Bratislav Filipović, MSc, founder and instructor, coordinator at the filipović academy: The digital age has changed the approach and the way knowledge is transmitted

A step ahead of everyone in every segment of our business

Director and founder of the Filipović Academy, Bratislav Filipović, says there is no “secret formula for education in Serbia”, but adds that it is a well-known fact who, what and how they are working and what kind of contributions have they made to improve the basic competencies of education staff. He argues that there is a myriad of valuable and good teachers, professors and educators in Serbia who have only one goal – to elevate education to the position it deserves in the society. There is no “secret formula for education in Serbia”.

It is a well-known fact who, what and how they are working and what kind of contributions have they made to improve the basic competencies of education staff. Computer literacy, also called digitization, is the basic competence that every citizen, both here and globally, should have, especially those employed in education. Unfortunately, the case is that many who are in power do not want or are not able to see these true values, so they planting us all sorts of things, pulling wool over our eyes, blinding us… In fact, they are trying to do that albeit unsuccessfully. Serbia has a myriad of valuable and good teachers, professors and educators, who have only one goal – to elevate education to the position it deserves in the society, to teach our children in the best possible way, and to pass on all the knowledge and all the skills necessary for proper development. Quality education will depend on both society and the state, so let’s not give up on it but go one step ahead of everyone. Since its inception, the Filipović Academy has been focusing on information / digital literacy. We started working with individuals, only to grow into the most eminent institution in the region which, through various seminars, training sessions, consultations and conferences, educates teachers, professors and other education staff in IT skills. Through its activities, the Filipović Academy tries to permanently eliminate the fear of the new that is most pronounced when it comes to modern technologies. We invest a lot of effort into bringing teachers closer to modern technology, the way it is applied in teaching, and the effects that are positively reflected on students, their attention and their desire to be involved in learning. Over 47,000 teachers have attended 52 accredited seminars and hundreds of training sessions and presentations. Since 2008, we have been developing the School Information System, which is, judging by all indicators, one of the best in the region. We have been commended by experts, end-users and software developers for our electronic grade book, e-portfolio of teachers and students, e-portfolio of school principals which has been created following the Rulebook for Obtaining School Principal License, e-pedagogical book, programme for psychological and pedagogical service, programme for electronic library management, programme for keeping records in preschool institutions devised with the latest Years of Ascension (Godine Uzleta) format, the school site development platform and the programme for self-evaluation of institutions. In 2015, our E-Portfolio of Teachers and Students won the prestigious international DISKOBOLOS 2015 Award for the first place in the education category, and in 2013, we were given the DISKOBOLOS 2013 Award for the e-Libraries programme. The school information system is intended for all types of educational institutions, from preschool, elementary schools, high schools, music and ballet schools, specialized schools and higher education. Today, the 965 institutions and 10,318 teachers in Serbia use the E-Portfolio of Teachers and Principals. The number of users is increasing daily. It is important to mention, and this is something that no-one can change, is that all of our users are satisfied, because the applications they use are designed for them, i.e. tailored to their educational profiles and levels of their digital competencies.

What is the benefit of non-formal education provided by the Filipović Academy over the traditional, conventional studies offered by other faculties?

Thanks to its seminars and training, the Filipović Academy complements the knowledge that the students have gained in formal education. We follow global trends and development of technology, and accordingly select and implement them in teaching. We share knowledge and skills with teachers, educate them and use our work to increase their knowledge and digital competences. We follow other scientific fields too where our eminent lecturers do the same. We have accredited 52 programmes, held dozens of professional gatherings, conferences and consultations, and held hundreds of presentations, training sessions and courses to raise digital / IT literacy and modernize the education system.

How much does the overall digitization of society affect the way students are educated? How different is the approach of knowledge transfer compared to the earlier passive relationship between a teacher who only talks and a student who only listens? Consequently, to what extent does the Filipović Academy follow modern trends and how do students respond to innovations in their education?

