E-learning Nordic 2006 - Uncovering the Impact of ICT on Education in the Nordic Countries
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Does ICT have an impact on the pupils’ learning? Is ICT used as a tool for pedagogical development? And what is the impact of ICT on knowledge-sharing, communication and home-school co-operation? The inter-Nordic study E-learning Nordic 2006 is the first study in the Nordic countries to focus on the impact of ICT on education.
First of its kind
ICT has been introduced into the Nordic schools during the last 10-20 years. While many studies have analysed how and how often ICT is used in schools, hardly any studies have taken this analysis to the next level: What is the impact of ICT?
The inter-Nordic study E-learning Nordic 2006 focuses on the impact of ICT on education within three key areas:
- Pupil performance
- Teaching and learning processes
- Knowledge-sharing, communication and home-school co-operation.
ICT has a positive impact on the schools’ overall target
E-learning Nordic 2006 shows that ICT has a positive impact on the schools’ overall target – improving the pupils’ learning. However, the study also shows that the full potential of ICT is not being fully realized in many schools. Teachers are mostly focused on using ICT to support the subject content. Still, a positive impact of ICT on teaching is also seen on pupil engagement, differentiation, creativity and less waste of time. The study also shows that the preconditions for using ICT for knowledge sharing, communication and school-home co-operation are at hand, and ICT is indeed being used for this in many schools. However the positive impact of this is as yet only moderate.
Real life example: At Oslo Montessori Skole (a primary school in Norway) it is assessed that ICT specifically has an impact on pupils with special needs in the area of writing and reading. It is the school’s experience that ICT has been a valuable tool to support the concentration and motivation among this group of pupils.
Impact of ICT on Pupil Performance
The teachers assess that the impact of ICT is strongest on the pupils’ subject-related performance. However, a positive impact can also be seen on learning basic skills such as reading and writing. 60% of the teachers reported that they experience a moderate or high degree of positive impact of ICT on the pupils’ writing skills.
Also, teachers experience that ICT support differentiation both challenging the academically strong pupils in new ways or supporting the academically weak pupils so that they can more easily participate on equal terms with other pupils. Many teachers find that it is easier to differentiate their teaching with ICT than without.
Real life example: At Mörbyskolan (a primary school in Sweden) the pupils really like that they can manage their own learning to a much greater degree when using ICT. From the point of view of the teachers’ at Mörbyskolan, the computer is not seen as replacing the teacher, but supporting the pupils in new ways to be able, to a larger extent, to work in their own way.
Impact of ICT on Teaching and Learning Processes
Results from E-learning Nordic 2006 show that ICT generally has a positive impact on the teaching and learning situation. However, some people expected that ICT could in some ways revolutionise the teaching and learning processes at school, and compared with this view, the impact must be seen as more limited. ICT does not revolutionize teaching methods. The teachers are mostly focused on using ICT to support the subject content. However, the impact of integrating ICT in teaching can be measured in pupil engagement, differentiation and creativity.
It has been stated in the public debate – in for example Denmark – that a barrier to the integration of ICT has been that too much teaching time is wasted. The results of the study cannot support this argument, since the great majority of teachers do not experience that more teaching time is wasted with the integration of ICT.
Real life example: Oulun Lyseon Lukio (a secondary school in Finland), is a school with an advanced use of ICT. The teachers at the school emphasise, however the importance of that the focus remains on the subject of teaching itself. The choice to use ICT tools in education must be based on a sound analysis of whether the use actually can bring another dimension to the learning process.
Impact of ICT on Knowledge Sharing, Communication and school-home co-operation
E-learning Nordic 2006 shows that the use of ICT as an organizational tool has not yet fully matured. The preconditions for using ICT for knowledge-sharing, communication and school-home co-operation are at hand, and many schools, teachers, pupils and parents use the ICT infrastructure for informational and collaborative purposes. However, in spite of massive ICT-based communication within the teaching staff at many schools, the positive impact on co-operation and knowledge sharing is as yet only moderate.
Real life example: At Greve Gymnasium (a secondary school in Denmark), the headmaster finds that knowledge-sharing is not necessarily easier with ICT, but as the complexity of the school organisation and the management of daily activities increases, ICT is the only way to handle the intensified complexity.
The study shows that the potential of ICT is not being fully realized at all schools. To address this problem E-learning Nordic 2006 offers a number of recommendations for the future. A special key concern is the need for more focus on organizational implementation of ICT. If the potential impact of ICT in Nordic schools is to be further realised, school owners and management need to be more professional in their organisational implementation of ICT. Substantial investments in ICT have been made at both regional and local level, but often with no clear criteria for success and no structured monitoring of the benefits. At many schools, the situation can be compared to buying 10 new laptops and not un-wrapping them. For example, during the last few years a number of schools have invested in Learning Management Systems (LMS) with the ambition of improving education and knowledge-sharing. However, often the investments have not been accompanied by use of the new systems. Return on investment from ICT investments and ICT projects require a commitment to organisational implementation on the part of the school management. They must be visionary enough to initiate and continuously support the use of ICT as a strategic tool for developing the general ambitions of the school.
The E-learning Nordic 2006 study has been designed and launched as a partnership between the Finnish National Board of Education, the Swedish National Agency for School Improvement, the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, the Danish Ministry of Education, and Ramboll Management.
Data collection in the study was based on an internet-based survey conducted among 224 schools in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark as well as 12 on-site school visits. More than 8000 persons participated in the survey. Respondents were pupils in the 5th and 8th grades in primary school and the 11th grade in secondary school, teachers in these grades, the pupils parents, as well as the headmasters at the participating schools.
Studying impact is methodologically difficult. The method chosen was to ask different key participants in Nordic schools about their personal experiences using ICT and their assessment of the impact of ICT. This methodology does not necessarily prove a direct link between the use of ICT and learning impact, but it uncovers the impact as it is perceived by the headmasters, teachers, pupils and the pupils’ parents.
- Ella Kiesa from the Finnish National Board of Education,
- Peter Karlberg from the Swedish National Agency for School Improvement,
- Øystein Johannesen from the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research,
- Lilla Voss from the Danish Ministry of Education, and
- Sanya Pedersen at Ramboll Management.