On 8 March 2017, the Brussels Smart City for Education event brought together the teaching and IT communities over an afternoon around this important issue in the Brussels-Capital Region: ensuring that young citizens become future “smart citizens”.
Nearly 300 people gathered at the invitation of Brussels Smart City for the event dedicated to the place of education in developing the smart city. Citizens are the cornerstone of the smart city. Therefore, the digital transition can only be fully effective if citizens are fully able to take ownership of the solutions deployed. “To become citizens of a connected society, this begins at school!”, as the keynote speaker of the conference summed up, Professor at the University of Paris Descartes Sophie Pène, (a member – in France – of the National digital council and the Future generations council, as well as an advisor to the City Hall of Paris).
Education, a pillar of the Smart City
The central question of the Brussels Smart City for Education event was therefore: “What are the changes being caused by the development of digital technology in our society undergoing transformation?” To find a response to this question and debate it, various panels and workshops were offered to participants. For example, the issues of:
- Teaching and learning with digital. Why? How? For what results?
- The place of education in a Smart City
- Citizen platforms, schools and learning outside the school context
- Managing information on the web: tools and practices
- Augmented reality: new way of writing to learn and express oneself
- Differentiated teaching ICTs: a perfect match
- Digital assessment: online feedback tools
- Producing video for my classes: educational approaches and technological tools
- Collaborative writing: user-friendly and powerful tools that can be used for education
- Interaction with students: Padlet, PollEverywhere, Tricider, Mentimeter, etc.
Digital literacy for all citizens
Among the speakers and experts convened for the Brussels Smart City for education event, we can mention the Brussels Smart City Ambassador Pieter Ballon and Professor Nathalie Crutzen (Director of the Smart City Institute, Liège). The Secretary of State responsible for Informatics and Digitalisation, Bianca Debaets opened this afternoon of work. She emphasised on this occasion that “our way of learning, teaching and sharing knowledge has been revolutionised by the developments of the technologies. It is essential that everyone is sufficiently digitally literate to reap its rewards”.
For over 20 years, the Brussels-Capital Region has actively supported the deployment of technologies in Brussels schools, in particular through the former Multi-media Plans (provision of hardware and software to primary and secondary schools in the region). Today, the Fiber to School project is bringing optical fiber to the doors of all secondary schools to allow them to take advantage of the high-speed Internet.