and draw their conclusions from it.
* Each work session within the biotope project starts with a brief lookback: what have we done already, what do we have to do next ? The group that focuses on insects finds that each of them has done overlapping work for the greater part. Therefore they decide to make better arrangements about who engages in which task.”
2.5. The pupils can judge and give feedback about the quality of their own or other people’s presentation.
2.6. The pupils’ presentations take the characteristics and expectations of their target audience into account.
3. Independent learning with the support of ICT
In small groups of three the children work on a number of assignments related to mammals. For each question they can click on one or more web sites where information can be found. This makes them read texts, interpret tables, follow further links… In this way children learn what a wealth of information they can find on the web.
By independent learning we mean that the pupils acquire and process new educational contents and that the computer takes over, so to speak, the role of the teacher.
An example of this is the ‘Webquest’ teaching method, which leads the pupil step by step to sites where information can be found and makes him process this information by targeted assignments. Also the ICT support developed by publishers for their teaching materials can offer alternative learning methods that teach pupils how to acquire knowledge in an autonomous way.
If the computer is equipped with good software it can adapt the level of the educational content to the pupil on the basis of the response of pupil (for example by offering additional information), give feedback, save a report for the teacher, etc.
It is evident that this type of learning can also take place in (small) groups.
Core competency 3: The pupils are able to learn independently in a ICT supported learning environment.
3.1. The pupils are able to plan an individual learning pathway by means of an electronically controlled step-by-step procedure.
“When searching the web within the proposed sites, the pupils use a checklist to examine whether they have sufficient information to finish their assignment before they click on the next site.”
3.2. The pupils can learn independently using a familiar educational programme.
3.3 The pupils can implement a simulation with the support of a suitable educational programme and draw their conclusions from their activity.
*The children play with a programme in which a little chap finds all sorts of food in a maze. When they make the little chap eat too much or unhealthy food the little chap falls ill. After the game, they draw conclusions in the classroom on healthy and balanced food.”
Monitoring and evaluating
3.4. The pupils can reflect on the procedure followed and on what they have learned in combination with the objectives set.
*At the end of the project the pupils check whether the things they have learned correspond with the objective set at the start. That is why they verify whether all questions or assignments are sufficiently dealt with.”
4. Collecting and processing of information For the transport theme the teacher has developed a word field together with the children. In addition he has written a list of words that are unfamiliar to the children on the blackboard (karos, velocipede…). On the basis of these key words the children look for images of various ancient means of transport.
They have to arrange them (cutting and pasting) on a time line. They choose between searching the Internet or searching (printed and electronic) reference books and encyclopaedias they have at their disposal. They experience that it is possible but also time-consuming to use the photos from a reference book.
The search for information happens partially in the ‘electronic library’ that is available on CD- ROMS, the school server or the Internet. We have in mind here electronic encyclopaedias, translation dictionaries, educational CD-ROMS with text, image, sound, animation … and of course web pages. In the same way children find the books to suit their taste in the section of a real library that is dedicated to them, the teacher can delineate here a ‘platform’ that only provides the information that is appropriate or targeted to them. He can make the children work with search engines specially designed for them.
By processing information we mean that among other things the children decide what is interesting in the framework of their objective or assignment; that they use information to offer solutions for a question or an assignment; that they arrange this information in order to present it later to others…
Core competency 4: The pupils can retrieve, process and save information by means of ICT.
4.1. The pupils can choose in an adequate way the most suitable sources of information to assemble specific information.
*The pupils decide to look up the explanations of words in a dictionary, the maps on a CD-ROM and illustrations on the Internet.”
4.2. The pupils can decide in which way they will save the information found in order to consult it again later on.
*They will print their work immediately or save it.”
4.3. With the support of ICT, the pupils can formulate and implement a search assignment.
4.4. Under supervision the pupils can judge which information is relevant and interesting for the search assignment.
4.5. Under supervision, the pupils can arrange and save the useful information.
Monitoring and evaluating
4.6. The pupils can adapt their own search process in the light of the provisional findings.
4.7. The pupils can indicate why their own approach was successful or not.
4.8. The pupils adopt a critical attitude towards the available information.
4.9. The pupils aim for precision and a systematic approach when consulting arranging and saving information.
*They keep printed information in cardboard folders on which is labelled the name of the project as well as the correct name of the electronic folder in which they can find the related files.”
