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Study Report

Virtual Learning Platforms in Europe:


What can we learn from experience in Denmark,
the United Kingdom and Spain?
A Comparative Overview

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Contents
Foreword. ................................................................................................................................................. 5
The approach................................................................................................................................ 6
The concept of the virtual learning platform..................................................................... 7
Main conclusions of the study............................................................................................... 8

Part One: A European overview.................................................................................................. 11

Different contexts. ........................................................................................................................ 12

The United Kingdom: substantial resources and coordinated action. ............... 14


Facts and figures....................................................................................................................... 14
ICTE Policy in the United Kingdom.................................................................................... 15
Virtual Learning Platforms...................................................................................................... 20
A case study: GLOW (Scotland).......................................................................................... 27

Denmark: a pragmatic approach shaped by teacher demand............................... 32


Facts and figures....................................................................................................................... 32
ICTE policy in Denmark. ......................................................................................................... 34
Virtual Learning Platforms...................................................................................................... 36
Success Factors........................................................................................................................ 43

Spain – Andalusia and Catalonia: different regional approaches .


but both based on open-source software. ....................................................................... 44
Facts and figures....................................................................................................................... 44
ICTE policy in Spain................................................................................................................. 46
Virtual Learning Platforms...................................................................................................... 47
The case of Andalusia............................................................................................................. 47
The Case of Catalonia............................................................................................................. 55

Part Two: What can we learn from experience in other countries?.......................... 63

Current state of deployment.................................................................................................... 64

Deployment models..................................................................................................................... 64
Phased progression. ................................................................................................................ 64
Variable level of prescription................................................................................................. 65
Combination of bottom-up and top-down approaches............................................. 66

Governance...................................................................................................................................... 67

Uses..................................................................................................................................................... 68

Success Factors............................................................................................................................ 69

Conclusions. ......................................................................................................................................... 70

Appendices............................................................................................................................................ 72
Appendix 1: Authors and experts interviewed............................................................... 72
Appendix 2: Bibliography....................................................................................................... 76
Appendix 3: Supplementary information on the United Kingdom.......................... 80
Acknowledgements.................................................................................................................. 84
4 

Study Report
November 2010 5

Foreword

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are now part of the European educational landscape, with
variations between schools, between different levels of education (ICTs are more integrated into secondary
than primary education), and between different countries.

With the proliferation of ICT equipment and the pedagogical approaches underpinning it, the concept of
virtual learning platforms1 has emerged in several educational systems. In France, such systems are generally
referred to as digital workspaces (espaces numériques de travail, ENT) and since 2003 they have been the
basis for pilot projects that are now being rolled out more widely. The Caisse des dépôts, in close partnership
with the Ministry of Education, has become involved and now supports many projects in this area.

These platforms are part of an holistic approach, in that they have multiple utilisation: educationally, in
communication, and in administrative management involving handling large volumes of information relating
to schools and pupils. All these school functions are affected by these tools, as are all the actors: teachers,
pupils, parents, administrative staff and, in many cases, local authorities. While they are a powerful lever for
changing and modernising education systems, these platforms are particularly complex to implement given
the multitude of functions and actors involved.

Given this complexity and the importance of the issues, we should ask how things are done elsewhere, in
other education systems. This is precisely what the Caisse des dépôts has done by commissioning European
Schoolnet, a network of 31 ministries responsible for innovation and for ICTs applied to education, to conduct
a study comparing the situation in three countries that are particularly advanced in this area: Denmark, the
United Kingdom, and Spain, and more specifically Andalusia and Catalonia.

Do these platforms offer the same services in different countries? What models have been deployed? How
was their implementation managed? What practices were followed? What are the factors that facilitate
their diffusion? These are the main questions to which this report provides a first set of answers, while also
highlighting issues specific to the education system concerned.

1 Virtual Learning Platform (in French plateforme virtuelle d’apprentissage) is the generic term used in this report to portray the French
situation and its digital workspaces as well as similar environments in other countries.
6 


The Approach

This study offers an analysis of policies and initiatives in the field of virtual learning platforms in Denmark, the
United Kingdom and Spain (Andalusia and Catalonia).

The analysis was entrusted by the Caisse des dépôts to European Schoolnet, a network of 31 Ministries
of Education in Europe and beyond, whose mission is to integrate innovation and the information and
communication technologies into the teaching and learning processes for the benefit of ministries, schools,
teachers and researchers.

The reference grid for investigation and the methodology of the whole study were established at the launch
meeting for the study held in the premises of the Caisse des dépôts in Paris on 19 June 2009. The members
of the Steering Committee of the study and the Virtual Learning Platform project managers Group took
part in the meeting. It was agreed that European Schoolnet would analyse the main reference documents
(policy documents, legislation and regulations, guidelines for implementation, implementation and evaluation
reports, etc.) available in each of the countries concerned and complement this work with interviews with key
protagonists in these initiatives. The participants also agreed that the results of the investigation would be
presented in the form of national reports, together with a comparative overview that highlights the similarities
and differences between the three countries.

To implement this methodology, European Schoolnet identified in each country a national correspondent who
would identify the relevant documents and reports in all three countries, provide the necessary contextual
information, and identify the persons to be interviewed by European Schoolnet. The list of correspondents and
interviewees by country, and the authors of the national and comparative reports are presented in Appendix 1.

The results of investigations in each country were presented to all members of the Steering Committee
and Virtual Learning Platform project managers Group as soon as each was finalised. The situation in the
United Kingdom was presented and discussed at a meeting of the digital workspace project managers at the
Ludovia Summer University (Ax-les-Thermes) on 26 August 2009. The situation in Denmark was presented at
a meeting of the digital workspace project managers at the Educatice event at the Education Fair in Paris on
20 November 2009. The situation in Spain and the general conclusions of the investigation were presented in
detail and debated at a summing-up meeting on 4 May 2010 at the premises of the Caisse des dépôts in Paris.

The first part of this study report provides a summary of each national situation according to a common
structure that addresses key features of existing platforms, the services they offer, the status of their
deployment, their modes of deployment and governance, their uses and the success factors determining
their wider deployment. The second part of the report compares these three national situations in terms of
these aspects and identifies common points and differences. Some general lessons derived from this are
presented in conclusion. The detailed country reports are available on the website of the Caisse des dépôts.
7

The concept of the virtual learning platform

Analysing a system such as virtual learning platforms in different national or regional educational contexts, and
doing so in different languages, requires as a starting point a generic definition of such a system that makes
it possible to address different realities.

To conduct our analysis, we first adopted the definition of a digital workspace (espace numérique de travail,
ENT) given by the French Ministry of Education: “A digital workspace is a comprehensive system providing
a user with a unified point of access through the networks to all the tools, content and applications related
to his or her activity. It is a unified point of entry to access the information system of the administration of the
institution or school…. The digital workspace is intended for all members of the educational community in an
institution (primary school, lower secondary school, lycée, or higher education institution), for example pupils,
parents, students, teachers, administrative, technical and managerial staff, and, where appropriate, partners
of the education system. […] In terms of architecture, a digital workspace is organised around three sets
of services: applications (e.g. address book, diary, timetable, notes, newsletters, etc.); core services which
support the applications (e.g. directory, identity and access management, presentation and customisation of
the services offered, etc.); network services which bring the services together around infrastructures (internal
networks, Internet, etc.) and security features (firewall, antivirus, etc.)”.2 As such, the digital workspace is an
institutional information and communication system, offering each user simple, dedicated, secure access
to the tools and content he/she needs for his/her activity in the education system. In order to specify the
services expected and its technical recommendations, the Ministry has drawn up the SDET (Schéma directeur
des espaces numériques de travail, Digital Workspace Master Plan), which addresses, among other matters,
questions of interoperability, authentication, authorisation, and single sign-on.

In order to extend this reference framework geographically to embrace approaches in other European
countries, we also took account of the definition of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) used in the United
Kingdom. The Department for Education and Skills has defined a VLE as follows: “It is an umbrella term that
describes a broad range of ICT systems used to deliver and support learning. As a minimum, we expect it
to combine communication and collaboration tools, secure individual online working space, tools to enable
teachers to manage and tailor content to user needs, pupil progress tracking and anytime/anywhere access.”

In all cases, these definitions refer to the concepts conditioning the design of virtual learning platforms
implementation. This obviously does not rule out discrepancies in the very diverse ways they are currently
being implemented by regional and local authorities and by educational institutions.

2 http://www.educnet.education.fr/services/ent/sdet
8 


Main conclusions of the study

What lessons can be learned from experience in other countries?

Our findings:

As regards the deployment of virtual learning platforms:


• It is gradual, generally slower than expected, and, depending on the case, concerns 40-55% of schools
in the United Kingdom, Andalusia and Catalonia. In Denmark, however, 97% of state schools delivering
compulsory education have a virtual platform.
• It is usually based on a combination of top-down approaches (those initiated by the responsible authority)
and bottom-up approaches (initiated at the “grass roots” level), with the exception of Andalusia, where the
top-down approach is clearly more pronounced.
• The governance of the process deployed – and of its follow-up after the platforms are operational – is based
in Denmark on very close involvement of stakeholders; elsewhere, it is based on a clear but sometimes
complex division of responsibilities in terms of implementation.

As regards their use:


• Communication between teachers and the management and organisation of school life are the most
advanced uses, as opposed to educational uses, which are considerably less developed, whether in the
United Kingdom, Denmark, Andalusia or Catalonia; active pupil participation remains limited in all countries,
but in Denmark such participation is seen as being supported by the fact that the curriculum encourages
project-based teaching.
• Communication with parents has only really been developed in Denmark.
• Administrative uses are very advanced in the United Kingdom, and are growing in Andalusia; generally this
reflects the need to reduce administrative burdens in areas responsible for a significant number of schools.

Success Factors

In terms of the general approach adopted:


• Consider the implementation of virtual learning platforms first and foremost as a process (objectives,
strategies, partners, stages, etc.). and not as an essentially technological intervention.
• Organise active, close participation by the different stakeholders (teachers, local authorities, commercial
publishers of digital educational content, etc.), in ways and with an intensity appropriate to their respective
roles in the virtual learning platform system, from the outset and throughout the process.
• Direct the technology towards educational objectives immediately – from platform design to implementation.
• Bring together the resources and multifaceted expertise required to carry through projects of the scope and
complexity typical of virtual learning platforms.
• Organise (quasi-) permanent access to ICT equipment at school level, particularly in classrooms rather than
in dedicated laboratories.
9

In managing the implementation process:


•B e pragmatic and patient at all stages of the process.
•C arry out more or less formalised evaluations, either integrated into the process itself or at regular intervals,
to allow for any necessary adjustments or corrections en route.
•U se virtual platforms to solve recognised problems of organisation or teaching or to simplify unavoidable
procedures.

In supporting teachers:
•D evelop programmes and actions for training teachers not only in ICT and platform operation, but also in
their pedagogical use, bearing in mind the value of running such courses online.
•P rovide technical support, available during usage time (school hours and even outside these) and capable
of responding quickly and effectively to spare teachers from technical tasks and enable them to concentrate
on pedagogical aspects.
10 

Part One

A European overview
Different contexts

Policies on implementing virtual learning platforms reflect differing contexts in different countries, given
variations in household computer equipment, the ways it is used, the features of the education system itself,
and the particular policies for the integration of Information and Communication Technologies in Education
(ICTE). Some factors assist these policies, others may hinder them. Without identifying in detail the impact
of each of these features on the implementation of virtual learning platforms, it is useful to recall these key
contextual differences before embarking on the description of national policies and the measures implemented.

According to Eurostat 2009 data, in Denmark 85% of households have access to a home computer, 71% in
the United Kingdom, and 57% in Spain. 76% of Danish households have a broadband connection, compared
to 69% in the UK, and 51% in Spain.

The sizes of the respective populations vary considerably. Simply in terms of primary and secondary school
students, the United Kingdom has just over 10 million, Spain more than 5.5 million, and Denmark just over
900,000 (source: OECD 2007). The number of pupils thus varies on a scale of 1 to 10, which raises issues
of scale and nature in implementing systems as complex as virtual learning platforms. The regionalisation of
some systems, as in the United Kingdom and Spain, to some extent offsets the problems of scale by reducing
the size of the populations concerned. In the case of the United Kingdom, England, Wales, Scotland and
Northern Ireland each have their own educational system. England itself nonetheless still has some 7 million
pupils. The division of Spain into 17 Autonomous Communities (regions) means that Andalusia and Catalonia,
the regions studied here, which together account for about 45% of Spanish pupils, have 1.5 million and
1.2 million primary and secondary students respectively.

Teachers – key players with regard to virtual learning platforms – also face different situations in different
countries in terms of their employment status and continuing education. They are public-sector employees
with a status of contract staff in Denmark and the United Kingdom, where they are employed respectively
by the local authority and the educational institution (or sometimes the local authority). In-service training is
compulsory in the United Kingdom; in Spain it is optional but taken into account in career progression; and in
Denmark it is optional without particular incentives.
13

The curriculum – differing in the nature of its objectives and its degree of specificity - is another differentiating
factor between the countries studied that can facilitate or complicate the use of virtual learning platforms. The
Danish curriculum lays down some major objectives centrally, leaving schools considerable leeway. The United
Kingdom defines skills rather than contents to be taught, and uses standardised tests by level to measure
results and ensure a degree of homogeneity. In Spain, central government defines the core curriculum, leaving
the Autonomous Communities (regions) and institutions scope to adapt the programme to the local context.

In terms of the areas targeted by the major national or regional ICTE initiatives, there is, however, greater
similarity. Denmark, Spain and the United Kingdom have all focused their efforts on equipment and connectivity,
the development of digital learning resources, teacher training, and curriculum adaptation. Different emphases
have naturally been placed on one or the other of these aspects. Spain has from the outset focused on
the pedagogical use of ICTE. The United Kingdom is certainly in the forefront as regards digital content,
metadata and interoperability standards. Denmark has also concentrated on other areas of thinking and
action, particularly as regards public/private partnerships with commercial publishers and the spatial and
temporal organisation of education (use of ICTE outside school in general and virtual platforms in particular).
The United Kingdom: substantial resources
and coordinated actions

Policy on education and information and communication technology (ICT) has been one of the major
priorities in Britain for many years. The establishment of the National Grid for Learning (NGfL), a national-
scale platform for education and training, has been a major strategic focus. After decentralisation, which
conferred greater autonomy, the nations have continued to develop specific regional strategies in the field
of ICT, following the NGfL model and sharing common goals: improving quality, promoting integration,
and personalising learning.

Hardware, infrastructure, connectivity and content have improved significantly in the United Kingdom
and increasing numbers of teachers make use of ICT. However, despite considerable investment and
increased use, the integration and systematic transformation of learning models remain difficult. This is
also true of virtual learning platforms. The number of schools using these platforms grows every year, but
their use within schools and among schools remains uneven. As with ICT as a whole, it is clear that supply
is a necessary but not sufficient factor in adoption and that several other factors related to governance,
supply, training, support, and the nature of the curriculum have to be considered.

The GLOW platform, developed in Scotland and open to all Scottish schools, is a particularly interesting
example to analyse in terms of mode of governance and the success factors that have led to widespread
use by its target audiences.

Facts and figures

Organisation of the education system


The United Kingdom comprises four nations: England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. From 1999,
devolved government began to be introduced, with central government retaining its powers in areas of national
sovereignty such as foreign policy, defence, energy, etc. However, a number of areas including education
and training are now the responsibility of the respective Assemblies for Wales and Northern Ireland and the
Scottish Parliament.
The British educational system therefore consists of the English, Welsh, and Northern Ireland systems, which
are relatively similar, and a somewhat different Scottish system.
Accordingly, the information presented below refers to measures and observations valid either for the UK as a
whole or for one or other of its nations; the territory concerned is indicated in each case. The case of Scotland
is examined in more detail, through a study of the implementation of the GLOW virtual teaching platform.

In all four nations, education is compulsory from age 5 to 16 (from age 4 in Northern Ireland). There are
two levels of compulsory schooling: primary school for pupils aged five to eleven (twelve in Scotland) and
(lower) secondary education for pupils aged eleven to sixteen (twelve to sixteen in Scotland).
Post-compulsory secondary education consists of two years (age sixteen to eighteen) and leads to A-level
qualifications which give access to higher education. At the end of compulsory education, students can,
alternatively, opt for ‘further education’, which includes various forms of non-university education for 16-19
year olds.
15

Some figures (sources: Department for Children, Schools and Families, Northern Ireland Department of Education Statistics and
Research Branch, decentralised Scottish Executive Scotland. Reference year 2008-09)

England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland


Pupils (Primary and Secondary) 7.176.800 468.543 674.817 314.581
Teachers (Primary and Secondary) 713.000 25.051 42.128 18.102
Schools (state and private) 20.588 1.731 2.560 1.117

Most teachers are employed on contracts with the educational institution. Teachers’ participation in continuing
education is obligatory.
The educational systems of the four nations each have their own inspectorate.

Governance of the education system


Within each of the four nations, responsibilities are divided across three levels: the local area level, the school
management, and its board of governors.
Two tables summarising the distribution of powers as between and within each of the nations have been
drawn up. Because of the amount of information presented and the format of these tables, they are placed
in Appendix 3.

ICTE Policy in the United Kingdom

Major initiatives

BECTA3
BECTA (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) is the government agency specifically
charged with promoting the integration of ICT in the UK education system.
BECTA works primarily with the DCSF (Department for Children, Schools and Families) and BIS (Department
for Business, Innovation and Skills) to support their activities, and cooperates directly with schools, local
authorities and industry.
Its remit and areas of expertise are defined as follows:
• Advice to government in BECTA areas of expertise
• Coordination of e-education strategy
• Analysis and Research
• Strategic partner in initiatives and implementation programmes
BECTA is based in Coventry.

