[appeared in Kyouiku Katei Shinbun September 1999]
In many countries of the European Union the importance of information and communication technology for education is being recognized, and a variety of national and EU-wide programs for school networking, teacher training or continuing education exist. Nevertheless the differences between e.g. northern and southern countries are considerable, and it is hard to find comparable information on the real use of ICT in education in the member states.
Thus in 1997 an organisation called "The European Experts' Network for Educational Technology" EENet (http://www.eenet.org/) has been formed, members being organisations close to the respective ministries of education, one from each country.
EENet aims at collecting and sharing information about ICT in education, at fostering European cooperation and on developing quality and competitiveness. It gives advice to governments and to the European Commission and cooperates with other European organisations such as the European Schoolnet EUN (http://www.eun.org/) or the European Industry-Education Partnership for ICT in Learning EEP (http://www.eep-edu.org/).
In 1998 a first report on "How learning is changing: information and communications technology across Europe - ICT in education policy" has been published (http://www.eenet.org/news/documentation/report.pdf). Similar to the research activities of The Information Network on Education in Europe EURYDICE ( http://www.eurydice.org/), each of the 12 member organisations had to deliver a country report following common guidelines, so that results could be better compared and summarized.
According to the report most European countries have gone through three stages of introducing computers into schools: 1st (late 1970s/ early 1980s) putting computers into schools and mainly teaching computing as a subject, 2nd introducing multimedia computers and educational software, and 3rd connecting computers within schools and the schools to the Internet. As for the underlying policy objectives three main topics can be found: educational imperatives, social concerns and economic competitiveness. Many of the country policies aim at important milestones around the turn of the milennium.
The report summarizes key findings and recommendations under the following topics: necessity of a holistic approach to policy development, bottom-up/top-down convergence, sustainability, curriculum review, teacher training, a wider concept of learning, content development in national languages, and the importance of research, monitoring and evaluation.