Cross-Border Classroom (Interreg)
Start date: Oct 31, 2006,
End date: Dec 30, 2007
Changes in population have in recent years brought about a significant number of closures of small schools both in Finland and the Russian Karelia. The future of small schools is challenging, and substantial adaptation and development actions are required by the educational system. The aim of the Interreg/Tacis joint project was to raise the quality and versatility of teaching in small schools in Russian Karelia and Finland and develop them as learning environments. By creating a ”network classroom” between the small schools they would have an opportunity to exploit information and communication technologies and to expand their own tuition capacities. Bringing together Finnish and Russian schools by means of mutual networking and pedagogical cooperative projects was aimed at increasing the ability of small schools to be more competitive. The project plan included, among other things, the development of learning units related to local culture and history and the Finnish and Russian languages, as well as supplementary training for teachers. The Tacis part of the project was also aimed at supporting the establishment of a clinic for Virtual Pedagogy in the Pedagogical University of Karelia, which would offer free pedagogical guidance to teachers in scarcely populated areas. Achievements: The project involved eight small primary schools from Finland, ten somewhat larger schools from Russian Karelia and pupils in ages between both primary and secondary education. The schools took an active part in the project, and the goals of the project were achieved. The school network turned out to be a workable model, which created a larger base for development activities. The project increased the versatility of tuition in the participating schools, the professional skills of the teachers and the development of an information society as well as expanding the international network of the schools. The schools’ development activities gained strength. The project made it possible for the schools to familiarise themselves with each others’ teaching work and everyday routines. During the project, five development projects between small Finnish and Karelian schools were implemented. The content and the themes of the projects were developed based on the needs and wishes of the schools. The results are also available for other schools. The infrastructure of the participating schools was complemented as required, and acquisitions were utilised in the activities. The project also researched what kind of services related to the school activities could be consolidated. Complementary training was organised for the teachers that was designed to be genuinely available and directly applicable for use in the development projects. Joint online lectures and Internet meetings, among other things, were implemented in the network classroom activities. Certain substantial areas of tuition – such as languages, multiculturalism and history – were perceived to have benefited directly from cross-border cooperation. It was considered that, in the future, understanding neighbouring languages, culture and society would increase in significance. Further activities planned for the project include a project application for the Nordplus Russia programme, aimed at expanding the network of schools developed in the current project.
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