European Schoolnet | digitalLEARNING Magazine
August 2006

European Schoolnet

Views: 374

While celebrating the 10th anniversary of its launch at the end of 2006, European Schoolnet (www.eun.org) has developed into a strong European service  organisation. From the 16 Ministries of education who signed the original  consortium agreement, the EUN has grown to almost 30 members and is currently serving three main groups, comprising schools in Europe and their teachers and  pupils, ministries of education and other education authorities and agencies, and  the European Commission, particularly Directorate Generals for Education and  Culture and Information Society. Since its establishment EUN has worked to promote the European dimension in school education and the use of new  technologies to improve and raise the quality of education. A key aim has been to build a rich, multilingual European community for innovation and collaboration in educational policy and practice.

Although the term e-learning has become part of the common vocabulary in the last few years, European initiatives to  promote the use of ICT in teaching

learning have a longer history. The creation of European Schoolnet goes  back to March 1997 when the Ministers of Education of the  European Union and the European  Commission agreed to support a Swedish proposal, which came under the European action plan entitled  “Learning within the information society”. European Schoolnet was  officially launched in September 1998 after a formal agreement between the  partners was adopted in Lisbon, in June 1998. The decision-making body of the EUN  is the steering committee, comprising one representative from each of the  partners taking part. Day to day management of the EUN is carried out  by the EUN Office located in Brussels.
The office has an international and  multilingual staff of over 30 people. The financial resources come from contributions from Ministries of Education. The European Commission  plays a big part in the financing via a large number of special projects  developed within the framework of educational or research and  development programmes specific to  the European Union. EUN’s work is organised in three  strands corresponding to its core  objective of supporting the efficient  use of ICT in education and the  European dimension in education.
1. School Networking Services:  Work aims to create a living European dimension for schools  through international joint activities using ICT. EUN acts as  a network of networks, providing common services and tools,  online communities and activities  to develop international activities for young people 2. Knowledge building and  exchange on ICT Policy and Practice: The strand aims to build  a community of ICT policymakers based  on an informed  knowledge  base of  intelligence and  foresight in ICT  policy-making, timely analytical  papers and  regular meetings and  workshops.  3. Interoperability and content  exchange:  Work aims to encourage the exchange and  interoperability of learning  content in order to facilitate the  implementation of learning  technologies in schools across  Europe. This includes work  related to architectures, web  services, standards, authentication federated  searching and rights  management. The most visible sign of the EUN’s  activities are its portals:  EUN  provides major European education  portals for teaching, learning and  collaboration, offering a wide range of  services for teachers, pupils, school managers and policy makers.

School networking and services
School networking has always been  considered as a main priority for European Schoolnet. Within the  framework of our projects, it can be defined as “facilitating the creation  of organic web-like networks of schools (big and small) that  communicate and work together as they wish or as they can on projects that make sense for them and their  pupils” (Brigitte Parry – School networking manager). At the  dawn of the century, school  networking is currently the best
way to prepare young people, and  through them society, for a successful future.

The EUN School networking methodology
The EUN office school networking  team consists of a core multicultural group of highly experienced teachers with a thorough understanding of old  and new ICT tools, learning and  teaching environments and pedagogical innovation, international projects and network  interactions both at policy and end user levels.  Around this core group revolves a  galaxy of experts groups, clustered and managed according to the  needs of our different projects (science, environment, arts,  citizenship, etc). Those experts are based in schools and in all EUN  related networks; they are in daily contact with pupils. This network of networks of experts is instrumental in the success of all our  projects with  schools. They offer  teachers from all European  countries opportunities to  work  together around themes that can be  adapted to their curriculum and through the discovery of new  technological tools. For each  project, it creates an online platform,  develops applications, templates  and tools for pedagogical activities,  produces guidelines for teachers  and gives high international visibility to the resources and  events created by the pupils through the proje

Successful school networking project
Virtual School Project: ‘For European Teachers by European teachers’
One of European Schoolnet’s very first school networking projects was the Virtual School project (VS). The Virtual School was a virtual meeting  place for teachers to exchange  material and discuss experiences and was launched to meet teachers’ need  for relevant content for their work. Teachers were encouraged to submit  anything from ideas for activities or events to fully-fledged online lessons. The VS editors and web team made  sure the material offered was relevant, safe and useful. The Virtual School  was one of the EUN’s key networks and led the way in the development  of many other initiatives helping teachers.  eTwinning: school partnerships (http://  www.etwinning.net)
European Schoolnet currently runs the Central Support Service and  international portal for the European  Commission’s eTwinning action. More  than 15,000 schools have registered  so far and more than 1,500 collaborative projects have been set  up between schools from different countries. The ultimate goal of this action is to give as many European  pupils as possible opportunities to use ICT to exchange and learn with  other pupils from other countries  before the end of their school years. eTwinning successfully contributes to the development of many teacher  training materials and workshops, and  therefore to the development of European education in general.  MyEurope: youth  awareness of European  citizenship (http://myeurope.eun.org) My Europe is a 6 year-old project built  on a very active network of more than 5000 schools. It was originally created  to link up schools from old European  member states and candidate countries. In 2004, ten new countries joined the European Union, and the  myEurope project had achieved its  goal. Its main aim is now to provide sets of learning objects on themes related to citizenship and Europe.  Those learning objects are meant to be used by teachers directly in the classroom and in different languages.  SpringDay 2006:   earn, share, debate, speak out  (http://www.springday2006.org)  Spring Day in Europe is a citizendriven event project on democracy  and citizenship where young people learn and make their voice heard on topical European issues. It is a day of  debate and dialogue symbolically, the first day of spring of each year –  prepared several months in advance through pedagogical activities in the  classroom and with the participation  of national and European decisionmakers. The wide involvement in the event of a large number of members of  the European Parliament and Commissioners has been inspiring  for schools. One of the main assets of Spring Day  is the combination of several human and institutional networks
Coordinated by European Schoolnet, a group of teachers/pedagogical advisors based in 29 countries interact with a network of  representatives from all ministries of  education who guarantee the legitimacy of the project within a
school curricular context. Both groups  collaborate with European Commission and European Parliament  representations. Members of the European Parliament, together with  local, regional and national personalities, participate in debates  with young citizens on Spring Day and around the topic of the year. The  success of Spring Day in Europe largely rests on this set of intertwined and complementary networks of  professionals.  This year, 7,501 schools from 29 countries organised events and   ebates about the future of the  European Union. Spring Day in Europe can be considered as the  largest and most successful  initiative to raise European awareness among schools.  Insafe: Internet Safety (http://www.  saferinternet.org)  Insafe is a European network of 23  nodes in 21 countries, dedicated to  raising awareness of internet safety.  It  includes a broad range of  organisations including educational authorities, universities, media councils and charities. The network is  coordinated by  European Schoolnet,  which has been mandated by the European Commission’s Safer Internet  Programme to become European leader in this global community. Its mission is threefold: empower citizens  to use internet effectively, help them avoid its potential pitfalls and protect  the privacy of their information. The Insafe portal offers links that lead  to a steadily growing source of information collected by awareness  raising partners across the world with the aim to provide users with a comprehensive overview of a wide  range of internet safety issues. Comenius Space (http://  comenius.eun.org) This initiative is a moderated online platform offering information  and partner-finding tools to any school or institution interested in  the European Commission’s Comenius action. This action is  closely linked to the previously mentioned eTwinning action. Comenius Space is a very successful online platform, which provides the elements necessary for schools to  set up micro networks and get  European funding for their work over a 3-year period.

