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11 February 2007
TERENA Hosts an EARNEST Schools Workshop in Paris

Computer networking for schools was the topic of a workshop that took place on 10 and 11 February 2007 at La Maison Internationale in the Cité Universitaire of Paris, France. The workshop was attended by 24 people from fifteen European countries. Most of them were teachers, but a number were ICT managers and other experts.

Andrew Perry, an expert seconded to UNI•C (Denmark) by the UK Government Department for Education and Skills (DfES), chaired the workshop. The aim of the event was to provide input for a study of ‘Other Users’ Needs’ in the context of the EARNEST Educational Networking Foresight Study*. The focus of the Paris workshop was junior, middle and secondary schools (age 5-18 year olds).

Attendees shared ideas and knowledge and presented a number of online learning tools and web-based school portals which are already in use today in a number of schools around Europe. These ‘Schools Portals’ stimulate collaboration of both students and teachers, and also empower parents to keep track of homework schedules and coursework as it is set.

Delegates heard the governmental perspective from John Anderson of the Department of Education of Northern Ireland and Marie-Christine Milot, ICT Advisor at the French Ministry of Education. Representatives from some National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), including HEAnet (Ireland), FCCN (Portugal) and ARNES (Slovenia) provided information on the services that already are, or indeed could be, provided. A great deal of work has already taken place in Slovenia, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Norway. Indeed, Slovenia’s schools are now connected to the high-speed ARNES network, and are now receiving direct support and services from the NREN to enable inter-school and international collaboration and the use of new learning tools.

Anders Oleson, a teacher from Denmark, said “We really need to find a way of bridging the gap between the educators on the one hand and the service providers on the other.” The question remains, however, who should or could provide that bridge effectively.

Marco Neves from the Centro de Competência Entre Mar e Serra in Portugal told the group how they had helped realise a rapid development in the provision of Portuguese educational networking for schools, and Mario Marinho, one of the teachers who had benefited from this initiative, explained how this had helped to improve the teaching situation in his school in Portugal.

Many interesting points were raised during the workshop and these will be addressed in the full and final EARNEST report which will be published online and will also be available in hard copy on request from the TERENA secretariat in early 2008.

More information about the EARNEST Foresight Study, or indeed its predecessor, the SERENATE project is available on their websites, or from the TERENA Secretariat.

* EARNEST (Education and Research Networking Evolution Study) is a TERENA Foresight Study into Research and Education Networking about the evolution of research and education networking in Europe and is part of the GÉANT2 Project.