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CoSN Releases New Report on Use of Education Technology in Scandinavia: Implications for U.S. Educators

The Consortium for School Networking Releases New Report on Use of Education Technology in Scandinavia: Implications for U.S. Educators

Source: CoSN, February 27, 2008

Washington, DC (February 27, 2008) - The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) today released a new report exploring the use of education technology in Denmark, Finland and Sweden. It is intended to help U.S. educators understand the role of technology in improving teaching and learning in these countries.

In November 2007, CoSN led a weeklong delegation of senior U.S. educators and policymakers to Scandinavia. The delegation participated in a series of high-level talks with key members of the Finnish, Danish and Swedish Ministries of Education, as well teachers and administrators at schools in Helsinki, Finland and Copenhagen, Denmark.

"We selected Scandinavia because it ranks in the top-tier of international education comparisons. They are also societies that are very technology intensive and we wanted to explore their use of technology in educational institutions. We developed this report to share what we learned with American educators," said James Bosco, Chair of CoSN's International Committee.

The report discusses how each country approaches education, and the transformative role information and communications technologies (ICT) are playing in Scandinavian schools. ICT is viewed primarily as supportive rather than as a key driver of education innovation or a catalyst of transformation in these countries. Other factors such as a high regard for teachers, a commitment to encouraging student responsibility, the postponement of competitive grading until high school and classroom level autonomy are playing an integral part in each school system's success.

In addition, the report states, "ICT is viewed as important primarily to ensure student success in future careers. While some educators talked about the importance of integrating ICT into the school experience, technology tools, such as computers, were given to the teachers first as a way of supporting highly qualified teachers...A recurring theme from our Scandinavian visit was the critical importance for policymakers and education administrators to have a clear vision of how technology can improve teaching and learning. We heard this in nearly every meeting whether it was being identified as the reason for a successful strategy or its absence highlighted as a core reason for lack of progress."

Among other issues, the report explores the policies put in place in Scandinavia to create highly accountable and innovative educational systems that incorporate the use of ICT. The report notes that educators and policymakers in Scandinavia view assessment and accountability in a far different way than in the United States. "In contrast to the focus on quantitative measures and standardized testing found in the current U.S. context of No Child Left Behind, Finland, Sweden and Denmark rely more on a system that produces highly competent teachers who use their professional expertise to work with each student and develop individualized learning plans," reads the report.

"The goal of our visit and this report is to stimulate dialogue among U.S. education leaders and policymakers about how technology is being used in Scandinavia to improve educational outcomes, and the lessons we may be able to apply to our own schools, students and teachers," said Keith Krueger, CoSN's CEO. "If the United States is to remain a global leader in innovation and technology, it is important that we fully realize the impact that investments in education technology can make on maximizing the competitiveness of American students."

For more information about the report and the delegation, please visit http://www.cosn.org/resources/international/2007_trip/index.cfm#report.

The delegation was made possible through support from its lead sponsor Pearson Foundation with additional support from Atomic Learning, Nokia and Texas Instruments.

About the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)

CoSN is the country's premier voice in education technology leadership, serving K-12 technology leaders who through their strategic use of technology improve teaching and learning. CoSN provides products and services to support and nurture leadership development, advocacy, coalition building, and awareness of emerging technologies.

CoSN leadership initiatives include: Using Technology to Raise the Achievement of ALL Students (www.accessibletech4all.org); Cyber Security for the Digital District (www.securedistrict.org); Data-Driven Decision-Making (www.3d2know.org); K-12 Open Technologies (www.k12opentech.org); Taking Total Cost of Ownership to the Classroom (www.classroomtco.org); Value of Investment (www.edtechvoi.org); and the development of the Council of School District Chief Technology Officers (CTO Council).

CoSN's membership includes a unique blend of education and technology leaders, policy makers, and influencers from the public and private sectors. Our audience includes key technology leaders (often called Chief Technology Officers--CTOs) in leading-edge states and districts, policy makers, private sector leaders, as well as those technology leaders who wish to accelerate their districts' or states' systemic technology use. Visit www.cosn.org or phone 866.267.8747 to find out more about CoSN's programs and activities supporting leadership development to ensure that information technology has a direct and positive impact on student learning in elementary and secondary schools.