The Digital Schools of Europe Project. The key priorities of the project are:
- Enhancing digital integration in learning, teaching, training and youth work at various levels
- Addressing low achievement in basic skills through more effective teaching methods
- Developing basic and transversal skills using innovative methods
Many reports and studies highlight the benefits and advantages of using ICT as a learning and teaching tool, also noting the challenges facing schools throughout the EU – (Horizon Report Europe: 2014 Schools Edition, ICILS Study 2013). Our project addresses many of these topics and challenges.
In the modern digital world, all EU countries have, to some extent, made efforts and provision for the equipping of schools with ICT infrastructure, pre-service training of teachers in the use of ICT and In-service training supporting the integration of ICT into the everyday life of the classroom.
Since 2006, Ireland has developed a national accreditation system to recognise schools who are to the fore in their use of ICT. Digital Schools of Distinction is a flagship programme which aims to promote, recognise and encourage excellence in the use of technology in primary schools. Our Digital Schools of Distinction is now a much sought after Award, with more than 1/2 of Primary schools registering their interest in the scheme.
By seeking out like minded partners throughout Europe, this project aims to locate, explore and disseminate best practices in the use of ICT, firstly to our partnership group and, secondly, to reach beyond to all EU countries. In this way we will achieve our first priority.
Through discussions, workshops, meetings, school visits we aim to assess the feasibility of developing similar accreditation schemes in our partner countries, and ultimately the possibility of a fully-fledged EU Accreditation. This meets our second priority.
Our project will include 3 transnational project meetings each year, an integral part of which will be visiting local schools, not alone those schools with high levels of ICT use, but also schools that are encountering problems with implementing the integration of ICT into their curriculum. Through these mobilities and cross-border meetings, we aim to be in a position to offer help, support and guidance to strengthen the quality of the usage of ICT in all schools.
Inspired by an Irish Concept – Digital Schools of Distinction – where schools in Ireland have the possibility to carry out self-assessment and evaluation of progress in integration of digital technologies in teaching and learning to achieve an award of “Digital School of Distinction”. Erasmus+ project “Digital Schools of Europe” will examine wheter it is possible to implement a similar program at a European level.
The project is coordinated by the Dublin West Education Centre in Ireland. Other partners are:
- Ireland: Irish National Teachers Organisation
- Finland: Oulu Municipality
- Sweden: Malmo Municipality
- Denmark: University College Lillebælt, Center for Educational, Odense
- Universite de Limoges, Limoges
- Spain: CPR Region of Murcia
- Portugal: Nucleo Interactivo de Astronomia, Lisbon
- Italy: Pisa Municipality
The project is a so-called strategic partnership “school education”. The main partners are connected to several schools in their area, which will have a limited amount for mobilities. In Denmark Vissenbjerg school and Hjallese School in Odense partners and Holluf Pile School has just signed up for the project and will participate in meetings at their own expense.
A number of “intellectual outputs” will be produced during the project, and CFU in Odense is responsible for “Social Media” – including getting as many schools as possible in the process of eTwinning projects.
The first partner meeting was held in September 2015. At the meeting all partners planned and distributed various tasks. Next meeting will be held in Oulu in late November.
The Digital Schools of Europe project is being set up with a two-fold approach:
- To seek out best practice in the use of ICT in Schools throughout the partnership regions, to assess and share this best practice with each other and to disseminate this best practice to other countries.
- To analyse accreditation systems in the partnership countries, to assess the feasibility of introducing a nationally accredited award system in each country, similar to the Irish Digital Schools of Distinction Award, leading to the feasibility or possibility of an international EU accredited system.
With 8 partner countries, plus the involvement of a minimum of a number of schools in each, and through our transnational project meetings and outputs, we are perfectly placed to achieve our objectives.
Our project also meets many of the elements recommended for strategic partnerships:
- Develop, test, adapt and adopt/implement innovative practices relating to:
o learning and teaching methodologies and pedagogical approaches, especially those delivering key competences and basic skills, language skills, and focusing on the use of ICT;
o new forms of learning and providing education and training, notably strategic use of open and flexible learning, virtual mobility, open educational resources and better exploitation of the ICT potential;
- Carry out joint research, surveys, studies and analyses;
- Facilitate recognition/certification of skills and competences at national level by referencing them to European and national Qualification Frameworks and using EU validation instruments.