Education Talks: Whole-school approach to ICT

Why is the whole-school approach needed for ICT to be beneficial in the long term? How can the European Commission’s SELFIE tool help schools to establish a successful ICT strategy? To find out more, watch the interview with Nikoleta Giannoutsou (Joint Research Centre, EC), and Inne Sanders and Bram Cuyt (GO! Rivierenland school group)!

Nikoleta Giannoutsou, (Joint Research Centre, EC): We have seen inspired and inspiring individuals doing great things with technology in their classroom. While this is admirable, we need to take a step back and ask, is it sufficient? Is it sustainable? Can it have continuity and consistency? At the end of the day, is the use of ICT the business of one individual or of the whole school community? 

Use of ICT should be considered in relation to a set of other things, like the vision of the school, its profile, the digital competences of teachers and the students, the culture of the school, the current teaching and learning practices with and without ICT. It also involves putting in place appropriate processes and roles.

How can schools best progress in their use of ICT?

Nikoleta Giannoutsou: Consider the use of ICT as part of the school development process – and the critical aspect of school development is self-reflection. This means that first we need to see where we stand, what are the strong points and which points need further development. The next step is to devise a plan for the use of ICT according to national policies, national and international developments, and according to our profile, to who we are. Then, we need to implement and monitor the implementation of the plan, and at the end reassess what we have achieved. 

There are several tools designed to support self-reflection of schools, one of which is SELFIE. SELFIE stands for Self-reflection on Effective Learning by Fostering the use of Innovative Educational Technologies. SELFIE is a free online tool available in 39 languages, designed and implemented by the European Commission.

What are the key features of SELFIE?

Nikoleta Giannoutsou: SELFIE in essence offers a structure to the school community to reflect on how digital technologies are used, taking a holistic school-based approach.

This means that reflection involves not only how technologies are used in the classroom but also focuses on issues related to leadership, infrastructure, collaboration and networking, assessment, continued professional development, digital competence of teachers and students.

It also offers to the schools the possibility to add and create up to ten questions according to their needs profiling priorities. A key characteristic of SELFIE is that it does not only involve school leaders and teachers in the process of self-reflection, but also students.

What are the benefits of SELFIE for your school?

Inne Sanders, (GO! Rivierenland school group): About four years ago, I started exploring the world of online tools and what they could mean for supporting my classes. Quickly it became clear that the effects on student learning and motivation were major. We tried spreading the digital bug to our colleagues and were pleased to see that there was a lot of knowledge and interest. The problem was that people didn't know about each other's talents. So, we wanted to determine what our starting position was in matters of digital competences of our teachers, in all their aspects. 

That's where SELFIE was introduced. School leaders, teachers and students filled in the questions based on their own experiences. The results were used to draw up an action plan with a couple of quick wins but where a long-term vision was central. Our ambition with SELFIE is having a clear view on what teachers need to feel confident to grow in their digital skills and teaching methods so our students are able to develop and evolve in the digital skills which are needed to participate in modern society.

Bram Cuyt, (GO! Rivierenland school group): The SELFIE tool is really handy for our principals for several schools. For the digital strategy of our school group we find it really useful to help, to know, really participatively, what the needs of teachers and students are: how they are using this or where they think we are now. Especially these days, when we have had the pandemic and corona, we are trying to keep the positive things especially from hybrid and blended learning, and we are looking forward to using digital skills more in every lesson that we give, and this tool will help us to get there.