I was lucky enough to visit some of the most innovative schools in Denmark and here’s what I found.
Ørestad Gymnasium is a public High School built by the municipality of Copenhagen back in 2005. At the time, Copenhagen wanted a school building of the future. What came out is an indeed futuristic building and combines (almost) traditional classrooms and completely open spaces. I had a fascinating chat with the school leader Allan Kjær Andersen about how space influences pedagogy, traditional teaching, for example, would be way to noisy in open spaces so students work independently on their laptops and teachers go around and are here to support them if needed. That is what Allan calls student activated teaching and technology is used as a means to implement it. To him, Edtech should be at the service of a school’s pedagogical vision and strategy.
“Because we want our students to be producers and communicators, we use all the creative tools that make it possible. And because technology helps them become producers it is thus inevitable for us to use it. » Allan Kjær Andersen, Principal
When asking some students around what they liked about their school the unanimous answer was: the openness of the building, we really feel we can breath here, we are not confined within four walls all day long.
The Green School is an independant school in Denmark (which is 75% publicly funded). Everything about this school is green and sustainable : from the building itself to the activities (gardening, yoga, sports) as well as the pedagogy, that could indeed be described as sustainable, innovative and creative: it’s based on projects only. Older students even get to choose the subjects and projects they want to work on. Outdoor schooling is practiced every day, at least for one class, even if it’s snowing ⛄️.
Technology is used by the students in other to make them producers, not consumers of it. Kids in older grades learn how to code and use their computers to do research for their projects. The day I visited the school, students from the youngest grades were working on a project on gender stereotypes. That day, male teachers and students were dressed as ‘girls’ and female teachers and students as ‘boys’. One of the exercises was to go out onto the streets and take notice of the reactions of people they crossed path with.
I had the chance to meet Lasse Reichstein, the principal of Hellerup Skole, a comprehensive (K-9) school that is both architecture and pedagogy wise very innovative.
In this school, teachers plan, teach and evaluate their teaching together, collaboration is at the core of everything. During half of the school year, students don’t learn through subjects but through projects which very often combine a practical aspects (art, crafts etc.) to make them be makers. For Lasse, it is during the projects phases that they really learn something, everything that is being taught to them in the regular classes is used in the project weeks, and that is when real learning occurs. At Hellerup Skole, classrooms don’t exists, only learning areas and students are very independent: they bring their own devices and are completely trusted to do their work in the school’s cozy corners and spots. A few days a year, students can even choose from where they want to work (at the park, home, the library etc.). It has to be a space outside school, so they understand that learning is ubiquitous, that schools are not the only learning places.
Technology is used in it many ways, the school has an LMS to make learning goals visible to parents and students where the latter can also self evaluate, and many softwares are used at different grades, when it’s needed. The school also uses MathematikFessor an intelligent software to practice maths.