Miia and I were wondering about a year and a half ago what could be done to make learning more fun and purposeful for our pupils. Especially for the ones who struggle with reading and writing.
Since August 2006, when I started teaching in Kilteri School (Vantaa, Finland) it has been noticeable that the number of pupils with foreign backgrounds is steadily increasing. This has created more pressure for changing teaching methods.
The first actual spark was when Miia came across an online dictionary. The initial idea was to update the dictionary and hope it would help our pupils. We faced some technical difficulties with this and these obstacles made us question the whole idea. Would this be worthwhile doing in the first place?
We decided to proceed with a whole new concept. What if we could make an online service that was more like a picture book with visual and multimedia aids to assist learning.
What if we could let our pupils participate in the production of the picture book?
We began to search for a service that would allow us to do everything that we had in mind. Gradually during April and May 2011 it became more and more clear that the service we wanted wouldn’t be available and maybe we would have to design and build our own.
During Summer 2011 the idea was left on the back burner and we would carry on when the school would commence again in August. Personally I would make a later start as I was to take my Paternity leave which meant returning back to work in Mid-September.
During Autumn 2011 Miia was the powerhouse of the project. She participated in a series of workshops and seminars where good practices in teaching using ICT were shared and discussed with teachers and researchers. These practices can be found in www10.edu.fi/kenguru/ KenGuru is a website meant for Finnish teachers and educators. It offers material and ideas of new and tested practices across the country.
During the Autumn 2011 the idea was reshaped and focused. We had a chance to hold a presentation in the Opi ja Kasva Educational Expo held in Helsinki in December. More information on http://www.opijakasva.fi/. The audience wasn’t large in numbers but the response was positive and we left our fingers crossed for more funding to keep the project alive and kicking.
We made a new plan and applied for funding. We estimated a budget for getting started with the next stage.
I was very pleased to receive an e-mail from the Head of Kilteri School Ulla Tolonen early January that our application had been approved and we would receive funding for the next stage.
Things have really taken off since that early January email.
We have made great contacts and have found really enthusiastic collaborators. A visit to a seminar held in Vantaa Lumo Center in March 2012 was a real milestone as this was our first real chance to present and discuss our idea with people from the field. The seminar was for teachers who specialize in teaching non-native Finnish speakers. Their comments gave us confirmation that what we are doing is very important and something people would be eager to get involved with.
At the moment we are building the service with a software company. The initial stage should be over in early April.
We are also building a network of people and schools who want to get involved and participate with the project in its pilot testing phase.
Hopefully in the next few years we can launch the service in a national scale and in five years’ time internationally.
That’s all for now folks. We’ll drop more lines as we proceed.
If you are interested to know more and maybe to get involved don’t hesitate to contact us.
MsBump@NtiToyssy in twitter
Arto Niva@akniva in twitter