About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN09 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 3741-3750
ISBN: 978-84-612-9801-3
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain
TNO is the Dutch Organisation for Applied Scientific Research. One of the domains where TNO is active is education: how can ICT in the classroom enhance learning?

Recently, two TNO researchers have organized a 2-hour inspiration workshop at a primary school in The Hague, for a group of 34 children, all aged 9. The two main goals were: to bring children in contact with innovative educational ICT tools and to get their feedback, and to show teachers in a tangible way that ICT can be an extremely stimulating learning tool.

After a brief presentation on TNO, the workshop started with two challenging cases of mental arithmetic, where the computer could “predict” the correct outcomes. The next activity was a test: by means of a wireless Interactive Response System, the children had to answer multiple-choice questions on subjects that were recently covered by the teacher. The next activity was with split groups: one group used a dance pad as steering gear for a computer game, the other group played two games, especially designed for the occasion, on an interactive whiteboard.

The children really enjoyed the workshop, contrary to their expectations that it would be “dull and complicated”. The class found they learned a lot from it, e.g. that you can learn from the computer and move at the same time, what TNO researchers actually do and the fact that computers will play an increasingly important role in education in the future. The children also made a ranking of the applications that were offered to the class, the Interactive Response System was rated the most promising.

Conditions for success
Success of an initiative such as this ICT workshop depends on a number of factors,
- hardware present at school (computers, smart boards),
- openness/enthusiasm of teachers and school management for ICT usage in an educational environment,
- stimulating content,
- teachers and school management are used to cooperating with third parties,
- cohesion of the class.

Next steps
Next to proposing the workshop as a product to other primary schools, we want to conduct a pilot with the school, testing educational tools, over a longer time period. Also, we will place our efforts in this field in a broader context by teaming up with the foundation Kennisnet. Kennisnet is a Dutch public organization that provides tailor-made ICT support within a broad spectrum of educational target groups in primary, secondary and adult education.

Looking broader at the phenomenon ‘ICT in the classroom’, it seems difficult to find the right way to quickly embed it, and this for several reasons:

Content: in the Netherlands, hardware shortage in the class is less the issue than the availability of content: what to do with the computer or the Smartboard, further than Powerpoint presentations and surfing on the web? How to compile, organize and distribute/present content? What is the right business model for content developers?

Contact between players on the market: the market is very shattered with a high level of customization (content differs from class to class, from school to school). Contacts with class and teacher is crucial, but how to reach them?

Role of the teacher: teachers’ lack of ICT knowledge (no focus on ICT during teachers’ education), the high threshold and limited time to get acquainted with ICT tools might hamper a quick spreading of ICT usage in the classroom.
ict, games, mathematics, primary school.