8.7 Fostering the creative use of new technologies
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The Ministry of Education,, Sport and Youth has set high priority on the integration and exploitation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the educational process as well as on the development of those technologies that will advance school administrative procedures.
The ICT in the Learning Process sector of the newly established ICT Unit aims at the use of digital technologies to support teaching and learning. To pursue this goal, it maintains the promotion of continuous professional learning programmes, online portals with open educational resources, e-learning and blended learning supported by learning management systems, online communities of practice, school-based programmes and competitions, participation in European and research programmes, coordination of the safer internet programme, and the promotion, in general, of innovations related to the use of new technologies in education.
The Cyprus University of Technology (CUT) excels in the promotion of new technologies. Recent successes include two ERC strategic projects totalling 3.3 million Euros, two “Teaming for Excellence” research proposals led by the CUT, which ensured the highest pan-European rating and participation in the creation of a RISE Excellence Centre for technological and business innovation. CUT operates the CUTing Edge: An American Space which aims to provide an inspirational place where people can relax and embrace technology, become innovators and present their work to the worldwide community.
In addition, Youth Makerspace Larnaka is a venue of innovation, built upon the example similar successful venues that operate in various cities around the world, following the international standards of Makerspaces that are developed by academic institutions and communities globally. It offers young people the opportunity to have access to high-end technological equipment that will enable them to develop their business ideas and put them in practice. The equipment includes 3D printers, laser cutters, drones, virtual reality, robots, Arduino, and raspberry pi, among others.
Makerspace venues contribute to the democratization of design, construction, engineering and education. Through their distinct learning philosophy, they empower young people on multiple levels: technology, handcrafts, creativity, construction, etc. In Makerspaces, young people have the chance to share and implement their skills and knowledge, boosting their vast potential of creativity.
It is worth mentioning that in 2020, Youth Makerspace Larnaka created its own educational material, aiming at youth empowerment. The material addresses pupils of primary and secondary education, encouraging them to engage with STEAM-related creative activities. The curriculum is based on problem-solving and design-thinking methodologies, while it enhances 21st century skills. Through the workshop, pupils develop their critical thinking, problem-solving skills, creative thinking, communication, cooperation skills, and so on.
In 2019, Youth Board of Cyprus created the mobile unit of Makerspace - Mobile Makerspace. The mobile unit aims to reach young people who live in rural areas, away from urban centres, and who therefore do not have access to programs and technologies, such as Youth Makerspace. It is specially designed for this purpose and houses high tech technological equipment.
There are limited initiatives that facilitate access to culture through new technologies such as:
- In November 2017, UNESCO approved the application submitted by the Cyprus University of Technology/ Digital Heritage Workshop for the creation of a third UNESCO Chair in Limassol on “Digital Cultural Heritage/Cultural Informatics”. The main scope of the Chair is to extend the successful work of the Digital Heritage Research Laband address a full range of key aspects of novel research and innovative developments, such as: technical areas, including 3D virtual environments, archives and collections management systems, web and museum based interactive applications and language technologies; non-technical areas, including testing, economic and social impact evaluation in support of the development of the cultural heritage sector and its opportunities in tourism, entertainment and education.
- In 2020, an innovative application called "Larnaka Storytelling Statues" (Larnaka Storytelling Statues: Τα αγάλματα της Λάρνακας απέκτησαν φωνή) was launched, through which foreign and local visitors can be informed about the history of significant personalities or symbols of the past. In the first phase of the initiative, signs with QR codes (QR - Quick Response Code) were placed in five statues around the city of Larnaca. When visitors scan the QR code with their mobile phone and having connected to the internet, will receive a "phone call" from the statue, narrating its fascinating story and how it is connected to the city. The interactive application is an initiative of the Larnaca Tourism Board and the Youth Board of Cyprus, and was supported by the Deputy Ministry of Tourism and the Municipality of Larnaca.
- The Youth Makerspace Larnaka aims at helping children and young people to develop their skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, design and critical thinking, through the use of advanced technological equipment which is available to young people free of charge. For more information, please read the previous section.