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Computer Classrooms Gathering Dust

For most schoolchildren, computer use is a part of daily life, but usually after school. Helsinki University Professor Kirsti Lonka says that there is a need to upgrade the role of computers in Finnish education.

Opiskleua koulun atk-luokassa
Image: Yle

Interviewed on YLE Monday morning, Professor Lonka compared the computer classrooms that appeared in Finnish schools during the 90s to the pianos that gather dust in many homes. Computer classrooms are found in most schools, but their level of use is low. Lonka says computers should be more tightly integrated into teaching.

"It should not be thought that information technology should replace other subjects. Instead, computers could replace notebooks and pens. Work in schools should be the same as work in real life," suggests Lonka.

Lonka points out that pupils born during or after the 90s are quick to learn the use of new devices and new software because they have so much experience already. For older teachers in particular, the technology may be unfamiliar, but this could be an opportunity to exploit the expertise of younger colleagues and of pupils themselves. A higher level of equality and recognition of the skills that pupils possess is a boost to self-confidence.

Too smug

Lonka sees Finnish schools as suffering from stagnation. Ever since ranking as the world's best educational system in the PISA comparisons, the attitude has been that all is well, new ways to learn and to teach are not being developed.

"If we are the best in the world, that is a danger, as it could be the start of a decline. There should be a constant development of teaching, even if the PISA survey shows that the situation is good now," Lonka stresses.

Lonka suggests that in the future Finland could even export its know-how about computer-aided teaching, once that expertise is built up. The technology would not have to be complex, but it should have a more natural role in day-to-day teaching.

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