Teacher training and technology in education

Finnish media has been obsessed with the sale of Nokia mobile phone business to Microsoft. Another success story just like it is not very likely. A single innovative company creating thousands of jobs in Finland and an unprecedented amount of wealth is not in the cards. New firms that can fill the void are needed. The paper industry is slowly moving closer to big markets, but ‘cleantech’, software and game design are growing in importance.

Education, training and related products are slowly becoming an export industry. Finnish success in PISA comparisons has generated interest in Finnish education abroad, which has lead to an inbound ‘tourist’ flow. Teachers, principals and academics come to Finland in great numbers to visit schools and the Finnish Board of Education. Palmenia at Helsinki University now organizes an English language course on Finnish education system. Learning about the system and the pedagogical view is useful if the learning can be implemented in the students’ home countries.

Many firms, including the Angy Birds developer Rovio, are also stepping into the education arena. The interest in education business is increasing everywhere for many reasons. Education needs to change with the times and follow, or lead, the technological development. Students in developed countries have relatively easy access to devices that enable learning anywhere, anytime. Development of digital tools, e-learning, platforms, apps, games, online resources and social media tools etc. is fast and very welcome. These tools, if well used, can engage students and enhance learning. However, incorporating technology in learning should always start with the simple question of ‘why’, followed by ‘what’ and ‘how’. Tech tools often involve investment, in required hardware and/ or licensed software. Tailoring these products to local curricula or updating the software and hardware can be costly and difficult. Another bottleneck is often lack of user know how and lack of teacher training.

I argue that successful and sustainable inclusion of technology in learning begins with teacher training, which includes examples of best practice, hands-on training and personalized opportunities to adapt and tailor the content and the technologies for the teachers’ own use.

This is why many well-educated, experienced and enthusiastic Finnish teachers could and should engage in teacher training abroad. Teacher training abroad would serve as a vehicle that will take Finnish education technology to schools and school systems in other countries and also give Finnish teachers excellent opportunities to learn from others.

Work in Progress has successfully launched the model with using Finnish education technology in teachers training workshops in South Korea. For more details visit: http://www.workinprogressnetwork.com/

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