1-to-1 Computing: How Mobile Devices Have Supported Learning in Sandviken, Sweden by Dave Smith

A quiet revolution has been happening some 90 miles north of Stockholm, in the municipality of Sandviken, Sweden. Sandviken’s ‘1-to-1’ computer project has equipped every teacher and pupil in primary and secondary schools with their own laptop (pre-installed with a number of software applications), increasing laptop numbers from 2,000 to 6,700 over three years.

Sandviken’s ‘1-to-1’ project has real underlying school improvement aims, including raising levels of literacy and enhancing home:school links

The well-planned project has additionally ensured that each school has an effective managed wireless network, with local technical support to enable teachers and pupils to just get on with the job of teaching and learning. All teachers and pupils are also local administrators on their computers so that they themselves can take advantage of open-source applications from the Internet.

The project’s economies of scale has meant that Sandviken municipality was able to negotiate a much better deal for their schools – typically saving 30-40 per cent on the cost of the equipment, providing a real saving to the local community and better value to the schools.

However, Sandviken’s ‘1-to-1’ project wasn’t just aimed at providing equipment to pupils and teachers, it has real underlying school improvement aims, including raising levels of literacy and enhancing home:school links.

The municipality has specifically utilised the power of the ‘1-to-1’ project to enhance pupils’ writing and reading through its ‘Writing to Reading with Computer’ programme, where pupils are encouraged to use a laptop and associated software to aid their writing and reading development. 

IT Strategist for Sandviken Municipality, Mr Erik Holmqvist, explains that, “As part of the project we introduced a learning management system called ‘edWise’, used from pre-school to high school. This has provided pupils and parents with access to school-based documentation and learning materials via a secure login. Sometimes parents complain that we demand secure login to all information about their children. However, we are very stubborn and insist on this.”

The municipality recommends pupils take their computers home every day from the age of twelve. However, some schools let their pupils take the laptops home from the age of seven, as they want the devices to be constantly supporting pupils’ learning.

Holmqvist certainly seems happy with the outcomes, “Parents seem very pleased with the ‘1-to-1’ project and the way that it is helping their children to read and write…” Furthermore, so impressed are the municipality with the success of the project that they are already planning their strategy for 2015-2025. “So far we mostly have laptops computers, but other devices will be considered when we enter into the new project from 2015 onwards.”

Sandviken teachers and school leaders have found Bett very useful in supporting their vision. Holmqvist is a regular visitor to Bett, commenting that, “Bett has been a great inspiration for Sandviken over many years. I was particularly inspired by a speech by England’s education minister some four-five years ago, who spoke so warmly of the use of ICT in the school at all levels. In recent years the municipality has been represented every year, with up to thirty delegates in attendance.”

So, what about the current national picture for technology enhanced learning in Sweden? Well. Holmqvist has his own opinions… 

“The Swedish government has been very passive when it comes to policy towards ICT implementation in schools. We have had an education minister for seven years who believes that Swedish schools should look like those of the 1950s.  Although some improvement has recently emerged in this area, with a new curriculum having more of an emphasis on ICT use.  We need a government that takes ICT issues seriously. Many people within schools have recognised the need to work for modern schools where ICT is included.  However, ICT development is devolved to individual municipalities, which means that ICT is implemented in vastly different ways with varying degrees of success.”

With this in mind, perhaps other municipalities would do well to pay a visit to Sandviken to learn see how things are done.

Dave Smith is computing and ICT adviser at Havering School Improvement Services, as well as being a Naace Board Member. You can read more of his blogs here www.haveringict.edublogs.org    

Ultra-mobile PCs – a fast-moving market… confusing choices – your HIAS ICT team can help advise…

From Becta’s TechNews March 2008 –  please speak to your HIAS Link ICT Consultant for advice before considering any purchase.

http://partners.becta.org.uk/page_documents/research/technews/mar08.pdf 

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Low cost portables

The market for low cost UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) style devices continues to grow rapidly thanks to an increasing range of products and demand outstripping supply for certain models. Education is a key market for these devices. Asus led the way with its Eee PC and now a number of other manufacturers are hoping to emulate their success with highly portable low cost devices. UK manufacturer Elonex has announced a £99 Linux based laptop due for launch in June 2008 aimed at the education market. The device will include a 1GB solid state drive and built in wireless networking. http://www.elonexone.co.uk/ More expensive and aimed at a portable business market is the Belinea s.book 1 from Maxdata. This is a similar sized device that includes a detachable Bluetooth handset to allow easy VoIP calls to be made. This is based on a reference design from Taiwanese manufacturer VIA. A similar format device has been announced by Everex.http://www.via.com.tw/en/resources/pressroom/pressrelease.jsp?press_release_no=1787http://www.everex.com/ Asus have announced that the next version of the Eee PC may be shipped with a cheaper hard drive instead of the current solid state device. The Eee 900 series will also be a version with a larger display – 8.9” rather than 7” and an option to run Microsoft Windows XP. http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2008/03/10/asus_ceo_on_eee_future/ Mary Lou Jepsen, the chief technology office for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organisation has left to start up her own company aimed at delivering a $75 laptop using some of the technologies developed for OLPC. She hopes that with the falling component prices this will be achievable. License fees from her commercial operation will be paid to the OLPC organisation.http://www.itworld.com/Comp/1290/mary-lou-jepsen-pixel-qi-080218/index.html Computing giant Hewlett Packard has announced a mobile thin client computer using many of the technologies seen in these UMPC devices. The company hopes that the lack of local storage will prove to be popular with customers worried about the potential local data loss if standalone devices are lost or stolen. http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/newsroom/press/2008/080124b.html Later this year, the first mobile internet devices (MID) based on Intel’s Atom processor (see below) are expected to launch. These will be inexpensive Linux based devices, typically with 5” displays and offering a ‘full internet’ experience. Ultra mobile devices have the potential to offer personal access to the networks, data and applications to education users. Projects have already shown how personal ownership improves the opportunities available to pupils and teachers; and promotes adoption of ICT to improve standards.