Developing a culture of Quality in school education by taking advantage of ICT is a complex challenge.
Innovation and quality implementation research shows that a complex human-organizational process is involved, including adopting new ways of working and new structures. As the e-learning Action Plan 2002 puts it:
"In order to be effective, the introduction of information and communication technologies will have to be accompanied by a far-reaching reorganization of learning structures".
A "fully equipped environment" is not enough to affect a teaching/learning process.
An innovative process based on ICT makes it possible, besides collaborative/community learning, to customise learning according to the student's inclinations skills, aptitudes … what Gardner calls Multiple Intelligence, acting on which the individual learning process can be strengthened.
In this scenario, the physical and/or virtual community becomes an educational resource for the individual and, likewise, the individual becomes an educational resource for the others.
The teacher's role changes: the traditional teacher-learner relationship changes from descending into participatory.
Current expectations are that students will be increasingly challenged and empowered to take responsibility for their own learning. Learning is also expected to become much more attractive and motivating for young people by focussing more on holistic and authentic tasks, rather than being dominated by atomistic, mono-disciplinary approaches that are very much oriented to the reproduction of factual knowledge. This change, from teacher-controlled towards student-controlled modes of learning, will be very gradual and much experimentation will be needed to find a proper balance between traditional and new methods of teaching and learning.
Classroom learning changes:
during the presentation phase still teacher-centred approach (direct instruction)
with more experience in laptop use, change towards student-centred approach
increase of open and more complex tasks which are carried out by the students in a creative and co-operative way
increase of individual work and group work with decrease of direct instruction.
However, it is necessary to distinguish between, and not to confuse, invention and innovation: on the one hand there is the creation of a new idea, on the other the implementation process of a new idea in order to create a new product/service.
Besides, innovation is not only meant as the radical one, that is the replacement of a product/service, but also the incremental one, which improves something which is already present.
Reaching the new learning culture requires great effort:
reliable technical and organizational support by the school administration
training of teachers in media technology and didactical concepts
innovative curricula and appropriate media software
responsibility of teachers for helping students to acquire competence in self regulated and lifelong learning in a knowledge society
From a systemic point of view, individual, organizational and societal dimensions need to be considered in order to adequately describe the complex developments and relations between the educational system and ICT. The grid below summarises some of the challenges from a systemic perspective.
Inputs and resources
Skills, attitudes, knowledge
Personnel ICT usage and
(content, services) and resources
Framework conditions of
Processes and practices
behaviour, new roles
New learning culture in
schools, learning networks
Restructuring and opening
of the educational system
Outputs and results
Acquired (new) skills ad
School in a
system in the knowledge society
(Harald Gapski, European Centre for Media Competence & Carl Holmberg, Swedish Agency for Flexible Learning & Eileen Freeman
Centre for Research in IT in Education.)
From institutions to organizations
Schools represent a traditional framework for the transmission of knowledge, behaviour and skills from one generation to the next. They also constitute a potential platform for cultural exchange of experiences, insights and reflections between generations and within cross-curricular projects.
As the learning process gets into the focus of the consciousness of the school, the institutional approach is supported by a systemic approach, leading to discussing the school as a learning organization, a platform for the connection of past and future through a constant cultural production and examination of knowledge, attitudes, ethics and insights.
From formal structures to open networks
Schools are often interacting with providers of pre-school, after-school, social security, health care and advisory services. They are often linked to libraries, sports clubs, teacher colleges and other educational institutions as well as public and private industries, forming knowledge as well as social networks. Through information technology these networks have been expanded to cover not only the local community. They are also integrating national and international partners in the daily activities and strategic planning of the schools.
From physical community schools to virtual school communities
Modern schools are constituted not only as a physical structure, but also as a social, a cultural and a virtual structure, interacting with the local as well as the international community.
Modern schools are interacting with local administrations through the Internet. They are linked to international databases, have access to the websites of other knowledge-based environments, get impressions from cultural and scientific innovative environments and are connected to other schools sharing knowledge and insights, developing attitudes and ethics. They can get inspiration from other cultures and parts of the world, forming they own, local reality and setting their social norms and goals, within the standards given or developed.
The facilities of the Intranet can be used for building a culture of sharing among pupils as well as among teachers. The facilities of the local Extranet can be used for sharing knowledge with local schools as well as with local knowledge environments such as museums, technological centres, innovative industries, cultural centres, media centres, databases, etc.
This change of concept can create new roles and relationships for pupils, parents and teachers. It can allow teachers not only to support each other by sharing experiences and materials in teams, facilitating the development of an open and dynamic learning environment, but it can also free the energy of the teachers to experiment with and develop new methodologies supporting pupil-centred learning, interacting with their parents, sharing the responsibility of raising the new generation.
Towards a culture of lifelong learning
Modern schools and modern society have the possibility of approaching learning as a lifelong process, aiming at educating and developing human beings. Schools can be seen as a framework for the growth and life of young people which respects them as individuals, teaches them to master their own lifelong learning process, a process which will take them to do many different jobs, challenging them to cope with many different and difficult situations in their private as well as in their public sphere.
(EUN Conference 2000 - Learning in the new Millennium: Building new education strategies for schools - Workshop 3: Organizational change - revised version Peder Kjogx - Copenhagen, February 28th, 2000)