A space for teachers to share ideas, learn through practical activities and be able to change the dynamic in their own classrooms. This is EfeX (meaning Spaces for Training and Experimentation in Technologies for Teachers), a creativity lab aimed at continuous education, the first unit of which opened in October in FURB (Blumenau Regional University), in the state of Santa Catarina. The initiative is the result of a partnership between CIEB (the Center for Innovation in Brazilian Education), the Santa Catarina State Education Department and the university.
With investments of R$250,000, each EfeX unit will combine digital production and programming equipment, such as laser and vinyl cutters and electronic, invention and robotic kits. Computers, tablets and tools for creating media, videotape footage, camera and lighting kits are also available. “To create this concept CIEB extensively researched centers around the world that are benchmarks in teacher training. All the ideas behind the structure of EfeX are based on reference proposals (architectural plans, methodologies, guidelines, equipment lists and specifications and training guidelines, for example) that guarantee a standard of excellence for the concept that CIEB has created,” says Lucia Dellagnelo, director-president of the Center for Innovation in Brazilian Education.
Nor is the EfeX model fixed. According to Lucia, teaching institutions or education departments that wish to implement an EfeX can use and adapt these concepts to their local realities and meet the training needs of teachers in their systems. Additionally, all the units are connected in a network form to share the best practical activities and lesson plans developed during the training.
The lab, however, does not wish to be merely a technology showcase. So that teachers can acquire the confidence to make the most of the equipment in their classes, CIEB developed ten initial modules divided into three main areas of activity (concepts, processes and resources): hybrid teaching, maker culture, gamification, digital resources, collaboration, evaluation through digital resources, educommunication, programming and robotics, adaptive platforms, and project based learning. “The idea behind the EfeX training is to demonstrate possible routes for the concrete use of technologies in the day to day reality of the school, through theoretical and practical activities with teachers from public education networks where they can feel free to experiment with these technologies and co-plan lesson plans that use them to improve their pedagogical practices,” says Lucia.
In Blumenau, the arrival of EfeX fits with the objectives of the training plan and educational technologies established by the state education department. “The idea is to offer courses in each period. Teachers will receive a certificate showing the hours spent in training and this will bring benefits for their careers,” says Francisco Reis Von Hertwig, director of technology and innovation of the department.
At the university, the expectation is that the work of EfeX will begin in November, following a meeting with school principals. According to Rita Buzzi Rausch, director of the Center of Education, Art and Language and Literature Sciences of the institution, the activities begin with teachers of the state network and should soon expand to include municipal teachers. “We’re going to select two or three teachers from each school to begin the process. Then they can share what they have learned with their colleagues,” she says.
The partnership between CIEB and the education departments will be repeated in other regions. In the coming months, Joinville (Santa Catarina), Maceió and Arapiraca (Alagoas) should inaugurate new units that allow teachers to learn through practical activities and innovate in the classroom.
* Translated by James Young