Horten videregående skole (Further Education College) has long experience with itslearning. Today, every one of its 1,200 students and 220 teachers uses the system to ensure education runs smoothly – so the students can concentrate on learning.
Since first getting itslearning in 2003, Horten Further Education College in Norway has seen usage among teachers and students grow and grow. But when the College conducted a survey of teachers and students in 2009, it discovered there was still more it could do to improve how it used the system. One year on, every one of the teachers and students uses itslearning on a regular basis.
The man behind the survey was Kjetil Idås, maths teacher and project leader. “When I looked at how much you can do with itslearning, I realised that we weren’t getting full value out of the system,” he explains. “One problem is the difference in IT skills among teachers. Some of our teachers were using it every day, in and outside the classroom, while others were only touching the surface of what they could do with it.”
Getting every teacher on board
The College’s solution was to set up minimum user requirements for teachers. Kjetil established a basic structure that each teacher must use when creating courses in itslearning. “In the survey, the students pointed out that teachers put information in different places,” explains Kjetil. “The structure we use now means every teacher uses its learning to communicate basic information in the same way, and students can easily find what they are looking for.”
For Norwegian and German teacher Torgny Dokke, this structure has helped him get started with itslearning. “I now use itslearning to email students, set and collect homework, and link to extra resources on the intranet,” he says. “itslearning makes my day easier, but I know there’s a lot I can do with it and I’m keen to get better.”
More engaging language classes
“I love itslearning,” says Marianne Zalo. A Spanish and English teacher, Marianne is at the other end of the user spectrum. “I use it to communicate with students and give them basic information, but I also have a large store of images, videos and exercises linked to my courses. This way, if a group of students finishes a classroom exercise 20 minutes before the others, I have something ready for them. And if someone asks what a word means in Spanish, I can find a picture to show them.”
There’s one itslearning function that all the teachers at Horten Further Education College seem to love: the plagiarism tool. “It’s fantastic,” says Torgny. “I can easily see if any of my students have copied large chunks of text in their work – and because the students know we have the tool, they are less likely to copy.”
Taking the stress out of teaching – and learning
According to Kjetil, itslearning is the College’s “information motorway” – and it saves the teachers a great deal of time when dealing with the documentation and paperwork around education. But Principal Lisbeth Eek Svensson is keen to point out that ultimately this is for the benefit of the students. “Our students don’t need to worry about the details surrounding classes because everything is clearly available in itslearning,” she says. “This takes a lot of the stress out of studying, so they can concentrate on learning.”
About Horten Further Education College
A Norwegian national demonstration school in the use of IT in education, Horten Further Education College has around 220 teachers and more than 1200 students. It has two teaching sites in close proximity and students can follow a wide range of subjects, from biology to hairdressing.