Blurring the boundaries: school and university collaboration to prepare tomorrow’s teachers

Both European and national policies underline the importance of the development of digital pedagogical skills in teachers: the competencies to use technology in teaching and learning. But are teachers in training missing out? Are they being prepared to teach tomorrow’s citizens? Will they enter the classroom with the requisite digital and pedagogical skills?

[[Photo: A group of 110 Student Teachers on University of Agder’s ProDIG programme spent a day in Fagerholt School to practice using Interactive White Boards, under the guidance of teachers. ProDIG video:  ITELab case studies 2018]]

Findings reported in ITELab’s second monitoring report of developments in initial teacher education (ITE) are encouraging. Case studies from Norway, Italy, Ireland, UK (England) and Portugal show that there is a strong emphasis on the development of digital competences of not only student teachers but also of teacher educators, making use of the DigCompEdu framework. It also underpins the design and evaluation of the upcoming ITELab course modules and MOOC which aim to develop future teachers’ pedagogical digital competences. Moreover, the University of Agder is leading survey work on tutors’ digital competence, leading to policy recommendations in this important area. Other themes emerging from the case studies are new national policies highlighting university-school approaches, the creation of future classrooms in universities – innovative learning spaces created by universities and school –  digital inclusion in ITE and school-industry links between universities and local schools and businesses.

The case studies show how university teacher education faculties are responding to the drive for more school-based initial teacher education, to ensure that new teachers are not only theoretically but also practically ready for tomorrow’s classrooms.  Examples include school and university personnel co-designing study programmes featuring innovative methods and supporting the development of digital pedagogical skills, jointly designing active learning spaces, and – remarkably – student teachers ‘taking over’ schools.

What emerges from these case studies is a blurring of the boundaries between universities and schools, between university staff and teachers, and between student teachers and in-service teachers, for the benefit of all. Imaginative new learning spaces and joint projects help cement these new relationships and ensure that tomorrow’s teachers are well prepared for tomorrow’s schools.

Dorothy Cassells and Roger Blamire, European Schoonet


ITE Forum: Facilitating the exchange of knowledge across universities, industry and all interested stakeholders. Read here, the latest reports published featuring monitoring research and case studies.

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