Since 1997, transforming education through ICT has been one of the programme priorities of the British
government. Between 1997 and 2007 more than £5 billion were invested in a wide range of strategies and
projects in this field. As under earlier governments, economic and educational policies were closely aligned,
but in contrast to previous governments, ICTs have played a key role in this alignment.
ICT policy and strategy in the UK in general and England in particular, developed gradually focusing on three
areas, namely infrastructure/connectivity, content, and training, which is divided into several phases.

3 In May 2010, the incoming coalition government announced a package of public sector which included the closure of Becta by March
2011. Some of Becta's responsability will be transferred to the Department for Education and others will be taken up by other organisations.
16 The United Kingdom: substantial resources and coordinated actions


The National Grid for Learning – NGfL


In 1997, the Government published a consultation paper, Connecting the Learning Society: National Grid
for Learning, in which the objectives of the NGfL network are set out as follows:

• provide a national focus and agenda for harnessing new technologies to raise educational standards,
and improve quality of life and Britain’s international competitiveness, especially the new literacy and
numeracy targets;
• remove barriers to learning, ensuring opportunities for access for all, including those in isolated areas
and those with special needs;
• provide high quality software, content and services which are relevant and differentiated according to
needs;
• stimulate public/private partnerships, bringing together the best of private sector creativity and the
highest standards of public service; ensure that nothing is provided at public expense, which otherwise
could be provided commercially of good quality and reasonable cost.

The NGfL initiative was seen as a way to exploit the potential of ICT to improve the quality of education
through the provision of infrastructure, content and training. The platform offered a service and an
infrastructure network providing access to educational content and an array of support services for
teaching, learning, training and management. It was also accessible from home, where it could be used for
homework, research, home-school links, career development, job search and retraining.

New Opportunities Lottery-Fund Training (NOF)


The New Opportunities Lottery-Fund Training initiative, launched in 1998 and associated with the NGfL
initiative aimed to “raise the standard of pupils’ achievements by raising the expertise of serving teachers
in the use of ICT in subject teaching to the level expected of newly qualified teachers.” It targeted all teach-
ers and librarians in UK primary and secondary schools and the training was provided by local training
providers. Implemented in 1999-2002, the programme received an allocation of £230 million. In England,
395,000 teachers received training at a per capita cost of £450.

The learning outcomes expected by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) were in particular:
• knowledge and understanding of the contribution that the various aspects of ICT can bring to the teach-
ing of specific subjects;
• effective planning, including the use of ICT in course preparation and in the selection and organisation
of ICT resources;
• use of ICT for whole-class teaching;
• assessment of learning material by students when ICT has been successfully integrated into education;
• use of ICT to keep abreast of latest developments, share best practices and reduce bureaucracy.

Evaluations conducted at the beginning of the initiative revealed problems to be addressed in terms of
teachers' relatively low IT skills, training models that did not reflect local needs, difficulties facing teachers
in online training, and quality sacrificed to meet deadlines. However, quality assurance implemented by the
various agencies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland enabled these problems to be overcome,
leading to high success rates for the initiatives.
17

Curriculum OnLine (COL)


The availability of digital resources to assist classroom activities has been at the heart of ICT strategy. At the
same time, the Government pledged to make its digital content industry one of the world leaders.

To this end, in 2002 it launched the Curriculum Online (COL) initiative, again in the framework of the NGfL
strategy. The COL website gave teachers access to a wide range of digital resources to support their
teaching. These resources were produced commercially by accredited organisations; in this initiative,
schools in England received funding in the form of online learning credits to buy digital content on the COL
website. Between 2003 and 2006, £100 million were released each year.

An evaluation of COL in 2002 considered three aspects: educational impact, operational efficiency,
and impact on the sector. The findings highlighted inadequate communication infrastructure, as well as
problems with website design and with industry’s understanding of online e-learning credits. The study also
highlighted many positive aspects, including increased use of digital resources by teachers in planning their
lessons and in class, better understanding by teachers and pupils of the contribution of digital resources to
supporting diverse learning styles, increased centralisation of digital content purchasing among secondary
schools, and higher sales by content providers.

The initiative ended in 2008.

Harnessing Technology: Transforming Learning and Children’s Services


The main objectives of this strategy, launched in 2005, were to:
• transform teaching and learning and help to improve outcomes for children and young people, through
shared ideas, more engaging lessons and online help for professionals
• engage 'hard to reach' learners, with special needs support, more motivating learning, and more choice
about how and where to learn
• build an open accessible system, with more information and services online for parents and carers,
children, young people, adult learners and employers; and more cross-organisation collaboration to
improve personalised support and choice
• achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness, with online research, access to shared ideas and lesson
plans, improved systems and processes in children's services, shared procurement and easier
administration

To achieve these goals, six priorities were identified:


• an integrated online information service for all citizens
• integrated online personal support for children and learners
• a collaborative approach towards personalised learning
• a high quality ICT training and support package for practitioners
• a leadership and development package for organisational capability in ICT
• a common digital infrastructure to support transformation and reform.

A budget of £640 million (about 720 million euros) was assigned to this initiative for the period 2008-2011.
18 The United Kingdom: substantial resources and coordinated actions


Digital resources
In the United Kingdom, content has been – and still is – perceived as central to the integration of ICTs in
education and as a means of encouraging teachers to use them. In this light, the changing patterns of
distribution, access and use of content and how this evolution is reflected in the content market in the United
Kingdom, are of particular importance.

The first services implemented were financed by public funds and were freely accessible to end users.
However, there has been a move towards mixed services or even exclusively commercial services set up by
private companies.

Federations of suppliers offer resources to schools and many of them offer substantial discounts to local
education authorities that agree to buy licenses for all schools in their area. These economies of scale have the
effect of broadening the range of materials available to schools at a lower price than for individual purchases.

Regional Broadband Consortia are groups of local authorities established to procure cost-effective broadband
connectivity for schools in England. Initially, there were ten RBCs covering 139 of the 150 local authorities. In
2006, they were extended to represent the ten learning networks in England, C2K in Northern Ireland, GLOW
in Scotland, and the Welsh National Grid for Learning. The 13 consortia together form the National Education
Network, NEN. This provides schools with access to a range of online services and downloadable content
from the consortia, for pupils in Key Stages 1-4. This content is developed in accordance with the national
curriculum and can be customised for use in other countries. Much of the content has been developed by
local education authorities and teachers. It is available free to teachers and support organisations.

Regional Broadband Consortia (RBCs) (source: BECTA)


19

By way of examples, these are some of the initiatives implemented in the field of digital resources:

• National Digital Resource Bank (NDRB, www.nwlg.org/projects.html) is a national bank of digital


resources, managed by the North-West Grid for Learning, which covers various areas of the national
curriculum. The resources are available under perpetual licenses free of copyright. They have been classified
and tagged to be used on learning platforms compliant with SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference
Model) e-learning standards. Members are invited to contribute by publishing content and to host other
publicly funded digital resources for sharing.

• Global Grid for Learning (GGfL, www.globalgridforlearning.com) is a worldwide network for learning,
which offers content from publishers and other content providers around the world, representing thousands
of resources. This is a subscription service of Cambridge University Press, which offers over a million
digital resources in a variety of formats, downloadable free of copyright, from thousands of resources from
around the world. Through this network, schools can access the resources of hundreds of museums and art
galleries, photographers and other artists all over the world, whose information is accessible for educational
purposes.

• The Joint Information Systems Collections (JISC, www.jisccollections.ac.uk): this collections service
of the Joint Information Services Committee (JISC) is a central negotiation point, issuing licenses on a
national scale for electronic resources for post-compulsory and higher education. JISC Collections has been
invited to extend the scope of its services to all primary and secondary schools in the UK, in partnership
with BECTA, which would provide funding (resources in the pilot phase: Education Image Gallery, Grove Art
Online, Grove Music Online, The Guardian and Observer Digital Archive, History Study Centre, Keesing’s
World News Archive, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford Language Dictionaries Online, Oxford
Reference Online, Science Resource Center and The Times Digital Archive).

• Online Distribution Engine (ODE) (www.odeworld.co.uk/) is a federation of British producers of


commercial content, described approximately as the iTunes® of digital learning content. It requires no
subscription, pre-registration or license. Registration and use of ODE are free and the user is invited to
purchase only the content he/she needs, which can be downloaded and used offline. ODE aims to give
teachers access to digital content (for purchase or rental) where they can find videos, worksheets, lesson
plans, games, cartoons, tools, interactive activities, files audio and other ebooks. Teachers can also create
lists of digital content to meet specific teaching situations that revise small parts of the curriculum. The
content comes from a whole range of educational content publishers who have agreed to their content
being distributed in a separately billed sub-divided format. Each video, Flash game, audio file, spreadsheet,
exam paper, presentation or interactive tool can be sampled, purchased and downloaded. Much of the
content is also SCORM compliant and can be downloaded and stored in a learning platform or virtual
learning environment.

• Film & Sound Online (www.filmandsound.ac.uk/) offers a set of collections of films, videos and audio files,
funded by the JISC Committee. Hundreds of hours of high quality content are available for download in their
entirety or in part, to be used free of charge in learning, teaching and research. Access requires registration.
20 The United Kingdom: substantial resources and coordinated actions


It should be noted that in the area of content and standards, BECTA (the British Educational Communications
and Technology Agency), with the help of partners, has developed a British metadata standard based on the
IEEE standard Learning Object Metadata (LOM) used by content providers to tag their content.4 Many learning
platforms have integrated this vocabulary into their metadata systems so that resources produced by teachers
can be tagged and easily identified by other users. Although the terms used in this standard were created to
reflect the needs of the national curriculum, they can be customised to match the curricula of different regions.
Meanwhile, ongoing developments in SCORM standards are closely monitored by BECTA and compliance
with these standards is one of the priority characteristics assigned to their learning platforms.

Virtual Learning Platforms

Context
The DfES (Department for Education and Skills) at one point defined learning platforms as follows:
« It is an umbrella term that describes a broad range of ICT systems used to deliver and support learning.
As a minimum, we expect it to combine communication and collaboration tools, secure individual online
working space, tools to enable teachers to manage and tailor content to user needs, pupil progress tracking
and anytime/anywhere access. You might hear the term learning platform being applied to a virtual learning
environment (VLE) or to the components of a managed learning environment (MLE) ».

The specification document for these platforms published by BECTA also states that “a learning platform
is not expected to be a single product but rather a collection of interoperable systems or modules…. Each
may perform discrete functions, but collectively they should deliver the requirements.” So the term “learning
platform” incorporates the notion of a set of modules or services that interact. This definition differs from
the original concept of the virtual learning environment, which was essentially an integrated set of services
presented together in a common interface. Initially, many of these virtual environments mainly consisted of
closed proprietary systems.

In early 2000, schools started to discover the virtual learning environment. The priorities identified under the
major policy initiatives led to a series of activities aimed at providing every child with an online personalised
learning space by 2008 and every school with its own integrated management and learning system by 2010.
Schools have made considerable investments in learning platforms. At the same time, many local authorities
offered centralised learning platforms for the schools in their area.

4 Metadata Guide for Tagging, version 1.11, Curriculum Online, produced by the DfES in collaboration with Simulacra, Schemeta, 2003,
available at: http://industry.becta.org.uk/content_files/industry/resources/Key% 20docs/metadata_guide_tagging_v1_11.pdf
21

BECTA has worked in collaboration with the private sector to draw up a list of approved suppliers of learning
platforms5 and defined a framework identifying the mandatory and optional features required of any platform.6
BECTA also created SIFA UK7 which brings together public and private sector representatives to implement the
Systems Interoperability Framework (SIF), designed to support vertical and horizontal data transfer between
different systems and define a British data model8 which is still being developed.

Uses and Users


As the agency responsible for the coordination, development and dissemination of the national digital strategy,
BECTA has specified the functions of learning platforms and divided them into four categories:
A content management: enables teaching staff to create, store and adapt resources and exercises accessible
online;
B curriculum mapping and planning: offers tools and storage spaces to support learning assessment,
customisation, lesson planning, etc.;
C learner engagement and administration: allows access to information about the student, attendance,
calendar, e-portfolios and information management;
D tools and services for communication and collaboration: provides communication tools such as email,
messaging, discussion forums and blogs.

Learning platform models


Two main learning platform models can currently be identified in British schools: the “institutional” (in-house)
model and the centralised model.

The “institutional” model: financed from the school budget, platforms opting for this model are generally
acquired within a structured service. Several open-source systems such as Moodle nonetheless represent a
low-cost alternative, at least for secondary schools. The relative ease with which a copy of Moodle can be
downloaded, installed and managed by an ICT technician makes it interesting for schools; but the fact remains
that most primary schools do not have an ICT technician and are therefore unable to take advantage of this
type of system. Moreover, the OFSTED inspection report on the use of virtual learning environments (2009)
emphasises that all schools surveyed were concerned about the staff costs needed for developing it and the
availability of specialised assistance. Primary schools are also concerned about the cost of acquiring a virtual
learning environment and many of them expect their local authority to centrally fund this type of environment
for all schools within the same area (OFSTED 2009).

5 Approved Suppliers Becta learning platform services framework. This list provides detailed information on suppliers. It is available at:
http://industry.becta.org.uk/content_files/industry/resources/Key%20docs/framework_%20suppliers.pdf
6 Learning platform technical specifications, a set of technical specifications that each supplier’s learning platform must provide.
Compliance with these specifications allows suppliers to be listed in the Becta list of approved learning platform suppliers. The relevant
document is available at: http://industry.becta.org.uk/display.cfm?resID=27054.
7 Information on SIFA UK is available at: http://www.sifinfo.org/uk/
8 Data model: a description of the structure, properties and domain (i.e. all allowed values) of digital data processed and/or stored in a
computer application.
22 The United Kingdom: substantial resources and coordinated actions


The centralised model: platforms within this model are supplied to several schools in a given area and are
financed, hosted and managed by the local authority. In England, the members of the Regional Broadband
Consortia, in particular the London Grid (LGFL, http://cms.lgfl.net/web/lgfl/homepage), Birmingham Grid
(BGFL, http://www.bgfl.org), Northern Grid (NGFL, http://ngfl.northumberland.gov.uk/), and South-Western
Grid (SWGfL, http://www.swgfl.org.uk/) are examples of this. Each network has its own approach to the
model, involving a variety of suppliers and technologies. However, it would appear that a there is an increasing
tendency towards a common goal of providing schools with a platform tailored to their needs rather than a
single centralised model. This model is dynamic, as is the work of updating by the authority to stay abreast of
platform technologies, the development of common data standards and integration of the emerging mobile
technologies into their platforms.

In the UK market today, there are commercial learning platforms. However, open-source models are offering
them fierce competition and growing numbers of schools are abandoning their commercial or centralised
platform in favour of an open-source platform, particularly Moodle. Several reports discuss how these
institutions weighed up the merits of the different systems before switching. They conclude that, in terms of
functionality, proprietary systems and open-source systems have the same rating. By contrast, open-source
products such as Moodle are more highly rated in terms of ease of use, flexibility and control (see these reports
at: http://collaboration.BECTA.org.uk/docs/DOC-1240; http://collaboration.BECTA.org.uk/docs/DOC-1241).

In Northern Ireland, a regional approach was adopted and a centrally managed platform was made available
to the 350,000 teachers, pupils and support staff.9 Similarly, Scotland has adopted a regional approach with
its centralised platform GLOW.10 Wales also offers some of these functionalities through the NGfL Cymru
network and at least 50% of schools have a Web environment. However, even when learning platforms are
provided centrally, some schools choose to install their own systems. Some studies suggest that this trend
has its origin in the sense of ownership and control felt by a school when it has its own learning platform in
contrast to an imposed centralised platform.

In Northern Ireland and Scotland, although the centralised platforms are available to all schools, it is
not obligatory to use them, since in some cases schools are allowed to install their own virtual learning
environment. Analysis of the relative merits of a centralised platform as against a local school platform in
a school reveals that the centralised system undoubtedly offers value in terms of future-proofing, identity
management and security, data management and coordination, and universal access. Schools do not need to
concern themselves with the technology and can focus all their attention on the educational aspects. Virtual
learning environments that are installed in schools and are not part of a structured service require ongoing
technical assistance and their use is concentrated mainly within the school, which does not optimise the
potential for collaboration, sharing and involvement outside of school.

Overall, the United Kingdom has invested considerable funds and resources to meet the priorities set out in
its online learning strategies. Recent studies indicate, however, that despite these efforts, ICTE integration has
not fulfilled the initial expectations and has not yet succeeded in transforming the overall learning environment.

9 Information on LNI is available at: http://www.c2kni.org.uk/


10 GLOW is presented in detail at the end of this section on the United Kingdom. Additional information is also available at : http://www.
itscotland.org.uk/glowscotland/
23

Deployment
In its Harnessing Technology Review for 2007, BECTA indicated that 11% of primary schools and 46% of
secondary schools used a learning platform. In 2008, the same study showed that while the number of schools
using learning platforms was still increasing, the trend was slower than expected and acknowledged that the
target of providing a personal online learning space for each pupil by 2008 would not be met (BECTA, 2007).

