• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Swedish digital teachers break gaming 'taboo'

AFP/The Local · 6 Mar 2014, 09:28

Published: 06 Mar 2014 09:28 GMT+01:00

 
Two-year-old Mia traces out a letter on the screen with her forefinger, then claps with joy when the computer chants "wonderful!" and emits a slightly metallic round of applause. The preschool group at Tanto International School in central Stockholm is just getting used to a new batch of iPads -- one for every two children -- and it's a noisy, chatty affair.
   
"They really enjoy playing this app. It's really good for learning pronunciation," said their teacher Helena Bergstrand.    
 
Bergstrand, along with nearly 90 percent of teachers polled by the city council, believes that iPads and tablets help motivate children to learn. 
 
- 'More interactive' -
 
"There's an instant appeal with an iPad ... they love it!" Bergstrand says, raising her voice over the din as she moves around the table to help the children. "It's more interactive (than pen and paper)."    
 
Petra Petersen at Uppsala University has researched the rapidly growing use of tablets in preschools -- recording children when they interact with the technology and each other.
   
"In the schools I've looked at, they usually sit together in a group and its very collaborative, there's a lot of body contact and verbal communication," she said.
   
"These tablets are very multi-modal -- they have colours, sounds, spoken words, and things that interest the children -- that's part of what makes them so popular. A large part of learning is about having fun, and the children have a lot of fun with them."
   
In Sweden, like in many countries, small children often play games on tablets and laptops long before they encounter them at school. The national media council said that close to 70 percent of Swedish two- to four-year-olds play video games. Nearly a half (45 percent) of children aged two have used the Internet -- perhaps unsurprising in a country with one of the world's highest mobile broadband penetrations.
   
"It's more or less prioritized in schools now, to bridge the gap between schools and the environment children are living in," said Peter Karlberg, an IT expert at the National Education Agency, referring to the thousands of tablet computers bought by public and private sector schools in the last few years.
   
And that has put increasing pressure on teachers to get up to speed -- one in every two surveyed have said they need special training.
 
- 'Still a taboo' -
 
Felix Gyllenstig Serrao, a teacher in the western city of Gothenburg, has taken computer-aided teaching further than most, using the popular Swedish game Minecraft to teach children with behavioural and concentration problems, including Attention Deficit Disorder and Asperger's Syndrome.
   
"I bring something to the classroom that they like -- that they do in their spare time -- to make them want to be in school," he said.    
 
"Minecraft is very good because it's so open and creative ... I usually use it to make a topic more alive."
   
Serrao --  a games enthusiast himself -- teaches 12- to 15-year-olds subjects like mathematics and history, using the game's building blocks, often called "digital lego", to make maths problems tangible or to illustrate scenes from history books, building them in the game after the formal part of the lesson has ended.
   
"It reinforces what they learn -- when they return to the game later and see there's a pyramid there or a town we built they remember the lesson."
   
He said Sweden has a long way to go before schools can exploit the full potential of digital classrooms.
   
"There's still a taboo around games. When I talk to older teachers about this they usually frown -- thinking that video games have nothing to do with learning," he said.
 
- 'Can't replace a teacher' -
 
The drive to digitize schools also has outspoken critics.    
Story continues below…
 
Jonas Linderoth, a video games researcher at the University of Gothenburg's education faculty, sees a number of pitfalls in the current drive to put tablets in the hands of infants, and in over-stating the educational value of video games.
   
"This technology wasn't available three years ago and now the discourse is that you can't have a preschool without a tablet computer ... A three-year-old's life is complex enough as it is -- there is so much to learn. Do you really need to add more complexity with apps?," he said, adding that it takes time away from other activities.
   
"Most children have this technology at home. They can click on apps in the back seat of the family car. But fewer and fewer have parents that read to them -- preschools should compensate for that."
   
He also pours scorn on science fiction-like visions of the future of education where students effortlessly learn by playing video games.
   
"There is this popular idea now that gaming has unlocked the holy grail to learning ... Real learning is hard work!"
   
Bored with letters, Mia clicks a puppet-making app on her preschool iPad, and her own face appears on the screen.    As she smiles, her teacher helps her take a photo and superimpose it on an animated character.
   
"In preschool, children play games all the time -- you don't sit down for lessons -- and iPads are really appealing to them. I think we'd be fools not to use them," said Bergstrand. "They can't replace a teacher but they can definitely help us -- to have something extra that's fun to work with."

