Schools across Europe to be rated online on how technologically advanced they are
By Michael Shaw
27 September 2013
Schools across Europe are to be given individual public ratings of how digitally advanced they are, based on online feedback from parents, teachers and pupils.
The ratings website is being set up by the European Commission as part of a broader plan to tackle concerns that European schools and universities are falling behind those in other parts of the world in their use of technology.
The official behind the website stressed it would not allow the public to rate individual teachers, like the controversial Rate My Teachers website. However, it would allow parents and students to contribute to public ratings of every school in Europe, including those in the UK.
Thibault Kleiner, who oversees EC internet policies as an advisor to the commission's vice president Neelie Kroes, said the ratings site was one of a series of "simple ideas we think could actually be revolutionary because they could change the game about chools".
"We would like to launch the platform so that families, pupils, students, teachers can actually rate their schools," he said.
"That's something that's sometimes controversial when you talk about teachers. In Europe it's a bit sensitive, but it's a good way to create conversations.
"When parents talk to the headmasters they can talk also about whether technology is used at school, whether new content is used at school, whether there are new ways to communicate between parents and teachers."
Dr Kleiner revealed the plan for the ratings system at a meeting of the European Learning Industry Group in Stockholm.
Afterwards, he stressed that although the site's development had already begun, it would be some months before it was decided what specific aspects of schools' work in technology would be rated,
The website is part of the EC's "Opening Up Education" plan to improve the use of technology in education across member countries by 2020.
Other parts include projects to encourage schools to make more use of free online educational resources, and a planned hub for digitally innovative schools and universities.
The commission will also be supporting countries to ensure that every classroom in Europe has broadband access by 2020, although it is unclear if the UK will benefit from funding as its schools are already close to this goal.
Dr Kleiner said better use of technology was required in schools across Europe because they were failing to keep pace with students' experiences outside the classroom.
"The gap between schools and society is becoming too big," he said. "We have a situation where kids spend their lives - literally - with their digital devices and digital technology and they simply don't find it at school, and this is dangerous for education institutions because if they don't adapt they will simply become irrelevant."
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