What are ‘Creative Classrooms’ and how can they be successfully implemented? Stefania Bocconi and Panagiotis Kampylis work at the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, and have been researching how to innovate teaching and learning practices at a system level. They co-authored an article with Yves Punie on this topic, recently published at eLearning Papers.
What does a Creative Classroom look like?
Stefania: By 'creative' we refer to new practices. These can include collaboration, peer to peer collaboration, connection with the outside world, use of open education resources, and more.
As far as ‘classroom’, in this case we refer to all learning environments, both formal and informal, which take advantage of optimal use of ICT. The way we see it, however, is that the innovation of practices is at the core of everything.
How does your approach differ?
Stefania: We’ve come up with a multi-dimensional framework, one that addresses key dimensions such as curriculum and content, assessment, learning, teaching, and organizational practices, leadership and values, connectedness, and infrastructures. The idea is to depict a systemic approach, which is what is needed to undertake and sustain ICT innovation.
When you say ‘systemic’, what exactly do you mean? How does a multi-dimensional approach fit the reality of practitioners on the field?
Stefania: The truth is, there is no single measure that fits all. But what we’ve found is that the cases that have successfully survived the initial pilot phase are those in which all these dimensions are present at a very local level, from the bottom up.
Panagiotis: It’s common for schools to focus on just one or two aspects, but this doesn’t translate into sustainability, so they often have to change their approach after the initial phase of implementation.
What's the status of Creative Classrooms in Europe?
Panagiotis: There are actually a lot of initiatives, but they’re currently fragmented, kind of like islands of innovation. The missing element is learning from each other, finding ways to sustain them, and making them mainstream.
To what extent has ICT changed things? Are creativity and innovation necessarily at odds with traditional teaching methods?
Panagiotis: Well, we have to understand that ICT is not an end in itself, but a means to innovative pedagogy. It’s not an imperative, but technology can help us do new things in a better way. Essentially, we’re at a point in time in which we have to rethink what, how, why, with who, and when we learn.
Stefania: From what we’ve seen, the common thread of successful Creative Classrooms is placing the learner and the learning process at the center of everything, and that sometimes means blending ICT-enabled learning practices with traditional methods.
Technology is constantly and rapidly evolving—in this context, have you encountered sustainable models of innovative teaching?
Panagiotis: Again, it’s not a matter of technology, but how you use what’s available to you. For instance, if you have an interactive whiteboard, but you use it in a traditional sense—the teacher lecturing, the students sitting in rows, listening—you’ve got a scenario in which you have the best technology, but you’re using it in a way that isn’t innovative at all. It’s just not as effective.
Stefania: When innovative pedagogical practices lie at the center of your philosophy, this means that the entire practice—teaching, learning, organization—is more open to experimentation and flexibility. That’s when you can put technology at your service, to reach your ultimate objectives, even when technology changes.
What needs to happen in order for more Creative Classrooms to be implemented?
Stefania: The next step is to combine the existing bottom-up approach with top-down support. The European Commission has already made a move in this direction, by specifically targeting Creative Classrooms as part of its LLLP project. Generally speaking, we envision an experimentation process that will involve actors at all different levels and across different countries, so as to learn from each other at a local and national level.
Panagiotis: We’ve developed this conceptualization not only based on desk research, but on an ongoing consultation process with specialists and teachers with real classroom experience. We’ve had very positive feedback, and we’ve found that stakeholders on all different levels agree we need to act, and change the way we teach the next generation.
European Ministers set the target to reduce the average of students with difficulties in reading, maths and science in order to reach fewer than 15% by 2020. The project aims at investigating different ways of the mathematics representations, in the topics, already, defined in the PISA, IEA TIMSS and National surveys concerning the maths skills of 15 years-old students. The worldwide surveys report that European students often lack mathematical competence and key basic competences in science and technology. The learning of the mathematics literacy enables students to contribute effectively in actual society, improving their employment prospects. In this context, the project intends to develop with the teachers more attractive and fun pedagogical tools for the maths literacy delivered in two virtual environments: e-learning platform and 3D world. These innovative pedagogical tools are based on the topics defined in the PISA, TIMSS and National surveys in order to enable 15 years-old students to acquire mathematical literacy improving attractiveness and efficiency in the ISCED levels 2 and 3 of compulsory education.