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Why this Swedish restaurant is launching a dog menu
Forget ice cream, hungry Swedish dogs can now drink beefy beer. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

A Gothenburg eatery has unveiled a menu specially designed for dogs in an effort to attract new customers.

How the Swedish Church used taxes to fund lavish trips
File photo of a Swedish priest. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

A trip to Malta for 99 people was among those funded by the church coffers.

Stockholm couple crash car during rowdy romp
Never forget to put the handbrake on. Photo: YB Södermalm

A pair of hapless Stockholm lovers decide to get intimate in their car on Monday, but it was all downhill from there.

Why Sweden is now the EU's most competitive economy
Sweden has been ranked as the EU's most competitive economy. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

It's beating European giants such as Germany and the United Kingdom by miles, according to a key global ranking.

Is this the best cafe in Sweden to grab a fika?
Annas Hembageri in Mariefred. Photo: Sofia Marcetic/TT

Fill up the coffee cup and help yourself to a 'kanelbulle'. This is Sweden's best café according to food experts.

Poll shows cost of spring crisis for Swedish government
Swedish PM Stefan Löfven and Deputy PM Isabella Lövin at a cabinet reshuffle in May. Photo: Erik Nylander/TT

The survey suggests the current Swedish government would not receive the largest share of votes if an election were held in May.

Presented by Malmö Town
How Malmö is becoming the next hub for foodies
A dish at Malmö restaurant Bord13. Photo: Gustav Arnetz

When you think Malmö, do you think cheap falafel? Think again.

Fewer than 500 of 163,000 asylum seekers found jobs
Migration offices in Sweden. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

Of almost 163,000 people who applied for asylum in Sweden last year, fewer than 500 landed a job, according to a new report.

Opinion
The eight ingredients that created the Swedish model
Where did the Swedish model begin? Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

What is the Swedish model and who invented it? Thinktank chairman Anders Källström presents the eight reasons behind Sweden's success.

Sweden lack fire without Zlatan in Slovenian stalemate
Sweden coach Erik Hamrén. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

But who are the other players who got a chance to shine ahead of the Euro 2016?

Sponsored Article
Why Stockholm attracts so many successful researchers
Gallery
Property of the week: Mariestad
Sponsored Article
Stockholm makes it easier for refugees to meet startups
National
How this Swede was turned down for a job because of her head scarf
National
Swedish police trial use of taser guns
Blog updates

27 May

Editor’s blog, May 27th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, Would you spend a day doing manual labour in high heels? That’s what Swedish…" READ »

 

17 May

What about “att”? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! It often seems like the small words are the ones that cause the most confusion.…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
'Only soft power can defeat radicalism'
National
'Sweden would not be able to defend Gotland'
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Gallery
People-watching: May 27th-29th
National
First migrants make it from Denmark to Sweden on foot
Gallery
The best, cutest and funniest snaps from Prince Oscar's christening
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
Travel
Is this town the best place in Sweden?
Sponsored Article
'A sustainable Sweden must embrace diversity'
Gallery
People-watching: May 25th
Society
WATCH: Why Swedish handyman wore pink high heels for feminism
Sponsored Article
How to find student housing in Malmö: 5 tips
Sport
LIST: Top-ten ridiculous things Zlatan has compared himself to
Sponsored Article
Can you afford to live in Stockholm? (Hint: yes)
Business & Money
Why Swedes don't want the euro
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Vika, Falun
Sponsored Article
Food, fun, and reliable sun: Summer in Dubrovnik
National
Is this the most Swedish tattoo ever?
Sponsored Article
How Stockholm startups help new employees feel at home
Gallery
People-watching: May 20th-22nd
Sponsored Article
VIDEO: Why Malmö is the world's 6th best city for biking
National
How to really annoy a Swede abroad
Sponsored Article
'Sweden gives artists the space to follow their dreams'
National
How this war veteran is warming hearts in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
Gallery
People-watching: May 18th
Sponsored Article
Can you afford to live in Stockholm? (Hint: yes)
National
How this Swede's viral ad totally nailed Stockholm's housing crisis
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Property of the week: Vasastaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Stockholm makes it easier for refugees to meet startups
Lifestyle
The best Swedish cities for dating
Gallery
People-watching: May 13th-15th
Culture
BLOG: Eurovision as it happened
3,317
jobs available
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
psdmedia.se