Natural speed please
iTEC (Innovative Technologies for an Engaging Classroom) is a four year, large-scale project that takes an informed look at the potential classroom of the future.
Starting in September 2010, iTEC will bring together policy makers, researchers, technology suppliers, other technology-enhanced learning experts and innovative teachers in order to design and build scalable learning and teaching scenarios for the future classroom with recognition of the realities of pace of the educational reform process. Rigorous testing of these future classroom scenarios in large-scale pilots will then be carried out in order to significantly increase the possibility that innovation can be mainstreamed and taken to scale when the project ends.
With 27 project partners, including 14 Ministries of Education (MoE), and funding from the European Commission of 9.45 million Euros, iTEC will provide a model describing how the deployment of technology in support of innovative teaching and learning activities can move beyond small scale pilots and become embedded in all Europe's schools. The strategic nature of the project is underlined by the fact that the iTEC piloting in >1,000 classrooms in 12 countries is by some margin the largest pan-European validation of ICT in schools yet undertaken.
In developing more meaningful visions and scenarios for the future classroom, iTEC will have a significant impact by putting in place a user-centred design process and rigorous testing methodology; all learning activities and proposed designs for the future classroom will be validated in large-scale pilots in order to determine whether they can be taken to scale. In this respect, the aim is that iTEC will act as a ‘Living Lab’ for pedagogical and technical innovation involving ICT in schools and allow both public and private sector stakeholders to rethink and test designs for the future classroom.
iTEC is being launched at a time when teachers and learners have access to a loose collection of tools that are increasingly seen and used as an alternative to a conventional learning platform. IWBs and interactive, multi-touch displays in schools may also be acting as a ‘gateway’ that enable many teachers to start integrating ICT in their classrooms. iTEC will particularly impact on the design of the future classroom by allowing teachers to more easily select from among this growing loose collection of tools and services in order to support learners using a wide range of pedagogical methods, particularly those that are based on collaborative learning and constructivist approaches.
Interoperability between people, tools, events and content is essential to the iTEC vision and several iTEC partners are already key players within the main standardization bodies concerned with Technology-Enhanced Learning. With its precise objectives and ambitious requirements in terms of interoperability, iTEC will provide a unique opportunity to evaluate relevant state-of-the-art standards and specifications, to assess their usefulness and to suggest improvements. Undoubtedly, the project will also provide opportunities to elicit missing interoperability pieces that require further standardization work.
Adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach to the design of the future classroom is neither practical nor desirable, given the differences between national curricula, assessment practices, teacher education, and ICT infrastructure and support. The direct involvement of 14 Ministries of Education in scenario development, school piloting and mainstreaming/dissemination, however, will ensure that the project produces results that can be adopted by policy makers in different countries and in schools that have reached different levels of eMaturity. iTEC (Innovative Technologies for an Engaging Classroom) is a four year, large-scale project that takes an informed look at the potential classroom of the future.