By David Marsh

If you visit a Finnish school, you may be surprised not to see lots of digital devices in classrooms.  Apart from an interactive whiteboard the devices are there but you cannot see them. Why? Because they are in bags, pockets, rucksacks waiting to be used but not active in formal class time.  One of the hidden secrets of Finnish educational success involves having some of the shortest class contact time in the world, the magic of the word homework, and the ways that technologically astute young people generate their own learning pathways and habits.

As a parent I could not understand why my own children rarely had homework. When asked, they would always say “I’ve done it”.  The point is that students have out-of-class work to do each day (done in school so not strictly-speaking homework) which is done in school (in groups) and not at home (often alone), through forms of elearning. So, after classes, at school, in small teams, students bring out their digital devices, surf the cyber superhighways to help them carry out assignments.

The experiemce of elearning in Finland starts at school from a very young age where children follow BYOD (bring your own device), consider these devices almost like an extension of their mind and body, and use them continuously to search, explore and reinforce what they learn in classes. Using these devices from a very early age means that in adolescence up to 4 devices may be used, for some 40-50 hours per week, a major percentage of which is spent multi-tasking (handling more than one device/app/social media/ at a time.

The Finnish digitalgeneration is now in early adulthood.Because this internet generation has experiencedhigh exposure to integrated technologies resulting in changes in how their minds process and use information, we had a choice: ignore the changing landscape and ban devices, or adapt education to suit these new mindsets and give devices a place in achieving quality learning. Finland took the second option.

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E-learning 1.0 was slow to take root in the 1990s because people mistakenly thought that you needed to do two things; give the computers to schools and train the teachers. E-Learning 2.0/3.0 has been vastly more successful because rather than viewing the teacher as Master and Provider of digital use and solutions, the power went directly to the young people to realize the learning objectives of their class-time courses.Now electronic literacy is so fundamental for all forms of learning that people talk of Digital being like a Second Language (DSL).

Because of the heavy use of digital outside the class it has made people aware that class time should be used for enhancing the ‘human dimension’ between students and teachers. So now E-Learning is widespread often using devices that you cannot obviously see, doing homework which isn’t called homework, and advancing a simultaneous generation and education leap into the future.

david.marsh@educlusterfinland.fi

Sourse: Edition 32 Aldea Magazine

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