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.