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Konferens om distansundervisning med UR och RISE

När RISE, Research Institutes of Sweden och UR, Utbildningsradion, anordnade konferensen Skola Hemma, En digital konferens som följer upp projektet Skola hemma och diskuterar lärdomar och utmaningar i samband med distansundervisning i Sveriges skolor under coronakrisen våren 2020 deltog Swedish Edtest och presenterade hur man kan tänka när man väljer, testar och utvärderar digitala lärresurser.

Bland övriga talare fanns utbildningsministern Anna Ekström, gymnasieelever, forskare och lärare. Tillsammans gav de såväl det politiska perspektivet att regelverket kring distansundervisning behöver uppdateras som de praktiska tipsen om hur man gör i vardagen för att ge varje elev det hen behöver.

Under Swedish Edtest presentation ställdes många frågor från publiken som framförallt undrade över hur elever deltar i tester och på vilket sätt metoden och testerna är förankrade i forskning.

Metodstödet är kärnan i Swedish Edtest och är ett stöd för att identifiera vad som ska testas och varför. Metodstödet grundar sig i didaktisk forskning men är utformat så att det går att använda i den komplexa vardag som utbildning sker i. Just nu finns den första versionen här och under året testar vi och utvecklar stödet ytterligare.

Här finns inslaget på UR play https://urplay.se/program/217556-ur-samtiden-skola-hemma-vad-tar-vi-med-oss-framat-att-valja-och-vardera-digitala-larresurser

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Canva for education – really simple design tools

For Canva’s Chief Product Officer, Cameron Adams, developing Canva for Education has been a “big learning experience”, but this new venture from the global tech unicorn has been guided by teachers and students from Day One.

Officially launched at BETT 2020, Canva for Education gives students and teachers of all ages access to really simple design tools that enable anyone to complete a school project, spread a message or simply communicate their ideas. The product is based on the core Canva proposition, which is currently used in 190 countries by over 20 million users, at least 20% of whom are students and teachers. 

Following a constant flow of feedback, tweets and emails from education users about the tool, Cameron’s team started looking at developing a specific education product in early 2019. Their objective was simple – to understand how students and teachers worldwide were using Canva and how the core product could be improved to best support teaching and learning.

Feedback from teachers quickly identified key ways Canva could bring the power of their paid-for product into a free version for the classroom. Detailed teacher user cases and global teacher insight illustrated the need for a collaborative online classroom, where learners could share their work with each other and their educators, generating feedback and ultimately enabling online assessment. Practitioners also highlighted the importance of integration with key classroom technologies as vital to ensure widespread adoption. As a result, Canva for Education developed an integration with Google for Education and further partnership with LMS and other tech partners are planned.

The Canva team followed the same approach for developing the education product as they typically deploy for any other sectors – LAUNCH, LISTEN and (constantly) ADAPT. In seeking to understand how to develop the best possible product, they’ve employed the widest variety of techniques to validate their ideas. This includes simply visiting classrooms and chatting to teachers; using social media and online channels to test understanding, gather feedback and to support user engagement as well creating mockups, wireframes and prototypes to discover what really resonates with educators.

As Cameron readily acknowledged, Canva quickly identified that what resonated with educators and “the only way to get teachers to use it (Canva for Education) is for them to see other teachers using it.” This insight led to the development of a dedicated teacher community and numerous case studies demonstrating the product in use. Practitioner feedback is also clearly evident here as the case studies deliberately focus “not on the software tools, but on how Canva offers a new way for teachers to engage their classes and to think about education.” Forthcoming improvements to the tool’s onboarding experience are also the result of extensive quantitative and qualitative user feedback.

Canva are “bullish” about their ambitions for Canva for Education and are already recruiting a US team to support schools and schools districts to get the most of the product and keep product/user feedback flowing back to their Sydney HQ. Plans are also being developed to formally evaluate the tool’s impact on developing students’ key 21st century skills such as creative thinking as well as on improving their overall academic outcomes.

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One of the most exciting EdTech start-ups

Jenni Vartiainen, Co-founder and Head of Research at Kide Science, was only supposed to use her design-based approach in support of her PhD thesis. But it’s success has quickly led to the creation of one of Finland’s most exciting EdTech start-ups.

Jenni’s research began in 2013, when she set out to understand how best to teach science to young children, aged between 3 and 6 years of age. Using a pedagogical approach focused on play and stories, she created a bespoke teaching environment and tailored teaching resources to engage her learners. Over the following 4 years, she and her team reviewed that environment and delivery approach after every single teaching session, assessing what had gone well and what could be improved for next time. Eventually the programme would go through an amazing 22 cycles of iteration!

