Designing the classroom of the future
The integration of ICT into every day teaching can have a positive impact on student knowledge and understanding, and can help teachers deliver stimulating and motivating classes.
This has been the major finding of the ground breaking EU-funded ITEC (Innovative Technologies for Engaging Classrooms) project, which since 2010 has sought to bring about a transformation in learning and teaching through the application of advanced learning technology.
In fact, the project has been so successful that ITEC has doubled its original classroom target, and now involves over 2 000 classes in its future classroom pilots. These pilots include 'Future Classroom Scenarios' and 'Learning Stories and Activities', which are designed to inspire schools to adopt new pedagogical practices with the support of ICT. Such classes have been developed with the full participation of teachers.
ITEC's key aim then has been to develop practical scenarios for learning in the so-called future classroom, which can be validated in real-life scenarios and subsequently taken to scale. By applying technology to a range of classrooms across Europe, the project has been able to better understand the constraints and opportunities of actual physical environments as well as teachers' attitudes and aptitudes.
The project has forged ahead with eleven work packages, designed to stimulate the development of new tools and services more attuned to the needs of learners and teachers. It has addressed a number of exciting new concepts and opportunities for using technology to support learning, including the trend towards the integration of widgets or apps to create a personal learning environment.
The use of multi-touch and multi-user interactive devices and the growth in the use of social networks and media sharing services have also been investigated, as has the use of the semantic web as a powerful mechanism for connecting users to the most appropriate resources.
The project has so far had a positive impact on students' knowledge, skills and understanding, in particular on their motivation, engagement and learning practices. Teachers have also benefited, with the project demonstrating how technology can lead to innovative changes in pedagogical practices.
In a recent evaluation, almost 90% of teachers agreed that the ITEC process enabled students to become more deeply engaged in their work, and allowed them to undertake more collaborative activities.
Led by European Schoolnet, a network of 30 European Ministries of Education, the ITEC project has involved 27 project partners, including 15 Ministries of Education. Funded to the tune of EUR 9.45 million, it is the largest project yet undertaken by European Schoolnet. ITEC is scheduled to run until 2014.