Although there is increasing take-up of learning platforms, progress remains uneven and slow. Moreover, it is
more marked in secondary than in primary schools. Were the initial expectations – that the modes of teaching
and learning would be transformed through the introduction of a set of information and communication
technologies, including learning platforms – simply too ambitious? The definition of “effective teaching
methods” is still at an early stage in the United Kingdom and it is increasingly obvious that the type of
systemic change that has to underlie the process takes time, resources, coordination and organisation. There
are no quick or simple solutions. However, the studies have identified a number of recurring factors which, if
addressed, could lead to increased use. They include:

• a clear vision in the school of the uses of a learning platform


• a comprehensive training programme
• sufficient practice time for teachers
• provision of technical and pedagogical support
• good management and effective organisation throughout the school
• sufficient access points to the platform so as not to be dependent on a fixed schedule
• setting out clear guidelines and examples on the potential uses of the technology to improve teaching
methods.

More fundamentally, the implicit message emerging from most studies and evaluations is that the current
organisation of schools does not lend itself readily to the use of learning platforms. When computers can
only be accessed in laboratories open at fixed times, it is not possible to apply the principle of permanent
availability that is required for effective use of an online environment. Similarly, limiting access to the duration
of a typical 45-minute lesson can be frustrating for users because of lack of time.

According to a BECTA study, the use of technology in schools simply for presentation purposes may also be
a barrier. This finding suggests a traditional pedagogical orientation with the teacher in charge, presenting
material and controlling the class. BECTA’s “Landscape Review” on the impact of ICT in schools (2007)
identified a traditional mode of operation in which teaching is structured according to subject: “Unless
deliberate steps are taken, VLEs can replicate the stage- or discipline-oriented divisions that exist in some
schools.” (BECTA, 2007, p. 55)

Teachers very often lack understanding and knowledge about the deployment of learning platforms. But
simply replicating more traditional teacher/taught models will not encourage a more interactive student-
centred approach, which could explain why learning platforms are used more as sources of content than as
sources of collaboration and communication.
24 The United Kingdom: substantial resources and coordinated actions


It is interesting to note that, taken together, all the factors identified concern schools and teachers and relate to
the way schools are structured, their management, and the pedagogical stances of their teachers. The limited
uptake seems to be linked to lack of understanding of effective pedagogy on the one hand, and on the other
to the complexity, time, organisation and support needed to change teaching practices. This would imply a
need to develop a strategy focusing more on bottom-up approaches that encourage the training of teachers
and are strongly oriented towards pedagogy.

The importance of identifying a problem to which the virtual learning platform might offer a solution is a central
element in the case studies devoted to the use of learning platforms. In the case studies BECTA conducted in
2006, the problems of communication, of increased involvement of parents, of availability of resources, and
of the need for a teamwork approach in curriculum planning were all seen as issues that can find solutions
through the use of learning platforms. In a 2008 study that looked at models of innovative online learning for
14-19 year olds, BECTA described other practical problems that had prompted the schools and colleges in
question to use learning platforms. These problems included:
• reduced staffing;
• limited space in schools;
• being able to guarantee 14-19 year old students access to as many subjects as possible in accordance
with official requirements;
• geographical barriers;
• struggling with administrative workload.

Alongside these practical issues, BECTA also identified educational goals that schools and colleges wanted
to achieve. These included:
• winning over demotivated students;
• offering new challenges to gifted students;
• enrich “direct” student learning;
• improving the student learning experience generally;
• personalising the learning experience.

The findings indicated that learning platforms enabled schools and colleges to achieve these objectives and
to address practical problems.

The transition from pilot to mainstreaming raised questions related to training and support, supply and
access to equipment, and also the management of the process. Because schools need to hire more teachers,
acquire more peripherals and offer higher access speeds, their funding should also be increased, and for
groups of schools working together in a collegial structure, better management needs to be secured and the
administrative burden on staff has to be limited. In other words, while it is clear that learning platforms can
help to deal with the practical and pedagogical problems of a school, the questions of costs, access (both
at and outside school), and working practices also need to be addressed if their use is to be mainstreamed
(BECTA, 2008).
25

Governance
If governance is about making decisions and implementing them transparently, effectively and inclusively,
what would good governance look like in large-scale deployment of a learning platform?

The evolving concept of education as a total package of services for children requires an intersectoral and
community engagement involving the various stakeholders, the policy-makers and those responsible for
implementation at national, local and school level. Studies in the field of implementation of ICT in the British
educational system make it possible to identify five key areas of governance and the related issues:

Area Issues
A Management Intersectoral collaboration, leadership
B Funding Disparities, sustainability
C Technology supply Differential resources and procurement
D ICT training Limitations of the national training programme
E Pedagogy Limited impact

These areas and issues highlight the complexity of implementation given the multidimensional factors at each
level (national/macro, local/meso and school/micro) and within each level.

In relation to management and intersectoral collaboration, concerns are expressed at all levels regarding:
• the lack of professional expertise to guide decision-makers
• the lack of leadership
• the lack of consultation with schools
• inconsistency in the implementation plans for ICT in schools
• multiple competing initiatives unrelated to ICT.

Key players and decision-makers in local authorities have been given roles and responsibilities for which they
had little or no ICT expertise or qualifications. Decisions on priorities were complicated by the number of
competing and equally important initiatives. At the same time, all parties were affected by problems relating
to management. In schools, leaders had to be able to coordinate and manage many aspects of provision,
training and pedagogy. In many cases school leadership was inadequate. This problem was not confined to
schools: local authorities also had difficulty in collaborating with several organisations, particularly in delivering
consistent implementation programmes.

The supply of technology and funding was another problematic issue in terms of governance. Across the
United Kingdom, there are different models. In Northern Ireland, the framework foresees an infrastructure,
connectivity, content and learning platform provided centrally by the local Education and Library Boards
(equivalent to LEAs) to all schools, although schools control their own ICT budgets. Under this model, activities
related to procurement, financing and contract management are less likely to cause problems for schools.
The requisite expertise must, however, be available at regional level. In England and Wales, schools generally
secure their own ICT services. Such knowledge and expertise are therefore desirable both in schools as well
as within local authorities, which are also engaged in supplying a wide range of regional ICT services and
therefore need the appropriate expertise in this field.
26 The United Kingdom: substantial resources and coordinated actions


Finally, the programmes for training and implementation in classroom practice suffer from the lack of leadership
and contextualisation within the local environment, and from lack of support and assistance to teachers.

Extending the analysis to the whole of British policy for integrating ICT into education, questions of governance
in the implementation of virtual learning platforms raise the following key issues:
• successful decision-making depends on the dissemination of information, knowledge and expertise
between and among the multiple agencies involved;
• the complexity and lack of linearity in the implementation of ICT must be understood by all stakeholders;
• good leadership is required at all levels;
• agencies supporting schools must understand the complex interdependencies between supply, training,
and pedagogy and be able to provide support to schools in these areas;
• collaborative work must take place between the different levels and within them;
• coordinated decisions must be taken depending on priorities and other competing initiatives;
• training programmes must be tailored to local needs and ensure the provision of guidance on effective
teaching methods.

Key Success Factors


The deployment of a virtual learning environment or a platform for large-scale learning is a complex and multi-
faceted process in several respects. It can be problematic because of its architecture and design. Large-scale
training models can be expensive and complicated; the production and maintenance of the required materials
can be resource-intensive; and technical assistance services must be provided continuously. These important
issues relating to supply, training, support and sustainability must be addressed from the outset.

In an overview of ICT commissioned by BECTA, Peter Twining (professor of education at the Open University)
and his colleagues pinpointed a sense of ownership (or consent) among end users, and identified it as crucial
to the success of the deployment: “It is recognised that, without this ownership, the anticipated changes may
be subverted, undermined or blocked” (p. 74).

He suggests several ways of establishing this sense of ownership or “buy-in”:


A equipment levels
B training
C leadership
D showing examples of best practices
E showing how the technology meets a real need
F establishing multi-disciplinary teams
G collaboration to develop digital resources
H establishing realistic, manageable and achievable targets
I ensuring that all activities are aligned to one common goal.

The importance of these factors is echoed in the findings of the interviews, surveys and evaluations analysed
in our report. Success appears to be associated with the ability of decision-makers and those implementing
platforms to harmonise their ideas and objectives, to ensure a collaborative climate among the various groups,
to move towards a common goal, and to provide strong leadership.
27

A case study : GLOW (Scotland)

Context
Scotland has adopted a regional approach to providing a learning platform, called Glow, to all schools. Glow
is an intranet for all Scottish schools. The project is managed by Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS),
an organisation funded by the Scottish government that provides the educational community with advice,
assistance, resources and help in staff development. The project is managed on a day-to-day basis by the
Glow team, which brings together staff from LTS and its private sector partner Research Machines (RM), a
provider of software, infrastructure and ICT services in the UK.
Glow was designed to provide a platform for secure web-based learning for all Scottish pupils aged 3-18,
accessible via a web browser to anyone with an account. The platform is conceived as a common environment
that the 32 administrative regions of Scotland can choose to use, within the framework of a tripartite agreement
between these regions, the Scottish Government and the technology partner RM. It provides access to many
Web services dedicated to the use of technologies in Scottish classrooms and is accessible anywhere at any
time.

Uses and Users


Glow offers a secure environment, specifically dedicated to the school community. Funded by the Scottish
Government, the platform is available anytime, anywhere through a simple Internet connection. This flexible
access allows teachers, learners and other stakeholders to use Glow simply, fully and daily.

• Pedagogic Uses
The tools offered by GLOW encourage the sharing of teaching in various places, support inclusive education,
and can help minimise interruptions to learning.

Children and adolescents are very enthusiastic users of Glow. They are attracted by the interactiveness of
the learning, which uses images, sound and video. The flexibility of Glow allows teachers to define tasks
that pupils can complete individually or in groups, but also to communicate easily with other pupils and their
teachers, giving pupils the opportunity to develop the four aspects of the Curriculum for Excellence.

Glow allows teachers to cooperate with their colleagues, share ideas, courses and resources at school, in their
region or nationwide. They can share their ideas on all sorts of topics, including useful educational resources,
lesson ideas, student work, their views on teaching methods and their experience in the implementation of the
Curriculum for Excellence. Teachers and learners can participate in major events organised through the Glow
project, and thus find inspiration. Glow also has the advantage of providing a common protected environment
in which teachers and learners can cooperate.

Glow is mainly used for collaborative projects, and this is one of the first topics covered in the training given
to teachers. At present these are most often put into practice in the classroom, within the school and within
a specific age group. In the long term, greater interest will be paid to transnational projects and those related
to the curriculum, organised between schools. Particular attention will be also given to using Glow to enable
teachers and learners to engage with people and events outside their institution.
28 The United Kingdom: substantial resources and coordinated actions


• Communication Uses
Glow is designed to improve communications between staff, students and parents within the school, across
administrative regions, or across the whole of Scotland. Communication is enhanced by resource sharing,
discussion forums, targeted news and web conferences. These tools bring school and home closer together.

• Organisational Uses
Glow helps users find, organise and manage various digital resources. Teachers have access to many
educational resources through their Glow account, either directly or through cooperation with colleagues
identifying similar interests. Various content can be searched, tagged and stored for simplified retrieval.
Students’ work, including digital photographs, sound recordings and video clips can be stored in the Glow
groups. All this creates a particularly rich pool of productions to stimulate thought and be shared among
teachers, school managers, parents and the Scottish School Inspectorate (HMIE).

Deployment
Glow is a project originally conceived for a period of five years, supported by the Scottish Government. It
began in September 2005, and although it could have come to an end in September 2010, the option of
extension with the current provider (Research Machines) has been taken up. The current Glow project is
scheduled to end in September 2012. The extension is accompanied by some major changes planned for
2010, in particular a streamlined version, Glow Light, which aims to provide users with a simpler and more
flexible system.
The platform is deployed in partnership with the administrative regions. Each of the 32 regions decides who
can access Glow and the periods of access. Each region chooses its own deployment model, depending for
example on:
• the target groups: access provided to groups of associated secondary and primary schools
• staff development: staff are first trained, then granted the necessary access
• specific requests by institutions: access is granted as requested by schools.

Glow is accessible to all Scottish school students, parents and staff through accounts provided by the
administrative regions. The regions opt in to the service, and all 32 administrative regions of Scotland now
deploy this service for their users. This equates to approximately 54,000 teachers and 750,000 pupils, with a
potential user base of over 1.2 million people when parents of Scottish pupils are taken into account.
At present, 31 of the 32 administrative regions count their users, and altogether 450,000 accounts have been
established throughout the system: this is still far short of the 800,000 users (teaching staff and students)
expected by the end of the contract period.

Governance
While allowing for the size and scale of Glow, different levels of governance can be identified.

The highest level of governance is the Glow Board of Directors, which sets the policy direction for the
management team and Glow stakeholders, according to milestones and expected outcomes of the
development planning process. This body is composed of members of the Scottish Government and of
Learning and Teaching Scotland, as well as representatives of the administrative regions of Scotland.
29

At the next level is the Glow management team, which guides the programme teams of Learning and Teaching
Scotland and RM. It comprises representatives of the Scottish Government, Learning and Teaching Scotland
and RM. This body is responsible for reviewing various procedures, including implementation planning,
business development, verification of customer agreements, deployment planning, raising revenue and
optimising the impact of Glow.

Various managerial bodies are then integrated into the Learning and Teaching Scotland and RM programme
teams, and also within the administrative regions, to assist in the development and deployment of Glow locally
and regionally.

The implementation and development of Glow is carried through at local and regional levels. Each administrative
region draws up an implementation plan, according to its own local educational priorities. Deployment planning
is then contextualised in terms of these priorities and also the size, scale and staff present in the regions. Each
administrative region has its own model, and they may be completely different from one another.

Across Scotland, there is a tutor-style model for training, in which people who have a role to play in the regions
are trained by the national Glow team and then pass on their new knowledge locally. It is put into practice in
very different ways. Some administrative regions have followed this cascade training model, while others have
opted for entirely online training.

National events are organised regularly, to create and develop opportunities related to the curriculum, and also
to nurture and grow online communities of interest. They may take place virtually or in a real-world venue and
vary according to the model and the context.

Technology choices and security


Glow is a Web-based learning environment that uses a wide variety of technologies. Its core is a customised
version of Microsoft SharePoint 2003 and offers many tools and services, including discussion areas and
photo galleries, shared workspaces and collaborative spaces. Other technology products have been
integrated into this environment to provide additional tools and services to users. These include customised
versions of RM Easy Mail (Mail Glow), RM Kaleidos (Glow Learn), Marratech Communication Server (Glow
Meet) and an integrated chat tool (Glow IM). All these products are assembled in a single sign-on environment
offering a rich digital cooperative workspace. The single connection is made through Shibboleth and data is
exchanged via a central Active Directory server bringing together all users of the system.

Success Factors
Access to equipment is essential to successful implementation. Factors such as student-computer ratio, initial
equipment level (prior to launch), and connection speeds vary greatly from school to school.

Some professionals in the education sector have yet to be convinced that in the twenty-first century, virtual
communication and digitisation are part of everyday life. Some teachers remain attached to traditional
pedagogy, and convincing them of the primordial importance of digital literacy in teaching and learning
remains a challenge. In this particular field, one major advantage for Scotland is the implementation of a new
Scottish curriculum (the Curriculum for Excellence).
30 The United Kingdom: substantial resources and coordinated actions


The scale of the exercise has also highlighted:


• the importance of a method of stakeholder involvement: this consists in involving as wide and diverse
a panel as possible, including teachers, head teachers and curriculum developers, because these users
are particularly well placed to help define how ICTs can be used in class.
• the need for a sustainable, future-proof approach: this means guaranteeing sufficient funds at the
outset to cover the ongoing development of the system and providing a platform that can keep pace with
constantly evolving technologies.
• the definition of standards and the need for interoperability: this means ensuring that the platform is
developed in line with current standards for content and interoperability.

Among the factors that have led to a significant increase in the use of Glow, three main elements or
catalysts can be discerned:
• the introduction of a new curriculum that has underpinned convergence between the use of new technologies
and curriculum development.
• local circumstances and policies allowing the administrative regions to choose their own approach in terms
of resources and priorities, and the fact that many of them had already previously deployed their own
platform. Understanding local circumstances and the capacity to act accordingly have proved decisive.
Within Glow, regions have been able to choose deployment schedules and models that best match their
needs.
• The mobilisation of the entire regional territory (the whole of Scotland), which enables participants to
access other resources, people and events.

As regards synergies that proved particularly fruitful in terms of aligning uses and target groups, the
following can be highlighted:
• for teachers, the development within the platform of applications that match what they are trying to
achieve in the classroom and for which ICTs are particularly effective
• for the administrative regions, increasing the efficiency of ICT-enabled tasks compared to before
• for the region as a whole, significantly improved cooperation, communication and discussion among all
the actors concerned across the whole country.

In terms of the key governance factors contributing to extensive deployment, stakeholders mention:
• a clear mandate for what is to be achieved
• open and effective communication
• a shared vision at all levels
• bundling of major initiatives, i.e. in this case the combination of deployment of Glow in parallel with the
redesign of the curriculum for Scotland.

