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European Innovative Teaching Award
Project

PREDICT - Prompt Revolution in Education with Information & Communications Technology

School: Stredná priemyselná škola stavebná, Žilina

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Topic(s) addressed

Older teachers tend to lack the digital skills that are increasingly necessary in today’s education environment, with relatively few teachers regularly using information and communication technologies and media that are made available in the classroom. The project’s main goal was the transformation of education processes towards improving teachers’ and students’ key competencies and readiness in the effective use of digital technologies, and, to prepare the methodologies needed for this transformation. As the project’s focus was to ensure that students were prepared for the labour market, it was important that they benefitted from the effective, intensive, and meaningful use of ICT throughout the project’s learning process. A further consideration of the project was to develop cooperation and partnership between schools at the European level through the use of a digital platform.    

Target groups

The project was aimed at teaching staff as the primary target group, which included teachers of vocational subjects and subject commissions, and foreign language teachers. All participating teachers were also assigned coordination tasks, with most participants being teachers aged 50 and above. Students formed the secondary target group who benefitted from the acquisition of digital skills, which enabled them to utilise laptops, PCs, tablets, as well as mobile phones in a meaningful and effective manner within their respective fields of study, and as motivational tools towards active work, with most students having been in the 15–19 age range.

Methodologies

As a result of the Erasmus+ project, we were able to modernise our traditional school, with several ‘internal’ multiplier events conducted following the completion of individual mobilities. These events included open lessons during which the practical use of ICT in problem solving was presented, as well as the effective application of ICT in project teaching, student group work, and during CLIL in the subjects of Constructions, Geodesy, and Economics; demonstrations on utilising applications and programmes to create quizzes (e. g. Kahoot, Testmoz etc.), flash cards (e. g. Quizlet), edit videos, create teaching materials (e.g. SYMBALOO, YouTube videos, QR codes for English lessons, TOURBUILDER at Geodesy, and tablets at Civics); the development of teaching materials using ICT (which was evaluated during job-shadowing exercises, sharing of materials with colleagues, and portfolio development); the incorporation of ICT into the curricula of certain subjects (e.g. foreign languages, Economics, Geodesy, Civics, Civil Engineering, and Technical Drawing); and, student participation in competitions that engage ICT skills such as Velux, YTONG, and Garden Semmerlock, among others. As a result of the project, both teachers and students were involved in Zoom and Google Meet-based distance education from the very beginning of the pandemic, with many teachers having already created accounts on these platforms, as well as profiles on social media networks – both of which were used to communicate with students. Furthermore, students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds were provided with PCs so they were able to participate in the school’s learning processes throughout the pandemic.

Environments

As a direct result of the project’s activities, the school signed cooperation agreements with two universities and cooperated with a number of companies. The former regularly provided the school with technical materials, lectures, and laboratory excursions, while the latter organised practical experiences, workshops, various field lectures, assisted with competitions, and committed to providing job opportunities for the school’s future graduates. At the time, the school’s aim was not only the continued modernisation of its education process, but also those of its ICT facilities and property. In 2017, the school joined the IROP project by the Ministry of Agriculture, and, as a result, received a modernisation grant that went towards the modernisation of its classroom equipment. Additionally, the school also participated in a project by the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport, titled ´Improving the Quality of Technical Education and Training Reflecting the Needs of the Market´ for which it was given a grant towards the purchase of school and ICT equipment. Given the aforementioned acquisition of modern digital technologies, emphasis was placed within the school on the development of technical and language competencies, the use of graphic programmes, and digital technologies, for which we have attempted to create favourable conditions for the implementation of innovative teaching methods. Students’ digital literacy was developed in 8 special technical classrooms, with Wi-Fi Internet connection made available throughout the school, as well as the provision of ICT facilities in each classroom. One of the school’s major aims was to improve language learning and environmental awareness while supporting the development of key technical competencies through project teaching and group work among students. Furthermore, as we intended to connect teaching with real-world practice, we cooperated with representatives from construction companies and universities so as to enable the organisation of excursions, lectures, workshops, and professional practical experiences for students within construction companies; all of which was facilitated by the school’s membership in civil engineering trade unions. Each year, students compete in various activities and project competitions connected with digital technologies, and perform exceedingly well, with the school’s overall activities aimed at ensuring that graduates find the best placements both in Slovakia and in the international labour market. In addition to the school’s availability for international projects, it also shares its experiences with various school types, with developed materials, skills, and knowledge being regularly presented by the headmaster, school management, and teachers. We also continue to present and discuss our know-hows at various events such as secondary school fairs, maturita exams, and competitions, with teachers from other schools invited to competition boards where our students demonstrate their new ideas through projects. A large number of our mobility participants have built relationships and continue to maintain contact with teachers from foreign countries, with whom they not only share ideas on the ways in which their schools have implemented acquired knowledge, but also discuss potential future collaborations.