In that time, Jenni’s research carefully honed all elements of the programme – everything from the length and format of the lessons to the name and form of the lead character was discussed and reviewed. Her team of educators constantly reviewed pupil engagement / participation and sought parent feedback through interviews and questionnaires every five weeks.

When her PhD research ended, the programme stopped after it had been delivered to over 1,000 children. Parents demanded that the lessons had to continue and Jenni realised that her research had undercovered a business idea that she had to explore further. With Co-founders Aino and Sari, Jenni set out to develop her research into a commercial proposition and in 2017, Kide Science was formed.

The product was again transformed for launch to reflect Jenni’s detailed research insights. Lesson delivery was revised into smaller chunks that could be spread out throughout the day to maintain children’s engagement. Teachers were supplied with lesson plans and resources from a central portal, so that they could quickly access / share stories and teaching content. Notably, all of these detailed materials had been tested in advance through Kide Science’s network of partner kindergartens.

Three years after market launch, Jenni’s team are currently researching the use of the teaching platform and the appropriateness of the resources. Having recently secured an agreement to work with the largest private chain of kindergartens in Finland, nearly 200 institutions will now be testing the materials and reporting on how they’re being used, how they support teachers and (by studying film of children) what impact they have on children’s engagement and progress. 

The Kide Science proposition has been built on Finland’s unique educational culture that prioritises play and storytelling. Although not specifically tested for international audiences, such is the strength of its product market fit that Kide Science have, to date, been able to scale their business into, for example, China, Thailand and Vietnam without any significant changes. Once the Finnish research has been concluded, Jenni’s focus will then shift to China and Dubai, where she’ll compare differences in teachers’ delivery and in pupil engagement / outcomes. Local partners will then be able to clearly see the benefits of the programme and can work with the KIde Science team to propose any localisation or updates.

Unsurprisingly, Jenni’s design-based research also continues to inform Kide Science’s new product development. Driven by her ambition that the product “..should be available to all young children globally”, the team are looking at how the product’s pedagogical approach should be expanded and updated for primary school audiences worldwide. The development of a family-focused B2C proposition is also being explored and researched.

The rapid growth of KIde Science is testament to the power of a carefully targeted proposition, that has been extensively and consistently researched with all key stakeholder groups. But Jenni is also at pains to point out that their progress has been hard won. As she says, “This product has actually been in development and research since 2013 when I started my PhD, and not just since 2017 when the business actually launched.”  Yet she also readily acknowledges “that careful and extensive research made it much easier to launch the business and to travel further, faster.” That’s a clear and compelling message for all aspiring EdTech entrepreneurs who are willing to hear it.   

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They develop 3D and AR technologies

Working closely with teachers and schools in formal and informal test-bed environments has helped Ludenso to rapidly prototype new product features and attract investment to scale.

Their extensive product testing with students and teachers lies at the heart of their product development plan. Oslo-based and a recent finalist at the Nordic EdTech Awards, Ludenso are working with schools across Norway and Sweden to develop their unique suite of 3D and AR technologies.

Founder and CEO, Eirik Wahlstrøm, acknowledges that feedback from teachers at the start of their journey was invaluable in helping them get where they are today. “One of the teachers asked if there was any way students could create something as part of the programme” he recalls. Intrigued by the idea, his team worked through a series of rapid prototypes to test this product enhancement. The response from students was incredible, shifting their engagement from “brief wow moments to long, sustained periods of meaningful learning.”

This initial and extensive informal testing with schools led Eirik and his team to develop Ludenso Create, a 3D and AR modelling tool which allows students of all ages to become digital creators and problem solvers. Recent in-school evaluation has also been fundamental in supporting new product development, including a new technology that can combine physical and digital classroom resources.

To maximise the opportunities for Ludenso to grow and to scale internationally, Eirik has committed to product testing at home in Norway but also in Sweden as part of the Edtest programme, run by EdTech South East Sweden. In both locations, Ludenso have given teachers and schools detailed product onboarding, but have allowed teachers and schools to use the technology wherever it can help “their students be the best version of themselves.” This has seen Ludenso Create used in a wide variety of cross-curricular ways, including an amazing collaboration with Midtstuen High School in Oslo where 140 mixed ability students built 50,000 square metres of digital architecture using their software.

This intensive test-bed environment and co-creation approach has been of huge value to the Ludenso team. Throughout this project, staff have been able to closely watch students as they use the technology, taking copious notes and asking questions throughout. Students also completed detailed questionnaires that gathered feedback on what worked well and what didn’t, while teachers conducted in-depth interviews to highlight how Ludenso Create could most effectively be used in the classroom.    

