TeachUP interview series: Nena Karagianni

Nena Karagianni works as Project Manager at the Computer Technology Institute and Press ''Diophantus - the Greek partner institution of the TeachUP project.


What are, in your view, the main challenges teachers have to face in their new roles?

Teachers should not be just executives of new curricula and didactic forms but pedagogues, who challenge pupils' minds to cultivate critical thinking, embed pupils' concerns and interests into collective learning paths and ensure equal chances for young people to attain the existing scientific knowledge and the potential to advance it further for social progress. To cope with these -core to their role- challenges, teachers must be equipped with up-to-date, university-level, domain specific knowledge and pedagogical education.
Furthermore, in their contemporary endeavours, teachers face diverse challenges related to the current socio-economic and technological developments. Among them, the ubiquitousness of technology and the interaction with "digital natives", the reflection of societal problems and structures in students' daily family and school lives (e.g. phenomena of youth violence, anxiety, fatigue), the digital divide, the availability and appropriateness of school infrastructure and resources, the repetitively changing legislation for education, the increasing school-level administrative requirements, curricula inconsistencies, inefficient grading systems, etc.

How can Teach-UP help to overcome these challenges?

Teach-UP recognises the need to equip teachers via qualitative educational programs and aspires to test and propose related instructional e-learning approaches, which will be co-designed by 17 partners and will be based on empirical evidence from 10 countries.
To take main challenges into account, this process will actively involve teachers from the design through the implementation and evaluation phases, via country Dialogue Labs and pre and post surveys. At the same time, Teach-UP attempts to bridge teachers' initial education and professional training needs by focusing on transversal teacher competences and by providing to mixed groups of 'future' (students) and 'professional' (school) teachers common i) learning context ii) up-to-date educational content and iii) communities of practice. Thus, four Teach-UP courses on formative assessment, personalized learning, collaborative learning, and creative thinking  will be offered online in two alternative instructional approaches, both of which will incorporate -exploit and explore- the dynamics of online communities where experienced and young teachers can interact and support each other.

Could you tell us a few words about your work, and how your organisation's experience contributes to Teach-UP?

I work in Patras, Greece, at the Training & Certification Directorate of the Computer Technology Institute & Press "Diophantus" (CTI), a research and development organization supervised by the Ministry of Education. CTI runs many state-of-the-art European projects concerning ICT in education and is responsible for the strategic design and implementation of national programs: In-Service Teachers' Training and Certification, Greek School Network, Schools' IT Support, the Digital School, School Conventional and Digital Textbooks. Hence, CTI brings into Teach-UP the required scientific and technological knowledge, as well as the infrastructure, data and empirical evidence that are necessary for the efficient planning and evaluation of the project's policy experimentation and moreover, its coordination on national level -from the Country Dialogue Labs to the sound implementation and fine-tuning of the common experimental methodology.
Specialised know-how is also contributed to Teach-UP, deriving by CTI's successful implementation of:

i) the similar KA3 experimentation project "MENTEP", and

ii) high quality teacher-training programs(*) on the pedagogical use of ICT, where latest technologies are exploited in multiple levels for: organisation and monitoring; content design and production; courses delivery over web-based blended training models; facilitation of online communities of the trained teachers and the teachers' trainers; evaluation and assessment involving e-portfolios and in-classroom applications of ICT; and for national-scale automated certification procedures where individual computer-based exams run simultaneously for thousands of trained teachers across Greece.

(*) These programs are implemented in the framework of state Teacher Training and Certification projects: "Training of Primary and Secondary School Teachers in acquiring Basic ICT Skills for educational purpose" (2002–2008, "A-Level" ICT Teacher Training, 120.000 teachers, http://epimorfosi.cti.gr). "In-Service Training of Teachers for the utilisation and application of ICT in the teaching practice" (2009-2015, "B-Level" ICT Teacher Training, 27.500 teachers, http://b-epipedo2.cti.gr/en/). And the ongoing project "Training of teachers for the utilization and application of digital technologies in the teaching practice" (http://e-pimorfosi.cti.gr) concerning B-level training for additional 35.000 primary and secondary teachers.

And, finally, three words that best describe you?

Observe, feel, think.