Typically, the Scottish officials interviewed agreed that the key success factors in deployment of virtual learning
platform are linked with:
• defining an action plan
• effective communication and consultation with stakeholders
• enabling participants to take full ownership of the platform, by giving them real flexibility and autonomy in
both its design and its management.
31
Denmark: a pragmatic approach shaped
by teacher demand
Denmark is a world leader in using ICTs in both public and private sectors. It provides its citizens with an
education system that is also very receptive to these technologies. As early as 1985 a national agency,
UNI-C, was created for this purpose. Working closely with the Ministry of Education, UNI-C has provided
advice and support for the implementation of all policies in this area (equipment, training, public/private
partnerships, digital educational content, etc.).
Whether successively or simultaneously, several national initiatives have addressed the major policy areas
of infrastructure and connectivity, ICT training of teachers and pupils, creation of educational resources
and integration of ICTs into the curriculum.
This environment has been conducive to the development of virtual learning platforms, which are now
used by 97% of Danish schools. The SkoleIntra platform, developed by teachers with the support of
UNI-C, is the model chosen by almost all state schools. SkoleIntra has been widely acclaimed by Danish
teachers, who played an active part in its evolution, and has been developed step by step to meet their
specific needs. Danish parents, who have always been closely involved in the school life of their children,
soon became users of the services the platform offered them.
These platforms -- widely used by teachers, appreciated by parents -- are now facing two major challenges:
to win the interest of pupils, who do not use them enough, and to step up the educational uses made of
them by teachers, who currently prefer to use them for communication, administration and management.

Facts and figures

Organisation of the education system


As in several other European countries, the distinction between primary and lower secondary education
does not exist in Denmark. Instead, these two levels of education are covered by a single structure called
Grundskole, which serves pupils aged 7 to 15. In the state sector (with about 80% of Danish pupils), this
structure is called Folkeskole.

Some figures (Source: Statistics Denmark; Reference year: 2007)


Compulsory (Grundskole)
Folkeskole 
Private education Total
(State education)
Number of schools 1.542 760 2.302
Number of pupils 580.097 130.674 710.771
Number of teachers 61.840 9.456 71.296
Upper secondary education (Ungdomsuddannelse) – General education
Number of schools 244
Number of pupils 99.732
Number of teachers 10.030

Most teachers in compulsory state education are employed and paid by local authorities. Danish teachers
can choose whether or not to undertake in-service training and their career progression is not related to this.

In contrast to France, Spain and the United Kingdom, there is no inspectorate in Denmark.
33

Governance of the education system


In compulsory education (Grundskole)
Since 2007, the governance of schools for young people aged 6 to 15/16 has been shared between local
authorities and the state. This reform arose from the conviction that innovation and quality are fostered by the
delegation of powers and duties to schools that are under the responsibility of local authorities, thus creating
a minimum of competition between them.

Central level (Ministry) Defines the overall objectives and framework of the education system
and establishes objectives for each subject; gives block grants to local
authorities.

Local Authorities Decide the means to achieve the objectives set by the Ministry and how
they are to be used in each school: they are also required to publish an
annual report on the state of education in their area.

School Must ensure the quality of teaching in line with the objectives set for
the Folkeskole (compulsory education in state schools); responsible
for planning and organising the curriculum. A Board of Governors is
responsible for the general operation of the school; parents and pupils
are represented on it.

Head Teacher Responsible for pedagogical and managerial matters in his/her school;
manages the budget assigned by the local authority; is appointed (and can
be dismissed) by the Board of Governors.

In upper secondary education


Schools are funded directly by the Ministry and have managerial autonomy; the Ministry sets the groundrules
within which schools work. These institutions have different histories and different academic profiles. They
implement one or more secondary education curricula (general; social and natural sciences; economics and
business; science and technology) through grants received from the Ministry based on the number of pupils.
The composition of the Board of Directors of the institution reflects the specific profile of the institution; there
are teacher and pupil representatives.
34 Denmark: a pragmatic approach shaped by teacher demand


ICTE policy in Denmark

Major initiatives
ICTs have been used in Danish schools since 1984. From the outset, one of the pillars of the Danish approach
has been to consider ICTE as not an end in itself but as a means of supporting and encouraging learning.

UNI-C: a central player in the field of ICTE 


UNI-C, the Danish IT Centre for Education and Research, is the government agency created in 1985 to
encourage and maximise the use of ICT throughout the education system. UNI-C is responsible for providing
support for the implementation of the policies decided by the Ministry, and assisting schools and teachers in
this process. UNI-C also puts forward proposals for the development of ICTs for innovation and improvement
in education and research, and supports cooperation between the Ministry and industry. It employs over 300
people on three sites (Copenhagen, Lyngby, Aarhus) and results from the merger of three regional university
computer centres (Technical University of Denmark, University of Aarhus, University of Copenhagen)

Major national initiatives that have defined the ICTE landscape in Denmark:
• ICTs in the education system (1998): a five-year action plan for development of connectivity, digital
resources, and the changing role of the teacher;
• Denmark’s strategy for education, learning and ICT (2001): an initiative on curriculum, teacher training,
sharing of knowledge between schools, ICT outside school, and ICT for children with special needs;
• ICTs in state education (2004-2008): an initiative aimed at developing equipment, digital content, a national
portal (EMU), a certificate of competence for pupils, the introduction of interactive white boards, and
teacher training; it left schools scope to take account of their particular environment;
• Denmark in the global economy (2006): an initiative focused on training teachers in ICT;
• National Strategy for ICT-supported learning (2007): an initiative tackling the issue of flexibility in the
organisation of education in time and space.

Two initiatives have specifically targeted compulsory state education (Folkeskole): ICT, the media and the
Danish Folkeskole (ITMF, 2001-2004) and ICT in the Danish Folkeskole (ITIF, 2004-2007). They took a bottom-up
approach: teachers were invited to propose projects in partnership with publishers and researchers. The
hypothesis was that the ensuing good practices would spread to all the other schools. An evaluation showed
that innovation had indeed taken place at local level but not with the desired proliferation. This led the Ministry
to adopt a top-down approach for the ITIF initiative.

The ITIF initiative for development of ICTs in state schools is considered particularly important for the
development of virtual learning platforms. As well as increased communication among schools, ITIF aimed
to develop new learning resources accessible via the Internet; provide support services for differentiated
learning of key skills; and improve student achievement in curriculum subjects. Out of a budget equivalent to
65 million euros, ITIF spent 75% on the purchase of computers for pupils in third grade and 6.5 million euros
on developing digital learning resources. To spread the use of these digital resources, intended to supplement
or replace the use of traditional textbooks, the Danish government partnered with publishers of textbooks and
educational software developers to launch a number of pilot projects for a new type of educational resources.
35

The Ministry of Education and UNI-C therefore invited competitive tenders in 11 teaching areas (Danish,
English, mathematics, art, technology, personalised learning, etc.). Three proposals were selected in each
area and each received a prize equivalent to 27,000 euros (33 successful proposals in total). The winners were
invited to develop their project to create digital resources in the areas concerned with the support of UNI-C.

At Folkeskole level, it is the municipality that provides the technical and pedagogical support to implement
ICT initiatives.

Curriculum
ICT is integrated into the curriculum for all subjects at all levels in a general way and not within each subject
specifically. Guidance is published separately for the use of ICTs in each subject.
The JPCK (Junior PC Kørekort) is an ICT “driving licence” that can be taken in the 6th and 9th years of
education. It is not obligatory since it has to be paid for.

Teacher training
EPICT is an IT “driving licence” which almost all Danish teachers have. However, experience shows that
new teachers are not completely “ready to go” in ICT, and secondly, the advanced modules of this training
programme (EPICT) are not taken up. ICT will therefore be included in the initial training of teachers.

Computer equipment and uses


In a context where almost all Danish households are equipped with computers and broadband Internet access,
the average ratio of school equipment is four students per computer, and two students per computer in the
3rd year of education (target age).
98% of schools have a broadband connection.
Only 15% of computers are installed in laboratories; the rest are available in shared areas and classrooms.
28% of computers are laptops. Some 4,693 interactive white boards are in use; most schools have at least
one, some are better equipped.
The policy on ICTE and especially the ICTs in state education initiative (2004-2008) are regarded as a success
by the officials who guided them. Combining structural investment, support for digital resources, and the
purchase of virtual learning platforms, the Government established a new standard for the integration of ICT
in the Folkeskole. The challenge for the future remains the pedagogic application of ICT.
36 Denmark: a pragmatic approach shaped by teacher demand


Virtual Learning Platforms

Components
In Denmark, interest in virtual learning platforms developed in the late 1990s - early 2000s. Initiatives in this
area have developed stage by stage, each stage in close synergy with the other, each stage corresponding to
the development of a specific type of service. The successive initiatives are at present still in operation. They
are: the messaging service SKOLEKOM, the digital educational resources portal EMU, and the SKOLEINTRA
network, which together form the backbone of the Danish approach to virtual learning platforms.

SKOLEKOM (www.skolekom.dk)
This web service for messaging (email) and (thematic) teleconferencing has been in operation since
1995. It is intended for teachers, education staff as a whole, and students of all state schools. From the
outset, the main objective was to create an educational space for all state schools, a kind of classroom on
the national scale.

SKOLEKOM currently has about 600,000 registered users, 250,000 of whom are active. There are
120,000 connections per day and some 2,000 simultaneous users. Nationally, there are 2,000-3,000 open
conferences in three different sections: one for teachers, the second for student learning and the third for
communication with families. This last component - offering possibilities for communication between schools
and parents - is currently on test. There are also 60,000 to 70,000 closed conferences, i.e., aimed not at
national level but within the institutions themselves. Most of them occur in school intranets to allow schools
to share information and calendar functions between teachers and pupils. Finally, there are closed national
discussion forums mainly used by groups of teachers in the same subject and by teacher associations.

The SkoleKom system is directly managed by UNI-C (about 12 employees altogether). UNI-C is responsible
for support, maintenance, sales and development. The only other players are the schools and the Danish
Ministry of Education. UNI-C has a contract with the Open Text Corporation, offering schools rates according
to their size and the number of years taught (from the equivalent of 50 to 90 euros per year).

SkoleKom is based on the FirstClass collaborative software developed by the Canadian company Open
Text. This software enables users to connect to the system anywhere in the world; all communications
between the server and the users are encrypted. All users are connected to a single server which can handle
5,000 concurrent users. SkoleKom represents only the infrastructure. The policies have therefore aimed to
encourage the use of Sektornet – a set of high-speed data cables connecting schools so as to support the
deployment of SkoleKom and other virtual learning environments.
37

EMU (www.emu.dk)
This national portal, created in 1999 at the instigation of the Ministry of Education, offers digital resources
for schools. EMU (Electronic Meeting Place for the Educational World) is still in use today. Its implementation
and management are provided by UNI-C.

EMU offers all types of information and resources relevant to pupils, teachers and parents, from a central
point. The portal also hosts a series of web ‘sub-sites’ such as an information guide for each subject
with high-quality links, the e-Museum, the national catalogue of learning resources, examples of good
practices, competitions and events, etc. Most services offered are free. EMU also provides access to the
SkoDa site, operated directly by UNI-C on a commercial basis, which gives access to a range of databases
such as encyclopaedias and newspaper articles. EMU provides access to digital resources produced
by commercial publishers, both well-established companies and smaller, less well-known companies.
Publishers provide with their products the metadata required by the search engines. The largest publishers
also offer their products on their own sites, which they use as their main marketing tool. Providing access
both to commercial (paid) digital resources and free, public goods, EMU thus reflects a policy that aims for
and seems to achieve a good balance between the public sector and the commercial sector.

Constant adaptation of the services provided to meet changing needs and opportunities and on-going
redefinition of the respective roles of public and private sectors are the major components of such a strategy.
UNI-C also plays a central role here, since the Ministry has entrusted to it the design and implementation of
its eEducation initiatives, with UNI-C withdrawing from initiatives it has itself launched as soon as they are
mature and can be regulated by the market.

Because a single sign-on system was implemented in Denmark for various different web services even
before the creation of EMU, all students and teachers use their ‘UNI login’ to access EMU and the other
online services to which their schools subscribe. This use of a single login to access EMU is also thought
to be one of the reasons why the EMU portal quickly secured a critical mass of users.

Currently, the number of weekly ‘unique’ users (not counting further logins by the same user in the course of
the week) averages 185,000, i.e. approximately one quarter of the population of Danish primary and lower
secondary schools.
38 Denmark: a pragmatic approach shaped by teacher demand


SKOLEINTRA (www.skoleintra.dk)
This intranet system for sharing information and knowledge was launched in 2001. SKOLEINTRA is a
communication and information platform which functions as a closed network accessible only to certain
users (access management is in the hands of UNI-C). It includes several modules, between which data can
be exchanged. These modules were introduced in stages.

• The main module is LaererIntra (Teachers’ Intranet). Introduced in 2001, it offers basic tools for archiving
documents, teamwork, and management by teachers of school activities (room bookings, calendar, etc.)
and it provides access to Skolekom (messaging and virtual conferences, see above).

• The ElevIntra module (Students’ Intranet) came into operation at the same time (2001). It enables the
management of work among students and teachers, and distributes information on the life of the school.

• ForaEldre (Parents’ Forum) module and Infokiosk (the schools’ information service) were implemented in
2005. The first informs parents about school life and the daily work of their children: it also enables parents
to communicate. The second provides real time information on the school (announces school closures
due to bad weather, etc.). The ForaEldre module was in fact developed to meet an existing demand from
parents who had previously used their child’s login to access the platform and read about school life. The
tradition of participation and cooperation between parents and the school is strong in Denmark.

• the FaellesNet (shared municipal intranet) module was made available in 2006 at the request of local
authorities, to manage and share information on all educational establishments in their respective areas.

• SkolePorten (a School Portal module) has also been operational since 2006 and allows the school to
add further services to the modules mentioned above (web pages to present the institution, etc.) and to
access them through the same UNI login.

The use of all of these modules (LaererIntra, ElevIntra, ForaEldre, Infokiosk, etc.) costs the school the
equivalent of 4,000 euros for the first year and 1,500 euros a year thereafter.
39

Diagram of all services by users in Denmark

Deployment
The current Danish situation regarding virtual learning platforms can be summarised as follows:
• At primary and lower secondary levels, 95% of state schools use SKOLEINTRA and the remainder use
platforms like Fronter or solutions available on the market.
• In upper secondary education, SKOLEINTRA is hardly used; the platforms favoured by these institutions
are based on LEKTIO, Blackboard, Fronter or It’s Learning. UNI-C provides support to institutions that have
opted for the It’s Learning solution.

The table below gives an idea of the use of Skoleintra by parents, teachers and students for the month of
September 2009:
40 Denmark: a pragmatic approach shaped by teacher demand


Monthly users Average monthly Monthly logins Average monthly


users per school (visits) visits per user
ParentsIntra
September 09 415.828 271,96 6.378.519 15,34
TeachersIntra (population: 61,840 teachers in the state sector at Grundskole) level
September 09 98.544 53,18 4.037.634 40,07
PupilsIntra (population: 580,097 students in the state sector at Grundskole) level
September 09 205.475 132,65 1.873.929 9,12

Currently, the proportion of non-users within a school is small; on average only one or two teachers do not use
SkoleIntra at all. Five years ago there was more reluctance, but this has now declined. Teachers acknowledge
that society has changed and online government and internet shopping are now a part of everyday life.

The deployment was carried out gradually, as user needs developed.

There was no pilot phase as such in the implementation of Skoleintra. The system was originally developed
by two teachers who wanted to provide their own institution with a virtual learning platform. These teachers
approached UNI-C to offer their model for a platform and seek collaboration to develop, stabilise and distribute
it more widely. The initiative aroused the interest of a good number of teachers, who saw it as a tool particularly
suited to their needs because it was designed by teachers who had a very close knowledge of the context
and necessary functions.

The product was then developed in stages, in response to comments made by teacher-users to the developers
(particularly through a discussion forum on SKOLEKOM), which seems to have enabled an extremely smooth
collaboration to take place between the two parties. The development of SKOLEINTRA was guided by taking
account of - and sometimes anticipating - specific needs expressed by teachers. For example, when the
Ministry decided in 2007 to make it compulsory for teachers to supply a detailed written annual evaluation for
each pupil, SKOLEINTRA provided the tools to simplify this task.

The SkoleIntra system thus became the most popular one, especially as it came to be used by most
municipalities. Schools that use it became examples to follow, and consequently the reputation of the system
grew exponentially.

Uses and Users


• Pedagogic Uses
Although 97% of Danish schools (state and private) use a virtual learning platform, they do so mainly for
administrative rather than pedagogical purposes. Several evaluations have been commissioned to discover
areas for improvement. Relatively low pedagogical use recurs as a leitmotif, together with inadequate training
of teachers. A study by the Danish Evaluation Institute EVA in 2009 showed that the information and knowledge
sharing systems are used by teachers – and between teachers and the school management – primarily
for administrative and organisational purposes (such as ordering equipment and materials). However, these
systems are rarely used in order to share knowledge among teachers or between teachers, pupils and their
parents.
41

When the virtual learning platforms were designed, however, the government expected pupils to be the main
users. In reality, use of the system by learners for learning has been relatively low, because the learners had
little reason to use it, unlike the teachers. The latter were the early users of these platforms because Danish
teachers have considerable autonomy, and the virtual platform system perfectly suited their working practices
and behaviour. In addition, a large part of their teaching is based on team projects, and virtual platforms
support this approach. Five years after the implementation of these platforms, a third wave of users is now
emerging among learners, but there is much progress to be made in this area.

The platforms have, however, gradually made it possible to establish a new level of constructive collaboration
and communication among teachers nationally (highest level), between teachers and learners – at school
or outside school – and among learners. Exchanges between teachers and pupils are more than a formal
relationship; assistance is provided by the teacher to the pupils in many ways. In some ways this is an
extension of what happens anyway: close contact between teacher and pupils, especially since a teacher is
often responsible for the same class from first to fifth year, and even beyond. It follows that in the classroom
relations between teachers and pupils seem “relaxed”. Indeed, it is considered normal for pupils to send
text messages (SMS) to their teachers using their personal mobile numbers. While such closeness might be
considered a cause for concern in many countries, it does not create a problem in Denmark.