Eirik is clear on the benefits Ludenso has found from working with schools in this way. “You cannot,” he argues, “successfully develop products for the schools market without working with practitioners. It’s essential to help develop both product features and pedagogical fit.” 

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Multilingual digital educational materials

Bringing together municipalities, educational publishers and researchers, Studi’s Språkprojektet is a nationwide research and development project. It aims to develop multilingual digital educational materials that help all learners, particularly recent immigrants to Sweden, to be more successful at school.

Founded in 2011 and focused on developing short, animated, curriculum-focused films for students in grade 7 to 9 (13 to 16 years), Studi started this project as a direct result of feedback from teachers. With the help of Vinnova pilot project funding, Studi translated Swedish films in three subjects – chemistry, biology and religion – into Arabic and tested the material in 20 schools in 12 municipalities in spring 2015. According to Anna Kraft, MD Studi Nordics, the research focused on a few key questions – “How can the child best learn the language and course content in Swedish?” “Do the new digital learning materials help improve learning outcomes?” “Does the programme help students integrate with their peers and feel part of their new school?” 

The pilot also explored how it’s materials could best support teachers, who didn’t know how to teach these newly arrived students. Researchers and content developers therefore used questionnaires and interviews as the content was used in class to identify what had worked well and where the materials could be improved.

The results at the end of the pilot were clear – they showed that Studi’s digital learning materials had helped students to learn detailed curriculum content as well as learning the Swedish language. This initial work to establish a proof of concept enabled Studi to secure two further rounds of Vinnova funding as well as financial investment from Swedish municipalities. More than 80 municipalities now use the resources, which are provided in 12 global languages.

This ongoing programme – Språkprojektet – continues to make extensive use of data and research in directing product development. Data is easily accessible through Studi’s learning platform and helps identify what progress students are making as they move from native language resources through Swedish subtitles and audio content towards fluency. By combining this data with insight from Skolverket (the Swedish National Agency for Education), Studi can also demonstrate improvements in learning outcomes as a result of using their materials. 

Careful analysis of their data has also helped Studi to identify that their fastest growing user segment is actually native Swedish speakers! They’ve migrated to Studi as they’ve found the video and animation content better suited to their preferred learning style.

Student and practitioner feedback is also regularly sought, particularly when new languages and new content is being added to the platform. Studi’s newly opened Malmö office, for example, recently hosted 15 students and their teachers to gather feedback on new animations before launch. For Anna Kraft this work is vital: “It ensures that our content engages users and ensures that sensitive topics like sex and relationships are covered appropriately.”

Kraft also places a premium on the twice-yearly Språkprojektet meetings her team holds with all stakeholders. “These help make Språkprojektet an important network,” she says “where municipalities can exchange experiences, inform our research and discuss what content, features and languages should be added in the future.” It’s also an important opportunity, she believes, to reiterate the importance of Studi’s mission – to give all students in Sweden an equal chance to achieve educational success. 

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Supporting teachers. Motivating students.

An evidence-based research approach underpins the entire business at Sparx, a prominent UK EdTech business. It has also inspired them to launch a national movement calling for a ‘step change’ in the quality of EdTech evidence available to schools.

Sparx Maths is an adaptive learning platform for maths education and is aimed directly at the secondary school market (11-16 years). The Sparx Family – comprising Sparx Maths, HegartyMaths and the recently launched, Numerise – currently supports over 1.2 million learners in 1,400 schools around the world. Since the initial idea came to life in 2010, the team has continually experimented and iterated the product, based on extensive collaboration with a network of partner schools, teachers and students. The product’s homework and classroom solution was launched onto the market in 2018.

This focus on testing different hypotheses of how best to support learners and teachers in the classroom lies at the very heart of their approach to product design and development. For Tomasz Stefanski, Sparx’ Head of Data Science, this agile process is “all about coming up with ideas which might solve a problem or improve what’s already being used.” It typically involves unsuccessful approaches being quickly discarded before new prototypes (tech and paper format) are then developed and tested again in the classroom.

One example of this approach saw the team quickly abandon pre-populated schemes of learning in favour of a more flexible approach. This allowed schools to tailor the right solution for their setting by combining their own resources with those provided by Sparx, exam boards and other subject matter experts.

Bursts of research activity usually run in 1-3 local schools who test different ideas with different teachers, with different year groups and with students from all attainment levels. This requires exceptional relationships with local schools, some of whom have even given the Sparx team their own classroom to run their testing from! The same model is applied to testing in international markets, where the UK product serves as a starting point, as the team explore what works and what doesn’t in each geography. As Andrew Blackie, Commercial Director for Sparx, explains: “It’s all about getting as many teachers and students as possible involved, so that different ideas can be tested, adapted and then adopted.”

