EU teachers need more IT training, report says

New report shows a shortage of IT skills among EU teachers

By Jennifer Baker, IDG News Service |  IT Management

The latest European Union survey of ICT in schools has found that 20 percent of secondary students have never or almost never used a computer in school.

Speaking at the presentation of the survey on Friday, the E.U.'s Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said there was a very real need for more IT skills training for teachers. "ICT skills and training must be available to all students and teachers, not just a lucky few," she said.

Teacher training in ICTs is rarely compulsory, so most teachers are forced to use their spare time to improve ICT skills.

The survey, which takes place every five years, found that although computer numbers have doubled since 2006 -- largely thanks to laptops, tablets and netbooks, which are replacing desktop computers in many schools -- there are still vast differences between Scandinavian and Nordic countries (the best equipment) and countries such as Poland, Romania, Italy, Greece, Hungary and Slovakia.

Only 25 percent of nine-year-olds in the E.U. are in a highly digitally equipped school with recent equipment, fast broadband (10Mbps plus) and high connectivity including email for students and teachers, local area network and virtual learning environment.

The report recommends more investment in teacher training, for example through MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), as well as the creation of ICT coordinator posts. At the E.U. level, the report urges the Commission to work to "reduce divergence in ICT teaching between countries, support projects on new approaches to teaching through digital technologies, support high quality digital learning resources for teachers and regularly monitor progress in the use of digital technologies and digital competence."

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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