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Leading by example at CLAVIS sprog & kompetence

Introducing ICT from the top down

Pernille Helena Rasmussen, head of department at CLAVIS sprog & kompetence, believes itslearning will support the unique learning needs of their students. In a bold move, CLAVIS consolidated all school information onto itslearning, motivating their teachers to access the platform and explore its capabilities. “Our teachers must log in to itslearning in order to stay oriented. All employees are forced, in a good way, to use itslearning as fast as possible,” she says.

Pernille Helena Rasmussen, head of department at CLAVIS sprog & kompetence in Roskilde, invites me in to her office, a large room with natural light pouring in through two large windows. Freshly-brewed coffee and a selection of cookies and fruit is laid out on the table. Pernille’s laptop stands on the table open to CLAVIS’s itslearning log in page. The school acquired itslearning in June and we were meeting on this rainy October day to discuss CLAVIS`s plans for the platform. As I take a seat, Pernille pours me a cup of coffee and pulls up a chair next to me, not across from me or at the end of the table. I feel very at home as I take my first sip of coffee.

Language schools are not supposed to incite these kinds of feelings. By nature, they are the farthest thing from home. They are full of students who have been displaced from their homelands, either voluntarily or for reasons relating to political or religious oppression or, worse, war. For many students, language schools are their first contact with the culture and language of their new home country. That was the case for me when, in 2008, I began my language studies only weeks after moving to Norway. Over the course of my 300 in-class hours required to obtain my residence permit I felt the bitter frustration associated with learning a new language and the elation that comes with making progress, but never a sense of being at home. Pernille’s friendly demeanor and homey office had to be a deliberate attempt to recreate a feeling of belonging, lost in so many of CLAVIS`s students.

I took another sip of coffee and thought the meeting would not last long. After all, how far could CLAVIS have come with the platform in three months? I often speak to school managers who are in the early stages of implementing itslearning at their schools. They often have many ideas about how itslearning will solve teaching and learning challenges at their schools, from improving student motivation to saving teachers time. But they are sometimes vague on the details, which is natural because they have only started exploring the possibilities contained in the platform. So how far could CLAVIS have come? Far, as it turns out. Very far.

Over the course of the afternoon, Pernille walked me through their plan for how itslearning would be used at CLAVIS. The learning platform would provide their students with a visual arena for the sounds, pictures and videos that would motivate them to learn, she told me. It would facilitate cooperative learning both in the school’s daily teaching and in the study center, a computer lab where students for example can make sound and video files. It had exactly the multimedia tools necessary to teach a foreign language to students who could not read or write in their native language. But in order for that to work, the school management realized that they would have to lead by example. Pernille would have to show teachers what itslearning was capable of and its potential for improving teaching and learning at CLAVIS. She adopted the philosophy that if school management uses the platform, teachers will use it, and if teachers use it the students will as well. They therefore created a personnel intranet page on itslearning and made it the only place where school information, relevant for the staff, would be published.

“The personnel intranet on itslearning is the only way for teachers to get information, so they must log in to itslearning in order to stay oriented. All employees are forced, in a good way, to use itslearning as fast as possible,” she explains. “It’s a space for everyone to share things like their calendars and materials and catch up on what’s new at the school. Staff and school news are published there. I also sometimes publish itslearning polls on the intranet page,” Pernille explains, scrolling down the page to a pie chart detailing which teachers will attend an upcoming school relay race. “The idea is to show the teachers the capabilities of the platform. When they see what the platform can do, they will be more willing to incorporate it into their teaching. Our plan is for teachers to get an easy introduction to the platform with the personnel intranet and build competence from there. The idea is to achieve small goals on the way. Small successes are important right now. And it’s working, teachers are accessing the intranet, so that is great.”

If Pernille's warm hospitality is any indication of the success of the top-down approach to implementing itslearning, CLAVIS students will be working hard creating videos and sound files and engaging with multimedia content in no time.

About CLAVIS sprog & kompetence

CLAVIS sprog & kompetence is an independent non-profit teaching company with more than 25 years experience in teaching Danish as a second- and foreign language, and they offer tuition to more than 3.500 students annually. For more information about CLAVIS sprog & kompetence visit, http://www.clavis.org/en/.

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