“Today’s students are completely different from those of five to 10 years ago. Today’s students need to explore.”– Croatia
We all know that collaboration is one of the critical 21st century skills, but Suzana Delić believes she knows one of the best ways to teach the skill and to transform the lives of her students. Delić is committed to enabling collaboration – not just within her school or her country, but around the world, through videoconferencing. Last year, Delić and her fourth grade class held two videoconferences with a primary school in China. Topics covered New Year celebrations in Croatia and China and everyday life in each country’s schools. Her class prepared videos, PowerPoint presentations and a quiz. “It was a great experience for me and my students,” Delić says. “We learned many things about this beautiful country. We learned about Chinese customs and culture, and we also improved our English and communication skills.” The class also participated in a videoconference on the 2012 Olympic Games and as part of the Time Project, where they placed second on the quiz portion.
Today, Delić shares her excitement for videoconferencing as an educational tool and advice for future teachers.
Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?
In the last few years, I had many videoconferences with students from all over the world: USA, Canada, China, France, Portugal, UK, Taiwan and many more. Students from first to eighth grades are involved in the videoconferences and I am very proud of that. I think it is a good preparation for their future. I also really like to share my experiences with my colleagues all over the world, and have prepared materials for them. I can proudly say that my primary school, Horvati, is a leader among primary schools in Croatia in that area.
What has changed as a result of your efforts?
Collaboration through videoconferencing has led to connections between schools, teachers and students, who then realize the importance of this way of learning. This opens up a wider perspective of possibilities for other teachers and students at my school. Students and teachers are motivated to gain knowledge about other nations and learn to respect people who are different. As I mentioned, the school I work at is very much aware of the benefits of adding a European dimension to our style of teaching. It is obvious that very soon our students will be competing for jobs in the EU and whole world, and they need to be prepared to handle the competition.
How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?
My students are very motivated to work this way. But they are not alone, because their parents are thrilled about the opportunity, and many times they are able to see how their children actively participate in videoconferences.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
I use PCs, Polycom stations and Skype for videoconferencing. The advantages of technology are:
- No need for traveling,
- No additional expenses
- Visual communication
- Involvement in mutual projects
- Lots of ideas and knowledge
- Developement of communication skills
- Developement of organizational skills
- Simple access to learning resources
- Meeting other students, countries and cultures
- Gaining long-term friendships
And all of that throught Internet access!
What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?
My classroom is well equipped. A Polycom station was donated by CARNet (Croatian Academic and Research Network) and I am very grateful for that. But I wish that every Croatian school had everything they need for modern teaching.
What is your country doing right to support education?
My country is making great strides in modernizing education. We also have great support in CARNet with many workshops for teachers and technical support. Our Education and Teacher Training Agency is making a lot of effort to build skills of teachers in Croatia.
What conditions must change in your country to better support education?
Educational programs must be adapted to today’s students. They are completely different from students of five to 10 years ago. Today’s students need to explore. Their passion for research should be used in education. They must learn to be knowledge navigators — finding information from different sources, evaluating it and making sense of it.
What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?
The world has changed. With the changes we need to change also. We must prepare
our students to one day become successful young people. We need them to be successful as a guide on their journey.
What advice would you give a new teacher (or anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?
My great wish is that in the next few years ICT would become a part of every subject in the classroom and every teacher would develop his or her competences. There are many subjects we could make more acceptable and interesting for students if we used computers. Through e-learning, Comenius projects and videoconferences, our students will improve their knowledge, meet other countries and gain lots of friends from all over the world, friends who could eventually become their future business partners.
My students and I try to encourage as many teachers as possible to accept this way of working. We are very open to the world because we think it is very important to be students of the world. Their teacher must be the one who shows them the first step to achieve that goal. Everything is possible with videoconferences. So, try it with your students. They will be very happy. Like we are!
What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?
I think that teachers must learn along with students. We must be innovative and ready for life-long learning.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
Videoconferencing! The videoconference itself, and talking ‘live,’ is an extraordinary event for the children. Our experience tells us that it leads to even stronger connections between
pupils from both sides of the wire. It often leads to mutual projects, visits and years-long friendships after pupils have already left school. Only with the use of ICT can we accomplish all of the above-mentioned goals without the expenses for travel and accomodation.
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About Suzana Delić
Counselor/Primary School teacher and Teacher of Computer Science
Birthplace: Zagreb, Croatia
Current residence: Zagreb, Croatia
Education: Faculty of Teacher Education of the University of Zagreb
Websites I check every day: Microsoft Partners in Learning,
Suradnici u učenju, /partners in learning, Croatia/ – I am one of the editors of this site for
AZOO – I am a teacher counselor and I cooperate with Education and Teacher Training Agency
Primary school Horvati – I am the webmaster of my school’s website
Dnevnik učiteljice/diary of teacher/ – my blog
Person who inspires me most: My two sons, Luka and Marko
Favorite childhood memory: Summers in our house at the Adriatic Sea in a little place called Risika on the island of Krk
Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Paris for in-service training. In October I will go with my students to Sweden for Comenius meeting.
When was the last time you laughed? Why? I don’t know…I often laugh.
Favorite book: The Element by Sir Ken Robinson
Favorite music: Robbie Williams, the musical Moulin Rouge and Ewan McGregor’s
performance. (I like movies and I am big, big fan of Ewan McGregor.)
Your favorite quote or motto: Sometimes life hands you a reset button, you just have to know when to press it.