Sunday, 12 February 2017

ICT in Education Conference

ICT and Education Conference at
Norwegian University of Technology and Science


The National Conference on the Use of ICT in Education and Learning was held in the city of Trondheim, Norway, from the 11th to the 13th of May 2016. The conference took place at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)’s science and technology campus, Gløshaugen. The conference is an event for working teachers, pedagogy students, ICT companies, governmental offices, publishers and researchers/ speakers delivering a packed program of presentations. I spent most of my time looking through the stands, but also had time to attend a few presentations. In this blogpost I’ll highlight some of the things that caught my eyes. It won’t be a complete overview over the whole conference, but in keeping with this blog: the blend of technology and creativity, and also technical education-facilities will be central.

This blogpost will be segmented into two:
1. The post you are reading will deal with publishing, networking, trajectories and reflections around ICT in education.

Presentation: learning-design in context.

Trends in Publishing

Large Media Companies

National broadcasters NRK (Norway’s version of the BBC) and TV2 have taken a great leap into the education sector by creating online platforms that lets pupils and students tap into the companies’ wells of recorded material. Comprehensive new material has also been created to address the need of Norwegian schools. I have not yet used their platforms, but judging from presentation, TV2 seems to hold the leading edge. The companies are operating as publishers (as opposed to traditional media-companies) when delivering services in the education sector.

Using platforms where extensive video-material covers (at least in the long run) the entire school curriculum has obvious advantages. Topics like modern history and social sciences are perhaps the areas where these platforms are most self-explanatory. However, content for topics like mathematics, science and language also seems to be well developed or under way. I do however, feel that a word of caution is in order. Norway is politically a country that for many decades have embraced left-of-centre politics. This has trickled into its media-coverage, and it’s a well-known fact amongst media-researchers that the media in general covers current events with a slight left-bias. Looking back at my own education it took me many years of travelling and higher studies to un-learn many accepted truths from my school-years that were clearly politically biased, especially in social sciences, but also in history. I’m all for presenting both sides of the story from a neutral middle-ground and if I have one concern with Norwegian media-companies now educating minors, it is an accentuation of an existing political bias. I am not trying to advocate removing certain views from schools, but rather complementing them in a more neutral and holistic sense. Let’s see what the future brings, but for teachers who use these platforms this is currently something one should look out for! To end on a positive note, the tools that have been developed by these media-giants seems packed with interesting content. The companies express a work-in-progress attitude, which tells me there will be more development of content (perhaps also on the delivery-platforms) in the very near future.

Views from around the conference-
area, and the stands.

Other Publishers

BS Undervisning (translates ‘BS Education’) provides a platform for coordinating sales and use of both printed and digital media. They have over 1500 digital learning resources in their catalogue and sports some of the biggest names in Norwegian educational publishing as collaborators. Amongst other things they provide a service that lets you search and link to the online resources that your institute subscribes to. BS Undervisning is part of a larger corporation that provides goods and services for libraries and places of learning.

One of my personal favourites was Norwegian publisher Gyldendal’s stand. Gyldendal had resources, tools for teaching and assessment in one place through their SMART programme. What caught the attention of the music producer in me the most, was that they are now offering guitar-course videos through one of their online platforms. They don’t have immediate thoughts on developing their music-teaching content, but were very open to the idea. As a ‘Sound and Music Production’ lecturer I used Lynda and AskVieo/ MacProVideo for students in vocationally angled higher education. These are great resources as a supplements, and sometimes even as radical improvement from traditional printed resources! It is therefore really good news for the future of music education in schools to see creative and artistic content becoming available alongside theoretical topics. Gyldendal seems to be a publishing house to watch for this sort of development.

Professional Network for teachers
and Online Safety for students

Senter for IKT i Utdanningen’ is an organisation that was set up under the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Education in 2010. It can be translated ‘Centre for ICT in Education.’ The centre is there to help lift the quality of ICT use in kindergartens, schools and for pedagogy students. In addition to working with the quality of ICT-education, the centre focuses on internet safety and the training of pupils to exert good judgement in ICT-based interactions. They are one of the initiative-takers behind the webpage and printed material for  ‘Du bestemmer’ translates ‘You Decide’ and is a resource that deals with healthy conduct, law, plus positives and negatives a person encounters when interacting across the internet. The ‘Centre for ICT in Education’ also provides research and initiatives that it goes outside of this blogpost to cover. These include development of regional leadership in the school sector and help with finding the right digital resources for use in education.

