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100,000 Catalan pupils will begin school with laptops and digital books

The future is here. Digitalisation in school classrooms is now a reality. This summer, a large step has been taken in order to provide Catalan high-school students with laptops and digital books. Catalan Minister for Education Ernest Maragall says it is “an extraordinary step in changing our educational system”.

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30 August 2010 11:20 PM

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Emma Vila / CNA
Barcelona (ACN).- A total of 600 high schools, public and grant-funded, will begin classes on the 7th of September with a laptop per student as well as digital books. The Catalan Government will pay 30 euros in digital licenses per child. If the books that the school has decided to buy do not exceed this sum, families will not have to pay anything at all. Of these 600 high schools, around 200 still do not have an internet connection. This is an essential condition in order for the programme to work, as if students want to have access to digital books, they need to have an internet connection.
The Catalan Minister for Education, Ernest Maragall, admits that when the Catalan President, José Montilla, appointed him to the Catalan Education Ministry, everyone said that new technologies had to be introduced in classrooms. \u201CWe agreed on that\u201D, but no one knew \u201Cexactly how to do it\u201D. This is why this year, with half of the classrooms working with laptops, wireless connections and digital books, it is difficult for him to \u201Ccontain the success\u201D, as it might be his last year as Minister. Education \u201Ccan not continue turning its back on the digital world\u201D. Digitalisation in classrooms is a \u201Cpositive change\u201D for teaching students, and it will also \u201Cincrease the capacity to attract their attention and concentration\u201D. Maragall also hopes that \u201Cthe relationship between students and teachers will get better\u201D. From now on, teachers will not have to turn their backs on students in order to write on the blackboard and, this way, they will always maintain \u201Cvisual contact\u201D. The process to make this possible has not been easy. First of all, laptops were needed. With the current system, each family only pays half of their cost (around 150 euros) and these computers will last for at least 3 years. Then, the classrooms had to be adapted, as schools needed an installation that enables a simultaneous wireless connection for 300 laptops. In the second stage, they had more difficulties than they had imagined. Of the 600 centres that voluntarily joined the program entitled 'eduCAT 1x1', 30% still do not have the necessary installations. For the first class days they will have to teach with books that come from a reusable program, according to the Department of Education. They also assured that the delays will be solved as soon as possible. The third stage has been made possible through the Àtria platform, a web page that administers the purchase of books. Students must go onto this page in order to access their books. The Department of Education subsidises each student with 30 euros and, if the total amount of the books does not exceed this sum, which happens in most cases, families will not have to put in any more money. On the first day of school, each student will be given a piece of paper that will include a code. With this code, he or she will be able to connect to the Àtria platform, where the required textbooks will appear. Parents will have to choose the bookstore that they will spend their 30 euros of credit. If more money is needed, they will have to charge it through a similar process to that of mobile phones.

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  • A classroom in the Escola Intermunicipal del Penedès High-School

  • A classroom in the Escola Intermunicipal del Penedès High-School