CARNet Users Conference CUC 2016

11. November 2016.

Under the title "Let's Programme Our Future", the 18th CARNet Users Conference – CUC 2016 – was held from 9 to 11 November 2016 in the Hotels Lone and Eden in Rovinj, organised by the Croatian Academic and Research Network – CARNet and under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Croatia Ms. Kolinda Grabar Kitarović and the Ministry of Science and Education.

The conference was followed by more than 980 participants, which makes it one of the largest CARNet Users Conferences so far. In addition, via video link on CARNet's Medusa portal, contents from the conference were partially available to those not participating at the conference.

During the course of the conference, the participants could connect by attending a comprehensive programme made up of two keynote lectures, two panel discussions, 30 workshops, 48 active presentations, 22 paper presentations and 14 presentations by sponsors. The conference offered special programme units for participants of the E-schools project, which comprised 13 workshops, 3 project presentations and a sys.trek unit of lectures intended for system engineers from CARNet member institutions, which consisted of 5 lecture units and three workshops.

The main conference programme was divided into five thematic units: interactive learning and playful classes, Open education, Development of digitally mature schools, Digital culture and Impact of technology on the education of the future.

The participant's of this year's conference were given the chance to attend lectures by some of the most respectable experts in the fields of information and communication technologies, education and science. The conference was opened by an introductory plenary lecture entitled "Technology Challenges for 21st Century Education", given by Bradley Tipp from Microsoft's World Wide Education Industry Group. In the lecture, he discussed the role of educational technology and about trends that change the way learning is rendered and received by teachers and students.

The second keynote lecture, given by the respectable Croatian astronomer and educator from Višnjan in Istria, Mr. Korado Korlević, entitled "STEM Education, How Early?" , dealt with trends in the development of key technologies that will mark the 21st century, and the dilemmas of how early to begin with and what model to use  in teaching STEM classes.

The first panel of the sys.trek unit discussed the subject "Women in ICT through Experience and Example". Since it is estimated that of the 7 million employed in the ICT sector worldwide, 30% are women, whereas of the appointed CARNet system engineers in CARNet member institutions, women amount to less than 10%, the panel has dealt with the issue and reasons for this lack of women in ICT. The second panel that closed the conference discussed the subject "Let's programme our future – what will students, teachers, schools and learning look like in the future?". Interesting panelists have given their vision of the education of the future and the role of students and teachers in it.

The CARNet Users Conference – CUC – is an integral part of the national project "e-Schools: Establishing a System for Developing Digitally Mature Schools (pilot project)", co-financed by the European Union from European structural and investment funds. The key challenge of the Croatian primary-school and secondary-school educational system, from the perspective of the application of information and communication technologies (ICT), is to utilize the potential of ICT in the educational system, through a systematic approach to the introduction of ICT in educational and business processes of schools, and to produce recommendations for a strategy for the development of digital mature schools. The conference, therefore, discussed the systematic approach to introducing ICT in the educational system by establishing a system for the development of digitally mature schools through a pilot programme and evaluation of the application of ICT in curricular and business processes in 10% of schools in the Republic of Croatia. Numerous workshops were dedicated to teachers of STEM courses and to principals of primary and secondary schools involved in the project, and dealt with examples of good practice, strategic planning, the community of practitioners, digital competences and scientific research in the framework of the e-Schools project.

As a successor to the Webfestival competition, which had been organised alongside the conference for the past sixteen years, this year a new competition was organised under the title "The Right Calibre for Knowledge". The competition included teachers from primary and secondary schools of the Republic of Croatia, who prepared digital course materials using the CARNet tool Libar on the subject "Use of Information and Communication Technologies" and encouraged excellence in the preparation of digital course materials. 43 digital course materials were submitted, 33 of which met all conditions of the competition. Branka Pastuović from the Brodarica primary school won first prize for her digital course material entitled "Days of the Open Mind – DOS for Pupils in Grades One to Four" and won a laptop.

The International Programme Committee selected the paper "Can free games on tablets encourage pupils to learn multiplication and division worksheets?" by Sanja Loparić from the Čakovec Technical School as the best paper of the conference. Sanja won a STEMI hexapod robot.

The award for the most regular participant of the entire conference, for which all those who attended 75% of the conference lectures were eligible, was won by Marko Vucelja from the Forestry Faculty of the University of Zagreb. Marko has received an Iskon.Smarthome innovative remote home management system.

Paola Gović from the Juraj Šižgorić primary school in Šibenik received an acknowledgement from the teacher's council for duly filling out the conference survey and her presence at the lectures, receiving a gift package from CARNet.

Once again the conference organised, as part of the SYS.trek, a competition for system engineers present at the conference. The participants needed to solve a multi-step problem, which was solved by Marko Meštrović, a system engineer at the Polytechnic in Knin.

The official language of the conference was Croatian, and lectures of the foreign lecturers were held in English. You can find more information about the conference on the official website of conference and on the conference social network accounts on Facebook and Twitter under the hashtag #CARNetCUC.