The TALETE project aims at improving the quality and efficiency of education and training as follows:
- identifying and developing teaching and learning method in the field of mathematics with a focus on the geometry;
- improving the quality of learning in order to support the development of students’ basic and transversal competences (mathematics literacy, learning to learn, social and digital skills, English communication);
- improving attractiveness and efficiency of ISCED (International Standard Classification of Education) levels 2 and 3 of education and training (nearly the end of compulsory education) through the 3D virtual world;
- supporting high quality teaching and teacher training;
- supporting schools to establish partnerships and improving teachers and pupils’ skills favouring the integration of the European dimension in teaching and learning.
The impacts on the target groups are:
- - as to the students, to improve mathematical literacy skills (key competences especially in geometry), contrasting with the interest lack among students to start up scientific studies and supporting the development of the scientific and technical culture in European countries;
- - as to the teachers, to provide innovative contents strictly connected with national school curriculum in mathematics, in order to improve the quality of teaching making it more flexible and fun and reducing the number of low-performs of students.
If you worry that a lot of knowledge about how technology can enhance children’s learning seems to be rather anecdotal, you will probably appreciate this conference. Taking place from 3pm till 8pm in London, this event “showcases research and prototypes that could revolutionise UK education with technology”. During this event, you will be able to:
• Meet the pupils and teachers who are using technology to transform their learning
• Discover how it feels to drill into a virtual tooth
• Interact with artificially intelligent characters on a touch screen
• See algebra in a whole new light
• Experiment with a portable science kit for teenagers
• See the networked touch-table classroom
This event is for anyone interested in learning, and how digital technologies can help: teachers, students, parents, developers, academics, policy makers, journalists, publishers, technologists…
The ROLE project opens the 5th competition on the development of widgets useful for self-regulated learning. You have three weeks to submit your widget specifications. The winners will be announced on November 5th and will then have two months to develop their widget, after which they will receive their prize in value of 500€ or an IPad. The winner of this second round will be announced on 22nd January 2013.
The ROLE project is an international initiative centered around the idea of helping teachers create open personal learning environments for their students. The widget competition is based on this philosophy and is aimed at developing widgets that would be useful for employees of a company involved in a self-regulated learning process.
The widget specifications, that should include a description, a screenshot, a use case, and a link to a prototype (if available), can be submitted until October 21st. The jury will select the winners of this first round who will then have two months to develop their widget under the support of a ROLE Partner. Each of them will then receive a prize in value of 500€. The winner of this second round will be announced on January 23rd 2013. The widgets should enhance the learner’s experience in activities such as planning and organizing learning process, creating and manipulating learning content, training and testing, reflection and evaluation, etc.
Submission Start: 20 September 2012
Submission Deadline (Widget Specifications): 21 October 2012
Winners Announcement (Round 1): 05 November 2012
Submission Deadline (Widgets): 06 January 2013
Winner Announcement (Round 2): 22 January 2013
More information on terms and conditions can be found at http://www.role-project.eu/WidgetCompetition.
Outliers School Educación es una iniciativa sincrónica online de 30 días para 40 participantes. Se trata de un proyecto on-line multiplataforma “en vivo” sobre nuevas ideas y modelos de Diseño Educativo con aprendizaje basado en resolución de problemas y prototipado de soluciones. Las áreas para resolver los problemas de diseño educativo serán: 1) Desintermediación en el diseño educativo; 2) Aprendizaje Invisible y no-formal y medios sociales en educación; 3) Narrativas transmediáticas aplicadas a la educación y; 4) mobile learning.
Preinscripción hasta 10/11/2012
Social networks - can we develop without them?
The European Union aPlanet final conference will feature:
- Exciting plenary presentations by some of the leading figures in European language learning
- Concurrent keynotes by European projects
- Academic papers
- A wide-variety of interesting and stimulating workshops on the use of social networks and Web2.0 tools as tools of teacher professional development.
A call for speaker proposals is available on the conference website.