Technology is everywhere in education, but even though every student at Teglverket school has their own iPad, the focus is not on the technology, but on the learning. How can technology change and enhance the way teachers teach, and the way all students learn? Technology can be the great equalizer in a classroom with diverse learners.
“The future of the children started yesterday”
Teglverket primary and lower secondary school is situated in Oslo, the capital of Norway. The school opened its doors in the fall of 2015, and is a school for students aged 6 to 16. The school has about 400 students now, but there will be 800 students in a few years. The vision and the management of the school support a collaborative school culture. This forms the basis for inclusive education.
Headmaster Elisabeth Palmgren says:
“One of the school’s most fundamental values is collaboration. We have a strong focus on developing students who interact, and bring out the best in each other, through collaboration and critical thinking, across cultures, different backgrounds and level of knowledge.
We have high ambitions on behalf of our students, and we know that all students have the ability to learn, and that they learn the best through collaboration. It is through collaboration that new knowledge and learning occur. All our students have their own iPad, and by taking advantage of the digital opportunities, students can create new tasks together – tasks that were previously inconceivable. We don’t use textbooks in any subject. We have plenty of concrete physical resources as well as ICT infrastructure to develop multi modal learning.
Digital opportunities add an extra dimension to inclusion and learning – a dimension that we are certain our students need in order to face a future that we know very little about. By providing well-planned, rich and open problem-solving tasks, where the criteria is customised and adapted to each student, our teachers give all students the opportunity to participate and be included in the classroom, with their class at their own level.
One of our students with autism spectrum disorder has benefitted immensely from the use of iPads. By using the app Puppet Pals, this student was able to recreate a fairy tale in collaboration with some classmates. At the same time, all these students got to work on their social skills, like recognition, respect and the acceptance that all contributions into the group are valuable even if the contributions may differ.
All our students use apps where they have to be active and produce the content themselves, not just consume. Apps like Kidspiration, Book Creator, iThoughts, Puppet Pals and iMovie allow the students to produce more, to be more motivated and to collaborate more. The iPad gives the students support using audio and imagery, which simplifies and permits adapted education in an even bigger scale. The teachers say that it has become easier to reach each student at their individual level. Students aren’t assessed and tested as much as before, because teachers get a lot of information about the students’ learning process through the use of iPads. Feedback can be given instantly.
All this does not mean that we never work in smaller groups, but when we do there is an awareness of the composition of the group, it happens for a limited period of time and there are clear goals for the content of the lesson.
The team of teachers who work at the school are quite young with high morals, and they work together to take ownership of the school’s values. They work together to create exemplary units, and they share with one another. We have fixed working hours to ensure that the teachers can collaborate. The biggest reason why the teachers succeed is that they allow the learning to be the focal point – not the technology.
With us, all students can learn and we can all learn from each other.”
Senior Adviser ICT & Learning Technology