NKUL 2011, Trondheim, May 4-6th

(Photo: Sveinn Sandvik Svendsen, license: CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Since the first days of the Kaizendo project, we’ve been told that NKUL would be a releveant conference for us, and in May 2011 we decided to give it a try. We went to Trondheim with the intention of learning more about the whole business surrounding ICT in education, and perhaps pick up some new ideas, meet people, and find out what the “state of the art” is according to the educators in Norway.

Videos a few of the plenary sessions can be found at NKUL’s archives (Microsoft Silverlight 3.0 required, sorry.)

What did we learn?

  1. Children in groups can teach themselves a lot of things
  2. Introducing ICT in schools does not improve them, but focusing on learning the right tools for the right job does. (No evident correlation between ICT and results in PISA).
  3. What happens outside the classroom wasn’t in focus at this conference.
  4. We got to know a couple other actors in our and related fields.
  5. There is a high focus on gadgets, smartboards, Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Content Management Systems.
  6. Sveinn picked up specific points about math teaching that will help him understand the role of the teacher better.

What other things did we do?

  1. We had a short chat with Andreas Lund from ILS (Institutt for Lærerutdanning og Skoleforskning).
  2. Hanging out in Trondheim, meeting old friends and acquaintances, telling them about Kaizendo.

Conference highlights

Children in groups can teach themselves a lot of things

Sugarta Mitra posed the question «Who is the teacher?». His presentation was a report on how a group of kids ages 8 to 12, using only a computer, some software to share and some time. He found that they could teach themselves even advanced topics several classes above their level. They only needed reading comprehension, information search and retrieval and a rational system of belief. Check out his TED talk too.

Collective text creation with wikis

We got an introduction to a tool made at ITU @ UiO that visualizes how a group of students cooperate on a wiki. Their focus was on understanding how different participants change partners and organise their gathered knowledge, and to track each student’s activity. The scholarly term for this is “collective cognition.”

High ICT use in schools does not correlate with high PISA results

One lecturer commented in the Alltid på, hva så presentation that there is no correlation between high use of ICT and good PISA results. Another one said: “Looking at ICT in its entirety makes no sense, you have to go into specific cases and see what is useful.Amongst other things the pupil has to be mentally present in the virtual conversation (or similar) for a technology to have its desired effect.

Sveinn learns to be a better math teacher

In addition to the contribution by S. Mitra, there are a lot of things Sveinn learned about teaching in general.

  1. Cyberbook provided animation-based instruction
  2. Kjetil Idås from Horten videregående skole taught both how to
  1. Inspire learning mathematics (Inspirerende matematikkundervisning), and
  2. Proper use of ICT tools (albeit proprietary) to achieve excellent results in practical maths (among the least motivated norwegian students) at the end of secondary school. (Bedre karakterer i matematikk.)

We got to know a couple other actors in our field

Øystein Johannesen from Cerpus AS invited to a national «Dugnad» (volunteer effort) designing new learning resources.

Cyberbook is an animation-focused production company, producing explanations and repetition exercises for mathematics teaching. They’re selling their products to a huge part of the norwegian education sector.

Other observations

The conference was very much focused on what happens inside the classroom. Issues about authorship, creating teaching resources, etc. wasn’t an important topic. There was also a significant commercial aspect to the conference, all trying to get attention from the attendees.


This conference showed us how ICT fares in the Norwegian education sector.

  1. There’s a lot of commercial actors, and a few FLOSS- or CC-based enterprises. The free/open enterprises are both self-sustained and government funded, depending on how pioneering they are.
  2. There’s little general knowledge about how ICT works in schools, but there are many enthusiasts who have produced good results while using ICT tools.

Given a prototype and some working book projects, we could very likely come back here to win some hearts.

Sveinn Sandvik Svendsen

Salve J. Nilsen