However, to understand the effectiveness of the widest variety of product features, their approach also includes rigorous analysis of all data collected through the learning platform. Every interaction with the content is carefully studied. For example, the team review what type of students pause and rewind the explanatory videos and at what point do they lose interest and click off? Tomasz Stefanski is clear on the benefits here: “We think our content is high quality , but we can always do better. It’s only through data that we can understand if the scaffolding of our learning is right. Data tells us what needs to be improved and how.”

More broadly, Sparx use the data made available through individual school dashboards to help maths departments and whole schools to identify where they can improve. Similarly, the Account Managers at Sparx use the same data to support their in-school contacts (known as Sparx Leaders), to bring key data trends (e.g homework completion rates) to their attention and to collaboratively find a solution.

But ultimately for Sparx, the most important stage of this evidence-based approach is whether their product actually makes a difference to student learning outcomes. To measure this, Sparx has pioneered the use of student-level randomised control trials (RCTs), running one of the first in UK EdTech back in 2015. Following the double-blind methodology commonly used to test medicines, the company runs multiple trials during the year. The most recent of which explored if homework impacted on attainment (it did!) and then to identify the optimum length of homework each night.

These RCTs typically involve a full year group of students in three partner schools, which is approximately 500 individual students. The trial runs for a minimum of half a term (six weeks) but most usually for a full school term. Stefanski’s team also reviews other data sources to ensure robust research and recently marked 5,000 end of year maths papers to compare and contrast student performance and build further evidence of impact. All of this data and insight is then used to iterate and improve the product once again.

This rigorous, ongoing evaluation of the efficacy of approach and learning content is a key differentiator for Sparx. Louise Mayor, Head of Marketing reiterates the point: “This is what we do and who we are. Our commitment to evidence-based research therefore sits at the heart of all of our messaging and communications activities.” At BETT 2020, this saw Sparx leading the formation of the UK’s EdTech Evidence Group. This body of like-minded businesses is making its impact evidence more widely available to help teachers/schools make better informed buying decisions and to inform government policy makers.

Unsurprisingly, Sparx will be using similar techniques to persuade parents to purchase their new B2C independent maths learning product, Numerise which the company has accelerated to help support home-learning while schools are closed due to coronavirus. The product incorporates Secondary Ready, a platform designed specifically for children in their last year of primary education so they can develop their core number skills required for secondary learning. As Mayor identifies, there’s one big difference with Sparx’s core product: “In school, pupils are told to use Sparx – they don’t have any choice. But at home, we need to motivate learners to want to use this product rather than playing Fortnite”

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Innovation och lärstödjande ledarskap

Carina Hall som vid sidan av att jobba med utveckling på Academedia Academy och vara Academedias representant i Swedish Edtest har skrivit en studie om innovation och lärstödjande ledarskap inom ramen för en Masterutbildning på Mittuniversitet. I studien intervjuar Carina tio skolledare på gymnasienivå om deras erfarenheter av distansundervisning under våren. Studien finns bifogad. Några findings som jag fastnade vid är

· Organisationerna har visat sig vara mer lättrörliga än förväntat och startsträcken för att ställa om har varit kort.

· Flera intervjuade ser att innovationskapaciteten är högre hos lärare i estetiska och praktiska ämnen. De möter störst utmaningar och det skapar kreativitet och innovation.

· Flera ser fram emot att kunna integrera distansundervisningen med undervisning på plats och tror att det kommer att skapa dynamik.

· Innovationen tycks inte främst ligga i att arbeta digitalt utan att det digitala arbetssättet utvecklar undervisningen och sättet att hantera och nå kunskapsmålen.

Ladda ned studien här.

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Att testa sig fram är ett naturligt arbetssätt

En av alla som är med och testar är Carina Hallberg som arbetar som förskollärare på Svanhöjdens förskola i Älta. Det som lockade Carina med att delta i Swedish Edtest var att få stöd i en process för att hitta digitala lärresurser som känns bra att använda i förskolan. – Det finns för många appar som bara är tidsfördriv, jag vill testa något som möter de krav som finns på lärande i förskolan.

Olika strategier för barnen att lära sig testas dagligen på Svanhöjdens förskola, så själva metoden, att testa sig fram och tänka nytt om det inte fungerar är naturligt för Carina. På Svanhöjdens förskola ska Peppy Pals och Fokus Förskola testas. Förväntningarna på lärresurserna är att de är ganska klara och att det finns tydliga instruktioner för att komma igång. Hitintills har uppstarten gått fint och kontakten med bolagen har känts väldigt professionell.

