The two and a half day meeting began with presentations on the Catalonian issue, policy, ICT surveys and the P2V methodology. Three workgroups were formed which included a mix of participants from various professional backgrounds and countries and on the final day of the event three policy proposals were presented to the Catalan authorities.
Inspectors, head teachers, ministry staff and technical experts as well as participants from France, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Switzerland and the UK were set the task of coming up with policy proposals for the following issue currently facing Catalonia: “To create the right conditions to support and spread pedagogical and managerial innovation in schools using ICT”.
Ways of working [presentation]
On the first day of the meeting, Alan McCluskey from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland presented the overall methodology to be used in this session of the P2V project. In the issue the Catalonian identified two areas of work:
The composition of the workgroups, two English speaking and one French speaking, included a mix of representatives from the three main professions represented in the P2V project: practitioners (head teachers, teachers, ICT staff), inspectors of education and people working on policy in the ministry. Additionally, there was an attempt to have a mix between local/Catalan representatives and peers from other countries.
One of the bases for the group discussions were worksheets where participants could draft initial ideas as regards a specific question linked to the issue of innovation in Catalan schools (i.e. ‘What do you understand to be innovation in education?’ or ‘What aspects could be barriers to encouraging innovation in schools?’). These ideas were further fuelled by invited expert input; these experts were external to the P2V project and brought a fresh look at the work done in P2V. Additional help and input were provided by a web tool, Diigo, which was used prior to the meeting by some participants to initiate the discussions about the promotion of innovation at schools and among teachers.
Ways of working at the Barcelona meeting
Understanding the Catalonian issue
Jordi Vivancos, head of the Knowledge and learning technologies unit at the Department of Education of Catalonia, explained how Catalonia is currently facing a number of changes related to transformations in economic activities and changes in social structures. While these challenges need to be addressed, school is seen as a key player in responding to these changes. However, our Catalan host reported, there is a considerable concern in Catalonia about the efficiency of schools. Promoting innovation and implementing ICT at school, particularly at a secondary level, is seen as a way to improve ratings, student motivation and overall school performance. An interview with Jordi is available as a podcast on the P2V blog.
To support this view a series of surveys were presented, including a study of “Schooling in the Networked Society Internet in Primary and Secondary Education” by the Open University of Catalonia. The study looked at Internet use in primary and secondary education in Catalonia and was conducted among a representative sample of school principals, pedagogical directors, ICT coordinators, teachers and students (about 10,000 in total) gave P2V participants challenging food for thought. Some of the conclusions of the study included:
- 2/3 of Catalan students believe that internet in learning activities is irrelevant.
- The reason for the low use for teachers and school heads can be linked to lack of resources (ICT and time).
- The study also found that less than 10 per cent are using the internet in an innovative way in teaching. It is rather used in the preparation of classes and by students alike to search for information.
- Teachers’ ICT skills and beliefs have a greater influence on use than any availability of resources or regional plan. This was one of the conclusions which led to the idea of one of the working group of the necessity to create a ‘culture of innovation’ at schools and among teachers.
- “An awareness of the possibilities of technology and understanding education in the information age, and not just technology itself, will be decisive when facing educational challenges,” concluded the survey.
Other contributions to the work groups’ discussions at the meeting included an introduction to the latest ICT policies in Catalonia (Directive Plan on Learning and Knowledge Technologies) and the presentation of three innovative schools that have developed an ICT autonomy plan in their school. One of the schools had a plan aimed to empower learners by making them responsible for their learning process. This scheme corresponds to the Lisbon objectives of ensuring that the younger generation is equipped with the knowledge and skills to live and work in the knowledge economy.
Directive plan: presentation
Policy proposals from the work groups
At the end of the two and half day seminar, a special session was organised to present the outcomes of the three workgroups’ discussions to address the Catalan issue and suggest appropriate policy actions. This session was attended by a panel of key decision makers in the Generalitat of Catalonia.
- Work Group 1’s policy proposals included a school development plan (whole school approach) to improve the learning of students, teachers, school and community by 2014. Additionally Work group 1 promoted action towards school leaders (leadership to pilot school innovation); the management of whole school resources (ICT) and finally the development of common indicators for mapping innovation. Download the policy proposals for Work Group 1
- Work Group 2 focused on how to create a 'culture of innovation' with a whole school approach in the area of technical infrastructure, human resources and administration. Policies for these dimensions included the provision of a basic technology infrastructure for Catalonian schools with the aim to promote equity. In the area of human resources, work group 2 suggested providing school leaders, teachers and ICT coordinators with adequate training and support from the department of education. Download the policy proposals for Work Group 2
- Workgroup 3 started from statement that there is not enough innovation in teaching and that innovation does not have enough visibility when it exists. Work group 3 suggested identifying and supporting outstanding educational professionals (iTeachers). iTeachers are empowered teachers who use peer learning as a way to tackle the challenges of education and are competent with a wide range of ICT pedagogies. They are high potential teachers with extensive expertise which makes them able to train others and spread good ICT in education practices amongst peers. To help them in their mission, iTeachers should have less teaching time and focus on spreading innovation through meetings and spreading of good practice. Download the policy proposals for Work Group 3
Feedback and follow up
The benefits of the meeting were three-fold. First, through the workgroups, P2V meeting participants from inside and outside Catalonia were able to formulate suggestions for educational reform in Catalonia based on an understanding of the policy-making context. Second those not directly involved in policy-making were able to get a better understanding of the demands of such a process and those concerned with policy-making were able to gain wider involvement and support in developing policy ideas. In addition, the process provided leverage for those ideas to go forward into practice, capitalising on the interest expressed by the authorities present at the final session.
Alan McCluskey, who helped develop the methodology used at the meeting said that “through our work, we have demonstrated that peer-exchange combined with valorisation - as used in the P2V project policy strand - can contribute constructively to improving policy-making processes so as to make our education systems better”.
Jordi Vivencos concluded by saying that “the peer review process and policy developed during the seminar has validated and confirmed the policy process we are developing at the moment. The contact with European experts has allowed us to have a first hand example of good practice already taking place in other European countries.” Jordi expressed his gratitude to the organizers for providing a platform which will “allow for networking internally within the department of education and will be a blueprint for future policies in innovation and ICT implementation”.
The Barcelona visit followed a first peer learning visit which took place in June 2007 in Lithuania. As part of the Policy strand of the P2V project, three visits are planned, the last one scheduled in France in the late summer.
More information about the visit will be reported on the newly launched P2V website which includes the latest news and events in the P2V project.
P2V Blog (includes presentations)
Last changed: Tuesday, 01 April 2008