• Communication Uses
Virtual platforms encourage communication between parents and their children, among parents and between
parents and teachers. Through the ‘Unilogin’ system, each user has his or her own identity.
The success of virtual learning platforms with teachers was followed by a similar response from parents,
who like to receive alerts and text messages giving information about the school. Danish parents are keen to
know what their children are doing in class, what field trips are organised, etc., or simply to have contact with
teachers. Most of the time, the interest shown by parents is not motivated by a desire to control, but rather to
share information and participate.

Problems relating to data protection have arisen (over class lists for example), resulting in some limitation of
permissions. However, since the platforms are generally developed locally, there is no real threat to privacy.
The teachers’ union has nonetheless opposed one function of the system, which allows text messages to
be sent to teachers’ personal phones, on grounds of concern about controls on teachers. This is however in
a context where it is normal for parents to send text messages to teachers, if for example their child is sick.
All messages are archived in any case and can be retrieved when necessary.

• Governance
Initially, the government financed 50% of the purchase of virtual platforms. This grant has been abolished and
schools now fund the development of virtual platforms with the money they receive from their municipality (as
already mentioned, the charge is 4,000 euros for the first year and 1,500 euros each subsequent year; these
amounts are paid to UNI-C).

The municipalities were active at the time of the launch of the operation with a view to replacing textbooks with
new technologies in schools, and this included considering virtual platforms as useful supports in this respect.
A head teacher could nevertheless decline to collaborate at any time. But competition between schools and
the favourable view taken towards using virtual learning platforms has meant that parents now find it natural
that they exist in schools, and teachers can no longer imagine their schools without them.
42 Denmark: a pragmatic approach shaped by teacher demand


The implementation of virtual learning platforms also coincided with a move to amalgamate municipalities
(see above) and the municipalities had to agree on the type of virtual environment to be used to share
information. The teachers then opted overwhelmingly for SkoleIntra, which was already their favourite digital
work environment. This choice was a kind of “popular movement”.

The Government then set the framework and defined the overall objective. UNI-C for its part identified the
candidate products and acted as an intermediary between suppliers and purchasers, managing and promoting
the overall process. Schools, and local authorities when they had decided to group the contracts of several
schools, signed a contract with the supplier. The risk of lawsuits against UNI-C from companies not obtaining
orders or challenging the selection process was reduced by establishing a biennial review of the system to
ensure that the objectives are properly fulfilled.

Technology choices and security


SkoleIntra is an advanced concept, since it is an open system readily accepting new functionalities to
provide users with new products, tools and services. The technology of Skoleintra virtual platforms is,
by contrast, not particularly advanced; it is web-based and requires little in the way of sophisticated
equipment or advanced connectivity. It can be accessed through a slow connection, from a mobile phone
or even an iPhone. The potential of some products essential for widespread uptake is, for example, limited
since schools must have a particular computerised management system in order to make use of them.
UNI-C has therefore aimed to develop transferability systems to enable data import and export between
different systems.

The system has three levels of control: UNI-C, which is responsible for the management of UNIlog, the
school, and the class/teacher. Each school can determine the level of access it gives to parents. Generally,
the approach is open, until a problem arises. In that case, arrangements are very quickly suspended and
reviewed.

In general, there is no a priori control of messages but there is a retrospective control, in which inappropriate
messages may be removed. The system depends largely on the collective responsibility of users: the
final product is made visible and public, an approach that seems to work. This confidence placed in the
children echoes the attitude adopted in the school, where they have permission to use their mobile phones
or personal computers responsibly in the classroom. Teachers confirm that pupils are aware that their
behaviour can and should vary from one location to another and report that abuses in the use of SkoleIntra
are few. Even when pupils connect at home, they adopt an attitude similar to that in class, generally
considering that if they connect to SkoleIntra, this means thay have a state of mind that is ready for work.

The authorisation system means that teachers have no access to communications between students
(the class sets the levels of authorisation, which allows students to exclude or to invite certain people).
However, teachers can apply to UNI-C to provide a file containing the history of the sessions and to disable
pupil accounts in the event of a problem. Students can upload pictures and videos of social events, but
only pictures/videos of groups rather than individuals, unless given permission by their parents.

Schools determine the menu suited to each pupil level; the youngest have a few simple graphical options
while older ones can consult more text and also have more options.
43

Success Factors

The stakeholders interviewed said they had encountered few major problems. They attribute this to the
popularity of SkoleIntra with teachers, a preference that was quickly taken into account by the Ministry
and UNI-C. The organic nature of the system, the fact that it developed in parallel with its users, and its
responsiveness are other factors behind the success of the initiative, which has also benefited from the
support of the local authorities. The motto of the SkoleIntra developers is to stay close to the teachers, and
to ensure continuous development to better meet their needs.

In addition, so that they would not feel excluded from the process and the associated market, commercial
publishers and developers of digital learning resources were kept fully informed about the system in place.
Moreover, the system has been adapted to be able to integrate digital products (educational and other content)
available on the market and thus offer interesting business opportunities.

Skoleintra owes its reputation to word of mouth. Teachers are transferred from one school to another, extol
the merits of virtual learning platforms in their new school and generate interest around them, and this has
assisted the mode of organic diffusion we have observed. The ambassadors of the product and the exemplar
schools have thus acted as a “fifth column”.

Information days held across the country have been and remain a particularly useful way of stimulating
interest. The fact that developers are “part of the family” seems to play a decisive role. These developers are
in effect teachers, who improve the product in response to feedback from peers, thus creating the sense that
Skoleintra is a collective Danish achievement, created by for Danish teachers.
Spain – Andalusia and Catalonia:
different regional approaches but based
on open-source software

The Spanish Autonomous Communities are required to comply with the general organisation of the
education system defined by the national Ministry of Education, but they still have considerable discretion
in implementing the educational policies that best suit their own specificities. As such, they are directly
responsible for the policies and actions undertaken to integrate new technologies into their educational
systems. They are also very directly involved in implementing these initiatives in terms of creating educational
resource portals and other kinds of portals (hosting school platforms, messaging among teachers, platforms
for collaboration among teachers, etc.), advice and technical support, and so on.

Accordingly, regional initiatives, sometimes in association with a national initiative, have dealt with
infrastructure and school connectivity, ICT training for teachers and pupils, creating digital learning resources
and integrating ICT into the curriculum. Especially in Andalusia and Catalonia, strong emphasis has been
placed on online training for teachers in the pedagogical use of ICT, on digital learning resources and
on technical support that relieves teachers of such concerns. These two Autonomous Communities have
moreover opted for open source technology rather than proprietary systems.

Overall, 40 to 60% of state schools in Andalusia and Catalonia use a virtual learning platform. Those
responsible for these policies say they are satisfied with teachers’ participation in and contributions to
these systems, even if their use is developing steadily rather than massively; they emphasise, however, and
regret, too low participation by pupils and very limited parental participation. Interest in the administrative
use of platforms, which support for example information provision in real time relating to all the schools in a
region, is growing rapidly and being consolidated in Andalusia, although this does not seem to be a priority
in Catalonia.

Facts and figures

The Spanish Constitution of 1978 gives considerable autonomy to the 17 Autonomous Communities
(Comunidades Autónomas) and two autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla, which together constitute the
national territory.

This autonomy also prevails in the field of education.

Two Autonomous Communities – Andalusia and Catalonia – have been chosen for analysis of the development
of virtual learning platforms. Together, they account for about 45% of all Spanish pupils enrolled in compulsory
education.

The measures taken at national level and having an impact on the development of virtual learning platforms
implemented at regional level are of course also presented.

Organisation of the education system


Education in Spain is compulsory for young people aged six to sixteen. There are two levels: primary (Educación
Primaria) for pupils aged six to twelve, consisting of three cycles of two years; and lower secondary education
(Educación Secundaria Obligatoria), lasting four years, for pupils aged twelve to sixteen.
Post-compulsory secondary education consists of two branches, one oriented towards university entrance,
called Bachillerato and the other vocationally oriented, called Formación Profesional de grado medio.
45

Some figures (Source: Ministry of Education; reference year: 2008-09)


Spain Andalusia Catalonia
Students (pre-primary to
7.456.806 1.509.634 1.202.782
post-compulsory secondary)
Teachers (primary and secondary) 663.084 121.675 104.397
Schools (state and private) 18.938 3.606 3.153
Most teachers in state compulsory education are employed and paid by the Autonomous Community in which
they work. The participation of teachers in in-service training is not mandatory. It is however clearly taken into
account in career progression and remuneration.
The Spanish education system has an Inspectorate, organised both at the central level (monitoring compliance
with national legislation) and in the Autonomous Community (inspection of schools).

Governance of the education system


The Spanish Constitution grants considerable autonomy to the Autonomous Communities, so that they have
the power to legislate on and regulate specific aspects of the school system, so long as they respect the basic
features of the system (length of compulsory education, division between primary and secondary, etc.). The
Autonomous Communities therefore have executive and administrative powers to manage the school system
on their own territory.

Distribution of competences in education

Central General organisation of the school system, minimum requirements for schools, basic
Government curriculum, international cooperation in education, policies to encourage and coordinate
(Ministry based research, general organisation of education, organisation and regulation of academic
in Madrid) and professional qualifications, high-level inspection (to monitor compliance with the
minimum requirements in education established by the State and relating to the whole
national territory), assessments at national level, policies on financial aid for studies,
ownership and administration of state schools abroad, establishing a legal framework
for foreign schools in Spain, education statistics for the state, etc.

Autonomous Administrative responsibilities within their territories, creation and accreditation of


Communities11 institutions, personnel management, curriculum development, educational guidance and
support, funding and aid, school inspection, diagnostic assessments within schools, etc.

Local Provision of sites for building state schools, management and renovation of pre-primary
Authorities and primary schools, organisation of extracurricular and complementary activities,
oversight of compulsory education, etc.

Schools Educational institutions are autonomous at the organisational, pedagogical and financial
levels, within the framework of the prevailing regulations.

The integration of ICT in schools in Spain is determined at the level of the Autonomous Communities and at
local level.

11 Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y Leon, Catalonia, Valencia,
Extremadura, Galicia, Madrid, Murcia, Navarra, Basque Country, La Rioja
46 Spain – Andalusia and Catalonia: different regional approaches but based on open-source software

ICTE policy in Spain

Major initiatives
The new technologies have been used in Spanish schools since the early 2000s, but some regions started in
the mid 1980s. From the outset, particular attention has been paid to their educational use.

Internet en la escuela
The Internet en la escuela (Internet at school) initiative was implemented jointly in 2002-2005 by the Ministry
of Education and the Autonomous Communities. Under this initiative, the training of teachers in ICT and
their use in teaching were co-funded (50/50) by the Ministry and the Autonomous Communities. The latter
also supported and funded the development of digital learning resources.

Internet en el aula
Internet en el aula (Internet in the classroom), 2005-2009, was a large-scale programme to develop an
information society in education, to join up efforts through a unified approach across the entire Spanish
territory and to facilitate joint initiatives among the Autonomous Communities. 454 million euros were
allocated to it in the period 2005-2008.
The programme was governed by a framework agreement between the Ministry of Education, Social
Policy and Sports (MEPSyD), the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade and Red.es, the agency within the
latter ministry responsible for implementing the information society in cooperation with the Autonomous
Communities, local authorities and the private sector.

The objectives of Internet en el aula were to:


• Develop a technological infrastructure (multimedia computers, peripherals and Internet access in
classrooms), and promote strategies for digital inclusion;
• Finance the purchase of computers for families whose children are of school age;
• Provide technical and pedagogical advice and support to schools and teachers’ associations;
• Encourage the development, dissemination and use of educational content;
• Train teachers and teacher trainers;
• Monitor and evaluate initiatives in schools.

Internet en el aula led to the creation of the AGREGA platform, in which all regions participate and which
combines the catalogues of the resources developed in the various Autonomous Communities to make
them accessible to every teacher and every institution across Spain.

Curriculum
A Royal Decree of 2006 stipulates that ICTs are part of the curriculum and that children should use these new
technologies in their learning, while developing their critical thinking in relation to information.
47

Teacher training
In initial teacher training, ICT is not considered a core or main curriculum subject; it is one of the optional
courses.
The common core of the programmes offered by in-service teacher training institutions includes a section
devoted to “the use of ICT in education”. The policy of the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the
Autonomous Communities as regards ICT training for teachers involves efforts to create educational materials
for the subjects taught and is not limited to ways of using ICT in school. Teaching practice placements in the
classroom is one of the major principles of training.

Computer equipment and uses


Most Spanish schools use computers in their teaching and have access to the Internet. In the course of the
school year 2007-08, 99.5% of schools (primary and secondary) were connected to the Internet, 72% with a
broadband connection (min. 1Mb/s).

In the same year, the average pupil-computer ratio across Spain was 6.1 (primary 6.3, secondary 4.6 – state
and private sectors combined); for pupils aged 10-14 years in state schools the national average was 5.3; in
Catalonia it was 4.6 and in Andalusia 4.9.

The case of Andalusia: an approach strongly driven by the regional government

Context
The Autonomous Community of Andalusia has long been committed to the integration of ICT in education,
and started to take action on virtual learning platforms in 2003.

These developments are part of the broader policy of Andalusia for a knowledge society, whose objectives
(as defined by the decree of the Andalusian Parliament dated 18 March 2003) are:
• to guarantee every citizen access to ICT without discrimination (Internet access points in every Town Hall,
digital literacy programmes for the adult population, educational institutions accessible outside working
hours);
• to facilitate access to government services through the Internet portal www.andaluciajunta.es as an
information channel and service provider.

In the field of education, the aims are, more specifically:


• to adapt the supply of state education (IT equipment, teacher training, integration of ICT into teaching,
school management and communication within the educational community);
• to support these goals through cooperation with museums and the creation of the Virtual Library of Andalusia.

The same decree also stipulates that:


• in every purchase of computer equipment for educational use in schools, all hardware must be compatible
with open-source operating systems. The computers will be equipped with the necessary free software for
their use.
48 Spain – Andalusia and Catalonia: different regional approaches but based on open-source software

The administration of the Autonomous Community of Andalusia encourages the use of educational software
that is free for personal use at home and school (an Internet help desk has been set up to provide advice on
installing and using this software).

And@red
The And@red plan, adopted in 2003, aims to achieve the goal of fully integrating ICT into all educational
processes and within the educational community. The plan encourages institutions to develop an integrated
and flexible educational ICT policy. It must be integrated, in the sense that the use of ICT must be central to
teaching content and methods; and flexible, in the sense that each school should be free to take account of
the specificities of its local environment. Teacher training is part of this strategy, and aims to train teachers
not only in ICT but also in its application to pedagogy and didactics. The role of the ICT coordinator12
within institutions is fully recognised and considered a central element of the process. The development of
integrated services to parents and the rest of the educational community is part of the plan.
A Centre for Advanced Management (Centro de Gestion avanzada – CGA) has been established to coordinate
all technical aspects so that users, both teachers and students, can concentrate on teaching and learning
without concerning themselves with administration, maintenance or technical configuration, and therefore
without necessarily having a high level of technical competence (see below for more details on the CGA).
This plan, which is based on open source software (Guadalinex/UBUNTU), also provides for schools to be
equipped with computers and broadband connections (WiFi as appropriate), and for digital learning content,
again based on open source software, to be made available.

This package is intended not as an end in itself but rather as a set of interventions and tools to bring about a
fundamental transformation of the educational model.

The aim is to put pupils’ learning at the centre of the project, by personalising each trajectory and making
each pupil active and responsible for his or her learning. In terms of the skills to be developed in pupils, critical
awareness, selectiveness and discernment are among the objectives. A change in the culture of education is
explicitly desired, characterised by greater emphasis placed in the curriculum on the application of theories to
concrete situations, a new role for the school and the teacher, innovative management of the learning process
and a new relationship to the whole educational community.

The teacher figures as the main protagonist in this change, and must be given specific support which takes
account of the diversity of the teaching profession (level of experience, differences in level of qualification
depending on the educational level at which they teach, etc.).

12 Chosen from among the teachers of a school on a voluntary basis, the ICT coordinator has the task of coordinating and stimulating the
integration of ICT into the curriculum throughout the institution, advising teachers on possible uses and integration into their courses
and teaching, administering the various platforms, encouraging the creation of digital educational content, disseminating experience
and encouraging exchange of information with other institutions, analysing the school's ICT needs, etc. The ICT coordinator has a
reduced teaching load, depending on the size of the school.
49

The four pillars for the integration of ICT in education in Andalusia can be summarised as follows:
• investment in equipment, based on an open source approach;
• the training of teachers themselves, often itself organised online, with a focus on the didactic properties
of ICTs (distance learning, online advice, virtual platforms for professional networking, disseminating
experience, etc; the centros del profesorado13 are the main agents in this ICT training of teachers;
• t he provision of digital educational resources, based on free software; to promote quantity and quality,
competitions are organised, and teachers as well as private publishers who create resources are awarded
grants (in particular through the Internet en la escuela and Internet en el aula initiatives);
• s ignificant technical support provided to teachers and centrally organised; all state schools are connected
to the same network: the Red Corporativa de la Junta de Andalucia (RCJA) and supported by the Centro
de Gestion Avanzada (CGA, Centre for Advanced Management).

