FI Exec. Director Shares Lessons Learned from Portugal

April 24, 2014 – The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) released a report detailing the association’s senior delegation to Portugal last October (October 18-26, 2013), which included Glenn Kleiman, executive director of the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University.

The Institute is constantly working to move digital learning forward in North Carolina, which it has done through innovative professional development programs, the NC K-12 Cloud Computing initiative, and direct work with schools and education leaders throughout the state. Kleiman’s experience in Portugal informs the Institute’s work as it contributes to furthering digital learning at the state and district levels in North Carolina.cosn_cover

Titled Reinventing Learning in Portugal: An Ecosystem Approach, the report describes how the European country has transformed education and society through technology investments and it provides delegates’ first-hand accounts and lessons learned throughout the weeklong trip.

“There are always lessons to be learned from seeing how other countries approach improving their education systems and promote digital learning transitions. Portugal offers lessons about creating public-private partnerships, making large-scale changes quickly, working through the schools to provide technology access to low-income families, and linking education changes with other e-government initiatives,” said Kleiman. “The leaders and educators in Portugal have done impressive, well-planned work to move things forward and create support for continuous improvements in their approach.”

Because Portugal is similar in size to North Carolina, with approximate populations of 10.5 million and 9.8 million respectively, the major takeaways could prove applicable to future work at the Institute. Kleiman was especially impressed by Portugal’s systematic plan with strong public-private partnerships that allowed them to quickly move digital learning forward significantly and at scale, and that the government saw their plan as providing access to families, not just students.

The Friday Institute is committed to changing how we communicate, teach, learn, and respond to an increasingly global society. By partnering with organizations such as CoSN and looking to successful systems at work both in the United States and abroad, the Institute is uniquely prepared to address the challenge of creating the next generation of schooling.

During their visit, the delegation held intensive meetings with leading international experts, policymakers, educators and business executives, and visited schools and informal learning spaces, allowing the delegates to distill their experiences. The report includes the delegation’s key takeaways:

  • 1. Policies and strategies promoting information and communications technology (ICT) use in schools and at home are integrated into a larger economic and social vision for change in Portugal.
  • 2. Portugal adopted a comprehensive approach to transforming education by using ICT as a catalyst. This approach included hardware, software, teacher training, curriculum development and digital content in a holistic approach.
  • 3. The Portuguese thought in terms of an ecosystem.
  • 4. Public-private partnerships are foundational to this strategy and key to the success of the Portugal program, particularly for long-term sustainability.

Reinventing Learning in Portugal also highlights the delegates’ observations and poses related questions for policymakers in North America. To read the report, please visit:

For more information, please contact FI Communications.