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Bringing education into the Information Society

As the Information Society has developed, the use of new information tools in education has grown in importance. Significant steps have been taken world-wide to ensure that schools are able to make best use of the latest technologies to improve the quality of education.

In co...
As the Information Society has developed, the use of new information tools in education has grown in importance. Significant steps have been taken world-wide to ensure that schools are able to make best use of the latest technologies to improve the quality of education.

In countries such as the USA and Japan, as well as in many of the Member States of the EU, both governments and industry are sponsoring initiatives to connect schools to the Internet and, therefore, to each other. There are major discrepancies in connection levels, however, with 33% of US schools connected, compared with 15% in the United Kingdom and 2% in France and Germany.

The European Commission launched an Action Plan "Learning in the Information Society" on 2 October 1996. The aim of this is to connect existing networks of European schools, as well as isolated schools, at European level. In this context the Commission is also organizing a conference on 16 and 17 December 1996, bringing together teachers and policy-makers, entitled "Towards a European electronic network of schools".

However, the Commission recognizes that successful implementation of Information Society tools into education cannot be achieved through infrastructure development alone. The Action Plan will therefore contribute to training teachers and raising awareness of the educational potential of new multimedia and on-line technologies. In addition the Action Plan will support the development of a European educational multimedia industry.

Training teachers in the use of information tools is the subject of a project "Web for Schools", funded by the specific RTD programme in the field of Information Technologies (ESPRIT). This project, which started in March 1996 and will finish in December 1996, will train some 600 teachers in 150 schools from across Europe. The participating teachers have learnt how to create new educational material based on the World Wide Web.

The project has been particularly important as a catalyst for debate on the integration of education into the Information Society. It has also provided valuable insight into the needs of teachers across Europe and ways of addressing them.

Source: European Commission, ISPO
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