Centro de Gestion Avanzada/CGA


Employing some sixty people who form a multidisciplinary technical team, the CGA has an annual budget
of 3,000,000 euros. Its activities are focused on the following:
•u  ser support: the CGA handles all messages sent in by users either by email, fax or through the online
forum it manages. Available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Friday, the CGA is able to resolve 90%
of support requests immediately. If not, the problem is analysed and the CGA contacts the teacher or
school again as soon as the solution is found. Any problems that could affect the whole network are
referred to a specialised team responsible for making the necessary changes at the central level.
• s upport to schools: the CGA takes delivery of materials and equipment (hardware and peripherals) and
ensures their compatibility with Guadalinex (the UBUNTU-based open source operating system adopted
by the Autonomous Community of Andalusia for its state schools); guides and recommendations for use
are made available; a specific open-source information system called SIGILA maintains a database to
log incident management and fault location.
•D  evelopment: disconnecting remote computers and other equipment in schools (before weekends,
holidays, etc.), development and management of content filters, etc.

Components
A set of platforms, developed gradually since 1998, serves different audiences according to their respective
needs and uses.

13 The Centros del Profesorado (Teacher Centres) were created in 1985. Organised on a regional or provincial basis, they are a central
element in the in-service training of teachers and in innovation for educational reform of the Andalusian system. Based on a participative
approach on the part of teachers, these centres are platforms for training, study and work.
50 Spain – Andalusia and Catalonia: different regional approaches but based on open-source software


HELVIA
This platform hosts digital teaching resources and is aimed at teachers and pupils.
Based on open source software, this platform allows the organisation of curriculum content, planning of
academic tasks, and implementation of a communication system between teachers and pupils. Helvia offers
schools three integrated modules:

• Sitio, a module for creating web pages for schools, which provides an easy-to-use graphical interface
to use, school information management (central information store, group emails, etc.), use of wiki-style
tools, etc.

• Bitacora, a module to create blogs on the Internet for the exchange of opinions and publication of content
on specific topics, for use by teachers, pupils and the entire school community

• Aula virtual, the working platform for students and teachers. This is the most complex module offered on
the Helvia platform. It contains an educational module (educational content and resource server, tasks for
pupils to complete with learning guides, enhancement and deepening of learning, assigning tasks, content
generation), a communication module (email, bulletin board, chats, interactive discussion forum, instant
messaging), a calendar module (space management, teacher timetables, etc.), an administration module
(monitoring of activities for pupils, teachers and the school, administration of the communication module),
and a tutorial help module (self-training activities, etc.).

MEDIVA
This platform, developed in 2008, again open source, hosts educational resources created in the form of
video and audio files, and is a kind of YouTube specially for the Andalusian educational system.
Its resources are made available to pupils and were created by members of the educational community
(teachers and pupils). Their content is therefore devoid of violence, etc.
These resources can be viewed without being downloaded.
Alongside the traditional functions of hosting, embedding with code, download, access by category and
advanced search, the platform offers Web 2.0 functionality such as access control by profile, interactivity
through opportunities for feedback, validation of resources by users, etc.
51

AVERRŒS
Implemented in 1998, the AVERROES server hosts the web pages of over 1,500 state primary and secondary
schools, i.e. about 40% of state schools. In fact, AVERROES is aimed at and is mostly used by teachers. It
provides information on on-going innovations, issues of special interest to teachers (immigrant pupils, living
together in school, continuing education, etc.), training opportunities, etc.
AVERROES also offers e-mail accounts, a space for creation of databases and a web tool for their
maintenance. All educational resources are referenced.
AVERROES currently receives 50 to 60 thousand hits per day, mostly on weekdays and especially during
school hours. No login or password is required to use AVERROES. Any potential user interested in resources
in Spanish can access it (many consultations originate from South America).
AVERROES currently has about 15,000 active email accounts and these receive 10,000 visits per day

COLABOR@
COLABOR@ is the virtual platform dedicated to teachers’ group/team work and resource sharing.
COLABOR@ makes it possible to participate in discussion forums, collaborate on blogs and wiki user
communities, share teaching resources, and publish announcements. Teacher training through participation
in thematic working groups is at the heart of the project.
An online tool is available in the event of technical problems.
Andalusian teachers appreciate being able to develop their own resources and these are judged of very high
quality by the Consejera de Educación. The best at each level of education are regularly selected, rewarded
and widely exploited.
COLABOR@ receives about 1,000 visits per day.

PASEN
PASEN is the platform that aims to integrate families into the school’s development plans, with the aim of
creating a large community around the school.
Via identified access, the various community members (parents, pupils, teachers, management team) can
access a range of tools that facilitate communication and monitoring of pupils’ learning.
In addition to basic information on the school, PASEN offers parents information on events in the institution
and on specific topics of interest. Discussion forums are also provided; surveys and polls can be organised.
PASEN is also designed as an alternative for parents who are unable to visit the school.
Teachers use PASEN to indicate the work to be done by pupils, to record their absences, give the dates
of examinations, to exchange various messages with parents about their children, etc. All the information
about each pupil is recorded there.
The objective of PASEN is not to monitor (this is more the role of SENECA, see below), but to provide general
information on pupils and the school.
PASEN receives about 1,000 visits per day.
52 Spain – Andalusia and Catalonia: different regional approaches but based on open-source software

SENECA
SENECA is the Internet platform devoted to academic management, designed to facilitate communication
between each school and the rest of the school management system (other schools, provincial offices, the
central services of the Consejería de educación).
Schools feed information directly into the system. Their motivation to do so stems from the fact that SENECA
is designed to make good the deficiencies of earlier systems and maximise the value of information on
pupils (e.g. all data relating to a pupil follows him/her when he/she enters a new school, thus reducing the
administrative burden). SENECA allows direct sharing of information between schools and the Consejería de
Educación as well as electronic payment of fees (school meals, etc.). The system also makes it possible to
manage the forecast number of teachers for each subject for the coming school year, and loans of material to
pupils (laptops, etc). It gives a very good overview of what is happening in schools, and their needs.
SENECA is adapted to the specificities of each type of school (primary, secondary, special education, etc.).
The system can also speed up the management of large volumes.
With SENECA, provided they have previously given their consent, parents can be informed the same day by
email of their child’s absence from class.
Technically, the system is considered complex, covering the entire region of Andalusia, as it has to handle the
traffic from 7,000 to 12,000 simultaneous connections. SENECA sometimes receives up to 250,000 hits per
day.
Currently, 50 schools are part of a pilot project in which it is possible to have all the information about them in
real time. The process is expected to be extended later to all schools.

Diagram of all services by users in Andalousia


53

Deployment
About 1,500 schools, i.e. half of the state schools of Andalusia, currently use these platforms.

The deployment took place as and when schools integrated ICT into their practices. From a hundred pilot
schools with almost 68,500 pupils in the school year 2003-4, the number grew to 300 schools and 86,200
pupils the following year, over 500 schools with 122,000 pupils in 2005-06, and over 800 schools with 137,000
pupils in 2006-07.

Teachers are generally very positive about the functions developed on these platforms. School pupils do not
seem really aware of the specific features that would be available to them; higher education students, by
contrast, are much more interested in such systems.

Parents, for their part, make little use of these platforms, including the one specifically designed for them. The
officials of the Andalusian Department of Education who were interviewed expressed concern about this and
wondered whether the services offered are appropriate. Projects for cooperation with parents’ associations
with a view to training parents, and the introduction of more Web 2.0 oriented services, are envisaged for the
future. In general terms, independently of the question of platforms for virtual communication, the relationship
between families and schools weakens as the child grows older, and mainly involves the mothers of the
youngest children.
Despite success in terms of of participation by teachers, wider deployment remains very gradual, especially
since the starting point for the region as a whole was very low (in terms of equipment, expertise, usage, etc.).

Uses and Users


• Pedagogic Uses
No studies have been conducted in Andalusia to evaluate the platforms implemented, comparable for
example to the studies by BECTA and OFSTED in the UK or by EVA in Denmark. The impression of the
officials concerned, however, is that pedagogic use is developing, albeit gradually. This usage is backed up
with technical support provided by dedicated arrangements which spare teachers from such aspects, with
efforts in teacher training, and with the provision of digital educational resources. Teachers are indeed proving
active in this field and able to create quality teaching resources. Pedagogic cooperation among teachers is
also increasing.
As observed in other countries, use by pupils takes place to the extent that the teacher puts work to be done
and aids for further study on these platforms, but little else.

• Communication Uses
Communication among teachers is well developed, and to a lesser extent, communication between teachers
and pupils is following the same path.
Communication between teachers and parents remains modest. The virtual learning platform cannot be
particularly blamed for this, since such communication in any medium is underdeveloped and tends to decline
as children grow older.
54 Spain – Andalusia and Catalonia: different regional approaches but based on open-source software


• Administrative Uses
The development of the SENECA platform demonstrates that it is now an important tool for the Autonomous
Community of Andalusia and its education system. The availability of online, real-time information about
schools, their pupils and their teachers is a goal currently being trialled with a group of schools, and its
application to a large number of schools is a medium-term objective. Access to this information in real time
is expected to lead to more effective regulation of the education system (projections of the need for teachers,
reduced administrative workload through automatic record transfer, etc.).

Governance
Governance arrangements for virtual platforms in Andalusia are clear: relations are organised mainly – and
fairly simply – top-down, between, on the one hand, the Andalusian Department of Education and, on the
other, schools and teachers (and parents).
The relationship between the central level (the Ministry of Education in Madrid) and the Department of Education
in Andalusia is managed by the latter in as much as the central ministry is not involved in the development
of educational projects in Andalusia. This relationship between the ministry and the region is also managed
through a forum that brings together the Departments of Education of all the Autonomous Communities of
Spain. This coordination between the Autonomous Communities and the Ministry in Madrid mainly takes the
form of exchange of information and definition of agreements in very general terms. This has led for example
to the AGREGA project, a platform for digital educational content offered by all the Autonomous Communities
with the support of the Ministry in Madrid (as mentioned earlier in this report).
Since the Andalusian Department of Education is directly involved in most operations concerning these school
platforms, specific governance arrangements with other partners are very rare.

Technology choices and security


The operating system chosen by the Autonomous Community of Andalusia is LINUX/UBUNTU/Guadalinex.
This is mandatory for educational institutions which develop virtual learning platforms.
In return, the Department of Education in Andalusia provides monitoring, updates and free and apparently
effective technical support.
No virus problem has been encountered to date, and the Department of Education in Andalusia states that
it devotes all the necessary (i.e. substantial) resources required to limit such risks.
This set-up is integrated within a broader system developed within the government of the Autonomous
Community of Andalusia, including a secure intranet for health administration. The general security
constraints sometimes have an impact on the network used by schools and can limit some of their activities
(e.g., some forms of chat with foreign schools).
55

Success Factors
Elements considered in retrospect as being the success factors for virtual learning platform initiatives are:
• The choice of an open source operating system (LINUX/UBUNTU) which aimed to put all teachers on an
equal footing from the start and to organise standard basic training, without giving an advantage to those
with experience of proprietary systems, (“a really decisive factor”, according to one official interviewed).
• A step by step approach in which 5 to 6 years were considered necessary before results would be seen in
terms of change in teaching methods.
• A strong approach from the start, putting technology at the service of pedagogy.

The case of Catalonia: 


an approach based on teacher demand

Context
Since 1983, the Department of Education of Catalonia has pursued continuous action in support of ICT in
an integrated approach combining investment in school equipment and telecommunications infrastructure,
teacher training, and the provision of digital resources and services. Actions in these areas have been
accompanied by various support measures, such as the creation of the role of ICT coordinator (coordinador
ICT), intended to drive forward the school’s ICT strategy and at the same time to create a community of
innovators (ICT coordinators’ network).
Adopted in 1986, the programmes PIE (Programas de Informática Educativa) and PMAV (Programas de
Medios Audiovisuales) were a resounding success and led to the creation of the portals XTec (Xarxa Telematica
Educativa) and edu365 (see below for a more detailed presentation of edu365).

PIE and PMAV


The ambition of the five-year PIE programme was to systematise all actions previously developed for
hardware and software, for curriculum development integrating ICT, for teacher training, educational digital
content, etc. The PMAV programme focused on the application of audiovisual material to teaching by
working on digital content, accreditation, coordination of initiatives, teacher training, production of video
tutorials, etc.

In 2001, the EDUCAMPUS initiative was launched by the Autonomous Community of Catalonia as part of a
top-down approach. This initiative contributed in particular to the training of many teachers (200,000 higher
education students enrolled in higher education, including teachers undergoing initial training) but was not
really used as an environment for work with/by the pupil, although this was one of its initial objectives. It
was undertaken following the successful creation of the Open University of Catalonia in 1995, and teachers,
especially in secondary schools, were very proud to be following a path similar to that of their colleagues in
higher education.
56 Spain – Andalusia and Catalonia: different regional approaches but based on open-source software


Catalan teachers were immediately interested in MOODLE, again inspired by what was happening in
universities, where MOODLE was already well established (the eleven Catalan universities currently use
MOODLE). MOODLE is regarded by some as a CMS (Course Management System), by others as a VLE (Virtual
Learning Environment). Its modular structure explains this difference in perception: while it was originally a
CMS, this tool has a capacity for development that has enabled its community of users/developers to add
additional modules allowing it to perform new functions not initially available, such as tracking student test
results.

Experiments therefore developed step by step, at the initiative of teachers and schools. This time as part of
a bottom-up approach (in contrast to EDUCAMPUS), the Department of Education of Catalonia supported
these initiatives. In 2004-5, a server was installed in the Autonomous Community of Catalonia for schools to
download MOODLE software. Some 900 Catalan schools were involved. The free choice given to schools led
in some cases to the coexistence of five versions of MOODLE in a single institution. This situation created
a heavy workload in maintenance as well as for the server of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, and
consequently an ‘institutional’ version of MOODLE was adopted in 2007: AGORA.

As regards the training offered to teachers, an online training system, set up by the Open University of
Catalonia (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, UOC) has also helped to develop teachers’ interest in ICT. For
well over a decade, primary school teachers – who held the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree (in Bologna
terminology) – have been able to take two-year online courses. This enabled them to obtain a master’s level
qualification entitling them (to their great satisfaction) to teach at secondary level.

In terms of curriculum, as of the school year 2007-8, the Department of Education put in place a new programme
aimed at primary and secondary education, which integrates digital skills transversally in each subject.
As a result of this integrated set of actions, the ca. 2,200 state schools in Catalonia are currently equipped with
broadband internet access (2Mb/s); an annual plan for training activities, mostly through distance learning,
has 22,000 enrolments; and a platform offering digital content and services (edu365) provides each pupil with
a virtual workspace (on condition he/she makes use of it).

Components
Virtual learning platforms are known in Catalan as Entorn Virtual d’Ensenyament Aprenentatge (EVEA), or
campus virtual, or plataforma elearning. They are seen as a central component in the range of pedagogic
tools capable of integrating all the uses made possible by the ICT equipment now supplied to schools
(computers, cameras, video projectors, etc.) into a single environment. An EVEA is thus defined as a virtual
space, accessible via the Internet, which brings together various applications that facilitate the organisation
of digital content and learning management. Its users are the teachers, pupils and administrators who register
in the system according to a specific profile that enables them to access various services variously offered.

In terms of applications, an EVEA offers:


• communication tools: forums, chat, messaging, etc.
• learning tools: (web pages, presentations, etc.) and various activities
• tools for management and organisation: calendar, diary, notice board etc., including tools for monitoring
and evaluating students.
Various platforms have been created for different uses and target groups.
57

XTEC
XTec is a portal devoted to the educational use of ICT by teachers and schools, providing a remote access
service for teachers, an email service which currently has more than 220,000 accounts, and various other
services for its users, such as facilities for creating digital content and collaboration.
More than 70,000 teachers are registered and more than 1,000 schools have registered their web platform
there.
XTec provides a powerful infrastructure of servers and communication equipment, through a broadband
network (2 Gb/s capacity) to which educational institutions are connected.
XTec (which stands for Xarxa Telemàtica Educativa de Catalunya, Educational Telematic Network of
Catalonia) in fact dates back to 1988, when videotext and full duplex protocols were used. In 1995, XTec
services were brought to the Internet.

AGORA
AGORA is a service of the educational computer network in Catalonia, accessible via XTEC, which provides
schools with the necessary infrastructure and support to create and manage the dynamic environments of
school MOODLE platforms.
The installation and updating of servers are handled by XTEC, both to relieve schools of these activities and
to ensure their optimisation. Schools are responsible only for managing content, users and activities. Only
tested modules are made available to schools. AGORA keeps schools informed of new MOODLE features.
The AGORA project started in July 2007 with 45 schools; in February 2008, the second phase started, with
300 schools. Since September 2008, this MOODLE service has been open and accessible to all schools.
Specifically, AGORA contains: access to the application form for the service, discussion forums, information
boards about the service, documentation installed on platforms and help.
Accompanying measures have been implemented, such as online courses to teach the operation of both
AGORA and MOODLE; in the latter case, the courses are offered by universities.

AGORA is used by state primary and secondary schools. Private (but publicly funded) schools almost all
have a platform, but not running MOODLE; they prefer PEDAGOGIA INTERACTIVA.

