Interactive games, video chats with peers from different corners of the world, and online tests with multiple answers – these are just some of the favorite activities of modern students during classes. The "digital natives", who grew up using social networks and mobile phones, have different expectations from the school, and these are related to information technologies, which are perceived as part of their lives. The alternatives to traditional lessons and the expectations of the students have been discussed in the "Online Educational Platforms" National Conference, organized by the Academy of Innovation and Change through Education, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research. The event was held at Heritage International School, the place where digital tools are at home.
The "Z" generation prefers to be involved in various processes and to find solutions, to get to know the world through unusul interactions. As a result, teachers are the ones who have to offer them alternatives and develop new skills. The "Online Educational Platforms" national conference, which brought together more than 120 teachers from all over the country, aimed to help the participants in identifying the most accessible digital tools, which could make the teaching-learning-evaluation process more efficient. Daniela Munca-Aftenev, president, Academy of Innovation and Change through Education:
“Teachers need to keep up with the changes that occur in the digital age, to prepare the students to meet the standards imposed by the labor market in the 21st century. In the case of young people, digitized skills are no longer an advantage, but a necessity, and teachers, even if they are the previous generation, are the ones who have to train and develop them right from school.” Angela Prisăcaru, General Consultant, General Education Department, Ministry of Education, Culture and Research:
"Today's students are constantly changing, their demands on teachers are changing, digital technologies are developing very fast and we must make the most of them, in order to motivate children. A recent study made by the OECD on trends for 2030, shows that learning should no longer just happen in the classroom, it must be expanded."
In order to focus on developing the skills needed for the future, Heritage teachers have adapted to the global requirements and are boldly implementing the latest teaching methods. For example, with the help of the Tricider platform, students express their opinions more easily and appreciate the work of other colleagues by voting. Google Forms offers them the opportunity to participate in various online surveys and tests. Skype, Google Hangouts or Adobe Connect are used for video conferences with different schools in other countries. And when it comes to presenting themselves through a video, they choose FlipGrid. Robert Ford, Director of Heritage International School:
“Students react positively when using digital tools, because all children who study at Heritage International School are born in the 21st
century and are used to integrating technologies into their lives. They expect technology to be a part of their lives, and this must happen in education as well. The connection between class and real life is possible through digital tools, and this revolution in education is already delivering results. We allow students to use their phones at school because they need online resources for information. These tools transform Heritage into a 21st
century school. Technologies are not to be used from time to time, in the school of the future we apply them daily.”
"What mark did you get today?" Or "Show me the agenda, to see how you did at school" are non-existent phrases in the vocabulary of parents whose children are studying at Heritage. The reason is simple: at Heritage, the education process is based on modern tools, which offer each parent the opportunity to follow the daily activity in the student's electronic agenda. Teachers, students and parents have access to timetable information, grades and teachers’ comments on each child's academic success. Digital tools have become a norm for Heritage students, and when teachers feel that the existing opportunities are not enough, they create new ones to help children learn more easily.
One of the Heritage teachers set out to offer children an alternative way of studying history. The lessons transmitted online on the history.md platform in video format have quickly caught the attention of the students, who rely on this source even outside the classroom. The project is known not only to students in Moldova, but to those in Romania as well. Tatiana Magaleas, a history teacher at Heritage International School:
“Initially the project was designed for students who could not easily understand the subjects at school or who were absent. But it has been proven that video lessons help them better understand any topic.”
About the advantages and possibilities offered by web tools in preparing young people for the professions of the future, the other participants in the conference also found out. They were impressed by the digital tools used by their colleagues and are ready to take over from their experience. Cristina Davidenco, teacher of primary classes, gymnasium-kindergarten in Merenii Noi, Anenii Noi:
“For primary classes digital tools are simpler. We are also now using word games, dictionaries, new word learning. Following the practical training I found out about Quizlet, an interactive tool used to learn vocabulary, but also Kahoot, meaning the games with multiple response variants, which we can use for evaluation in all areas.” Aliona Barbu, English teacher, "Nicolae Bălcescu" high school from Ciorescu:
"Each time I strive to bring the children the whole earth globe in the classroom. I am glad that I have the opportunity to take some of the success of other teachers and I try to implement them. I was impressed with the "Education for Health" book, presented in the workshops and I thought that this idea could be adapted for English lessons. I hope to have the support of my high school colleagues and to do it together."
At the end of the conference, the results of the competition for the best digital works created by teachers and students were announced. They received diplomas for their innovative work, and the participants have been encouraged to take them over in order to apply them in their schools.