‘Klassetrivsel’ is a term that describes how pupils feel (positive or negative) about their class and their social interactions. It is an online tool for teachers that can assess how students feel about their every-day life and social interactions in school. It provides feed-back to teachers that helps them assess and address the experience of being a pupil in their class. It started as a project at a school in 2007, and is now a tool available for all Norwegian schools who subscribe to the service. Their webpage is:

Creative Software

Creaza is a platform where you can make mind-maps, video and audio presentations, and cartoons. Let’s say, the teacher shares a mind-map with the students. The students pick up the mind map and follow up with their own research. In the end a multimedia presentation is produced by the students over a topic given by the teacher. The tool is very well geared towards creative responses to assessments and incorporates ICT-skills in a fluid way. The video and audio editors looks familiar for users of Mac-software. I don’t believe tools like Creaza can take the place of reading and writing in a traditional sense, but it is a very diverse ICT-supplement. It is diverse in the sense that it covers all the bases of muli(ple)-media in óne platform — this should make it easier for the teacher, who don’t have to relate to three or four different software-packs but who rather can relate to óne. Creaza has won several awards and I encourage you to:
1) Look at their web-site, as the different tools included in Creaza is described in a very accessible way by clicking on the banners under the ‘Product’ banner. There is also a Creaza-blog that keeps you up to date on news about the software.
2) Look at Creaza’s YouTube user, which is packed with tutorials and examples.

In my own teaching experience, I’ve worked with higher-/ vocational education. We used softwares like Cubase and ProTools which are professional tools from the creative industries. Creaza, as far as I can see, belongs in primary and secondary education. The ICT-skills acquired from Creaza should be easy to transfer to professional platforms when pupils/ students reach a higher level of studies. I believe I would find it easier to train higher-education students who are familiar with platforms like Creaza on professional platforms. Apart from the obvious use in a modern classroom, I can see two other uses for Creaza:
1) Students who struggle to follow regular teaching for various reasons. Creaza is engaging and forces you to create, and not just respond like to a computer-game. It also looks particularly good at creating ‘narratives.’ Work with narratives is no foreign thought in pedagogy or social sciences. In 2012 I wrote about the research of Electro Acoustic composer Louise Rossiter, who explored the use of Electro Acoustic composition as a therapeutic tool for pupils from troubled backgrounds. The results were positive. Creaza is not an Electro Acoustic composition platform, but if used in similar ways I’d expect results pointing in the same direction.
2) Use for adult learners with limited skills, either in: 1) ICT, or 2) the topic of the class (including language). A good example would be for teaching immigrants with limited language and ICT skills, and limited skills on local society. Creaza would combine an intuitive ICT platform, and basic use of language in presentations; while allowing the learner to feel success in making a good product while still not in full command of the language. (As opposed to a presentation where everything is resting on language.) Examples of interaction and aspects of society can be animated in the simple-to-use Cartoonist application.

As this software caught my imagination I’ll add a quick YouTube video just to give you a visual idea of what it looks like:

Trajectories in ICT

New Media Consortium’s (NMC) Horizon Project has published a rapport about the trajectories the use of technology in Norwegian education. The rapport was published in 2013 and covers 2013-2018. It analyses the matter on three time horizons: one year or less, two to three years, and four to five years. The Norwegian rapport is a collaboration with The Norwegian Centre for ICT In Education. NMC have done rapports on several countries. Here is the link to the Norwegian rapport. NMC runs a conference and the website has a blog with their current news.

Is ICT The Way?

ICT is certainly a buzzword in education right now, but can we trust that ICT-tools really can take over for traditional learning tools? I think the answer is both yes and no. A future with more ICT and automatization clearly needs a workforce who is able to address the new tasks. But I’m also worried that we sometimes are over-emphasising the constantly changing technical aspects of the future at the expense of the not-so-changing human aspects of the future.

I guided in the Norwegian mountains for many years and I remember a study from the early 2000’s stating that children who attended ‘outback kindergartens’ (close proximity to outback, and much use of outdoor activities. Norwegian expression is: ‘friluftsbarnehage’) were better at a range of things, including problem-solving than children from inner-city kindergartens. Studies like these remind us that modern society is built on harnessing the potential that exists at the core of creation and of the human mind. Basic inter-human skills will not be addressed sufficiently through online platforms for collaboration, and the future will not be secure for job-seekers in decades to come just because they are proficient at today’s technology. With a growing number of companies not just addressing, but also helping to create demand for new technology in education we have to constantly evaluate whether we are developing the human potential in pupils and students as much as we develop our ICT-skills. I’ll underline this with an example from one of my own areas of study, Music Technology. I go to trade-shows and know several distributors and manufacturers of music production gear. Every year there are new equipment-releases and you’ll be constantly reminded you need the new products to really stay at a current professional level. However, most of the classic albums we teach in music-history classes are more than a decade old, and hence the technology is practically from the stone-age in the world of the technology-manufacturers. But tomorrow’s musicians, music educators and producers won’t be much effective if they can’t play low-tech wooden guitars, collaborate in bands and appreciate the potential in the tools at their disposal. To put it to its edge, I believe in a future where the most adaptable persons can chop down trees for fire-wood, counsel someone in trouble and write with a pencil; while operating technology, making global interactive collaborations and assessing the deployment of the tools they have available.


Thanks to NTNU for creating a meeting-ground for an impressive array of educators, researchers and ICT industry! This was more of a meeting-ground and an ideas-exchange, than an academic conference in a traditional sense. I’ll be going back!

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