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Escola Secundária Eça de Queirós: Training and encouraging teachers to use technology

Eça de Queirós secondary school, Lisbon, is part of the Eça de Queirós cluster, which provides teaching and training across all levels of education, including adult education. The cluster is comprised of the secondary school, the head office, and primary schools Vasco da Gama and Parque das Nações.

Maria Teresa Godinho is Eça de Queirós's lead teacher in the Living Schools Lab project. According to Maria, the cluster's ethos is to embrace the challenges faced by individual learners. Eça de Queirós also provides education and training to adults who have not had access to the mainstream education system, and offers certification of acquired skills.

New technology and professional development for teachers

Incorporating the use of technology across the school curriculum has always been a central tenet of the school's ethos. When school initiated its programme of integrating technology into everyday teaching and learning in 2001, the process at first was hampered by financial constraints. However, lead teacher Maria Teresa remembers that teachers at the school were able to come up with creative solutions to work around this problem. “Due to a lack of funding, we contacted well-known companies that, wishing to replace their old equipment for new devices, donated us the old ones. Although obsolete for some, the devices represented an asset for the school”, she recalls.

Since then, the school board has been investing in new technology, according to its possibilities. It has purchased computers and video projectors, equipped two computer rooms and provided all classrooms with a computer. Moreover, the school acquired management and educational software opting for Windows and Office in addition to freely licensed pedagogical applications. Moreover, a system of magnetic cards for access control and transactions has finished cash payments in the school.

During the 2008/2009 school year, Eça de Queirós embarked on a programme of purchasing new computers, digital projectors and interactive whiteboards (IWBs). The school's management realised, however, that it was not enough to merely purchase the equipment; in order to benefit fully from the use of technological tools, teachers must first be trained in their use. To this end, the school instituted a programme of continuing professional development in the use of educational technologies. Teachers are trained in teaching with IWBs, supporting e-learning, and using Google Apps for education (particularly Virtual Pen), with training sessions taking place at the beginning of each school year.

We are also trying to improve what we already have and encourage the use of technology in everyday life, providing internal training for teachers who still do not use technology to motivate them”, Maria Teresa emphasises.

Living Schools Lab: A great recognition and opportunity

For the school, the invitation to participate in Living Schools Lab was in itself a great recognition by the Portuguese Ministry of Education for all the work into the pedagogical use of technology that has been developed within the school. Participating in the project has proved to be an asset for the school, providing the opportunity to become acquainted with educational trends at a European level, and by supporting the ongoing improvement of teaching practices.

The Advanced Schools’ workshop that took place in January has already been of great benefit to the school as a whole. “It allowed us to broaden our horizons, to have better understanding of good practices at European level, and it established bonds of contact with others who, like us, are committed to the educational success based on technological development and taking a great advantage of it”, Maria Teresa Godinho explains.

Looking into the future, the school board wants to continue developing Eça de Queirós secondary school, in spite of the economic crisis that makes it more difficult for schools to acquire new equipment. To tackle this challenge, Eça de Queirós is already making contacts to establish partnerships with tablet manufacturers to introduce these devices in the classroom.

Pictures and video (C) by Eça de Queirós