Many initiatives have been taken in recent years to improve levels of digitalisation in schools. The education ministry develops and maintains the infrastructure for new technologies in the education and research system with support of the Croatian Academic and Research Network (CARNet) and University Computing Center (Srce).
The latest step is CARNet's pilot project e-Schools: establishing a system for developing digitally mature schools, 2015-18. The main e-Schools project will commence in 2019-22.
The main goal of the pilot project is to establish a system for developing digitally mature primary and secondary schools through piloting and evaluating ICT use in education and business processes in 10% of schools. The project foresees developing and/or implementing: a process informatisation system for schools; a digital content repository; a classroom management system; a learning and organisational analytics system; e-laboratories; digital competences for teachers; and many infrastructure enhancements such as the use of sensors and smart controls in schools. Following the pilot, over two school years, a strategy for the implementation of a digitally mature schools system will be developed.
The pilot project value is over EUR 40 million, jointly funded by ESF and ERDF.
School infrastructure development in 2016 included wireless networks in schools, classroom and staff equipment procurement, and development of strategic project documentation and project web pages. Regional education centres were established, and CARNet upgraded its data centres and network. In total, 131 elementary and secondary schools are being modernised through the project and equipment for the school staff is being procured.
Strategic documents such as the Framework for the digital maturity of schools and digital competences framework were developed. They will enable in-depth analyses of the current state of schools’ digital maturity, identify areas for improvement and provide an overview of competences related to the application of digital technologies and resources within every workplace in a school.
Many dissemination and training activities have taken place: 275 workshops with over 4 300 participants, webinars attended by 1500 participants, and two large conferences.
Results expected in 2017 are:
- completing equipping schools and regional education centres;
- wireless networks in 145 schools;
- creation and implementation of digital content repository, process informatisation system for school learning, organisational analytics system, digital education contents, and e-reading for mandatory school literature;
- evaluation of the project and digital maturing of schools;
- workshops and webinars, and development of two massive online open courses.
With teachers being the foundation of education and students its primary focus, ensuring teacher support is just as important as developing infrastructure. By developing its human resources along with its infrastructure, services and e-content, Croatia can fully harness the potential of digital age in education.