Teachers

All mobility participants learnt to work with a number of new programmes and applications including Google applications, ThingLing, Book Creator, iMovie, and QR codes, which not only allowed them to improve their digital competencies but also enabled them to gain knowledge on the effective use of ICT in teaching and department-related responsibilities. Moreover, such acquired knowledge also proved to be highly applicable to distance-teaching sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic. An added value of teachers’ participation in mobilities was the acquisition of key competencies as determined by the educational institution’s chosen programmes. Despite the pandemic’s negative effects, interdisciplinary and personal relationships among teachers continued to be strengthened at the school. Furthermore, mobility participants, particularly at the beginning of the pandemic, organised regular videoconferences and provided practical advice and instructions on the switch to distance teaching, resulting in the continued smooth education of students. Teachers’ active participation in webinars organised by various institutions also allowed them to provide colleagues with tips for online teaching. Experiences gained from the mobilities also gave them the confidence to be unafraid of the new and unknown, and allowed them to proactively assist the school’s management and other teachers facing new COVID-related situations. Given that the meaningful application of ICTs in teaching results in increased demands on teacher readiness, participants also appreciated the new dimension provided by acquired knowledge and skills with regard to their teaching responsibilities. As ICT creates the space for a teacher to exercise their creativity in their pedagogical-didactic and organisational work, participants were duly inspired on the ways in which they could improve their performance across all aspects of the teaching process, such as in their preparation of lessons, the actual teaching process, and the evaluation of students’ work. Mobility participants also learnt valuable know-hows on the incorporation of ICT into the teaching of subjects, subjects’ curricula, and the school curriculum, with the heads of departments having agreed to the need for improved incorporation of interdisciplinary connections (belonging to technical and other ICT subjects) into the school’s curricula in cooperation with the school’s management; accordingly, the curricula was adjusted at the end of the school year. Participants also gained a better understanding of other systems in European education, which increased their intercultural awareness of other countries and enabled them to present this knowledge to school colleagues. In addition to improving their foreign language skills, participants displayed heightened motivation following the completion of mobilities, which had a positive impact on their teaching, professional and personal developments, presentation skills, and autonomy. Also, new contacts and partnerships made between mobility participants and teachers from other European countries continue to be maintained. All mobility participants presented their acquired knowledge and experience through various activities, in which their newfound skills and competencies were applied. The school’s management, teachers, students and their parents, representatives from stakeholder technical companies and universities, and the public, were informed of teachers’ mobilities, activities that had been prepared and implemented, and the project’s results through the school’s website and yearbook, open class presentations, an open house session, and the school’s notice board. Most teachers had actively participated in the mobility’s follow-up activities, with course information provided by teachers through an open lesson session that included a practical implementation component. Working with ICT tools proved to be interesting and stimulating especially for students who were digitally skilled and naturally inclined to work – particularly when ICT is effectively utilised by their teachers in teaching activities. As a result of teachers’ mobility, students benefitted from various interactive exercises, videos, audio recordings, activities, inputs, and other relevant elements during their classes, which not only increased their enjoyment of lessons, but also improved student cooperation within the classroom environment. Furthermore, teachers provided students with the space to work in pairs, groups, and individually on several projects. Lastly, the use of online activities allowed us to avoid the usage of large quantities of office paper, which also contributed to students’ environmental awareness.

