Field Stories

It takes a global village to raise 21st-century children

One of the key conversations in education today revolves around the solutions ICT tools can deliver. Can it contribute to increasing access? Can it improve the quality of education? Can it help make education more relevant? Can we leverage ICT for skills development? And fundamentally, how does technology affect the roles of the teachers and the students?

Finland is a country that leads in both education and in implementing a national digitalisation agenda; it also offers a wide range of digital services to its citizens. All of the questions listed above have been part of the national rhetoric in the educational field. ICT is almost universally seen as a key tool in education – and one the country’s youth have to master in order to build and live successful lives.

Given this realisation, ICT has found a natural place within the education system, and ICT skills are listed as one of the key competencies of the curriculum. ICT tools, computers, tablets, and mobile phones are used in rich and varied ways (information retrieval, making presentations, writing, playing learning games, development of coding skills, collaborative online work, etc.). This breadth paints an extensive picture for children of the opportunities the digital world offers them. And the fact that schools, which deploy learning platforms, mobile learning, and social media, are actively present in the digital world expands the possibilities of learning and growing as a citizen and a member of a community.

Finland, a leading country in education, bases its education on values. The national curriculum states as the first value “the uniqueness of every child and right to good education”. With this foundation, the education system stems from respect of children and concern for their wellbeing and growth. In a wider scope, all children want to learn new things and are inquisitive and curious. In order to foster this at school, children must feel secure and content, and have a sense of wellbeing.

A school is a state of mind. It is a community of practice for learning that helps young members of the society understand who they are, what their relation to others is, and how they can work for the common good.

Trust, personal responsibility and togetherness should be key elements in all schools. Schools, teacher teams, individual teachers and learners themselves should be able to impact how to best achieve the learning goals in their schools and classrooms.

Digital tools allow the personalisation of learning in order to meet the individual needs of learners and a broader range of students. This type of tailor-made learning requires skilled teachers to support it. Competent and motivated staff members are ready to take ownership in their own practice and be creative in varying everyday situations with different learners.

In order to succeed in this, in-school collaboration between teachers and other support staff (e.g. student counsellors and SEN teachers) should be strong. Finland views all children as unique individuals and special students who are entitled to get education in a way that best supports their learning. The focus is on individual learners and the community simultaneously – not on individual subjects, tests, or groups.

ICT and eLearning have given rise to a transformation in education and learning. Interactive and personalised learning are supported by digital tools, be it collaborative project boards online, student-made videos uploaded to YouTube, or campus-familiarisation track played as teams on mobile phones.

ICT solutions are often seen as playing a key role in meeting the education goals stated in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, not to mention the numerous initiatives countries are leading in this domain.

ICT and digital tools bring new opportunities in education. At the same time, they challenge the traditional paradigms of how learning is viewed and constructed. ICT should not only be seen as a tool to enhance learning, but rather as a rich tool opening new opportunities to enhance the overall quality of education by introducing new tools to the teachers’ toolbox.

At eLearning Africa, in the session “It takes a digital village to raise a child for the digital world: Developing education and educators’ competences”, Ms. Satu Järvinen and Mr. Esko Lius will work with participants to find solutions for ICT integration that combine northern and southern educational expertise.

The session invites participants to find new digital solutions and pedagogic practices to support learning and to map possible pathways towards teachers’ competence development. The session examines the themes of access, relevance, and inclusiveness in education, and how these areas can be supported with educational technology and student-centred learning culture.

The session builds on the participants’ existing knowledge and expertise, their shared knowledge exchange, and expert intervention by the facilitators to support the work in order to find new pedagogical and digital solutions. Instead of being listeners, the participants are peer-to-peer collaborators creating new knowledge.

eLearning Africa 2018 is the first time Finnish education experts are joining the event as a larger group. All conference delegates are most welcomed to become acquainted with the Finnish education representatives and solutions at Kigali, Rwanda, from September 26 – 28, 2018.

Come and join Satu Järvinen and Esko Lius during their session at eLearning Africa, on Thursday 27th september.

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