School Innovation Forum 2022: a day to rethink the schools of tomorrow

European education experts from the private and public sector met in Brussels to rethink the role of pedagogy, technology, and design in the classroom, at the third edition of the School Innovation Forum, on 9 and 10 June 2022.

We invite you to rewatch the live event which is available on our YouTube's channel



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Hosted by European Schoolnet, the event generated great discussions and face-to-face meetings, with about a hundred participants attending the event onsite. Leading experts in the transformation of the education systems analysed current trends and shared best practices on the integration of technologies in the classroom and the importance of fostering collaboration and strengthening public-private partnerships.

At the same time, the Forum was the perfect occasion to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Future Classroom Lab (FCL)Representatives from European Ministries of education, European Institutions, practitioners, and industry partners of the Future Classroom Lab reiterated and strengthened their commitment and support to the Lab, as an inspirational learning environment enabling, both, the private and public sector to rethink the role of pedagogy, technology, and space in the classroom and to pilot new and emerging EdTech solutions and tools in classrooms and schools.

To date, the FCL ecosystem involves about 30 industry partners, more than 100 Labs, a FCL training and teaching programme from which over 7,000 people have benefited in the past 10 years, a network of more than 15 Ambassadors, a validation programme, and a series of guidelines and research published on the FCL website.

Trends in Europe's education

During his opening address, Marc Durando - Executive Director of European Schoolnet, emphasised that technology in general and digital education have gained a stronger role in the past years, especially during the pandemic. However, technology is only one of the factors that can foster innovation and advancement in education. Nevertheless, Mr Durando reminded that technology does not bridge inequalities in education on its own and that diversity and inclusion should be addressed responsibly. "It is our responsibility to design educational technologies to address issues of inclusion, equity, and diversity." says Mr. Durando.

In addition, Mr Durando reminded of the importance of research into the use and management of data, so that is done in an ethical and responsible way.

Rehana Schwinninger-Ladak, Head of the Unit "Interactive technologies, Digital for Culture and Education", at DG CONNECT, European Commission, agreed that "Technology by itself is not the silver bullet", and must be properly embedded in pedagogy. In addition, the Head of Unit stated that lifelong learning opportunities should become available to a wider range of young people. To achieve these goals of making the European education system more inclusive, more sustainable and more digitaly native, the European Commission launched in September 2020 the Digital Education action plan. The plan focuses on developing a high performing digital education ecosystem and improving digital skills and competences for everyone involved in education and training".

At the same time, one of the Commission's goals by 2030 is to offer connectivity to all EU households, and access to 5G to all populated areas, as well as access to internet to all schools.

The Head of Unit highlighted the important role that teachers will play in achieving these goals and anticipated that two new guidelines for teachers will be soon published: one will tackle misinformation and the other one will address the use and management of data.

Digital technologies can only have a positive impact on our education system if these innovations are used by well-trained teachers with solid pedagogical resources at their disposal. That is why, with the support of the European Commission, European Schoolnet has been participating in projects such as CodeWeek, Digital Skills jobs platform which focus on developing the digital literacy of European citizens.


Opportunities and lessons from the pandemic

Tracey Burns, Strategic Advisor and Distinguished Research Fellow at National Center on Education and the Economy (USA) reflected on the opportunities to be seized post COVID 19. According to her, a renewed interest in well-being, both physical and emotional, at school is very positive. There is, however, a need to reflect this aspect of well-being in policy- which is starting in countries like Norway, New Zealand, Czech Republic, US, or Belgium.

Another positive lesson from the pandemic shared by Ms Burns was the new focus and efforts to bridge schools' inequalities, and the importance placed to build a system of resilience that can adapt to new challenges in an effective and pedagogically meaningful way, to get prepared for future eventualities and disruptions.

The need for a public-private partnership

Creating the schools of the future as we imagine them requires the collaboration of all stakeholders involved in our educational ecosystem. During the School Innovation Forum, our keynote speakers presented the importance and benefits of collaboration between the private sector, particularly the EdTech sector and the public sector to help schools and teachers; The private sector's role adds value to education due to its agility and its availability to adapt to everyone's needs. However, there is still hear and mistrust in the private sector, to address this. Beth Havinga, Managing Director European EdTech Alliance proposed to build an innovation ecosystem together which at its core will define transparency and boundaries, to create true climate of trust and cooperation.

"We can better define public-private partnerships, which can be key to future proofing educational systems and protecting values driven education needs. To achieve this, it is imperative to define very clearly the objectives and needs, which may be multiple."

To what extent can schools be supported?

Our experts have pointed out the importance of training for teachers, the development of appropriate infrastructure by the public and private sector in understanding how to use the new technology and make their classrooms more dynamic and more conducive to new learning models. But according to Georgi Dimitrov, Head of Unit Digital Education at the European Commission, DG EAC it is essential to identify the needs of each school upfront. By placing schools, teachers and students at the centre of our educational policy and economic decisions, we give them the opportunity to choose the best platform according to their needs and the educational resources that make sense for them. In his closing speech, Jan de Craemer, Chair of European Schoolnet stressed that "Schools should not be passive consumers of educational technology. Instead, schools should be in the forefront of technological developments for learning and teaching".

And this freedom to learn and explore is reflected in the Future Classroom Lab by European Schoolnet. This innovative hub will remain our cornerstone in European Schoolnet's work to develop new approaches to innovation in the teaching and learning process. The FCL will also remain the hope for in-service training, and it will be more than ever at the centre of European Schoolnet's policy to improve the digital skills of those involved in our educational ecosystem.

We invite you to review the key moments of the School Innovation Forum through a live illustration by Katie Chappell.