The Swedish Schoolnet – support for a local IT development

Presentation inom temaområde “National Internet-based School Support Initiatives” under INET’99 Educational Networking Workshop, San José, June 1999

The Swedish School System

The Swedish school system consists of

  • approx. 1.2 million pupils
  • approx. 120,000 teachers
  • approx. 6000 schools

The Swedish school system is

  • goal oriented
  • decentralised

Goal orientation implies that

  • goals are set by government – school law, national curriculum, syllabi
  • how to achieve the goals is a question for the schools themselves
  • the municipalities organise, provide the resources and employ the teachers

Decentralisation implies that

  • responsibility for day-to-day work lies with the teachers and the school leaders
  • schools decide about teaching material (including software), work methods, Internet access etc.
  • municipalities may support with infrastructure, project money etc.
  • the government does not provide hardware, recommend software, direct the use of IT in school etc.

However, the government

  • disseminates information
  • may provide project support
  • encourages the use of Internet in school

National IT initiatives

National support for the schools IT development

  • IT in School – a three year project run by the Ministry of Education focusing on teacher training
  • The Foundation for Knowledge and Competence – a semi-government body that funds research and IT-projects
  • The IT-commission – an advisory body to the government
  • The National Agency for Education – a government body responsible for the K12-sector

The National Agency for Education

  • acts on specific commission from the ministry
  • acts on its own initiatives within the framework set up by the ministry
  • works within areas: active follow-up, evaluation, supervision and development

The Swedish Schoolnet

The Swedish Schoolnet

  • is a project managed by the National Agency for Education
  • spreads knowledge and information about Internet and education to teachers, school leaders, decision makers, pupils and parents
  • acts as a catalyst to create new content
  • is an “information broker” for organisations, companies, museums, government bodies etc.

Philosophy behind the project

  • show possibilities and give advice – not “commands”
  • teacher empowerment is a basis for school development
  • support local, active work of teachers and pupils
  • support learning by doing
  • provide forums, collaborative environments, services, tools etc. for this
  • “ultimate vision”: school as “the center of the village”

Example of services and projects

  • school adresses – support for finding other schools
  • dictionaries – support for international contacts
  • Classroom On-line – maga/webzine for inspiration and ideas
  • the Multimedia Bureau – support for publication
  • the Link Larder – a collection of high quality but not necessarily “safe” links,

Summary

Summary of the Swedish experiences

  • “content pull” (rather than “technology push”) gives a solid IT development in K12-schools
  • a focus on possibilities and advantages gives a widespread acceptance among teachers
  • many different local initiatives combine into major changes
  • new technology must be accompanied by changes in organisation and administration

About the author

Johan Groth has a Master of Science in Engineering Physics and a Ph.D. in Mechanics from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. He has, since 1994, been working with how Internet can be used as a development tool within the educational sector as a senior adviser at the Ministry for Education, the Swedish Parliament and, presently, the National Agency for Education. He has been involved in building the Swedish and European Schoolnets. Groth is a board member of The Swedish Chapter of Internet Society and of KTH Network Operation Centre. He has recently published the book “Internet comes to school”, a description of the first years of Internet use in Swedish schools.

References

  1. General information about the Swedish school system, The National Agency for Education, http://www.skolverket.se/b/faktablad/english/bbc1_b.html
  2. The 1994 Curriculum for the Non-compulsory School System, http://www.skolverket.se/pdf/lpfe.pdf
  3. Schools and Computers 1997 – a quantitative picture, The National Agency for Education, http://www.skolverket.se/c/it/skol_dator97/cbcc1.html
  4. Information technology in the schools, The National Agency for Education, http://www.skolverket.se/c/it/cbcb1.html
  5. IT in School, http://www.itis.gov.se/english/index.html
  6. The Foundation for Knowledge and Competence, http://www.kks.se
  7. The IT Commission, http://www.itkommissionen.se
  8. The National Agency for Education, http://www.skolverket.se
  9. The Swedish Schoolnet, http://www.skolverket.se/skolnet
  10. The Swedish Schoolnet, Dictionaries, http://www.nada.kth.se/skolverket/lexin-en.html
  11. The Swedish Schoolnet, The Mulitmedia Bureau, http://www.multimedia.skolverket.se/
  12. The Swedish Schoolnet, School Addresses, http://www.skolverket.se/skolnet/english/skoladresser/index.html
  13. The Swedish Schoolnet, The Link Larder, http://lankskafferiet.skolverket.se/
  14. IT in Education – The Role of Government, Johan Groth, 1998, http://www.pi.se/gogab/arkiv/rio-98.html
  15. Physical or virtual networks? – Connecting Swedish schools to Internet, Johan Groth, 1998, http://www.gogab.se/1998/physical-or-virtual-networks-connecting-swedish-schools-to-internet