Often maligned as just another one of the Internet booms myriad hypes, e-learnings chasm between theory and performance is being bridged by a new platform from SCHOOL+ that supports rather than imposes technology on Europes classrooms.
The three-year IST project SCHOOL+ project is developing a comprehensive online teaching and learning environment known as SCHOOL+ Microcosmos, which has been tested in 20 European schools at the beginning of this year. Simultaneously, this ICT system is being embedded in a progressive educational approach that will help school fully exploit ICT resources for educational aims.
Instead of virtual classrooms, Microcosmos supports the creation and management of workspaces, where users logon and can participate in multidisciplinary tasks with pupils from different classrooms and countries, and teachers from different fields. The main features of the Microcosmos system include:
Microcosmos is based on the open source platforms Apache, MySQL and PHP, in order not to depend on commercial platforms and to minimise the costs for schools.
The installation is simple and does not require specialised ICT skills, with the whole process - including the installation of Apache, MySQL and PHP - taking less than two hours.
Seen from a technological point of view, Microcosmos is not radically new, as Web-based learning management systems (LMS) or virtual learning environments (VLE) have been around several years. However, Microcosmos uniqueness lies in involving teachers, students and parents in its design along with technologically oriented people. Consortium members described the feedback of end users that participated in the projects educational processes as enthusiastic.
"By putting together a European network of software developers, educational researchers and schools practitioners in a collaborative framework, SCHOOL+ places itself in a very good position to diminish the existing discontinuity between the real users expectations and ICT, and to find its way into schools with heterogeneous educational and cultural backgrounds," says Veronica Samara from Extreme Media Solutions which developed Microcosmos, adding that the projects motto is "technology adapts to the schools needs, not the schools to the technology."
Dr Veronica Samara
Extreme Media Solutions Ltd.
267 Kleisthenous st.
Tel: +30 210 80 33 400
Source: Based on information from SCHOOL+.
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