4.10. The pupils mention spontaneously the sources they have used.
4.11. The pupils show their commitment and perseverance when searching for information.
Specific operating skills
4.12 The pupils are able to carry out search tasks by means of simple procedures such as : entering a web site address, searching by means of a search engine, navigating through a series of hyperlinks, applying relevant menu options.
5. Communicating information
With a view to an excursion the children collect information about the city to be visited. That is why they contact, under the guidance of a teacher, the tourist board (they search themselves the address or e-mail), another school, the museum and the playground.
By communicating we mean that children are able to use the facilities offered by ICT to give information or to ask for information from a third party. We have in mind here the facilities that can contribute to the learning process, such as: making appointments via e-email, attaching electronic documents to an e-mail message, chatting live to pupils of another school, etc.
It is of importance that when communicating by electronic means the pupils learn to observe a number of prevailing rules and conventions.
Core competency 5: The pupils are able to send their own messages and receive messages for their attention with the support of electronic communication resources.
5.1. The pupils make a targeted choice between the different means of communication taking the possibilities and limitations of these tools into account.
*The pupils choose e-mail as a means of communication because their message is not urgent and they do not want to disturb the person their message is sent to.”
5.2. The pupils can indicate in advance the essentials of their message.
5.3. The pupils can communicate efficiently in the framework of an assignment using the current means of communication.
Monitoring and evaluating
5.4. The pupils can assess whether the communication was efficient and whether adjustments are required.
5.5. The pupils take the cost price of electronic communication into account.
5.6. The pupils respect the general code of conduct when communicating by electronic means (also called ‘netiquette’).
5.7. The pupils react in an alert and self-assured way to unusual messages.
*As was agreed in the classroom, the pupils do not open themselves the attachments of unknown or unexpected senders.”
5.8. The pupils do not disseminate confidential information by electronic means.
Specific operating skills
5.9. The pupils are able to use the current means of communication.
6. Independent practising with the support of ICT
In the computer room or the own classroom (activities in different classroom
corners or self-directed tasks) children work independently on an exercise that makes them estimate the outcome of a number of multiplications by placing a comma in each product. The programme adapts the level of difficulty to the educational performance and offers help when the children give wrong answers.
After the children have acquired new educational contents, it is of importance that they can practise them sufficiently. For that purpose, the computer can be a useful tool. We have in mind for example the widespread tutorials for practising the basic arithmetic operations (such as drilling multiplication tables), for clock reading, for spelling…
The added value of this ICT integration strategy lies among other things in:
variation (in exercises, in responding to different learning methods), differentiation (of pace and level), individualised feedback, gain in time when evaluating.
Core competency 6: The pupils can practise independently with the support of ICT.
6.1. The pupils can independently learn to use an educational software program they are familiar with.
*In the computer corner the pre-schoolers can learn autonomously how to use a familiar programme that was made available by the teacher.”
Monitoring and evaluating
6.2. The pupils can assess whether they have brought their assignments to a successful conclusion.
6.3. The pupils use spontaneously the help functions intended for them.
7. Creating with the support of ICT
The children work in small groups to make a number of carefully designed invitations for the school party with the support of various programmes. The ICT co-ordinator and the class teacher offer their help. Most children soon master the basic facilities of various software packages. Moreover they give their imagination free rein.
ICT can also facilitate creation. We have in mind for example the creation of a poster, the illustration of a self-written text, the use of different fonts and character sizes, the careful preparation of a contribution to the school newspaper. The children can use the elementary possibilities offered by a variety of text, image and drawing programmes to create, manipulate and combine texts and images in a creative way.
Core competency 7: The pupils can create independently an assigned project using ICT.
7.1. The pupils can judge which ICT tools can help them to create an assignment.
7.2. With the use of ICT, the pupils are able to engage creatively in the process of shaping and communicating their ideas by means of text and image.
