The CALIBRATE project had its first major review by external experts in December 2006. Project partners were encouraged by the overall result; the review team recognised that CALIBRATE “has a clear vision, is well managed and, in general, follows a very good plan for a STREP (Specific Targeted Research Project)”.
Partners also appreciated the reviewers’ comments that, within the first year, CALIBRATE has carried out “an impressive amount of work and a remarkable amount of research”.
The findings and recommendations of the first review were discussed by partners in a full project meeting in Prague on 7-8 March, hosted by the Centre for International Services, of the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Education Youth and Sports. Some readjustments to the project work plan have been made in light of the useful comments and recommendations of the reviewers but, generally, the project activities are proceeding as originally envisaged.
For example, CALIBRATE is currently on target to have five out of the six learning content repositories from Ministries of Education connected by the end of April (Austria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovenia) with a sixth from the Polish Ministry of Education following later in 2007. An operational version of the CALIBRATE learning toolbox (LeMill) has also now been implemented in the CALIBRATE portal for schools. LeMill is a web community for finding, authoring and sharing open and free learning resources and, during summer 2007, additional content templates will be developed in time for the start of Phase II of the school pilots in September.
Significant progress has also been made with regard to investigating the curriculum mapping of learning resource descriptions (with a focus on Maths, Science and Natural Sciences/Environmental Studies). Two technology approaches are being explored (involving thesauri and Topic Maps) and project partners are now conducting an empirical evaluation of the ontologies and technologies working with MoEs representatives in this work package (Austria, Belgium/Flanders, Czech Republic, Poland). By April 2007, project partners hope to be able: to reach some conclusions concerning the pros and cons of each approach; indicate which of the ontologies best reflects the everyday practices of teachers; and decide which technological solution best facilitates the challenging activity of mapping curriculum documents.
Meanwhile, Phase I of the CALIBRATE validation with 80 pilot schools commenced in January 2007. Here the project starts with the assumption that an international learning resource repository can only be successful if we know exactly who the users are – what are the ICT competences and educational strategies of teachers who enter the portal, use the toolbox use and utilise learning resources in their own classrooms. Users may have very different needs and aspirations that grow out of their own previous experiences with computer culture, educational goals and objectives as well as teaching skills. Validation partners, therefore, are asking every piloting country to complete an ICT Competency Inventory of their schools. This will both help partners fine-tune national in-service CALIBRATE training and piloting activities in the first half of 2007 and design a programme for a project summer school for teachers in Slovenia (August 2007) when the CALIBRATE portal and tools will be given their most rigorous testing yet.
More information can be found in the first CALIBRATE newsletter