SCHOOLS THAT LEARN: THE SPECIFIC CONTRIBUTION OF THE INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES (ICT)
The information and knowledge society (Toffler e Toffler, 2007) where we are merged, demands that school should be a place where you learn to enjoy learning, where you can find a meaning for what you are doing, where you begin a trip to the realm of knowledge, where you may find paths, where you can encourage, motivate and respect the individuals’ own rhythm and feelings. In other words, an education not based simply upon a type of merely passive and reproductive knowledge but, in fact, an education which is the outcome of active thinking, and can keep alive the knowledge you get (Neto, 1999).
School lives on the life that the social players with meaningful roles in it wish to confer upon it. In a society that favours knowledge more and more, school should provide the knowledge, skills, habits and values which cover the variety of the problems and situations the individuals will have to face all through their life, a more unpredictable and changeable way than the one that this institution used trying to give answers to the needs of the past generation (Drucker, 2000).
School, as a crucial element for building the information and knowledge society, should not by any means neglect the role of the ICT in the different educational practices, or it will be held responsible for the increase of the gap between daily life and school reality. It is precisely in this context that the concept of the learning school is born (Senge et al., 2000).
The present paper results of a research made in a private school of the primary education in Portugal and represents a methodological approach that, in global terms, is similar to a case study even though with an intervening character and not only descriptive. It was intended to study the practical use of the potentialities of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) by the school community, namely the teachers, the pupils of the eighth grade and their parents.
The empirical study implied, in detail, two long methodological stages. The first one had as its main purpose the actual and consistently structured introduction of the ICT in the school context. With this purpose, and in a partnership with a group of teachers who teach different subjects to the eighth grade of primary education, a computer science platform, called A Turma do Vasquinho, was drawn and implemented.
In the second stage, and based on a set of diversified methodological procedures, among which there stood the questionnaire survey and the half-structured interview, we tried to analyse the way the pupils, their parents and the teachers were evaluating the impact of the educational intervention taking place and, consequently, the integration of the ICT in the school dynamics.
From the evidence found there have emerged substantive indicators which allow us to conclude that the ICT will actually be able to make come true their most precious pedagogical added value, in our opinion: the potential for educational innovation which may transform the way how the education partners (pupils, teachers and parents) learn, feel and live their school life.