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Improving the quality of education in a balanced, consistent and sustainable way
By: Kirsten Panton, Western Europe Lead Partners in Learning
11 July 2012

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To achieve a smart, sustainable and inclusive EU, technology can play an important role in preparing European youth with the skills needed.

This was the core message of our roundtable "Getting Education Right: Tackling today’s opportunities and challenges in education to build future skills" which took place on 5 June 2012.

What is impacting education today? New trends are considerably changing the way we work, learn, and live: the societal and economic trend, with a shifting workforce in an increasingly interconnected world; the technological trend, with the rapid uptake of new forms of computing such as the Cloud, or new User Interfaces and devices; and a learning trend, with the development of new teaching and learning methods, as well as new skills. Regina Murray, Director Western Europe Education, Microsoft, explained how thought leadership, partnerships, digital inclusion and innovative software solutions are enablers in addressing some of the challenges.

Education needs to adapt and changes have already started but…challenges remain and there is a need to better capitalize on the use of ICT in schools. Policy makers, teachers, parents and students have to work together to enable this change. As described by Marc Durando, Executive Director, European SchoolNet, the "future classroom" will allow innovative learning scenarios. Teachers will be able to guide their pupils to create and develop their ideas through interaction with flexible learning spaces. Teachers themselves need training and successful models in order to efficiently support the pedagogical use of technologies.

Innovative teaching capacity needed! The findings of the Innovative Teaching and Learning Research project (ITL) recognizes that students must have equal opportunities inside and outside the school environment to develop the skills they will need for life and work in the 21st century. Enhancing school leadership as well as the development of appropriate assessment and performance measurements can ensure innovative teaching and learning practices.

Connect our education systems! says Kevin Bartlett, Director, The International School of Brussels. ‘How, What and Who’ is now the objective of a first ever coherent, continuous international curriculum called the "Common Ground Curriculum", which will be supported by a "total school", a global network of school systems made of international education practitioners (The Common Ground Collaborative), using an innovative, open-source platform.

What role for parents? A change in ‘mindsets’ is needed believes Mette With Hagensen, International Parent Organization. Education through technology is about learning, not playing! Raising digital natives also implies trying to keep up with the technical ease of current pupils and set clear goals and objectives for the use of ICT in schools and at home.

And policymakers? Pierre Mairesse, Director "Lifelong Learning" DG, European Commission sees the need for education systems to catch up with the digital reality. Businesses are already embracing this trend, using new ICT platforms and devices, and encouraging tele-work, therefore, we need to prepare our future workforce for these changes, and make sure that we provide them with the right e-skills. In this context, the European Commission intends to propose new initiatives on "Open Education" to increase both the sharing and the mobility of teaching and learning resources.

What next? Helping each educator and learner succeed! We all agree that we must engage in more concrete projects and actions, moving forward from discussions and exchange of knowledge. An interesting idea of how we can move forward would be to create a worldwide education-specific authority, modeled on the WTO or the WHO for Commerce or Health. This would enable tangible changes and progress in an area that is fundamental for our future development as societies and agents of economic growth.

What do YOU think?

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