ICT and lifelong learning for a creative and innovative Europe
A special publication by Learnovation in cooperation with the eLearning Papers to support the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009.
Over the past decade, ICT have enabled changes in the way people live, work, interact and acquire knowledge. Successful education and training in our knowledge society depend increasingly on the confident, competent and innovative use of ICT.
Progress in the use of ICT for education and training across Europe has been substantial over the past few years. ICT have been taken up largely in educational institutions. There is broad agreement that ICT are helping learning in schools, and that e-mature schools produce better results. Higher education is also reaping major benefits from ICT and steadily coming to grips with their potential for distance learning, virtual mobility and ongoing professional development. Large companies and public administrations report good results from e-learning in the workplace.
Despite this growing take-up, studies show that ICT have not yet had a transformative impact on teaching and learning in education and training institutions. While many educational institutions all over Europe are currently experimenting with diverse digital tools, the approaches developed are not always creative or innovative. This is important, as the impact of ICT use on students is highly dependent on teaching approaches, and better skills result from the use of student-centred guidance, group work and inquiry-based projects.
The effective integration of ICT in education and training must go beyond simply replacing, streamlining or accelerating current practices. It is also necessary to find new and more effective ways of operating, supporting pedagogical and organisational innovation. It is important to envision what learning in the knowledge-based society in Europe in 2020 will be like and what kinds of skills and competences need to be learned for the new jobs of the future.
Since the Lisbon Council in 2000 identified ICT as a core component of the knowledge society and a necessary instrument for adapting education and training systems to it, Europe has gained extensive experience in ICT for learning. The eLearning Initiative and Programme of the European Commission were adopted, with specific funding and the strong support of stakeholders. This led to extensive networking activities through Europe-wide projects; e-learning was put on the education agenda and an increasingly professional community has developed. Since 2007, ICT for learning have become one of the four cross-cutting lines of the Lifelong Learning Programme and a general priority in the four vertical programmes (Erasmus, Comenius, Leonardo da Vinci and Grundtvig). In this way, ICT use in education and training has been mainstreamed, representing an important step towards the integration of ICT in lifelong learning policies. The projects illustrate how the European Commission promotes ICT for learning, supports the steady progress in the use of ICT for education and training across Europe, and the role ICT play in enhancing creativity and innovation in learning.
The role of ICT in learning and teaching, in particular to enhance creativity and innovation among people and organisations, has also been highlighted in recent communications of the European Commission such as An updated strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training, and New Skills for New Jobs. The 2009 European Year of Creativity and Innovation focuses on the role of ICT in enhancing cross-cutting skills such as creativity and entrepreneurship, and pushes forward innovation in education and training. The ICT cluster, representing various Member States under the Education and Training 2010 programme, provides an open forum for debate and peer learning. The common conclusion is that ICT need to be seen as a key tool for the modernisation and improvement of all aspects of education and training. Planning for the introduction of ICT is not enough; what is needed is transformation.
This special issue of the eLearning Papers describes the main outcomes of the Learnovation project. Each paper will highlight one of the ICT, lifelong learning and innovation reports, analysing innovation paradigms within different formal and informal learning contexts. The main stakeholders have been closely involved in the ongoing research and policy work of the project through the Learnovation Roundtable. As such, the project has contributed to a better understanding of how to realise the potential of ICT applications to make learning more efficient, equitable and innovative and to identify critical issues for the next stage of using ICT in education and training and the associated need for accompanying pedagogical, organisational and technological innovation.