In addition to MOODLE, AGORA provides an intranet/intraweb tool specially designed for institutional
communication, a role for which MOODLE is not specifically designed.
AGORA is an extremely powerful system and has no problems with technical capacity, however intensively
it is used.
58 Spain – Andalusia and Catalonia: different regional approaches but based on open-source software


edu365.com
edu365, a portal for pupils, came into service on XTec in 2001. It provides pupils with a digital desktop, a
diary, digital educational contents related to the curriculum, a personal workspace that can serve as the
digital portfolio for the pupil’s work, online consultations with teachers, and general information for parents.
On edu365, institutional contents are classified by subject and time of use. In general, teachers do not create
these resources; instead, they search for them online and tag them. The content offer comes essentially
from publishers; this consists mostly of digital (as opposed to digitised) textbooks which are aligned with
the curriculum. Partnerships are agreed with museums and various other organisations to expand the supply
of digitised content.
edu365.com was selected in early 2010 in the United States to be part of the Computerworld Honors
Collection (http://www.cwheroes.org/his_4a_detail.asp?id=4431).

CLIC
CLIC is a virtual community of teachers active in producing digital educational contents. These are a set
of applications based on open source software that can be used to create various types of educational
multimedia activities. CLIC is also a service of the Department of Education of Catalonia, created with the
aim of supporting the dissemination and use of such resources, providing an area for cooperation open to
participation by all educators who wish to share materials created using CLIC applications.

Diagram of all services by users in Catalonia


59

Deployment
Deployment of Virtual Learning Platforms in Catalonia has been gradual. Starting in 2004, this deployment
now covers just over 50% of state schools, i.e. nearly 1,200 of a total of approximately 2,200 schools (private
schools not included).

The following table gives the figures for this deployment during the last period:
12/05/2009 24/08/2009 26/12/2009 27/02/2010
Schools 771 1043 1193 1191
Users 78698 84882 170901 14
197218

While the virtual learning platform system is regarded by the officials concerned as a success among teachers,
only 10% of schools have students as users.
Some schools create accounts for parents on their own sites, but this is very rare.
Many initiatives have been undertaken to provide in-service training of teachers, whose involvement is seen
as a key factor of success. The involvement of head teachers is also essential (it is even ‘decisive’ according
to one official interviewed). This is what justifies the many teacher training and coaching activities carried out
in Catalonia. Local services organise conferences to educate school leaders, all the more so because a recent
law (Ley de Educació de Catalunya, LEC) gives more autonomy to schools. This law stipulates that it is now
obligatory to provide digital services to pupils (Article 89).

Uses and Users


• Pedagogic Uses
As in the case of Andalusia, and in the absence of evaluation studies, those responsible for implementation
of these platforms consider their educational use to be growing steadily.
As observed elsewhere, use by pupils is low. One official who was questioned estimates that “Perhaps 10%
of pupils in the more than a thousand schools with a platform use it regularly.”

• Communication Uses
Communication among teachers is growing gradually, followed to a lesser extent by teacher-pupil
communication.
Communication between teachers and parents is very underdeveloped. Unlike Andalusia, Catalonia has not
developed a platform specifically dedicated to communication with parents.

• Administrative Uses
There is at present little interest in exchange of data between institutions. Catalonia has no equivalent to
Andalusia’s SENECA platform.

14 The sizeable increase in the number of users between August and December 2009 is due to the permanent closure of EDUCAMPUS
and transfer of these users to AGORA.
60 Spain – Andalusia and Catalonia: different regional approaches but based on open-source software


Governance
The Catalan officials interviewed consider that governance problems, where they exist, sit rather within
schools than as part of external governance. Schools make their requests to the Department of Education
of Catalonia, and relations between them and the central level on the one hand and local authorities on the
other hand are clearly defined.

Technology choices and security


As a consequence of teacher preferences, the great majority of Catalan virtual platforms use MOODLE
technology. The Department of Education of Catalonia provides all the necessary technical support
services. In comparison with proprietary solutions, the flexibility of open source software is stressed; it is
considered an asset in resolving potential security problems.

Three options are available for schools that use MOODLE for their platform: installing a local server specific
to their institution (faster, more customisation); using an external server in exchange for a fee; and hosting
by AGORA (free, slower, more uniform, but easier to manage).

Schools are responsible for user management, selection and sequencing of digital educational content of
various origins, assignment of teaching activities and managing backup copies of platform data. They are
also responsible for assigning and managing identifiers. Two security levels are provided on the portals
of educational institutions and are managed by means of differentiated access rights – for users who can
access the institution and the smaller number who can access classes.

Success Factors
The adoption of a bottom-up approach (after only partial success with a top-down approach), building on the
preference expressed by the teachers for MOODLE, is considered a key to success.

The training activities directed at teachers are regarded as another factor contributing to success. The
involvement of teachers thus remains the backbone of the policy pursued by the Department of Education
of Catalonia. “Involving head teachers is almost even more crucial”, according to one official interviewed. To
encourage this involvement, training activities, coaching, etc. are arranged and conferences are organised by
the local services.

A coaching programme was conducted in 2009-2010 to train 200 trainers who will become school advisers
for all ICT matters.
61
Part Two

What can we learn from experience


in other countries?
What can we learn from experience
in other countries?
The State of Deployment

The implementation of virtual learning platforms is almost universal in Denmark, but still marked by weak
development of educational uses. Elsewhere, deployment is more limited, affecting 40% to 55% of schools,
and use by pupils and parents is lower than that by teachers.

In Denmark, 97% of state schools in compulsory education currently use a virtual learning platform. According
to an evaluation study conducted by EVA15 in 2009, administrative and organisational uses (bulk orders of
material, booking of classrooms, etc.) and communication between teachers and with parents are much more
developed than the educational uses.

However, as in other European countries, in the United Kingdom, Catalonia and Andalusia, 40-55% of state
primary and secondary schools use a virtual learning platform. Deployment is generally considered slower
than expected although it continues to progress each year. The complexity of the partnerships developed,
the multiplicity of the skills needed to master the entire process, the variety and novelty of the uses being
developed are mentioned in particular to explain this situation.

Deployment models

Denmark, the United Kingdom, Andalusia and Catalonia all show phased deployment, in some cases even
slower than expected. In all cases, a simultaneous or consecutive combination of top-down and bottom-up
approaches is found, except in Andalusia, which favours a clearly top-down approach. However, clear
differences appear in the degree of prescription as regards platforms, resulting in a level of diversity that varies
from one country to another. But ultimately, whatever deployment motivations and strategies are applied,
progress takes time.

Phased progression
Whether it is intentional or observed retrospectively to be so, the deployment model is in all cases phased.
Recognising the complexity of the processes involved and/or subject to budgetary constraints, the Danish and
Spanish education officials have intentionally implemented phased deployment models. Denmark has opted
for a pragmatic, organic development model based mainly on demand from teachers and parents, supporting
a platform created spontaneously by two teachers (SkoleIntra). The various uses have been developed in
stages: communication among teachers was first implemented, then a digital educational resource portal
was created, and finally a more and more integrated service – including parent involvement and sharing
of information on schools in the same territory – has been made available. Andalusia and Catalonia have
proceeded by tranches of schools. Andalusia has used a system of annual tenders, which supplied schools
selected for the quality of their project with all the necessary equipment and technical and pedagogical
support free of charge. Catalonia has kept pace with the growing enthusiasm of its teachers for MOODLE
and chosen a version of MOODLE, called AGORA, for which the Region provides teachers and schools with
pedagogic and technical support.

15 EVA is the Danish education evaluation institute.


65

The United Kingdom has made major efforts in supplying hardware and connectivity, training teachers and
librarians, and providing online educational resources and information sharing systems. These investments
have been regularly assessed by BECTA and OFSTED,16 which has led to changes of emphasis along the way
when necessary. Recent evaluation studies nonetheless show a deployment that is slower than expected and
mainly benefiting secondary schools. The technical complexity and multiplicity of the necessary skills and
the number of policy areas in which investment must be made more or less simultaneously are the reasons
adduced for this situation.

Variable level of prescription


There are clear differences from country to country. They range from the ‘single regional model’ (Andalusia,
GLOW in Scotland) to the flexible framework (the United Kingdom, where there are two major models,
themselves subject to variations) through intermediate situations which combine homogeneity of the platform
models developed with allowances for teachers’ preferences (Denmark, which integrates stakeholder
involvement at the base, and Catalonia, which adapts to user demand).

At first sight, Denmark could be seen as having a relatively high level of prescription, given that the overwhelming
majority of state schools in compulsory education use the same platform. That would be to overlook that this
platform has received the spontaneous support of many teachers, in particular because it was designed by
two teachers and, moreover, within a participatory process that continuously gives users the opportunity to
add to a blog their suggestions for further improvements.

The situation in Catalonia is in a way similar to that of Denmark. Although a specific version of the MOODLE
platform (AGORA) was chosen by the Catalan educational authorities for obvious reasons of good management
of resources and to avoid dispersion of effort, it was the interest and commitment expressed by Catalan
teachers for this type of platform that lay behind this decision and led the region of Catalonia to contribute its
technical and pedagogical support and its anticipation of future needs to the AGORA platform.

The situation is different in the United Kingdom, where a flexible prescriptive framework has been established.
Schools are free to adopt it or not; if they do not, they receive no support. A list of accredited platform providers
has been drawn up, and a framework of features, some mandatory, some optional, has been defined. The
current result is that two major models are in force: a centralised platform model, funded and implemented by
the local authorities,17 and an “institutional” model (typically based on MOODLE), funded and developed for
itself by the educational institution concerned. These two models can coexist within the same geographical
area. The centralised model is more attractive to primary schools (with limited technical resources) whereas
the “institutional” model has found more favour with secondary schools, which appreciate the opportunity to
customise their platforms. Overall therefore, the landscape of the United Kingdom in terms of virtual learning
platforms is much more heterogeneous than in Denmark, Catalonia and Andalusia.

16 BECTA is the Government agency dedicated to the integration of ICT into the British education system, and OFSTED is the inspectorate
of the same system.
17 GLOW in Scotland, for example, but also the London Grid, Birmingham Grid, Northern Grid, South-Western Grid.
66 What can we learn from experience in other countries?


Andalusia has opted for a model opposite to that of the UK, developing a specific platform model applicable
to all institutions of the Autonomous Community. This model is de facto imposed on institutions since it is
the only one to receive substantial support from the regional education authorities, including free equipment,
teacher and school training, and up-to-the-minute technical and pedagogic support.

Combination of bottom-up and top-down approaches


With virtual learning platforms, as in other areas, the question persists of the effectiveness of bottom-up
approaches, where the impulse comes from the users, and of top-down approaches, where the impulse
comes from the authorities.

Analysis of the policies applied in Denmark, the United Kingdom, Andalusia and Catalonia shows that, in the
implementation of virtual learning platforms, these two types of approaches are in fact often used in succession
or sometimes are combined at the same time. Either type may be effective depending on the objective aimed
for or the issue in question: for example, phases that require the commitment and motivation of users are more
effective when conducted bottom-up; phases of consolidation and technologically advanced development
benefit more from a top-down approach.

In Denmark, for example, a bottom-up initiative has been applied for developing digital educational content
by teachers (ITMF).18 It generated many interesting contributions from teachers, but did not allow them
to be more widely used. Another initiative (ITIF),19 which was top-down in character, followed it to ensure
wider deployment. Denmark provides another example of the combination of the two approaches, this time
simultaneously and in the long term. A bottom-up approach, which consisted in taking as its starting point
a platform developed (and at first almost improvised) by two teachers, was combined with a top-down
approach in which UNI-C20 applied its specialised knowledge to improving and enhancing it, from the start of
development in 2001 to the present day.

Andalusia has chosen a clearly top-down approach, but in a context in which the decision maker (the
Andalusian Department of Education) is at the heart of the operation and in direct contact with schools,
which enables it more easily to take account of the demands expressed by users. Catalonia has opted for an
approach which was initially top-down (EDUCAMPUS21) but which did not achieve the expected results; this
was then replaced by a much more bottom-up approach, based on teachers´ interest in MOODLE.

In the United Kingdom, some clearly top-down approaches, for example in a region or geographical area
(GLOW in Scotland, Birmingham Grid, South-Western Grid, etc.) sit alongside much more bottom-up
approaches that result from the (growing) enthusiasm of users, particularly for MOODLE.

18 See section on Denmark for more information on the ITMF initiative.


19 Cf. previous note.
20 UNI-C is the national agency supplying expertise to the Danish Ministry of Education for the integration of ICT into the education
system.
21 See the section on Spain for more information about EDUCAMPUS.
67

Modes of governance
Relatively consensual governance is generally observed, based either on the participation of all stakeholders
(Denmark), or on a clear division of responsibilities for implementation (Andalusia and Catalonia). Governance
issues do not, therefore, appear to be particularly problematic; they appear more complex in the UK given the
size of the territory to be covered, the multiplicity of stakeholders, and the complexity of the projects.

Steeped in a tradition of involvement of all stakeholders and consensus building, in practice, the division of
responsibilities is clear in Denmark. The Ministry gives the impetus; UNI-C, the central agency which provides
specialised support for all ICTE matters, guarantees expert implementation; local authorities support a project
that promises them easier management of all the institutions and actors within their jurisdiction; and schools
and teachers are directly involved throughout the development project, and indeed on a relatively large scale
(online blog).

In Spain, a forum for cooperation operates between the central level (the Ministry in Madrid) and all the
Autonomous Communities as regards the broad guidelines, allowing cross-fertilisation of regional initiatives
(the teaching resources platform AGREGA,22 for example). In addition, the autonomy of the Communities
means that the circuits for decision making and implementation are short and simple. Andalusia and Catalonia
are fully in control of the implementation of their policies and initiatives and in contact down the line with
their schools; they also benefit from the link provided by the deconcentrated administration at local level.
Moreover, the Autonomous Community of Andalusia practices very little outsourcing from private providers,
which reduces the transactions in terms of governance. In Catalonia, if governance problems occur, they tend
to be at the level of the individual school.

The governance practiced in the United Kingdom is often complex, which does not prevent success. The
Scottish GLOW platform is an example of this, with the tripartite agreement which involves the 32 administrative
regions of Scotland, the Scottish Government and the technology partner RM, and which co-exists with
other, “lower” levels of governance (local technical support teams, etc.). The establishment of the Regional
Broadband Consortia, which group local authorities to provide schools in England with affordable broadband
connectivity is another example. When obstacles are encountered in implementation of virtual learning
platforms, they are similar to those faced by the general integration of ICTE projects. They most often stem
from a lack of professional expertise in informing policy makers, a lack of clear, strong project leadership, too
little cooperation at all levels, a lack of consultation with schools, and the incoherence of many initiatives and
implementation plans in schools.

22 For more information, see the section on Spain, and also this address: http://www.proyectoagrega.es/default/Inicio
68 What can we learn from experience in other countries?


Uses
Everywhere, the uses for communication, essentially among teachers, are those most developed; in Denmark,
they also involve parents. Everywhere, too, educational uses are insufficiently practised. The use of virtual
platforms for management and organisation (booking rooms, ordering materials, etc..) is seen everywhere,
with varying intensity. In the United Kingdom, and to a lesser extent in Andalusia and Denmark, the virtual
platforms are also used as systems for managing large volumes of administrative information on schools and
pupils.

• Pedagogic Uses
Educational uses, i.e. those related to processes that transform information into knowledge through the
interaction between teachers and pupils, are limited everywhere. Also, pupils play little part in the exchanges
that are organised on virtual platforms; their participation is limited to the work to be done, uploaded by
teachers. This finding may be explained by the absence of a pedagogical model that would exploit the specific
characteristics of virtual platforms to develop innovative teaching practices, based on active learning by pupils
rather than on perpetuating a traditional pedagogy of transmission from teacher to pupil.

Positive synergy is, however, observed in Denmark, between certain characteristics of the education system,
such as the autonomy of teachers and pupils’ teamwork on projects, and the educational use of virtual
platforms. These platforms are also found to be increasingly used by pupils when it comes to continuing their
schoolwork after class time (which in Denmark ends around 1.30 pm, also meaning that teachers are more
available to monitor and help their pupils online).

The use of virtual platforms helps to develop cooperation among teachers. Their teamwork is unevenly
developed in different countries, but everywhere platforms offering digital learning resources have received
particular attention. Teachers create resources there or comment on and evaluate them.

Apart from the absence of a new pedagogical model that has already been mentioned, the obstacles identified
to the development of pedagogical uses are linked to the absence of a clear vision of the specific contribution
of a platform at school level, the constraints stemming from the organisation of the school (in particular
limited access to computers at certain times and places), and lack of time for teachers to practise the use of
platforms. The solutions recommended to remedy this situation include specific training for teachers and the
use of platforms to provide solutions to pedagogical problems commonly encountered by teachers (teamwork,
regaining the interest of unmotivated pupils, administrative overload, etc.).

• Communication uses
Blogs, forums, conferences, messaging, etc. hosted on virtual platforms are meeting with undeniable success
among teachers in Denmark, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Only in Denmark, however, does this communication also involve parents; their enthusiasm springs from
interest in what is happening in the school and the wish to take part, rather than from an urge to control.
Elsewhere, communication with parents is very little developed, whether systems have been put in place
(Andalusia) or not (Catalonia). In general, and not only on virtual platforms, contacts between schools and
parents are limited, and this distance increases as the pupils grow older.
69

The success of communication uses among teachers suggests that these systems meet a need of the
profession: the failure of the same uses in the case of parents tends to confirm that when the interest does not
exist, such systems will not manage to create demand, as is confirmed a contrario by the situation in Denmark.

• Administrative uses
These uses can be observed at two levels: that of the institution, around a set of functions that regulate school
life, and that of the body responsible at higher level (local, regional or national depending on the case), where
advanced systems are installed to manage large volumes of information relating to schools and pupils, and for
which interoperability is an essential criterion. This type of use is particularly developed in the United Kingdom,
with a view to the rationalisation of administrative tasks, an objective actively pursued by policymakers. It can
also be seen in Denmark and is gaining ground in Andalusia where, through the SENECA platform, the goal is
eventually to access in real time all information about all schools (pupils and teachers) in the Andalusia region
(especially for planning purposes).

