“It has become far easier to create relations with students when we have played Xbox together” – Norway

“I think one of the major obstacles when it comes to use of technology in education, is that the teachers are used to thinking that they must be experts in the technology in order to teach it to the children,” says Sven Olaf Brekke. “I think that this is, to some extent, misunderstood. Our students are already experts in quite a few technologies. All we need to do is to be curious about the technologies our pupils already know.”

And curiosity from Brekke and his staff and ninth graders at their school in Odda, Norway led to the creation of “Trouble,” which was presented at the March 2012 Partners in Learning forum in Lisbon, Portugal.  The main goal of the project was to contribute to a local concert by producing personal texts on the topic of Trouble. Both students and teachers rehearsed with Xbox and the game Rockband3. They then watched “trigger videos” on the subject of “trouble” which were uploaded to YouTube. Finally, students were asked to contribute personal texts on “trouble” via Facebook. And the project took off.

Brekke talked to us about how using technology that students already know is essential
to engaging and motivating students – but also how it nurtures the relationship between future generations and their instructors.

Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?                                                                                             

In some projects I have used technologies like YouTube, Facebook and Xbox. I implemented these to make learning more motivating and interesting for the students. In addition to the motivation and learning effect, you also create a positive relationship between the teacher and the pupil because the pupil realizes that the adult is actually interested in technologies that are important to young people. I have, as a head teacher, experienced that it has become far more easy to create positive relations with students when we have played Xbox together and challenged them to teach me, because they know how to, and I don’t.

What has changed as a result of your efforts?             

My relations with many of my pupils have changed because I am curious to know more about their technologies. Far too many adults just raise their fingers saying “no, no, no.” Instead, we can try to understand what the technology is about and then commit to a discussion. This creates an experience that crosses over to the young ones without condemning them!

The innovation in my work has been linked to technologies that the pupils already are familiar with. Instead of always trying to teach pupils technologies that are new to them, it can be rewarding to implement known technologies to learn in different and more motivating ways.

How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

I think the main issue is to be curious and interested in the technologies the pupils already know. By doing this the pupils become the teacher’s assistants, easing the teacher’s work.

What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?

Trying to convince teachers that future learning is not about technology, but about how technology can enhance learning processes if we manage to implement them in motivating and fun ways.

What is your country doing right to support education?

There is a lot of emphasis on computers and Internet connection, but not enough effort in the training of teachers.

What conditions must change in your country to better support education?

More training for the teachers and one-to-one connection for every student.

What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

Be curious together with your pupils.

What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?

In Norway there is a lot of emphasis on the topic, “evaluation for learning.” I think we have a long way to go as far as using positive evaluation along the way, instead of focusing on the mark at the end of a subject. To some extent, the impact of a lot of computers in classrooms, without teachers who are capable or interested in using them, has been negative as far as learning is concerned.

If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why? 

Parents and teachers who love them.


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About Sven Olaf Brekke
Head teacher at Odda Ungdomsskole Secondary School in Norway.

Birthplace: Tibro, Sweden
Current residence: Odda, Norway
Education: Teacher and school leader
Website I check every day: My Twitter account
Person who inspires me most: Some of my colleagues
Favorite childhood memory: When I started fishing for salmon in my local river
Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Oslo- work and pleasure.
When was the last time you laughed? Why? Today. When my mother and I talked about my father, who passed away 10 years ago. A wonderful father and a great loss for me, but even more so for my four sons who lost their grandfather! It is a great thing that I can think of him and smile.
Favorite book:Bikubesong” -Frode Grytten.
Favorite music: The Smiths
Your favorite quote or motto: “The one who believes everything can never be deceived.” (S. Kierkegaard)

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