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Kjartan Skjold

Kjartan Moe Hustvedt, a Grade 4 teacher at Skjold Primary School in Norway, is our favourite kind of teacher.

He does not shy away from incorporating ICT tools into his teaching. In fact, he embraces technology in the classroom to the full extent. We wanted to find out what drives Kjartan to use so many digital tools in his teaching, so we sent him some questions. What emerges from his illuminating answers is a picture of teaching in the 21st century, where the Internet plays a major role in the classroom.

Question 1

Digital learning resources are a big part of your teaching. You refer your students to pedagogical websites, your students send messages to each other through a learning platform to generate a love for writing and you regularly assign your students online tests, to name a few things. Why are you such a big fan of digital learning tools?
I love digital learning tools. First and foremost because they make my job easier and more exciting. Easier in that I have my desktop/course dashboard/work available at all times (as long as I have internet access, which is more or less 24/7). I can correct papers, give feedback, make new assignments/tasks, get a message delivered to all my pupils (or just one) by simply using my smartphone or computer. More exciting in that it makes my job interactive and living. I can insert YouTube clips on relevant subjects, add links for further study, link to current news or old near forgotten articles. I can use colours (!), not just black and white handouts. I see digital learning tools as yet another dimension of learning. One more way I can add to my teaching in order to reach even more children and pick their interest. Using the same tools they use mostly for pleasure, as a way of learning.

Question 2

You talk about 'the new way' of teaching and learning. In general, this refers to teaching and learning using digital resources and tools, or the so-called 21st century classroom. Can you expand this 'new way'? How is teaching different today than five to 10 years ago?
Teaching today, for me, differs most from for 5-10 years ago in that I have started using many of the possibilities I've always seen in digital resources. Digital learning tools are more readily available and more common in every household. When I started work this fall (2013) I decided to not hand out plans for the week (or two weeks as I've also done in the past), but to refer the pupils and parents to itslearning. These are year 4 pupils and we've been using itslearning regularly since year 1. All plans, homework and assignments went through itslearning. To this day I haven't had any complaints about the missing sheet of paper. Our classroom is equipped with a smartboard which I use every lesson. Either as a traditional digital whiteboard, with electronic versions of curriculum-books or as a plain old projector (for video or texting). We have 5 portable computers we use every day, either for writing, using pedagogical software/webpages, handing in assignments via itslearning or googling a subject to name a few. In my opinion the biggest difference is that we have available today, the things I dreamt about 10 years ago (Now of course the dreams have altered and expanded, but that'sa whole other story...).

Question 3

You do not represent the average teacher as regards technology use in the classroom. Other teachers may look at you and write off your methods as too advanced or only suitable for tech-savvy teachers. What are your thoughts on this?
I wish I was as tech-savvy as I want to be! I've always been interested in computers and gadgets, which of course works for my advantage. That being said, my way of teaching doesn't require a tech-savvy person. The digital part is just one more tool for me to use in helping the pupils be all they can be. It's-learning is more or less self-explanatory, as long as you take the time and try. For me the key to opening this toolbox of digital learning resources has been taking small steps. To give it a go. Doing it instead of just talking about it. An open-minded approach is better than a closed-minded retreat.

Question 4

A related question: When you design your lessons do you consciously think about how to incorporate technology?

At this point and time I incorporate technology at a subconscious level. I use technology every single lesson. My pupils use technology every single day. We've come to the point where working with a pedagogical program/webpage, or delivering a paper on itslearning is the norm.

Question 5

You are a self-proclaimed 'active' itslearning user. Your students deliver assignments, communicate with each other and record classroom activities on itslearning. How important is itslearning to your teaching? What would your teaching look like without itslearning?
itslearning is, beside the pupil, my strongest link to the pupils' homes. It's a two-way communication channel. Without itslearning I would spend a lot more time photocopying and distributing handouts. I free up more time using itslearning. I get a closer connection to my pupil's home. I can work anywhere, allowing me to add to my lessons/teaching the moment I have a bright idea or come across something of importance.

Final Question

Last question - what is your favorite itslearning feature and why?
My favourite itslearning feature is, for the moment, assignments. I've used assignments for a long time. Adding YouTube-snippets, voice-recordings, text, pictures, when giving the pupils writing-tasks. This feature allows me to see who have answered and lets me comment the delivered task. I love it. However I also love the tests-feature. Being able to make click and drag tests, click on the right place-tests and so on. I also like the content block on the course dashboard. I think I will have to conclude that my favourite itslearning feature is itslearning itself.
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