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Round table 1: Education policy trends and challenges

The first round table deals with the education policy trends and challenges. The panel is composed of five participants and the chair, Conor Galvin, Policy Researcher, University College Dublin. They each have 10 minutes to make their point, after which participants, in groups of 7 to 9 around a round table, will be able to discuss on interventions and ask their own questions to the panel.

First intervention is from Denmark, Lilla Voss, Chief Adviser in Danish Ministry of Education Denmark, from a country where all schools are connected to the Internet. In Denmark, the ICTs are an important tool, not a goal itself. Thus, they are known for initiatives such like ICT Pedagogical Driving license, a successful model that has been transfered to many other countries.

In 2016, Denmark's take is that ICT is embedded everywhere. Schools, however, still remain a key element in the society, sort of a focus on formal and informal activities. Majority of lessons will be one teachers/ one class/ one subject, but combined with group based /cross-curricular/ project oriented work and a group of teachers in collaboration. Also, special needs education will be dramatically changed.

The Estonian representative Enel Mägi, Chief Executive from Tiger Leap Foundation, underlined the issue of integrating the ongoing research into the policy-agenda emphasising the on-going in-service training of teachers and school heads.

The suppliers' side was represented by Nancy L. Knowlton from Smart Technologies Inc., Canada and Todd Korth from Sun Microsystems Inc. Ms. Knowlton urged direct conversations between the two, urging schools to tell their problems to industry so that they could better understand their processes and help them within. Mr. Korth talked about the road towards the digital schools with 24/7 reliable availability of applications and services for schools, students and parents alike. The involvement of all stakeholders from the beginning on is a critical success factor to achieve that, and to identify clear goals and objectives.

Lastly, Maruja Gutierrez-Diaz, Head of Unit A4, "Innovation and transversal policies" from the European Commission gave the Commission vision on ICT in European schools. She hailed high the number of interesting and innovative European projects within the school sector, however, the lack of innovative digital contents and services, that are not widely available as they need to be and the potential of ICT for transformation and change in education, are yet to be proven. She sees the coming period as a time for systematic actions and leadership focusing on a few strategic areas, such as where we know that ICT clearly adds value, where ICT is clearly needed and where ICT has a clear European asset.

We will now start the discussions in groups and will hope to be able to report some interesting interactions leading to future visions back to our online audience shortly.

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Comments

From the past – what has been learned?
o critical role of champions to lead the change in culture
o can you push the others? cannot stop with early adoptors – but have to embed into the mainstream
o integrating more students and teachers into the process
o in Georgia – huge interest in creating web pages about culture and literature – and has resulted in building links with museums and archives
o teachers need to see that they need to change if they are going to keep their job
o giving access to the technology alone isn’t enough – or teachers can prepare worksheets to print at school, giving their students no experience of the technology
o no think of ‘multimedia for pedagogy’
o changing role of teacher as tutor / facilitator – and no longer as the only source of knowledge
o teachers teach what they are, not what they know – key role of acting as a role model and motivator
o if attitude is not right, then technology will not fix it
o 70% of learning happens outside school – children expect similar experiences inside the classroom as they have outside
o role of an inspectorate in giving support and guidance in developing a good learning environment
o should teachers be competitive with each other?
o schools should hold plenary sessions to consider role of teacher and how they measure up and plan their cpd
o empowering teachers – lots of new technology is bottom-up empowering and sometimes anarchic
o empowering first – but if teachers don’t take the opportunity, then they need to be replaced
o if teacher is using technology are they necessarily any better or more effective?
o technology is not a solution for the whole of education
o stakeholders / policymakers may not be getting effective feedback from teachers
o school has no monopoly on knowledge within schools – and information literacy is an important new skill
o is CPD still the main leverage?
o pupil pressure is important – children make demands on their teachers

What should EU Schoolnet should do
• give general focus on the potential and best practice across 25 countries
• mission of eun with European Commission
• new challenges – all 28 coutries are not at the same level
• so need to balance help and research outputs
• role of etwinning to help development
• access to software and methodologies for use – open source
• experience shared
• introducung school-wide systems – but need methodological sort
• make etwinning seem more alive – best practice pool
• needs to be exciting – and to promote achievable examples from outside ‘old’ Europe
• more networking between stakeholders – eg ministries
• rural areas

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