The digital age has changed everything, including the approach and the way we transfer knowledge. We are certainly leaders in monitoring and implementing modern technology in teaching. One example is the tremendous effort we have invested in incorporating the world’s best educational programme called MozaBook into our educational system and electronic textbooks. After four to five years of continuously presenting the programme, the MozaBook platform began to be implemented by publishing companies, including Vulkan Znanje and Eduka, which put it in their textbooks, which is a huge step in the development of digital textbooks in education and changing access to learning. Many people find it strange that we have no material benefits from this, only a great pleasure which is reflected in the fact that we were able to get Serbian education out of the dark ages in this way, as well as raise the awareness of teachers that they must supplement traditional teaching with modern teaching methods, while applying all available programmes, tools and devices. This approach increases student motivation to actively participate in the learning process, reduces their passivity and develops interactivity and practicality in applying knowledge. Besides, we use state-of-the-art information equipment (interactive whiteboards, touch screen devices, etc..) in our training, and we also organize online training in line with the current educational trends.

Do you have plans to further modernize the Academy, both in a technical sense and in the sense of increasing the interactivity in teaching?

We apply our motto “A Step Ahead of Everyone” in everything we do. Research is our main tool; I use it in all segments. We implement the results obtained in our programmes in the best way possible, which is of great help to teachers and the education system itself.

How important is continuous improvement of curricula and is the Academy planning on having new programmes and seminars?

As I said, we are following our slogan “A Step Ahead of Everyone”. We have outstanding programmes and applications that are applicable in education. All employees and all associates of the Filipović Academy are constantly working on personal development. We are learning, researching and transferring our knowledge. I want to involve young people in the education process as much as possible, because they have someone they can learn from, to improve the knowledge and skills acquired through personal research and continuous learning and to best impart them to their colleagues.

In November 2019, RCVT and the Filipović Academy reached an agreement on the implementation of joint activities related to the professional development of education staff. Are you satisfied with the collaboration?

We are cooperating with the Regional Centres for Vocational Training (RCVT) from Čačak, Kruševac, Novi Pazar, Užice and Sombor, also with the Serbian Association of Electrical Engineering Schools, the Serbian Association of School Principles, the Serbian Philanthropic Forum, the Serbian Association of Preschool Nurses and many other state and private institutions and organizations, namely with everyone who has selflessly recognized the quality of our work and the contribution we have made to the Serbian education system. We are cooperating with anyone who shares our goals, i.e. raising the quality of work in educational institutions in Serbia, improving teaching and teaching methods, improving the reputation of all educators, and with those people who are selflessly committed to re-engineering the education system in Serbia.

Do you think that, after more than a decade since your inception, you have warranted your slogan “A Step Ahead of Everyone”?

We surely have! The Filipović Academy’s team is made up of hard-working educated people who generously share their knowledge and skills with fellow educators, teachers and professors, motivate them in every way and constantly remind them that being a teacher is the most important link in the society and the social system, as well as that they have an enormous responsibility and obligation to teach our children what they have learned and to teach them how to learn for the benefit of societies and countries. Without teachers and their diligent and responsible work, there is no progress or Improvement. When teachers praise our work it gives us motivation to be even better and more innovative, to explore and to always be there for them, i.e. “A Step Ahead of Everyone”.

A number of activities support this claim:

We started training educators long before everyone else;

We have created and implemented e-portfolio applications;

We have created an electronic grade book and an electronic pedagogical notebook;

We have created programmes for electronic record keeping in preschoolinstitutions;

We have created a platform for designing school websites;

We have created a programme for the electronic management of school libraries;

We have created and implemented self-evaluation applications.

Will the expulsion of Serbia from the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) have any impact on the treatment of Serbian diplomas abroad?

This is the worst thing that could have happened to us. It’s a humiliation for all the diligent people who have earned their diplomas and knowledge through hard work and great sacrifices. No-one in the world has challenged the validity of our diplomas and our people have been regarded as outstanding professionals. But now… This is really sad. It is a very big national problem and opens up many questions. Someone should be held responsible. Rather they are giving us arbitrary answers while pulling wool over our eyes. This is, in fact, the culmination of all the irrationality and narcissistic meddling of individuals in the Serbian education system. If education is devastated, it will destroy our state and nationality and we will forget who we are. To avoid the worst happening to us, we need to follow the legacy Saint Sava’s father, Simon Mirotočivi who said: “When a language disappears, a nation disappears. Don’t put a word from a foreigner into your mouth. If you take someone else’s word, know that you have not conquered it, but have lost one of your own. It is better for you to lose the largest and the most formidable town in your country than the smallest and most insignificant word of your language.”

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