April 11, 2013

Tablets in the classroom

Six upper secondary schools in Finland introduced iPads in the learning environment two years ago. The exercise is part of the Mobiluck project, which aims to bring learning and teaching into a new era. The project also serves as practice for the electronic matriculation examination which will be introduced in 2016.

Tablets will become a more familiar sight in the academic environment in the coming years. Experiences gained in the Mobiluck project, for example with the use of iPads, have been encouraging.

Tablets will become a more familiar sight in the academic environment in the coming years. Experiences gained in the Mobiluck project, for example with the use of iPads, have been encouraging.

Kuopion klassillinen lukio

Mobiluck is a learning environment project supported by the Finnish Ministry of Education that focusses on using iPads and other tablets in upper secondary school classrooms, in coaching students, in teamwork and in entrepreneurship education.

The project is the brainchild of headmasters and teachers involved in Y-love, an entrepreneurship upper secondary school network project, who wanted to bring a technology perspective to daily school life.

“The ideas and development work for the Mobiluck project came about online, via social media and cloud services, for example. Information concerning the project is still shared almost exclusively on Facebook, Twitter and blogs – quickly and conveniently,” says the co-ordinator of Mobiluck, Timo Ilomäki from Voionmaa Upper Secondary School.

A time of transition

Ilomäki has worked at Voionmaa Upper Secondary School for 13 years. Within a few months of being introduced in classes, the iPads changed the attitudes of the school’s teachers to how technology can be used in teaching. All of the teachers received their own tablet, in addition to which the students were given the use of 45 devices.

“In addition to theory and lectures, these days we also need hands-on learning,” Ilomäki says. “With mobile technology, learning can be made perceptual, which changes the teacher’s role from that of a lecturer to one who provides guidance. Technology gives rise to new forms of pedagogical experimentation.”

Right now, tablets are most important in acquiring information. The best thing about them is that they are easy to use, even for those who have never used one before. Now is the time to test them out and practice using them, as the matriculation examination will be in electronic form as of 2016.

“We are in a transition: the days of doing an exam on paper and learning by rote are coming to an end. It is also about practicing the skills needed in working life,” says Ilomäki.

What is Mobiluck?

– The Mobiluck project supports the studies of upper secondary school students, as well as project and team learning using mobile technology. Mobile technology and social media can also be used to support the networking opportunities and international activities of upper secondary schools.

– The following upper secondary schools are involved in the project: Elimäki (Kouvola), Kauhava, Klassikka (Kuopio), Muurame, the Otava internet school for adults, and Voionmaa (Jyväskylä).

– The project will stretch into 2015 and among the new themes is Flipped classroom, which involves theory lessons recorded on video which the students watch in advance. With this teaching method, class time is reserved for experiments, discussions, hands-on activities and projects.

Mobile computer classes

At Elimäki Upper Secondary School in Kouvola iPads are used in teaching in a number of ways.

“Every teacher who wants a tablet gets one. Some of the devices can be loaned for classes, so there is always a ‘mobile computer class’ available,” says headmaster Kari Rajala.

The devices are put to good use, for example, in communications and mass media classes, in PE class and in connection with the school library. French teacher Tommi Viljakainen has compiled French learning material in a new form using iPad’s Pearltrees program, and together with his students has compiled teaching material, such as recordings and text, using the Book Creator program.

“iPads help teachers in their work in many ways. In PE class, for example, the teacher always has Internet access – both on the sports field and in the gym. For students, iPads offer new and hands-on forms of learning that come naturally to today’s youth.”

Internet use has increased among teachers, according to Rajala, because with these devices, it is much easier to access information than before.

“A major shift is yet to come, however,” Rajala says. “We will see the effects within a few years, when every upper secondary student has their own device: a tablet or a laptop.”

Text by: Sari Okko