National support for a local IT-development within the K12-sector

Cainet 2000, Cairo, March 2000

Johan GROTH, Ph.D. (
Groth & Groth Ltd.


The introduction of information technology (IT) into the K12-school system raises many different questions of technical, economical, pedagogical, organisational, administrative and ethical character. Specific questions concern the role of the teachers, the development of curriculum and syllabi, the relationships between teachers, students and parents, students access to new types of learning and other materials etc. This presentation will discuss the Swedish experiences of national support for a local IT-development and try to draw some general conclusions in order to stimulate a discussion regarding the potential of true reform of the traditional schooling models.

1 IT and education

Computers and Internet create

1.1 IT implies changes

Analogue vs. digital information Computers vs. networks Local vs. global Information consumer vs. producer Text only vs. multimedia Issues vs. concurrent publication

2 The Swedish School System

The Swedish school system consists of The Swedish school system is Goal orientation implies that Decentralisation implies that However, the government

3 National IT initiatives within the K12-sector

Even though the K12-system is decentralised there are national organisations and projects that provide support for the IT-development in the K12-system: Results at a glance

3.1 The Swedish Schoolnet

The Swedish Schoolnet Philosophy behind the project Example of services and projects

4 Some conclusions based the Swedish experiences

Changes in the educational sector Competing factors when introducing IT (choose two!)

4.1 How should IT be introduced?

Speed + acceptance = ad hoc approach to introducing IT Speed + scalability = material approach to introducing IT Acceptance + scalability = content driven approach to introducing IT Some practical advice The role of industry Summary of the Swedish experiences

5 Socratic discussion (comments are welcome!)

The issues raised when introducing IT into the K12-system are many and, in most cases, what could be called large scale, strategic topics. Some issues are
  1. According to which principles should a national curriculum be formulated in the IT-age (goal oriented, task oriented, time oriented etc)? Is a national curriculum at all needed or useful?

  2. Internet gives the possibility of "personal" teaching material as opposed to before when the same books were used in a whole country or region. What are the advantages/disadvantages of this? What happens to the "common knowledge" in society? Quantity contra quality?

  3. Internet makes it possible for companies, organisations, even individuals to offer courses and/or exams. How is the school system to cope with parents who chooses an "external" teacher for their children? What about home teaching?

  4. Internet is rapidly becoming a critical infrastructure in school. What happens when the net is down? Can school be allowed to rely on an [still] fragile infrastructure?

  5. Internet makes it possible for teachers to communicate on a daily basis with parents. What are the implications of this?

  6. In a totally distributed school system, how do we evaluate the results? Are national criteria even possible? Does IT imply that we have new goals to strive towards or do the old goals still hold (3 R:s)? How do we assess that computers and IT really deliver what many politicians, visionaries and others promise?

  7. How do we ensure that IT does not create new barriers to open access in education?

  8. When introducing IT in school, how should we avoid "technology push" (presuming this is a good idea, which I think is rather safe to say)?

  9. How do we on a national level help the teachers prepare for this brave new world?

  10. What do school politicians on different levels need to know? Do they know, else how do we inform them?


Internet and its use within education is today a question of major concern in many countries. Three reasons are usually given for the use of Internet and more generally IT:

The introduction of IT and computers can also be seen as a process in time. During the first phase computers, hard to use and usually not connected to networks, were pushed out into the educational system. The overenthusiastic pioneers among the teachers stood out against the reluctant majority. The experiences from this phase are usually few, not widely applicable and dearly paid for.

In phase two, where we are now, awareness and knowledge have become more widespread among teachers, policymakers, parents and pupils. Work is, however, still project driven, experimental and, in many cases, carried out without a clear picture of what is really happening with the school in regards to pedagogical development, organisational change and administrative procedures.

In the third phase, I hope, that the use of IT has become a part of common pedagogical practice, that no one believes that IT is a "quick fix" for the problems in our schools and that the true benefits of Internet as an educational tool has become clear.


  1. General information about the Swedish school system, The National Agency for Education,
  2. The 1994 Curriculum for the Non-compulsory School System,
  3. Schools and Computers 1999 - a quantitative picture, The National Agency for Education,
  4. Information technology in the schools, The National Agency for Education,
  5. IT in School,
  6. The Foundation for Knowledge and Competence,
  7. The IT Commission,
  8. The Swedish University Network (SUNET),
  9. The National Agency for Education,
  10. The Swedish Schoolnet,
  11. The Swedish Schoolnet, Dictionaries,
  12. The Swedish Schoolnet, The Multimedia Bureau,
  13. The Swedish Schoolnet, School Addresses,
  14. The Swedish Schoolnet, The Link Larder,
  15. IT in Education - The Role of Government, Johan Groth, 1998,
  16. Physical or virtual networks? - Connecting Swedish schools to Internet, Johan Groth, 1998,
  17. ICT in Education Policy, The European Experts' Network for Educational Technology,

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. He has been a senior adviser at the National Agency for Education, the Ministry for Education and Science and in the Swedish Parliament. He was part of the original group that built the Swedish Schoolnet, was a co-ordinator for Netd@ys Sweden during its first years and was involved in setting up the European Schoolnet. He is now managing director for Metamatrix Development & Consulting, a company that works with information structures and metadata. Dr Groth serves on the board of KTH Network Operation Centre and is a frequent speaker at international conferences. His most recent book is 'Internet goes to school', a description of the first years of Internet use in Swedish schools.

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Senast ändrad den 21 januari 2000
av Johan Groth