General context, responsibilities and strategies for ICT in education
The Catalan Autonomous Government has full responsibility for primary, secondary and vocational Education. Traditionally Catalonia has always had a strong commitment to education.
The Catalan Ministry of Education (Departament d'Ensenyament de la Generalitat de Catalunya) established a unit in 1986 in order to co-ordinate ICT in schools: the "Programa d'Informàtica Educativa", P.I.E.), which was integrated into the Subdirecció General de Tecnologia de la Informació (S.G.T.I) in 2000 in order to ensure the continuity of this service and a stronger commitment.
The Catalan Ministry of Education provides schools with most of the ICT infrastructures, teacher training framework and curriculum orientation, as shown in the detailed report. However, each school adapts them to its own specific characteristics. Approximately 50 Mio Euro have been invested since 1998 to promote ICT in schools.
The first ICT strategy was initiated in 1986 and based on four main issues:
1. ICT teacher training
2. Content development for integrating
2. ICT in the curriculum
3. Provision of Infrastructure
4. ICT Technical Support
Since 1998 the Education Department and the Telecommunication and Information Society Secretary have been jointly involved in the Project "Argo" for primary and secondary schools, aiming at:
-Increasing the amount of computers in the schools and improving their connectivity. All schools were connected to Internet by the end of 1999. The connection to Internet is being upgraded to wideband access via ADSL in 2002.
-Generalising students' access to the Internet
-Stimulating students' best use of information and communication technologies
-Fostering the availability of multimedia resources, especially in the Catalan language and for the Internet. (Educational Content development)
-Empowering teachers through information technology.
Infrastructure and Support
The Educational Telecommunications Network of Catalonia (XTEC) is an action programme from the Catalan Ministry of Education which acts as Internet Service Provider to Catalan Schools and which is integrated in local international academic networks. It gives Internet access and services to all the schools which have been equipped by the SGTI, allowing the realisation of collaborative team work, both at Catalan, Spanish and International level. XTEC was created in 1988 and transformed into an Internet service in 1995, allowing the use of the World Wide Web and Electronic Mail for the realisation of educational team projects. E-mail addresses are available on request on the XTEC network.It is the base for the realisation of multiple educational activities and experiences between schools from Catalonia and other communities and countries.
At a first stage, all secondary schools and 75% of primary were equipped with computers. All schools were connected to Internet by the end of 1999. The connection to Internet was upgraded to broadband access via ADSL in 2002.This process was completed last April. Several schools have a varied number of computers scattered around other spaces in the school, eventually all of them are connected to the school LAN, together with printers, scanners, digital video and photo kits.
All primary and secondary schools have a teacher with ICT responsibilities (ICT co-ordinator) whose main functions are to disseminate new programmes, help teachers to use them and promote the integration of ICT in their schools.The coordinators in turn are guided and supported by ICT advisors.The technical maintenance is provided by companies under contract with the Department of Education.
Curriculum development mainly focuses on:
-The creation of digital content,
-Design of curriculum proposals of use that better fit a given content
-Dissemination of good practice on ICT integration
-Guidelines for an effective usage
Updated versions and new classrooms resources are disseminated through the regular meetings of ICT co-ordinators as well as in teacher training sessions.They can also access the database with more than 70.000 activity packages from different teachers and in different languages.Clic is an open programme that allows teachers to create educational multimedia materials.It offers the possibility of designing tasks to reinforce many of the skills fostered in the students' curriculum such as matching, identification, memorisation, ordering, classification, completion, exploration, etc.
A special effort is made in Catalonia to provide software and multimedia materials in Catalan, as the dimension of the market for this language is is smaller than for others.
In-service Teacher Training
Since 1986 more than 6.000 courses have been offered to teachers all over Catalonia with the following objectives:
To know the hardware and software available in order to be able to use them;
To be aware of the advantages and possibilities offered by new technologies to help teaching strategies;
To help the integration of ICT tools according to the new curriculum;
To facilitate their autonomy in using them;
To promote didactic innovations and be aware of the social implications of ICT.
The courses are developed both face-to-face and on-line although emphasis is being put on the provision of online courses. During the last years an increasing number of courses in multimedia related topics have also been offered to extend innovative practices into the different curricular areas such as "Learner-centred Learning"and the development of social and team working skills.
The Education Department offers information to teachers about educational activities and services. Following the recommendations of the European Union Summit Conference held in Lisbon, the "Generalitat de Catalunya" -Autonomous Government of Catalonia- launched, in May 2001, the Internet educational portal edu365.com, addressed to all students and their families. edu365.com is an interactive educational environment that can be used by students both at school and at home, which provides the following services:
1. Personal email both for the students and their families.
2. Academic information, including professional and vocational orientation and guidance.
3. Curricular support materials, including individualised coaching of students.
4. A personal digital desk with IT tools, including dictionaries, encyclopaedias, multimedia editors, web-based word processors, language translators and a numerical and symbolic calculator.
5. Personal working space for the students.
Information available in English at: www.edu365.com/guidedtour
For more details and illustrations download the full report here.
Keywords: Spain, educational innovation, educational policy
Last changed: Tuesday, 09 August 2005