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The momentum of computing education for youngsters in Norway

The momentum of computing education especially in lower secondary schools is growing, offering UMI-Sci-Ed project the possibility to increase its impact.

Regarding formal computing education in Norway, the Norwegian Ministry for Education and Research has initiated a national pilot project with computer programming as an elective subject in lower secondary schools. The pilot will last for three school years, starting the autumn 2016. The aim of the pilot is to gain experience with teaching computer programming in lower secondary schools and to increase students’ and teachers’ skills in computer programming. 154 lower secondary schools in 55 municipalities across the country are participating in the pilot, as well as some private schools [1]. Though the initial plan was to limit the offer to the pilot schools until 2018, due to large demand from schools and pressure from industry and organizations, the Ministry has recently authorized all the schools to offer the subject as an elective course. This course is the most relevant for the UMI-Sci-Ed context and experimentation.

One trend that is important to point out in relation to the teaching methodology for STEM in Norway is that STEM education is generally seen not only as a school responsibility, but as a shared societal responsibility to be addressed thanks to the cooperation among different actors. For example, in the recommendations for the elective course on programming [2], the Directorate for Education suggests that teachers should choose the activities and programming language based on their competencies, but also the competencies that are available in the local community, including universities and IT-companies that one can cooperate with.

One of the most relevant actors that Norwegian schools can rely on is Lær Kidsa Koding! (LKK, https://kidsakoder.no ) a voluntary association coordinating more than 100 coding clubs and organizing numerous workshops for teachers all over the country. As their former leader, Tjerand  Silde (PHOTOS)  told us:

We have lots of teachers sharing their experience at our blog kidsakoder.no/nyheter. Just writing about their learning materials, projects or experiences from the classroom or the code clubs etc. So we have a lot of recipes: how to start a code club, how to integrate technology in the 6th grade or 7th grade or in the programming elective course etc. Everyone can use that. Everything is for free, everything is open. We are an open education movement and an open source project as well.

This makes it easier for everyone else to get started and I think that this is the main reason that so many code clubs are appearing all over the country right now. Because we have collected all this experience, documented it and shared it with everyone.

This methodology based on cooperation among different actors is fully in line with the approach around Communities of Practice proposed by UMI-Sci-Ed. While this might provide familiarity of schools with the approach, it challenges the project to integrate its activities in a rather complex setting that might vary considerably from municipality to municipality, depending on the local actors that are already involved in the educational landscape.

References

[1] EACEA (2016). National Reforms in School Education: Overview Norway. Retrieved from https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/fpfis/mwikis/eurydice/index.php?title=Norway:National_Reforms_in_School_Education&oldid=147285

[2] Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training (2016). Guidelines to the tutors for the elective programming course (in Norwegian). Available online at: https://www.udir.no/laring-og-trivsel/lareplanverket/veiledning-lp/valgfag-programmering/