Knowledge building through exchange on ICT policy and Practice
EUN is as much concerned in providing intelligence on ICT use to  schools and policy makers in Europe  and beyond, as with providing rich activities and immediate support to  teachers in the classroom. To be sure, the EUN Insight Observatory for New  Technologies and Education is an  informed knowledge base of intelligence and foresight in ICT  policy and practice in European  schools.   The Insight portal (http://  insight.eun.org) serves as a reference point for policy-makers, researchers  and school innovators and/or all those who want to be informed about  the main developments of e- learning in European countries but also gain  insight into specific topics dealing with school practices in using ICT in  innovative ways, in e-learning policy making and in questions related to  interoperability. Key documents of the Insight portal are the Insight’s Country reports that are regularly updated in-depth  descriptions of national developments  in different areas of e-learning policies in schools and compulsory education.  Insight also provides an annual ‘trends and issues’ report identifying  the main tendencies across European countries, as well as briefings and
Projects, competitions, activities, communication and information exchange at all levels of school education using innovative technologies, this is how EUN strives to meet its goals, being at the crossroads of national and regional education networks, building synergies between communities of teachers, learners, developers, researchers and policy-makers

updates on EU ICT-related policy issues. As such, these documents constitute a unique tool for policy makers and other education  professionals to identify latest e-learning and education trends  in their neighbouring countries and the EU.  One of the most popular divisions of the Insight portal is the School  Innovation section. Here visitors can  find information, research findings and reports about innovative ways to  implement ICT within the school environment. A key feature of this  area is the ‘Insight Schools Gallery’ with portraits of schools that have  been selected to take part in a range of projects since 2000 (e.g. e-watch,  Ernist (http://www.european schoolnet.org/ww/en/pub/eun/  projects/coordinator/ernist.htm), P2P (http://p2p.eun.org), Calibrate  (http://calibrate.eun.org)). The schools showcased in this section are excellent examples of school  collaboration, and with their inspirational practices are leading the  way in e-maturity.

The Interoperability section of the Insight portal deals with issues  around interoperability and content exchange, which has become one of  the main foci of EUN and its partners in the last years. Interoperability is  not only seen from the technical  areas mentioned above (policy,  technology and innovation) and offering a one-stop insight into specific education-related issues such  as innovation, leadership, internet safety or quality in education, just to  mention a few under the ‘thematic dossiers’ section.  European Schoolnet, the unique notfor- profit consortium of almost 30  ministries of education in Europe provides major European education portals for teaching, learning and  collaboration and leads the way in bringing about change in schooling  through the use of new technology. Projects, competitions, activities,  communication and information exchange at all levels of school  education using innovative technologies, this is how EUN strives  to meet its goals, being at the  crossroads of national and regional education networks, building  synergies between communities of teachers, learners, developers, researchers and policy-makers.  EUN invites to participate in the EUN  community, a free online collaborative platform aimed at schools and institutions that want to set up and  run cooperative online projects 9http://community.eun.org/enter.cfm),  or subscribe to the newsletters  (www.eun.org).   angle, but rather as an enabler for sharing pedagogy, infrastructures,  tools and resources (both digital and non-digital including  human  resources). This section regularly features news  and emerging issues  related to the  Learning Resources Exchange (LRE, http://lre.eun.org), a service that  provides the means to share digital  content among all partners (Ministries  of Education, regional educational authorities, commercial publishers,  broadcasters, cultural institutions and  other non-profit organisations) of the  LRE and their users. In this section, one also finds the ‘monthly insight to interoperability’ in  which international experts are questioned on the current issues on  standards and harmonisation of eLearning services, both on the  system and content level. Additionally, this section also informsits readers on actions on European  Interoperability Framework for eLearning (LIFE) that seeks to bring  together actors from different sectors (schools, academia, government, industry, education and training) to discuss common issues such as learning object repositories, learner profile, accessibility, etc.  Insight also highlights specific themes and issues drawing from the

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Most Popular

To Top