“In Slovenia the vast majority of educational options are cost-free, from primary schools to universities,” says Gregor Hrastnik. “That means everybody has an option to educate themselves. In a world where knowledge is the key, that’s golden.”
Hrastnik, a teacher and participant in the Windows 8 App-a-thon in London, is actually teaching in the secondary school he attended. But he has seen some incredible changes since the days when he was a student – which wasn’t all that long ago. “We are updating and modifying our schools’ curriculums on a regular basis to ensure that students get the best to be prepared for modern day challenges,” says Hrastnik. “Though the major work here is on teachers’ shoulders, as we must accept kids of our era for what they are: adapted to new technology, more direct in communicating with others, less patient, thinking out of the box. They are very different than we were at that age (and I’m not exactly old either), and we must accept that and turn that to an advantage.”
Enjoy today’s Daily Edventurewith Gregor Hrastnik.
What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?
It was really a coincidence that I became a teacher. Almost simultaneously to graduating at University of Maribor, my former secondary school contacted me if I would be interested in a teaching job, and I eventually got the job. I was a bit scared at first as I didn’t do any teaching, but then I got the hang of it.
Teaching for me primarily means sharing a passion about something and transferring that passion to others.
Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?
It was funny teaching along with my secondary school teachers at first, but everybody was very friendly and kind to me at my (former and present) school. The teachers I learned the most from are my primary school history teacher, Mrs. Modrijan, and one of my colleagues that I work with, Islam Mušić, who was also my classmate in secondary school (where we both teach now).
Please describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education. What has changed as a result of your work?
My colleagues and I are very proud of the project week we are organizing for the third year in a row. Each teacher prepares a week-long project (projects from different fields vary from subtitling movies, app programming, making a documentary, calculating math problems, ski school, physics experiments, etc.). My group made some really nice Windows Phone and Windows 8 applications and games, and I could really see students’ progress in one week. Students from my group are continuing mobile programming in their spare time and are even attending nation-wide programming hackathons to develop apps.
How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?
I try to give my students access to current, and even future, technologies in the form of mobile phones, tablet computers, web applications and such. Microsoft Slovenia have helped us a lot here by lending us Windows Phone and Windows 8 devices to learn on. As a result, students are more motivated as they can experience the platforms they are developing for in classes and projects, they can test, examine and compare different approaches to modern technologies.
In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?
As a computer guy I’m most excited about how easy programming has become. Even children can do programming nowadays (starting from KODU, Game Maker, Construct…) and get their apps or games published and used.
Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?
Innovation, coupled with creativity. I’m often blown away by out-of-the-box thinking of kids and young people, enabling them to get more from the technology than we adults are accustomed to. I learn from them a lot.
If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
A bicycle. Kids of our era have computers, mobile phones, TV sets, music players, tablet computers, you name it. And they use all of that technology to a great extent, even excessively. Riding a bike (or doing almost any other sport) gives you the opportunity to socialize (face to face, not through the Internet), a sense of accomplishment and clears your head of “bloat ware” that the modern information stampede brings. One can focus more after some good exercise.
About Gregor Hrastnik
Twitter handle: @ghrastnik
- Birthplace: Slovenj Gradec, Slovenia
- Current residence: Šmartno ob Paki, Slovenia
- Education: University degree in computer and information science
- Website I check every day: To be honest, our school website (ers.scv.si), which I administer
- Person who inspires me most: My son and my wife.
- Favorite childhood memory: Racing mountain bikes with my brothers on hills and in forests around our home
- Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Somewhere warm in the summer (Canary islands or Madeira).
- When was the last time you laughed? Why? Today over lunch to my one-year old son making funny noises and faces while eating. J
- Favorite book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (I’ve read it three times).
- Favorite music: I love music, especially making it (I sing in two choirs). I listen to almost every kind of positive music that makes you smile, from rock music to Slovenian folk music.
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Don’t worry.
- Your favorite quote or motto: Everything will be all right.
Are you or is somebody you know an Expert Educator?
The Microsoft Expert Educator program is an exclusive one-year program created to recognize global educator visionaries who are using technology to pave the way for their peers for better learning and student outcomes. Experts start the program by coming together for the annual Partners in Learning Global Forum.
To apply to the Expert Educator Program, and win a free trip to the next Partners in Learning Global Forum, go to www.pil-network.com/expert
Applications are being accepted through July 2013. Apply today!