Digitalisation programme for schools - newsflash from Croatia

The CEDEFOP website reported on a massive digitalisation programme of Croatian schools that will include the introduction of e-class registers (a well-established practice still a controversial one froma a parental point of view in many countries), a national distance learning portal and School 2.0, a 21st century way of schooling. Korak po Korak, the Croatian member of EPA has collected the opinion of some parents on the e-class register (e-class book) they already have experience with. The following reviews do not tackle the educational and trust issues arising from the introduction of this kind of feedback leaving out the child-parent bond yet, an issue in other countries.

1. E-class book is a simple application which enables insight into the child’s school grades in any moment. It also provides more detailed descriptive grades and notes which is important for the parents. The only drawback of the e-class book is that it reduces the contact with the class teacher.

2. I have a very positive opinion on e-class book because it is very user friendly and easily accessed. I also like that the grades are input quickly and immediately displayed. I have two children in the Elementary school in ńĆakovec. When it comes to the younger child, who attends the 3rd grade, I like being able to see when is an exam or a book assignment coming up. This is less important with my older son who attends the 7th grade, but I find the descriptive grades to be of great importance for me. As far as the school's web page is concerned, I only take a look on the news displayed on the main page during the log in to the e-class book. If I find a topic interesting, I read more about it. 

3. Being able to check on your child's grades and progress each day is very convenient. I noticed that this motivates my child to study harder which pleases me as a parent. I also like the teacher's notes and advice about areas that my child should improve. On the whole, the digitalization proved to be motivating for both my child and me."

4. E-class book advantages are: easier insight into the grades, descriptive  grades and teachers notes,
insight into possible truancies and easier planning of the grades improvement.
Disadvantages of e-class book are obsessive checking on grades which creates a competitive atmosphere, fewer attendance of parents-teachers meetings which leads to absence of personal contact with the teacher and creates an impression that grades are the purpose of education.
As far as the use of new technologies in schools is concerned, the advantages are: greater variability of the teaching materials which may cause the lessons to be more interesting to the children. It can also improve children's use of computers.
The main disadvantages are that a vast number of information can lead to inability to distinguish what is important, information is served to the children and there is no research. The child is accustomed to long hours in front of the computer which has become a source of everything, even virtual friendships.
All in all I think that modern technologies are useful in today's education. However we should not forget the value of the spoken word. 

5.     I generally support the use of new technologies for sensible purposes such as teaching or using
e-class book which provide information on child's grades, activities, truancies, scheduled exams...
However, I also think that each technological advancement makes us even more inert and more firmly attached to the armchairs and laptops, which results in poorer personal contacts, unsociable behaviour and estrangement...
Therefore I honestly hope that e-parent-teacher meetings will not be invented in the near future. 

6.     My daughter is currently in the first grade of the VIII. Grammar school in Zagreb. E- class book has been used in her school  since the beginning of the school year 2014/2015. It provides information on students and parents, student's grades, information about teachers and their replacements, schedule of the exams and evidence of student's attendance and absences form class (both excused absence and truancy). It is possible to log in as a parent, or as a student but the information it provides is always the same. I used the e-class book three times since the beginning of the school year and always in my daughter's presence. E- class book cannot provide a piece of information about my child that I am not already aware of, and checking her grades is not one of my priorities. I do not like the idea of displaying student's grades in such detail online and I think it reduced contact with the class teacher.
On the other hand, my daughter is thrilled with the e-class book. She regularly checks on her grades, the descriptive part of the grade and the exams schedule.                                                                         
7.     I find the e-class book a positive novelty in keeping track of students’ achievements. I like the
easy access to the information on students’ achievements as well as teacher's notes which can indicate a problem or the need of putting more effort into a subject.
However, ever since the e-class book was implemented I attended fewer parents-teacher meetings which is a pity because conversation is more important than mere insight in the e-class book. I also approve of using e-mail communication to inform the parents of their child's truancy. There are parents who think that is unnecessary, but I find it OK, especially in higher classes with older children. I have noticed that e-class book affects the self-control of my daughters and motivates them to achieve better results. As parents, we have trust in our children, but I think children should be aware that their parents must be involved and informed in their children's lives. I also like the opportunity for the students to use modern technology in their presentations, which makes them particularly happy.
I approve of all novelties under the condition that they are used for the purpose they are meant to be used and that is providing information and enhance students' achievements.

About the project:
The Croatian academic and research network (CARNet) will lead implementation of a national project e-schools in from 2016 to 2023 to raise and improve levels of digitalisation of schools in Croatia.
E-schools are digitally mature schools, connected to ultra-fast Internet, well equipped with adequate information and communication technology (ICT), with a high level of computerisation of business and education processes. Teachers attending these schools are digitally competent and pupils are thought and encouraged to become digitally competent themselves. Both use ICT in education daily, including, but not restricted to, education applications and digital education resources, thus ensuring that pupils of today become competitive workers on job markets of tomorrow.
E-schools lead to a gradual, voluntary transition to digital content where the spotlight is on teachers as key stakeholders of the educational process.
Read more here

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