Renewing basic education and strengthening digital learning are important spearhead projects in terms of education in Finland, and the government supports this with an investment of MEUR 121. A new kind of learning brings on great changes to the structures and way of thinking in Finnish education, which is also required by the new curriculum.
Turku to pioneer the utilisation of information and communications technology
“We are glad that Turku is on the forefront of the computer project, and we get the chance to learn to use IT and communications technology with modern equipment as a natural part of learning and data acquisition,” says Tommi Tuominen, service area director for basic education.
“With the help of the computers, we aim to make our working methods more versatile and react to changes in society. We must consider that the new curriculum for basic education highlights new ways of learning and IT and communications technology. Incorporating digital learning to basic education provides all students with equal readiness for further education and for digital matriculation examinations, for example,” Tuominen says.
Teachers supported in digital learning through continuous training
Tutors visit schools in the Turku area to support digital learning.
The computer project initiated in Turku is based on a comprehensive user survey where a steering group determined the wishes and needs of school staff. Teachers are familiarised with the equipment and the technical specifications of the school environment are ensured before any equipment is purchased.
“During the first phase, we will make sure that coverage and capacity of the wireless network inside the schools is sufficient for the growing number of devices,” says Jouni Paakkinen, Managing Director of the Tietokone opetuksessa - TOP-keskus (Centre for computers and learning).
“We have started supporting the staff through various training courses and further training. The operational culture of the new curriculum also includes the training of teacher tutors, which is supported by the Finnish National Board of Education. Tutors visit schools in the Turku area to support digital learning,” Paakkinen adds.
Tablets for elementary school pupils, laptops for upper comprehensive school students
Not everything will be digitised, and existing learning environments will not be forgotten.
Device deliveries should start at the beginning of the autumn term. Approximately 3,000 personal devices will be bought, of which half are tablets for fourth-graders and half are small laptops for seventh-graders. This will result in all students in years 4 to 9 having their own device from the autumn term of 2019 onwards. In addition, schools will receive shared devices for students in grades one to three.
The development of digital learning environments and further training of teachers will continue throughout the computer project. Not everything will be digitised, and existing learning environments will not be forgotten, however, but new solutions will be developed in cooperation with students, guardians and teaching staff.
“Books are not thrown out either, but traditional and new tools and methods will support each other,” Tuominen says.