Project Team "INTER-DI-KO" (Photo: Andreas Kolarik)

12. December 2021

Innovation Lab for the Education of the Future

The digitization has transformed the way we access information, and it has particularly influenced the way young people consume information. As a result, new approaches are needed to communicate socially relevant topics. The Innovation Lab for Education aims to test cooperative and interdisciplinary methods that can be integrated into schools to make them future-ready.

The Paris Lodron University of Salzburg (PLUS) and the Salzburg University of Education (PH) are launching the Innovation Lab for Education “INTER-DI-KO” starting in autumn 2022. The lab aims to test new educational formats by bringing together three key areas for the future of education:

  • Interdisciplinary questions in the face of the societal crises of the 21st century
  • Technological advancements in knowledge communication
  • Collaboration between schools, universities, and higher education institutions

The lab will focus on building “Future Skills,” which are essential skills for the future, among students. The core areas of focus are the 4 Cs: Collaboration, Creativity, Communication, and Critical Thinking. Digital tools will be leveraged as drivers to explore new forms of communication. Ulrike Greiner, project leader at PLUS, emphasizes that all stakeholders involved in education will participate in testing new teaching formats within the Innovation Lab.

A key aspect of the implementation is how educators can effectively teach relevant topics such as climate change, democracy, social cohesion, new media cultures, gender, and artificial intelligence in schools. Months before the start of the Innovation Lab, many schools in Salzburg expressed interest in participating and collaborating in this initiative.

Spaces for Approaching Technology

A laboratory space equipped with digital technologies will be established at the University of Education Salzburg (PH). Additionally, a mobile laboratory will be set up for use in schools. These labs will be available to all participants to test instructional innovations. According to Vice-Rector Martin Weichbold (PLUS) and Rector Daniela Martinek (PH), this project strongly reinforces the forward-looking collaboration between the institutions.

In this context, the nationwide initiative EdTech Austria provides a large network of companies, educational experts, and decision-makers. EdTech Austria is located at Innovation Salzburg and works closely with the entire project team. “Digital teaching and learning applications, known as EdTech solutions, have become indispensable in schools since the beginning of the pandemic. The question of which instructional settings yield the best learning outcomes for students using digital tools is still open. With this new project, we can experiment with innovative EdTech solutions in Salzburg, deliver research results, and create added value for all participants. This is unique for Austria,” says Hannes Aichmayr, project manager at EdTech Austria.

Focus on Students and Teacher Education

The Innovation Lab will be launched with two projects. In the “Giving Students a Voice” project, students actively participate in shaping the classroom as media producers. They learn to present school-based and self-acquired knowledge through various media formats such as podcasts, short films, videos, blogs, etc. In the process, they acquire not only subject knowledge but also digital skills and media literacy, as reported by Christine Trültzsch-Wijnen, the project manager at PH. The second project, “Developing the Classroom of the Future,” focuses on teacher education students. They develop new digital teaching materials for socially relevant topics and collaborative work.

Funding Enables Innovation Lab

The new innovation labs are being funded by the Innovation Foundation for Education. Alongside the Salzburg Innovation Lab, four other innovation labs in Austria have been awarded funding through the grant program. Over 700,000 euros are being provided, with 50% funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) and 50% by the University of Salzburg, the University of Education Salzburg, and the State of Salzburg.

“When planning the innovation lab, we were convinced that digitization enables new instructional formats. The COVID-19 crisis has made digital skills urgently necessary in the education sector. The experiences gained now need to be utilized, and the positive results should contribute to future development,” says State Councillor Andrea Klambauer.

About EdTech Austria

In November 2020, Innovation Salzburg, the State of Salzburg, the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, and the Salzburg Chamber of Commerce launched EdTech Austria. This initiative gives a boost to the future topic of educational technologies (digital applications that support learning). EdTech Austria aims to establish Salzburg as an EdTech pilot region and implement nationwide measures to establish educational technologies. The initiative is located at Innovation Salzburg. Digital learning technologies can grow with EdTech, leading teaching and learning into the digital future.

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