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Open your mind to e-learning


Often maligned as just another one of the Internet boom’s myriad hypes, e-learning’s chasm between theory and performance is being bridged by a new platform from SCHOOL+ that supports rather than imposes technology on Europe’s 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:

  • Support of a process-oriented educational model;
  • Anytime access to the daily responsibilities of pupils and teachers;

  • Autonomous and creative learning;
  • Collaboration within and outside the school;
  • Communication between pupils, teachers, parents, school administrators;
  • Integration and adaptation of the existing ICT school infrastructure in the SCHOOL+ Microcosmos, a critical issue regarding cost-effectiveness for schools and their limited budgets.

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 project’s 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 project’s motto is "technology adapts to the schools’ needs, not the schools to the technology."

Dr Veronica Samara
Extreme Media Solutions Ltd.
267 Kleisthenous st.
GR-15344 Gerakas
Tel: +30 210 80 33 400

Source: Based on information from SCHOOL+.

Tara Morris | IST Rsults
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