It is time to put the teacher at the centre of schools’ technology development, says director of the Norwegian Board of Technology, Tore Tennøe.
On June 12 2012, the Norwegian Board of Technology handed over a set of recommendations on how ICT can help improve teaching, to the Standing Committee on Education, Research and Church Affairs at the Parliament.
Smart digital teaching resources
In recent decades, authorities and school owners have invested heavily in computers and digital competence. Today, schools have a good digital infrastructure. However, little has been done to use the technology in a way that enhances the teaching and frees the teacher’s time, enabling them to spend more time on lectures and students. Studies show that 83% of the teachers from 9th grade and 89% of the teachers from 7th grade agree with the statement that using ICT can facilitate differentiating the education according to students’ needs. The teachers see the potential for educational support, but they lack good digital teaching resources. Only 10% of 9th grade teachers agree that they are working systematically to develop ICT-based lectures in school (Monitor 2011).
– The development so far has been on the technology’s terms. But technology is not the aim; it must be used to improve teaching and free resources for lectures. We believe a core task for future technology development in schools will be putting the teacher’s needs first, he continued.
The Board’s expert group believes that smart digital teaching resources offer considerable opportunities and should be utilised in Norwegian schools. The smartness of the resources lies in their collecting data from students’ work, analysing them for the teacher, and presenting it in a straightforward manner. The Horizon report for 2012, describing emerging technologies believed to have a positive influence on education, emphasised learning analytics as a powerful trend that will be in widespread use within 2-3 years. Also in Norway, exciting things are on the cards.
– The Norwegian-developed math program Kikora is a good example. The students solve tasks online, receive immediate feedback on whether or not they are on the right track, and if they are allowed to use hints. At the same time, the teacher learns what students are struggling with, how much and for how long they work with tasks, enabling them to help students get over the humps. And instead of the teacher spending time correcting and analysing the tasks themselves, the program does it for them. This way, time is freed for adaptive learning, he says.
The Flipped Classroom
Tennoe points out that even everyday technology can be used to enhance lectures and free time for teachers. Recording lectures to post online is no hocus-pocus. In the United States, this is about to change the way the school day is organised. You do your homework at school and the lectures at home – recorded by the teacher and posted online. They call it the ‘flipped classroom’ – the inverse classroom. The Khan Academy is leading this effort.
– It is a good example of how to utilise the teacher’s time by using the right technology. The social challenge of homework disappears, and the teacher spends time helping the student through tasks and obstacles rather than lecturing on the blackboard.
Clintondale High School outside Detroit is an example of this. After 18 months of flipped classroom lecturing, the failure rate was halved, there was a marked improvement on national tests, increased attendance, and better discipline in class.
The expert group also points out that the exam is essential for how lectures are planned. As long as the Internet is not used during the exam, its potential as an asset to the teaching is limited. The group therefore proposes permitting Internet for the final exams in certain subjects in primary and secondary school.
– We believe this will lead to better use of ICT in daily life. Experiences from Denmark shows that this can increase the quality of teaching. This requires a new system of exams and regulating plagiarism, Tennoe concludes.
The Norwegian Board of Technology’s recommendations
The expert group proposes a set of measures that will help integrate technology into the teaching profession and process:
- Establishing a holistic ICT infrastructure in schools.
- Stimulating the market for smart digital teaching materials.
- Give the Centre for ICT in Education a mission to advise and assure the quality of digital teaching materials.
- The teacher education must enhance the use of technology in education and ensure that new teachers are able to integrate technology in their teaching.
- Selected subjects in primary and secondary school should permit the use of Internet on final exams.