With the Serbian Ministry of Education wanting to bring new technologies into the classroom it collaborated with teachers and publishers to bring blended teaching to the reformed 1st and 5th grade in Serbian primary and lower secondary schools. How did they manage?
The Ministry of Education (MoE) successfully executed an ambitious project to create 2000 new digital classrooms in the 2018/2019 school year. In comparison with recent disappointing initiatives in Europe the project was a huge success: top quality content was developed and uniquely implemented, and at a price per teacher/classroom that is extremely attractive.
The process started with a call to all innovative teachers who were willing to change their classroom experience. 2000 volunteered and 80 trainers guided 20-25 candidates each through several stages of training. With basic digital teaching and testing competences gained, the MoE gave each of the enrolled early adopters their individual hardware. It is now used in the classrooms, every day, throughout the school year from September to June.
The tender for publishers came later, but secured competition among 7 educational publishers. Only true blended learning solutions were supported with printed textbooks still in use almost in the same form as before the reform. The requirements included implementing Learning Management Systems, developed by the publishers on different platforms, to be used for different numbers of students. The sum offered to the publishers was roughly 150€ per teacher, regardless of the number of the students in the classroom.
Many digital materials and learning objects were developed locally, and much content has been translated; all for first graders and students of the 5th grade. Top quality, foreign materials also came from National Geographic, Twig, Getty, BBC, etc.
The project has been recognized as a success by the Serbian government and in 2019 a significant increase in the budget is planned. When implemented, it will radically modernize education in Serbia from 1st to 8th grade.
Guest article from Mr Bojan Radic, Special Advisor to the Minister Education, Serbia