Teachers going online

I’ve been teaching in a Finnish high school for about 25 years and I have seen a lot. Never before has the change in pedagogy been this fast. Different online materials and programs have changed the everyday life of a teacher a lot.

First, I’d like to mention Wilma, a web service for the teachers to interact with students and guardians. A teacher can find all the relevant information about the student in there; personal data, schedules, grades, courses and one can also send messages to students. Either individual students or whole groups. It’s also a very efficient way to send message to the students’ guardians. I don’t need to do that so often since I teach at a high school, but teachers in lower grades use it a lot.

Every school can customize what information they want to show in there and to whom. For example it’s extremely easy for the guardians to keep track of the attendance and the grades of their children.

Secondly, to be able to use all the programs we need computers. I’m very fortunate to work in a school where we all (teachers and students) have a personal laptop at our use. We can use it at school and take is to home as well. With the laptop one can use all the devices in the classroom, the document camera and the projector for example. In my school we also use many e-materials and e-books in teaching.

Sometimes the materials are just a replica of the printed material, but in my subject we have a material which was originally developed for online use. It’s called Tabletkoulu. It’s a pedagogically designed learning material and a platform combined. What I like the most is its excellent student tracking system, where I can see right away what the student is doing, how they are performing, are there any problems, etc. The materials are also very up to date and agile.

Finally, the one thing I have to mention is the digital matriculation exam we have now had in Finland for about 3 years, from the 2016. “The digital examination makes it possible to use more materials with test items: pictures, video and audio. Candidates are not limited to a browser-based test system that only records their answers. The laptop they are using has a variety of applications that are also used in teaching. For example, a test item may contain spreadsheet data which must be analysed using some of the statistical tools, and then be used as part of the answer.” (Examination Board)

The fact that we have these digital final exams, has definitely changed the teaching and learning in a high school for good. Sometimes I miss the good old times with pen and paper, but that feeling soon passes. This is our school now and actually going online really makes a difference in the students’ life and learning and that is the most important thing.

Sanna Leinonen, M.A.