European Schoolnet launches its first study visit on Computational Thinking in Norway and Sweden

European Schoolnet, the network of Ministries of Education in Europe, has launched a new study visit scheme. The scheme provides face-to-face peer learning opportunities for its members from across Europe to exchange about what works and what doesn't when it comes to new education policies.

An exciting first edition of the study visit scheme took place earlier this month in Norway and Sweden, and focused on the purpose of teaching Computational Thinking, and preferred implementation and assessment strategies. European Schoolnet's Norwegian member (the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training) and Swedish member (Skolverket) jointly hosted this first study visit, which was greatly appreciated by all 23 participants that took part. Participants included policy makers, teachers, school inspectors and researchers from Austria, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland.

The study visit involved an observation of practice illustrating how Computational Thinking has been integrated into Mathematics, Music, Social Sciences, English and Programming lessons in the Norwegian school Hundsund, and the Swedish school Årstaskolan, followed by a discussion with teachers and students. Various practices were witnessed from using Beebots in Mathematics, to creating music using special applications. To get a better idea, click here to visit the online platform where pupils from the Swedish school Årstaskolan publish their novels, videos and audio books displaying their Computational Thinking skills.

An important part of the study visit was the open dialogue involving policy makers, school heads, teachers and researchers, which followed the classroom observations, to further discuss, ask questions and dig deeper into the issue. In Norway the new school curriculum to be implemented in 2020 was discussed, and will include Programming as an optional subject in lower secondary schools and a core subject in upper secondary schools, while there will also be an emphasis on integrating Computational Thinking and  Programming into existing subjects. Pilots are currently being carried out, and various projects in collaboration with museums, research centres and private companies are also taking place. In Sweden a revised curriculum is already in place, and it includes Programming in the following three subjects: Social Science, Mathematics and Technology. A focus of the discussions in Sweden was the training opportunities which have been put in place to equip teachers with basic coding and pedagogical skills to enable them to integrate Programming into their lessons. Training opportunities offered range from MOOCs and blended courses to inspirational conferences including hands-on programming workshops.

The study visit concluded with a roundtable discussion comparing how Computational Thinking has been integrated in the Norwegian and Swedish education systems. The common enablers identified across both school systems were: school autonomy, a strong emphasis on leadership, and teacher collaboration. In other words, a common and clearly defined school vision, collaboration between teachers in planning and implementing the school curricula, and support from the school leader to experiment, learn and also fail - are key elements for successfully integrating Computational Thinking in the classroom.

Interested in learning more? Watch this space, as a full report detailing all the learning outcomes of this fascinating study visit will be published here on our website towards the end of July.

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