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Education Offensive 2013

Wanted: the smart school of tomorrow

Many teachers have discovered that there are other forms of education aside from the lecture style that even our grandparents experienced. "The new generation of teachers that is now coming into the classroom has a certain level of basic technical knowledge," Erika Hummer, federal coordinator of the Austrian eLSA schools, told futurezone.at. eLSA stands for "e-learning at school." These schools have already incorporated e-learning into their curricula. "eLSA teachers also share their experiences and show colleagues how digital media can be used in an educationally sensible, responsible and profitable manner for all age groups, no matter what the subject," Hummer explained.

Old learning structures are being broken down and replaced with new, digital approaches. "E-learning offers a great deal of potential for contemporary, interesting teaching, and promotes individual learning. The use of new information and communication technologies in the classroom makes it possible to develop modern forms of teaching and learning. At the same time, students learn to use digital media in a conscious and responsible way," said Education Minister Claudia Schmied, who has set new focuses for the integration of new technologies in the classroom as part of the efit21 initiative.

Idea competition
Together with Samsung, futurezone.at is launching the Samsung Smart School idea competition. All primary and secondary schools throughout Austria are invited to think about the school of the future, about the classroom of the future, about mobile solutions and interactive teaching, and self-driven learning outside of the classroom. The four winning classes will be equipped with a Samsung Smart School solution starting in the 2013/2014 school year. You can find more information here.

One possibility for making the classroom more intelligent is a digital eBoard. These are displays that are similar to a chalkboard and that have a special surface that allows the teacher to write on them with digital pens. Teaching materials can be projected onto the board electronically when it is connected with a computer.

Smart School project from Samsung
In addition to the eBoards, Samsung`s international Smart School project also uses tablet computers and an integrated teaching platform where teachers and students can interact. This helps to improve test results and increases participation in the classroom. When you think about physics and math classes, for example, you will remember that you did not understand everything the teacher explained right away. The Samsung system makes it possible for students to ask the teacher private questions through the teaching software on the tablet to find out how to solve a problem. The question can be projected onto the white board, and the potential problem can be explained for everyone in detail.

School ship as the first pilot project in Austria
The Samsung Smart School has already been launched in 24 countries, including South Korea, the USA, Germany, Switzerland, England and Thailand. In Austria, the Bertha von Suttner school ship will be one of the first secondary schools to be equipped with the tablets, eBoards and software solution from Samsung. "The increased used of new media is also part of the new, standardized examinations for university entrance that will be introduced throughout Austria starting in the 2014/15 school year. This is one of the reasons why technical equipment has now become such a key issue for schools. We at the Bertha von Suttner school ship are fortunate to be part of the pilot project. This is an important step towards new forms of learning for the school ship," school director Ewald Waba said.

Teachers will no longer need to stand at the chalkboard, but can move freely around the classroom. The homework will be submitted and corrected through the digital teaching platform. Learning apps and schedules can also be called up on the tablets. This will also change the role of the teacher. While they used to have a monopoly on knowledge, in the future, they will primarily be there to support their students. The skills that students are to acquire will also be different. The focus will no longer be on the rigid testing of rote knowledge, but instead researching on the Internet and creating video content.

"IT can significantly increase the level of education"
"I hope that the school of the future moves away from the idea of having a monopoly on information and teaching, and that it instead offers students varied, exciting and explorative learning experiences," said Edith Blaschitz, head of the Center for Media-Based Learning at the Danube University in Krems and co-organizer of the Edudays 2013 next week, which is addressing the question of: "What comes after the textbook?"

This will require not only the know-how, but also a modern IT infrastructure that many schools in Austria do not yet have. "We only have one computer for every five students, and that is not enough. The use of modern computer technologies can significantly increase the level of education," stressed Microsoft Austria`s director Georg Obermeier. Early contact with and use of new technologies is very important for students, both for learning at school and for the rest of their lives.

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