The motor for development of such uses is the need to centralise data across a territory and to reduce
administrative burdens.

Success Factors
Three key success factors emerge: the participation of teachers in the whole process from conception
and throughout its implementation; pragmatism and patience in a deployment that takes time; and finally,
the availability of resources (technical support, training, communication, financing, etc.). In terms of both
participation and pragmatism, Denmark is a striking illustration.

Stakeholders consider as another success factor putting the technology from the outset at the service of
pedagogy. This is particularly the case in Andalusia, and also in Catalonia. The organisation of many online
courses for teachers themselves has also perhaps contributed to providing them, when they were in the
position of the learner, with a pedagogical model they were later able to replicate for their pupils.
The mobilisation of a territory to support its development through education, and especially for the
modernisation of education, is another success factor clearly seen in Scotland, through the GLOW platform,
and in Andalusia and Catalonia.

Close cooperation from the outset with commercial publishers of digital educational resources who will feed
the resources portal is a strategy that has been shown to be positive; it has been implemented in Denmark
and the United Kingdom from the start of the introduction of virtual platforms and has enhanced the range of
content on offer in terms of both diversity and quality.

The same is true of the provision to teachers of widely available technical support, enabling them to focus on
educational aspects, as in Andalusia for example, through the CGA (Advanced Management Centre) and the
school ICT coordinators.
70 What can we learn from experience in other countries?


The strategic use of virtual platforms to solve specific problems that arise for teachers has enabled these
platforms to win readier acceptance. One example is given by Denmark, where a specific module was made
available to teachers as soon as a reform required the writing of an individual assessment and monitoring
report for each pupil.

At a more technical level, carrying out evaluations (more or less formal), integrated into the process itself or
occurring regularly, such as those conducted by BECTA and OFSTED in the UK, generates greater chances
of success because they allow a change of course when necessary.

Permanent access to ICT equipment, in classrooms rather than laboratories, and with the widest possible
opening hours (ideally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week) also contribute to the success of virtual platforms,
which, if they are to be truly useful and effective, must be available to teachers and pupils throughout their
daily activities, including when the class is finished.

Finally, some situations specific to one education system or another have proved to be conducive to the
successful deployment of virtual platforms. One example is the high level of trust between the various
stakeholders in the Danish educational system (teachers, parents, pupils, policymakers, etc.). Such a situation
is obviously difficult to transfer, but it suggests that any initiative supporting the development of such trust is
likely to have a positive impact. In Spain, the integration of virtual platforms in higher education and the prestige
enjoyed by the Open and Distance Learning University of Catalonia has played a positive role inasmuch as
primary and secondary schools were proud to have the same opportunities. In Scotland, the association of
the platforms with the implementation of an entirely new curriculum (GLOW) proved particularly successful.

Conclusions

The complexity and obstacles encountered in the increasing spread of virtual learning platforms are not
primarily technological. It is the implementation processes that are key. Those are certainly complex and, as
such, require from the various partners a mastery of a broad range of skills. This is something that should not
be overlooked at any stage in the process.

Faced with the reality of underdeveloped pedagogic use and too little active participation by pupils, a
hypothesis deserves to be put forward: does this not result from an (implicit) initial design of the platforms
based on a model of knowledge transfer, itself resulting from the absence of a new pedagogical model?

Despite the difficulties, virtual learning platforms are nonetheless showing themselves to be bearers of change.
The creation of educational resources they have encouraged, the enhanced teamwork among teachers, and
the modernisation and rationalisation of administrative tasks all bear witness to this.
71
72 Appendix 1 – National correspondents, interviews and reports by country

Appendix 1 – National correspondents,


interviews and reports by country

UK

Author of the base report on the United Kingdom and national correspondent

Mary Mallon Head of Curriculum Development C2k


(Curriculum Development Manager) in C2k; Organisation in charge of ICT equipment of schools
seconded to European Schoolnet from November in Northern Ireland
2008 to November 2009

Interviews (October 2009) by Mary Mallon (C2k/European Schoolnet)

Dr. John Chapman, Senior Information BECTA (Coventry)


Management Architect,

Paul Shœsmith, Technical Strategy Director BECTA (Coventry)

David Owens, Business Manager Link2ICT (Birmingham)

Karen Crowston, Head of Policy LINK2ICT (Birmingham)

Andrew Brown, Development Manager GLOW (Glasgow)

Jimmy Stewart, Director C2k (Belfast)

Carol McAlister, Acting Curriculum Development C2k (Belfast)


Manager
Appendix 1 – National correspondents, interviews and reports by country 73

Denmark

Co-authors of the base report on Denmark

Roger Blamire, Project Leader European Schoolnet, chef de projet

Patricia Wastiau, Principal Adviser “Studies and European Schoolnet, conseiller principal « Etudes
Development” et Développement »

National Correspondent for this study

Ole Gram Clausen, works on SkoleIntra, in UNI-C


daily contact with schools that use this platform; Danish Centre for Technology Education and
implementation adviser Research (government agency)

Interviews (6 and 7 October 2009) by Roger Blamire (European Schoolnet) in Copenhagen

Per Thorbøll, Deputy Director; in particular, in UNI-C


charge of support for the overall design and
strategic development of virtual learning platforms

Johnny Riber Larsen, Manager of SkoleKom UNI-C

Christina Rønne, works on SkoleKom (cooperative UNI-C


learning aspects)

Ole Windeløv, works on SkoleIntra (expert on UNI-C


technical issues, integration of SkoleIntra with other
products)

Jesper Campbell Barratt, experienced teacher, in Amager Fælled Skole (school)


particular using EleveIntra in SkoleIntra
74 Appendix 1 – National correspondents, interviews and reports by country

Spain

Author of base report on Spain

Patricia Wastiau, Principal Adviser “Studies and European Schoolnet


Development”

Interviews (in June 2009 and January 2010 in Barcelona and Seville) by Patricia Wastiau .
(European Schoolnet)

Carlos Medina Ministry of Education (email contacts)

Rafael Garcia Rivas Junta de Andalucía - Consejería de Educación


D.G. Participación e Innovación Educativa, Servicio
de Innovación Educativa

Marie-Noëlle Lazaro Universidad di Almeria


Associate professor
Didactics and School Organisation

Jordi Vivancos Marti Departament d'Educació – Generalitat de


Head of Servei de Tecnologies per a l’Aprenentatge Catalunya
Coneixement - Direcció General d’Innovació

Francesc Busquets Departament d'Educació – Generalitat de


Servei de Tecnologies per a l'Aprenentatge i el Catalunya
Coneixement - Direcció General d'Innovació

Author of the study report (summary by country and comparative report)

Patricia Wastiau, Principal Adviser “Studies and European Schoolnet


Development”
Appendix 1 – National correspondents, interviews and reports by country 75
76 Appendix 2: Bibliography

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schools 2005/2008, Ofsted, 2009, Available at: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/Ofsted-home/
Publications-and-research/Browse-all-by/Documents-by-type/Thematic-reports/The-importance-of-ICT-
information-and-communication-technology-in-primary-and-secondary-schools-2005-2008

The motivational effect of ICT on pupils, Department for Education and Skills, Research report, No. RR 523,
Available at: http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/RR523new.pdf

Transformational Government: implementation plan, Available at: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/


media/141737/transgovt.pdf

Virtual Learning Environments for European Schools: A Survey and Commentary, European Schoolnet,
2003, Available at: http://www.eun.org/etb/vle/vle_eun_feb_2003.pdf

Virtual Learning Environments: an evaluation of their development in a sample of educational settings,


Ofsted, 2009, Available at: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/Ofsted-home/Publications-and-research/Browse-all-by/
Documents-by-type/Thematic-reports/Virtual-learning-environments-an-evaluation-of-their-development-in-
a-sample-of-educational-settings

What research says about ICT and motivation, BECTa ICT Research, 2003, Available at: http://partners.
becta.org.uk/upload-dir/downloads/page_documents/research/wtrs_motivation.pdf

Younie, S., (2006), Implementing Government policy on ICT in education: Lessons learnt, Journal of
Education and Information Technologies, Vol 11, No. 3-4, Springer, Netherlands, 2006
Appendix 2: Bibliography 79

Denmark
European Schoolnet (2008), Insight country report Denmark, European Schoolnet, Bruxelles, 2008 : http://
insight.eun.org/ww/en/pub/insight/misc/country_report.cfm

Eurydice (2007-8), Données nationales, Eurydice : http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/Eurydice/


EuryPage?country=DK&lang=EN&fragment=2

Eurydice (2007-8), Résumé national, Eurydice : http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/documents/


eurybase/national_summary_sheets/047_DK_EN.pdf

EVA (2009), The Use of ICT in Danish Schools; a study of experience and perspectives, Résumé en anglais,
EVA, Copenhague, 2009.

Mørch, K. (2004), Skolekom Denmark – Case Study, Danish Center for Kompetence og IT. Report
commissioned by the French Ministry of Education.

Pederson (2007), Knowledge sharing in Danish schools: The educational and organisational use of
knowledge-sharing systems in Danish comprehensive primary and lower secondary schools and upper
secondary schools, Pederson, S. (ed.), Ministère danois de l’Enseignement / Rambøll Management,
Copenhague 2007.

OECD (2009), Beyond Textbooks: Digital Learning Resources as Systemic Innovation, OECD, Paris, 2009

Spain
European Commission / European Schoolnet (2009) STEPS Country Report Spain, European Schoolnet,
Brussels.

Eurydice (2009) Spain: National summary sheets on education systems in Europe and ongoing reforms,
European Commission.

Eurydice (2008/09) Organisation of the education system in Spain, European Commission.

European Commission / Empirica (2006), Using computers and the Internet in schools in Europe: summary
document – Spain, Brussels.

European Schoolnet (2008), dossier de synthèse: Spain (Catalonia), Brussels.

De Pablo Pons, J., et al, Autonomic educational policies and the integration of ICT in school. centers:
http://www.formatex.org/micte2009/book/1275-1279.pdf

S. Fernández and Lázaro M. N. (2008). Coordinador/a ICT. Pieza clave para la integración de las nuevas
tecnologias en las aulas, Revista Latinoamericana de Tecnologia Educativa, 7 (2), 177-187 [http://
campusvirtual.unex.es/cala/editio/]

OECD (2009), Education at a Glance, Spain country report, Paris. http://www.œcd.org/dataœcd/0/16/43700651.


pdf
80 Appendix 3: National and regional authorities responsible for education in England,
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Appendix 3: National and regional authorities responsible


for education in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland23
Responsibilities England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland

• Planning/monitoring Department Department Directorate Department of


school education of Children, of Children, General of Education for
• Guaranteeing Students and Education, Education Northern Ireland
supply of integrated Families (DCSF) Lifelong Learning (DENI)
services in the and Skills
programme (DCELLS)
• Coordination of
policies on children Department
and young people for Innovation,
• Science and Universities and
Innovation Skills (DIUS)

• Planning and funding Learning and Department Scottish Funding Department for
education beyond Skills Council of Children, Council (SFC) Employment and
age16 (LSC) Department Education, Learning (DEL)
• Skills, post- for Innovation, Lifelong Learning
compulsory and Universities and and Skills
higher education Skills (DIUS) (DCELLS)
• Higher education
Higher Education Higher Education
Funding Council Funding Council
for England for Wales
(HEFCE) (HEFCW)

• Inspection and Office of Her Majesty’s Her Majesty’s Education


regulation of schools Standards Inspectorate for Inspectorate of and Training
and post-compulsory in Education Education and Education (HMIe) Inspectorate
education (OFSTED) Training in Wales (ETI)
• Quality control for (ESTYN)
higher education Quality Assurance Quality Assurance Quality Assurance
Agency for HE Agency for HE Agency for HE Quality
(QAA) (QAA) (QAA) Assurance
Agency for HE
(QAA)

• Programme Qualifications Qualifications and Learning, Council for


development and Curriculum Curriculum Group Teaching Scotland Curriculum,
• Recommendations Authority (QCA) (QGC) (LTS) Examinations
to Government on and Assessment
all aspects of the Scottish (CCEA)
programme and Qualifications
assessment Authority (SQA)
• Public examinations

(Source: Eurydice Reports, DENI, Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly)

23 Due to the UK elections of May 2010, the information presented here may have changed.
81
82 Appendix 3: Responsibilities for education at local and school level

Responsibilities for education at local and school level


England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland

Local Education Responsible for Responsible for Responsible Responsible


Authorities: the organisation the organisation for pre-primary for local
(In Northern of schools of schools education funded administration
Ireland, they are financed by public financed by public by public funds of primary and
called Education funds through: funds through: through: secondary
and Library education
quality control in quality control in employment of
Boards - ELBs) through:
schools funded/ schools funded/ teaching staff;
subsidised by subsidised by financial
the supply and
public funds; public funds management of
funding of most
schools;
promoting high promoting high educational
teaching standards teaching standards services; equipment,
for pupils; for pupils; maintenance and
implementing
management costs
maintaining maintaining Scottish
of schools;
integrated integrated Government policy
departments departments in the field of offering a range
providing providing education; of educational
educational educational services, including
sharing decision
services and social services and social assistance with
making with
services and health services and health regard to the
ministers;
care for children. care for children programme,
joint responsibility special educational
for the new national needs, etc.
framework.
(The five ELBs will
be replaced by a
regional authority,
the ESA, in 2010.)
Appendix 3: Responsibilities for education at local and school level 83

England Wales Scotland Northern Ireland

Head teachers Leadership, Leadership, Management of Management,


internal internal almost 90 % of internal
organisation, organisation, school funds organisation,
management, management, management,
Leadership,
administration administration administration
internal
and control of the and control of the and control of the
organisation,
school school school
management,
Staff Management Staff Management administration Curriculum
and control of the
Curriculum Curriculum Standards in
school
teaching and
Standards in Standards in
Curriculum learning
teaching and teaching and
learning learning Standards in Resources and
teaching and infrastructure
Resources and Resources and
learning
infrastructure infrastructure
Resources and
Promoting good Promoting good
infrastructure
relations relations

Board of Budget decisions Budget decisions Budget decisions Budget decisions


Governors
Decisions on Decisions on Decisions on Decisions on
staffing staffing staffing staffing
Monitoring results Monitoring results Monitoring results Monitoring results
provided by the provided by the provided by the provided by the
school school school school
Advising on Advising on Advising on Advising on
planning of school planning of school planning of school planning of school
development development development development
Publication of the Publication of the Publication of the Publication of the
annual statement annual statement annual statement annual statement
of revenue and of revenue and of revenue and of revenue and
expenditure expenditure expenditure expenditure

(Sources: Eurydice Reports, DENI, Scottish Government)


84 


Acknowledgements

Our thanks go to all members of the Steering Committee of the study:

Département Développement Numérique


Karen Le Chenadec des Territoires
Department Director

Département Développement Numérique


Marie-Hélène Martinez des Territoires
Head of “Digital services and uses section”
PMS Coated version Yellow
Pantone 116 C Département Développement Numérique
Blue
Pantone 300 C des Territoires
Joël Boissière
eEducation Manager
Digital Economy Adviser
PMS Uncoated version Yellow
Pantone 108 U
Blue
Département Développement Numérique
Sylvie Le Loup
Pantone 300 U
des Territoires
Project Manager, “Educational Services”

Quadri version
Marc Durando
Yellow
Executive Director
0 % CYAN - 20% MAGENTA - 100% YELLOW - 0% BLACK
Blue
100 % CYAN - 45% MAGENTA - 0% YELLOW - 0% BLACK

Patricia Wastiau Chief Adviser, “Studies and Development”

Ministry of Education – Sub-Directorate


for Information and Communication Technologies
Jean-Yves Capul
for Education
Assistant director
Ministry of Education – Sub-Directorate
for Information and Communication Technologies
Alain Bethuys
for Education
“Infrastructure and Services” Programme Manager
Ministry of Education – Sub-Directorate
for Information and Communication Technologies
Marie Deroide for Education
“Digital services and digital workspaces for school
education” Project Manager
85

Our thanks also go to the members of the digital workspace project managers group who agreed to assist
the Steering Committee throughout the investigation and give their reactions to the draft general synopsis.

Chargé de Mission ENT,


Vincent Boissel
Midi Pyrénées Region

Head of ICTE service,


Jean Bravin
Ile de France Region

Head of ICTE service,


Pierre Danel
Clermont-Ferrand

Head of Section Actions Éducatives,


Géraldine Diaz
Département of Alpes Maritimes

Digital workspace manager,


Pierre Marin
Département of Seine-Saint-Denis

Head of ICTE service,


Patrick Reeb
Strasbourg

Inspector General,
Alain Séré
Ministry of Education

Deputy Director of ICTE,


Nathalie Terrades
Ministry of Education

Artistic direction/Realization
H.comm

Cover's visual
Graphicobsession
86
Conception - Caisse des Dépôts (Département du développement numérique des territoires) - Service communication DDTR - Réalisation H.COMM - octobre 2010

Caisse des Dépôts


Direction du développement territorial et du réseau
Département du développement numérique des territoires
Directeur — Karen Le Chenadec

72 av. Pierre Mendès France


75914 Paris CEDEX 13
Tél. : +33 (1) 58 50 73 74 — Fax : +33 (1) 58 50 07 31

www.valoffre.caissedesdepots.fr