Technology has become an essential teaching and learning tool in schools and it is important to make the most of digital innovation in every classroom. Teachers play a crucial role in shaping the contents of lesson and they need support and on-the job training to bring technology-based learning experiences to their pupils.
The EU-funded Living Schools Lab project created a network of primary and secondary schools to share best practices in successfully integrating new technologies into the educational system. It supported professional development opportunities for teachers, helping them make contact with external partners, including the technology industry and other pan-European projects, and promoted a whole-school approach to ICT use, helping them catch up with the latest developments.
The Living Schools Lab network brought together teachers from schools in different countries, each of which produced a plan to identify a single aspect of school development using ICT to be developed as part of the project. Regional hubs helped to create a mentoring and collaboration relationship between schools, and workshops and summer schools were organised. Observation visits by researchers measured progress and led to the conclusion that for a school to really use technology to its full potential, a high degree of interconnectedness is required: a school needs not only to be connected to the internet but for teachers and students to be interconnected within the school, with parents and the local community, and with other schools and external partners.
The project also developed a Collaborative Schools Development Course to help teachers and headteachers bring about change supported by technology: this highlights the importance not only of practices in the classroom but also peer exchanges, building professional development frameworks for staff, and helping students to become digital leaders. The project provided a successful model for the large-scale deployment and adoption of a wide variety of ICT-based innovations in the classroom.
Living Schools Lab in brief
- Total Budget: EUR 1 779 272 (EU contribution: EUR 1 600 000)
- Duration: 10/2012 – 09/2014
- Countries involved: Belgium (coordinator), Austria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom
Key figures in the European Union
- Living Schools Lab worked with 12 education ministries across Europe.
- IIt is estimated that 90% of jobs nowadays require some level of digital skills.
- Up to 6000 students and recent graduates will benefit from the European Commission’s Digital Opportunity traineeship initiative between 2018 and 2020.
Currently, there are more than 350,000 vacancies in Europe for highly skilled technical experts in areas such as artificial intelligence, data analytics and cybersecurity. Gains from investments in the digital technologies will only be reaped if there are enough qualified people able to use them. Only a highly skilled EU workforce will enable the deployment of these technologies in our economies.
To this end, the European Commission is proposing a new Digital Europe programme for 2021-27 with an overall budget of EUR 9.2 billion, to shape and support the digital transformation of Europe’s societies and economies. With EUR 700 million funding for digital skills, it will offer current and future students and technology experts good opportunities to pursue training and careers in advanced digital technologies.