*Within the theme ‘rich and poor’ they make an electronic photomontage and enhance the effect by using respectively shades of colour and grey. They print it in two different sizes but save it also in an electronic folder named after the project theme.”
Monitoring and evaluating
7.3. The pupils can assess whether they have brought their assignments to a successful conclusion and reflect upon their approach.
7.4. The pupils can give feedback on the work of their fellow pupils and indicate how they would tackle the assignment themselves.
“When discussing each other’s creative assignments, the pupils tell which parts they consider successful and why. They make suggestions to each other about how they could improve their approach.”
8. Using the equipment
As soon as the children have found an interesting image, they ask themselves how they can print it and paste it into another document. A fellow pupil shows spontaneously how they can do this by means of ‘copying and pasting’.
In order to be able to make maximum use of the facilities offered by ICT integration, a minimum of operating skills is essential. These supporting ICT skills are also useful for further education, independent learning (for example in the context of hobbies and areas of interest), the development of social self-reliance (for example finding a book in a library), etc.
However, these skills are learned functionally in primary education, this means that these skills are acquired while the children are working on some assignment or other. For instance they learn how to copy and paste when they want to rearrange or illustrate a self-written text.
As a consequence these ICT skills are not necessarily learned at the same time by all children. Children can also learn from each other and are also allowed to use skills acquired elsewhere. Indeed practice teaches us that many children find it easy to master the procedures to work skilfully with ICT or to explain them to each other. Some children will already have acquired a lot of skills outside the classroom. It is not at all our intention to develop a curriculum with technical/operating skills that has to be systematically mastered by all children.
Core competency 8: The pupils have the requisite operating
knowledge and skills to be able to use the ICT equipment in relevant contexts.
8.1. The pupils are able to make a functional use of the correct basic terminology.
*The pupils know what is meant by ‘saving on hard disk’.”
8.2. The pupils are able to use the elementary features of a computer and the peripheral equipment available to them.
*The pupils know how to obtain a capital letter or how to type an ë or an ê.”
8.3. The pupils are able to save their own data digitally in a structured way.
8.4. The pupils are able to apply the basic procedures of a familiar operating system.
8.5. The pupils are able to apply the basic procedures of straightforward writing, drawing and presentation programmes, of search and communication programmes.
8.6. The pupils are able to observe the elementary operational and safety provisions.
*The pupils are able to close themselves the programme they are working with as well as the computer.”
Social and ethical competencies
9. Using ICT in a responsible way
Two pupils are looking in vain for information. Rather than wasting time endlessly or surfing aimlessly, they turn to the teacher for advice after some time.
ICT integration also contains a social and ethical factor. Social skills, self-reliance, self-direction are closely linked with co-operation, communication, presenting, independent learning and practising, but also with tackling information from others.
There are conventions, rules, the so-called netiquette to be observed. That is why each school should make clear arrangements about downloading, printing and copying.
Core competency 9: The pupils use ICT adequately and in a responsible manner.
9.1. The pupils adopt a discerning-appreciative approach to ICT as a social phenomenon.
*The pupils understand the many opportunities offered by ICT, but they are aware that ICT is not the only means and not always the best means to achieve a goal.”
9.2. The pupils work in an accurate and careful manner and check their work for errors.
*The pupils know that when retyping a mail address of the name of an internet page the link will not work whenever even the slightest error is made. That is why that they use ‘copy and paste’ whenever possible.”
9.3. The pupils handle the equipment and software with care.
9.4. The pupils inform a trustworthy adult about any harmful or discriminating contents.
9.5. The pupils operate the computer in an ergonomical way.
9.6. The pupils try to estimate and monitor the duration of an ICT assignment in a realistic way.
*The pupils agree that they will not type everything but only the titles so that they do not lose too much time.”
9.7. The pupils spontaneously give assistance or ask for help in case of computer problems.
9.8. The pupils have respect for the intellectual property of others when using information and software.
9.9. The pupils take the financial and ecological aspects of the use of ICT resources into account.
*The children do not print at random each tryout.”
9.10. The pupils are aware of the existence of viruses, spam, pop-ups,… and spontaneously report unusual messages.