“A small didactic surprise, a simple learning scenario, good mood, and imagination: these are the ingredients of a good lesson.” – Vassilis Economou, Greece
Head of the Department of Informatics and Digital Education
For 27 years, Vassilis Economou, a Daily Edventures alum and MIE Expert, has had many moments that helped define his career. One of the most memorable came at an Athens orphanage.
“During my visits, I tried to show [the children] the possibilities offered by technology,” Economou shares with us. “I saw the joy of searching, discovering, and acquiring knowledge in their eyes. I am more than certain that it is worth trying to show the ‘bright’ aspect of technology, and to make devices useful in education. It is worth trying to help students develop 21st century skills, with all the means you have at your disposal, no matter if they are just a few.”
In Economou’s 1:1 classes, every day provides an opportunity for educators and students alike to broaden their skills and improve themselves. Economou believes the devices in his classroom ensure that instruction is individualized, multiple representations are supported, and that research and the quest for information are promoted. “I usually use tools like OneNote to collect, classify, and manage information, but mainly, to enhance collaboration skills.”
“My pupils approach knowledge in an exploratory and often playful manner through interdisciplinary projects,” says Economou. “They can act creatively, experiment and learn through discovery, address the problems put to them in a critical way, and develop search skills and selection of information in place of memorization. They cooperate as members of student groups with a common goal: become ‘teachers’ transferring useful information or experiences to team members, and follow their own pace in the process of consolidating the material they have learned through individual self-assessment tests.”
The biggest challenge facing educators today, according to Economou? Preparing students to live in the future and ensuring unity (equal opportunities, resources, and possibilities) without uniformity (avoiding “typical” common teaching and learning practices).
“The solutions for fulfilling these needs can take the form of three unconventional, but necessary propositions for education to move forward,” says Economou. “The first suggests that we are in an era of a new network-centered education paradigm. The second is that cloud computing is the main instrument of this new paradigm. The third one proposes a new school, the School on the Cloud.”
As he continues to work toward those goals, Economou shares his advice for high-quality teaching: “A small didactic surprise, a simple learning scenario, good mood, and imagination: these are the ingredients of a good lesson. Expression, inventiveness, combinational thinking, compliance with rules and guidelines, collaboration, creation, skills, encouragement…every one of us can learn something from this process, from these magical moments that make us broaden our horizons, explore new things, learn, and continuously improve ourselves.”
About Vassilis Economou
- Educational background: University graduate – ICT in Education
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Office 365, OneNote, SharePoint, Minecraft, Kodu, MS-CRM
- What is the best advice you have ever received? – “Dream big, love what you do and be fair” and “We learn better by doing… but we learn even better if we combine acting with speaking and thinking on what we are doing.”
- Favorite childhood memory: The first time I saw a computer, I understood that this wasn’t a device for playing games only but a modern tool to be exploited in all fields of activity. I think that now I am fulfilling my childhood dream by helping all those involved in the educational procedure to use technology in the way I dreamt about it when I was young.
- Favorite book: The Da Vinci Notebooks: A Dazzling Array of da Vinci’s Celebrated and Inspirational Inventions, Theories, and Observations. Leonardo da Vinci said: “… Studying without any desire to learn locks our memory up, which does not retain any kind of knowledge…” Based on my favorite Da Vinci quote, I believe that the interactive material and the friendly software, which teachers are provided with, enhance their lessons, create multiple representations to students, in order to motivate and help them assimilate what they are taught.