Impact

As a result of the knowledge and experience acquired from the project, the school was able to effortlessly and efficiently implement distance-learning activities during the first pandemic-related school closures in March 2020, with mobility participants having provided other teachers with much-needed support in the use of ICT tools in distance learning. In addition to their participation in stimulating seminars, teachers began actively using various Web platforms and ICT tools in a number of teaching-related tasks, including teaching through videoconferencing; preparing interactive exercises; creating tests using various programmes; developing videos, presentations, and interactive worksheets; and, correcting students’ assignments. Cooperation among department members grew exponentially, with anxieties related to the use of ICT among teachers unfamiliar with such tools being significantly reduced. As ICT had been intensively used in teaching exercises prior to the pandemic, students had no issues adapting to their continued use during lockdowns, with the school continuing to participate in knowledge exchanges with other schools since the beginning of the pandemic. Impacts from the school’s participation in the Erasmus+ programme was especially evident in the fields of ​​pedagogical practice and professional development, with improvements in knowledge and skills in the intensive and meaningful use of ICT in teaching, and the preparation of new activities during lessons; the organisation of class work; technical teachers’ competence in foreign languages; awareness of education systems in other countries; and, overall growth in relations and interdisciplinary cooperation among the school’s teachers. Personal development and the development of social skills and motivation were deemed to be crucial considerations to teachers’ lifelong learning experience, and we successfully overcame teacher-related anxieties with regard to the use of new technologies; furthermore, teachers learnt about the many potentialities linked to the effective use of ICT, mastered the ability to work with various programmes and interactive applications, and began using mobile devices and tablets in their teaching activities. All of the project’s mobilities and follow-up activities contributed to the professional growth and development of participants’ key competences, with the strengthening of teachers' social and communication competencies being particularly evident – not only with regard to traditional classes, but also during the pandemic and the transition to distance teaching. The intensive use of ICT resulted in an increase in teachers’ digital competencies, as they were able to learn best practices from various subjects and also had the opportunity to create their own portfolio of interactive activities, with acquired knowledge having been either fully or partially incorporated into the curricula of a number of subjects including foreign languages, Economics, Geodesy, Civics, Civil Engineering and Technical Drawing, as well as into the school’s educational programmes with regard to individual fields of study. Also, the formation of new contacts further increased possibilities for cooperation. Positive impacts were also seen among students who were digitally literate and who enjoyed working with ICT tools; overall, students enjoyed the various interactive activities that were organised, with high pass rates noted in distance learning courses throughout the pandemic. Furthermore, students provided positive feedback following the completion of electronically assigned tasks, tests, and assignments, with the use of ICT at school enabling the development of both individual and group work with regard to various projects. This was evidenced by their exceptional performance in a number of competitions including SOČ, Velux, Ytong, Semmerlock, and Secondary School Business Plan, among others. Parents also perceived such developments in a positive manner, and noted their children to have been more active with regard to home-based preparations and their participation in the above-mentioned competitions. We have since signed a number of Cooperation Agreements with several universities and schools, including the University of Žilina, the University of Ostrava, and the Secondary School of Fire Protection in Považský Chlmec, with cooperation developed in various areas such as the organising of technical lectures and excursions, and the development and editing of curricula (especially for technical subjects). In addition, the school continuously supports students in their efforts to further their education either in Slovakia, or abroad at foreign universities. Cooperation Agreements were also signed with technical companies where students carry out technical practice, with said companies cooperating with the school in so-called “secondary school pupils´ vocational activities” (SOČ) projects. These projects include lectures and invitations to company representatives to attend school project competitions (where students are able to network for potential future career opportunities, or learn about about the competencies they will need when applying for jobs in the field of civil engineering). The school’s participation in the project was highly evaluated by these companies, given that said companies also set the standards for students’ digital competencies with regard to their future roles as members of the workforce. As a final consideration, the school’s management also provided information of the school's participation in the Erasmus+ programme to its operating unit (the Žilina Self-Governing Region), which welcomed and supported these activities.

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Stakeholders

Participants

Atempo Betriebsgesellschaft mbH

Address
Austria

Centro de Recursos Educativos e Formação do Concelho de Sesimbra

Address
Portugal

Executive Training Institute Ltd.

Address
Malta

Europass SRL

Address
Italy

Hrvatska udruga pripovjedača "Pričalica"

Address
Croatia

IDEC: Aintek Symvouloi Epicheiriseon Efarmoges Ypsilis Technologias Ekpaidefsi Anonymi Etaireia

Address
Greece

MEIO – Alcashine Empowerment Center, Lda

Address
Portugal