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First large-scale survey of ICT in Europe’s schools under way

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For the first time, teachers and students in schools throughout Europe are being systematically surveyed on their use and views on technology for learning.
Technology is increasingly used in schools, is a ‘must-have’ for young people, and its contribution to educational, social and economic goals is recognised in national and European policies, It is therefore important to have a clear understanding of the extent of its provision and use in schools across Europe. That is why the views of head teachers, teachers and students are being collected, through online questionnaires (also a first), for the European Survey of Schools: ICT and Education. ESSIE aims to provide answers to questions such as:
• How do young people’s experiences of ICT compare in and out of school? Do they vary between countries?
• How many classrooms are really online, equipped with interactive whiteboards, and laptops? How many teachers are at ease in them? What do they do, and what are the outcomes for learners?
• What are the school and teacher factors associated with different patterns of ICT use? Can explanatory models be identified to inspire policy recommendations to support the development of 21st century teaching and learning methods and curricula?

ESSIE aims to benchmark progress in ICT availability and use in 31 countries (the 27 countries of the European Union, plus Croatia, Iceland, Norway and Turkey). Some 1 200 primary and secondary schools have been selected in each country and head teachers of these schools should expect emails about the survey in their in-box this month. European Schoolnet’s Executive Director Marc Durando said: “We hope for a high response rate to ensure that the findings are based on a solid evidence base. All information obtained will be used solely for the survey and no individual will be identifiable.” In each country a national coordinator nominated by the ministry of education is working on ESSIE. The UK National Co-ordinator, Bill Gibbon, said: “I will be working with ESSIE schools to help them complete the survey. We recognise that schools are busy places and every effort is being made to ensure that there is as little disruption as possible.”
Survey responses will be analysed and published in an international comparison report and 31 country reports in 2012. Timo Lankinen, Chief Executive of Finland’s National Board of Education commented: “Our country has prepared national plans for ICT and we need information about developments and how Finland compares with other countries.”
The survey will produce findings to help understand and improve teaching and learning with ICT: "ICT enables customization and can make teaching more efficient, effective and attractive. Indispensable in modern times, technology can support higher quality education with limited resources. This research contributes to knowledge about the relationship between these elements,” according to Toine Maes, Director of Kennisnet in The Netherlands.
In several countries the value of ESSIE is to support evidence-based policy development. For Malta’s National Coordinator, Emmanuel Zammit the survey “will help us project better for the future and help us make full use of the training and technology that we have been investing in over past years.” Marta Hunya, senior researcher at the Hungarian Institute for Educational research and Development, echoed these views: “In Hungary the monitoring process of using ICT in public education started a year ago, and we hope that this international survey will raise awareness of the importance of the issue at all levels from schools to the government. We have developed an ICT self-evaluation website and tool and I am curious to see the results of both surveys, and how they compare with each other.”
Funded by the European Commission Directorate General Information Society and Media and supported by ministries of education, ESSIE is led by European Schoolnet and the University of Liège. More information can be found at essie.eun.org.