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Principal: "itslearning is the mind of the school.
Like a spider web, it connects everything."

  • Teachers and students access online materials 24/7
  • Simplicity of platform motivates students
  • Increased parent involvement in the learning process
  • Reduced teacher workload

When education concepts like the 1:1 initiative and the flipped classroom emerge, they are quickly implemented and perfected at Växjö Fria Gymnasium (VFG) before the school catches on to the next big trend in education. With elite athletes comprising one third of the student body, sports is a big focus at VFG but academics carries equal weight. itslearning helps the students strike this balance while ensuring VFG maintains its position as one of the most technically-innovative schools in Sweden.

When VFG implemented itslearning in 2003 after switching from another platform, school management decided to make all learning materials available online. They started with lesson plans, the school calendar and course criteria sheets. They even removed teacher pigeon holes, says VFG principal Niclas Bjälkenborn. “We use itslearning like a digital mirror of the school. Everything that can be done in the corridors and classrooms of the school can be done on itslearning. itslearning is the mind of the school. Like a spider web, it connects everything.”

"We decided to digitise everything and put it on itslearning. From that day forward we have had all school materials in digital form. Everything you have to use as an educator or as a learner is on itslearning."

Niclas Bjälkenborn principal at Växjö Fria Gymnasium

Online library puts resources at students´ fingertips 24/7

VFG´s commitment to online learning is exemplified by its unique online library. With 450 students, VFG is a small private secondary school compared to other Swedish schools. So instead of putting resources into building a brick and mortar library, they built a virtual one. Using the resource pages in itslearning, the school complied all its library resources (books, article databases, etc.) in one place. Niclas says the school´s digital library scheme not only passed state inspection, but the inspectors praised it for being an efficient solution.

“We are trying to have everything on one site on itslearning. What is happening here is changing the concept of how we think about books,” Niclas says. “The students can look at library resources at home or wherever they are on their mobile phones, computers or iPads. The students are used to online resources.”

All teachers use itslearning in the classroom

VFG teachers are also supportive of online learning techniques. Niclas says all 30 VFG teachers use itslearning in their teaching, which is possible because the students, aged between 16-18, are all issued a laptop that they can purchase when they graduate. Many teachers are fervent practitioners of the flipped classroom, where students do homework at school and schoolwork at home.

"We use itslearning like a digital mirror of the school. Everything that can be done in the corridors of the school can be done on itslearning."

Niclas Bjälkenborn, principal at Växjö Fria Gymnasium

Online learning resources ensure students never fall behind

Niclas says the flipped classroom offers teachers many benefits. Making lesson plans available on itslearning beforehand helps students who have problems concentrating. They can prepare for lessons by printing lesson materials, which allows them to focus more on what the teacher says in class instead of taking notes.

Also, because a third of the student population play high-level sports, VGF needed an online solution that would help them stay up to date. “Because of itslearning, these students can follow the curriculum. We can flip the classroom more easily with itslearning. That is especially good for those students who are often away,” Niclas says.

Many students also have part-time jobs in addition to schoolwork and extracurricular sports. For these students, being

able to see lesson plans six weeks into the future helps them plan their time better. “itslearning really is a powerful tool in this regard. We can help them out with time management,” Niclas says.

Parents involved in the learning process

The itslearning individual learning plan (ILP), where student academic progress is stored and accessed by students, teachers and parents, is widely used at VFG to help students manage their time. The ILP also enables teachers to set learning goals for their students, track their progress and share this information with parents and other teachers.

“If a student starts falling behind, teachers can put it on the ILP for the parents to see,” Niclas explains. “It´s easier if we involve the parents. Because the parents can see the formative assessments, they can be more helpful to their children. Today, we have fewer students saying ´Oh, I didn´t know about that.´ itslearning is therefore a powerful tool for instilling responsibility.”

"The students should log into one place, and that should be itslearning. At our school, it´s all about motivation. One thing that creates motivation is simplicity. That is the key to our thinking about information structure. There should be a big door in. At our school, that door is itslearning."

Niclas Bjälkenborn, principal at Växjö Fria Gymnasium

About Växjö Fria Gymnasium

  • Teachers and students access online materials 24/7
  • Simplicity of platform motivates students
  • Increased parent involvement in the learning process
  • Reduced teacher workload
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