A new wave of teachers is invading Norwegian schools – and they're armed with computers running the itslearning learning platform.
Teacher Andreas Larsstuen Nordeide is one of them. Nordeide attended the 2013 itslearning User Conference in April to gather as many itslearning tips and tricks as possible to share with his colleagues at Tranevågen lower secondary school.
“One of the great things about itslearning is that it automatically gathers the information I need. Manual information gathering is time consuming. In general, this is one of the benefits of using ICT in the classroom,” says Andreas. “How much do I use itslearning? As much as I can. While at work, I always stay logged on to itslearning. The platform has a lot of great features. I realized very quickly that you can work a lot with itslearning and still learn new things.”
Andreas Larsstuen Nordeide is part of the new generation of itslearning users.
Half of conference participants new faces, says organizer
itslearning's ninth annual Norwegian User Conference – three days of exchanging fresh ideas, lively discussions, re-connecting with old friends and rigorous note-taking – attracted over 300 teachers, municipal IT advisors and school managers from around Norway.
Trond Skeie, managing director of itslearning Norway, says about half of the conference participants were attending for the first time. "There is a new generation of itslearning users coming down the pipe, which is a very positive development," Skeie says. "It's great to see that people are returning to the conference, but it's also good to see some new faces."
The 2013 itslearning User Conference was a success, says Trond Skeie, managing director of itslearning Norway.
The new users are often young teachers like Nordeide. They work actively with itslearning in their teaching, and they are often teacher trainers who will pass on itslearning tips and tricks to their colleagues after the conference.
Speakers focus on innovation and ICT in education
The conference, which was held in Bergen on April 15–17, kicked off with engaging talks from leading thinkers in the fields of innovation and the use of ICT in schools.
Speaker Jef Staes challenged the audience with his 'red monkey' concept, which encourages teachers to think outside the box and follow their passions and talents to the benefit of their students. “People who are not using their passion and talents are put behind a fence, and when you have people behind a fence you get sheep,” Staes said.
Dutchman Jef Staes challenged the audience with his concept of 3D teaching, which results from teachers pursuing their talents and passions.
800 steps straight up
In addition to serving as a forum for exchanging ideas about itslearning and ICT in the classroom, the conference offered popular group activities, including Bergen city tours and hiking the city's infamous Stoltzekleiven. About 30 participants braved the cold, wet weather to tackle the grueling 800-step mountain trail. Entertainer Bjarte Hjelmeland had the audience rolling in their seats during an evening performance on day two of the conference.
Competitors tackling Bergen's infamous Stoltzekleiven mountain trail.
When not climbing mountains or enjoying great food offered by host hotel Scandic, participants could choose between attending over 30 sessions with topics ranging from assessment for learning to succeeding with online learning.
Idea-sharing seminar attracts many participants
TeachMeet, a new session this year where teachers shared their own itslearning tips and tricks, was one of the most popular sessions. Skeie says he hopes to expand this concept at next year's conference."People thought that was a nice idea. It also gave us an opportunity to tap into the knowledge of the participants," he said.
The final day of the conference featured a talk from itslearning Director of Product and Marketing John Arthur Berg, who discussed the road ahead for itslearning.
“At itslearning, we are technology optimists. We believe that the things we do move education in the right direction. At the same time, technology is not what is important. The people and processes are what's important,” Berg said.
itslearning Director of Product and Marketing John Arthur Berg discussing the road ahead for itslearning.
Berg also talked about upcoming itslearning updates, including plans to remove frames from the user interface and to continue the focus on making the platform work on all devices using, among other things, HTML 5, instead of designing an itslearning app.
itslearning staff gets high marks
Skeie says he has only received positive feedback from conference participants, 75% of whom answered a post-conference survey saying they plan to return next year, with 25% answering undecided.
"In general, there was no doubt the conference was a success," Skeie says. "Credit is also due to the itslearning team. Conference attendees felt that the itslearning employees were friendly and helpful
"I am proud of what my staff has achieved. I think everyone saw the importance of doing his or her best. If we didn't know the answer, we would do our best to get the answer. The participants really appreciated that. itslearning staff really took responsibility, and that is fantastic," Skeie says.
Next year 10th anniversary of conference
Next year's conference is already booked at Scandic Bergen City, where the conference has been held the past five years. Both itslearning and participants are happy with the host hotel, says Skeie, who said he hopes to maintain the good partnership. Next year marks the 10th anniversary of the itslearning user conference, and plans are in the works to celebrate the occasion, though Skeie said no details will be revealed until the conference gets under way.