Barnen på förskolan kommer att ges utrymme att reflektera över hur de upplever de nya verktygen för att lära sig. Deras reaktioner och tankar kommer direkt synliggöra om den digitala lärresursen är intressant.

Testerna pågår under maj och utvärderas i juni. Då berättar vi mer om hur det har gått och vad alla inblandade har lärt sig.

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Enkel beskrivning – så går ett test till

Nu är vi i gång med tester och intresset är stort för att vara med och förstå hur vi jobbar. Vi har tagit fram en enkel beskrivning av hur ett test går till. Välkommen att ladda ned den som pdf här.

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Lyckad premiär för bolag och huvudmän

Swedish Edtest digitala speeddating mellan entreprenörer och lärare genomfördes för första gången den 19 mars. Det digitala mötet hölls som planerat, i en tid när omvärlden både ställde om och ställde in. Mötesformen emottogs positivt och flera av deltagarna önskar nu att även nästa träff blir digital.

-En av fördelarna är att fler har möjlighet att delta än om man skulle behöva en resdag eller två för att vara med, säger Gleerups vice vd Lars Åkerblom. 

Swedish Edtest fortsätter att hålla högt tempo eftersom intresset att testa och lära sig mer om edtech utbudet fortsatt är väldigt stort hos lärare och kursledare. 24 bolag deltog under premiären av speed-dating den 19 mars för att presentera sina produkter och tjänster under två timmar. Resultatet blev 65 matchningar för 18 av bolagen. Många lärare och rektorer valde trots det höga trycket på skolorna att ringa in. 

-I april/maj genomförs testerna och det ska bli så spännande att följa för att förstå hur vi måste utveckla vår process för att leverera värde till testande lärare och bolag, säger Swedish Edtest projektledare Hanna Elving.

Stort intresse för att nå förskolor och grundskolor

Sofia Zätterström, en av grundarna av edChild, vittnade om ett roligt möte med många besökare. Fokus Förskola är ett digitalt verktyg, för pedagoger i förskolan, som digitaliserar och konkretiserar förskolans läroplan. Applikationen ska inspirera till aktiviteter och på så sätt även spara in på den administrativa tiden. Mer tid till förskolebarnen alltså.

-Detta var precis vår målgrupp. En av de kommuner som besökte oss ska nu få en workshop som nästa steg, med syfte att vi ska delta i Swedish Edtest tillsammans, berättar Sofia Zätterström.

Fia Juréen, verksamhetsledare hos KomTek, i Lidingö Stad klickade in på möte efter möte och lyssnade på Gleerups, Mobile Stories, ImagiLabs, StudyBee, GroPlay, EdChild, Natur och Kultur, NE.

-Med tanke på hur ovana vi är vid digitala möten så tycker jag att vi alla var fantastiska. Det var trevligt att se varandra – även om ögonkontakten inte är densamma som i fysiska möten, säger Fia Juréen. 

Fia Juréen lyssnade på bolagens presentationer och är nu igång med att planera för samarbeten mellan lärare och företag. Nästas steg är möten för att diskutera checklista och avtal mellan huvudman och bolag. 

-Den här krisen har knuffat varenda lärare framåt i digitaliseringen, inte ens de som har vägrat kan i dagsläget dyka under radarn. Alla måste kunna hantera det digitala, fortsätter hon.

Att EdTechbranchen har öppnat sina digitala lärmedel ger lärarna ett ypperligt tillfälle att kika in, klämma på och testa de olika.

Lars Åkerblom, vice vd på Gleerup, blev positivt överraskad över att det var så många som kom på den första speed-datingen.

-Det var väldigt bra att göra det digitalt. Bättre än att lägga en resdag till Nacka. Vi fick också träffa fler lärare på det sättet än vad vi skulle ha haft möjlighet till annars, säger Lars Åkerblom.

Att det fanns en tidspress var också positivt. Fem minuter hade de på sig för att beskriva vad man vill åstadkomma och vad syftet är med applikationen. Gleerups kommer nu att ha möten med de huvudmän som var intresserade. De hoppas på att kunna bredda kontaktnätet ytterligare för att få begripa andra skolformer och nya sätt att tänka. Nu fick bolagen presentera sig, nästa gång skulle det vara intressant att få en presentation av lärarna och vilka förväntningar de har, avslutar Lars Åkerblom.

Här hittar du alla deltagande bolag https://edtest.se/testande-bolag/