|Last updated: 2011; Last revised: 2011|
|Contact: Christina Szekely, Peter Karlberg, Sven Borg; Swedish National Agency for School Improvement, Swedish National Agency for Education.|
|Please refer to this page for the updated version of the Country Report |
The version below is from 2007
1. The Education Context
Educational developments and ICT
The main changes in national education policy during the latest years have been focusing on quality and results, mainly due to several indicators showing that the results could have been improved. Two strands can be described: one concerns improved and more frequent inspections (this is the task of The Swedish National Agency for Education. The other one focuses on the support for school improvement, which is the task of the Agency for School Improvement, in some nationally prioritised areas i.e. basic skills, knowledge and young people in segregated areas (ethnical or social segregated area)
In the summer 2005, the government presented a bill on a new ICT policy. The overall goal is that Sweden must become a sustainable information society for all (Government Bill 2004/05:175 IT policy for society to a policy for the information society). This goal is divided into five sub goals among which two focuses on education’ – “quality and public confidence in IT.” Several agencies within the educational field have been commissioned to provide skills’ development for teachers, give IT a stronger position in teacher training, improve the follow-up on the use of IT in schools and continue the development of common standards and soft infrastructure in the sector. The already ongoing work regarding the protection of children from harmful content is one example of the subgoal “support for public confidence”
The programme goals and course syllabus for upper secondary school have been changed. In addition to several other changes, IT has been integrated in all subjects – previously it was only a short IT course. Almost all compulsory school students continue their education directly at upper secondary school and the majority of them complete their upper secondary education within the period of 3 years. Upper secondary education is divided into 17 national 3-year programmes (14 of which are vocationally orientated). All the programmes offer a broad general education together with the basic eligibility to continue studies at the post-secondary level.
Alongside the national programmes, there are also a number of specially designed as well as individual study programs.
The focus will be on the long term efforts related to changing both subject content and educational methods. The Swedish National Agency for School Improvement has developed a new action plan which sets out how to address the science and technology issues in school improvement. According to this document the efforts will focus on:
1.2 Educational achievements and ICT
2. ICT Policy
Responsibilities of ICT integration
In the decentralised Swedish school system the responsibility for ICT is shared.
The role of the municipalities is to provide access to computers and the Internet in schools as well as to ensure that practitioners are highly skilled in using ICT as a pedagogical tool.
The role of the state is to promote the use of ICT in education, mainly by supporting the municipalities in this task. The state authorities promote the use of ICT in education by developing user-friendly ICT tools for in-service competence development and school improvement as well as by stimulating the educationalists to increase their knowledge and competence. Furthermore, the government continues to provide quality access in all areas of education, mainly by supporting the municipalities in their task. An important task at the national level is to spread the use of ICT to all groups concerned within the education sector. Some of the most important organizations are:
The Swedish National Agency for Education (www.skolverket.se) is the central administrative authority for the Swedish public school system for children, young people and adults, as well as for preschool activities and child care for school children.
The role of the National Agency for Education (www.skolverket.se) in the Swedish educational system is as follows:
The Education Act, school curriculum, programme objectives, course syllabi and grading criteria, are some of the national steering documents that organize education activities. Part of the philosophy of the Swedish education system is that the state should define the national goals and guidelines for education, while detailed sub-regulation should be avoided to give municipalities and schools as much freedom as possible to formulate their own work. Defining the goals for administration can involve:
Informing in order to influence
The National Agency for Education (www.skolverket.se) communicates and maintains a dialogue with Swedish Parliament and Government as well as with responsible authorities in education and child care, school staff, and to a certain extent, with parents and students. The provision of information to influence can involve:
Reviewing in order to improve
The National Agency for Education (www.skolverket.se) is responsible for reviewing preschool activities for school children, schools and adult education in many different ways. Regardless of the method, the focus is always on asserting the right of each individual to knowledge and personal development. Reviewing the effects of the improvements can involve:
The Swedish National Agency for School Improvement (www.skolutveckling.se)
The measures and actions of the Swedish National Agency for School Improvement (www.skolutveckling.se) aim primarily at providing good local conditions for ICT development. The main challenge in the Agency’s work is to find the right balance between the government’s general ambition on the use and impact of ICT in education and the concrete responsibility of the local municipal authorities in implementing it.
All decisions and funding related to ICT in schools are made by the municipalities. There is no funding from the government.
The current effort of the Swedish government is to create a stable environment where ICT is an obvious part of education and school improvement. In November 2005 the Swedish National Agency for School Improvement (www.skolutveckling.se) was commissioned to:
A new service to support in-service training for teachers in the use of ICT as a tool for educational development has been developed. The web based service is called PIM (Practical ICT and Media competence; www.pim.skolutveckling.se). The service is free for teachers to use. Since the start in early 2007 nearly 100 of the 290 Swedish municipalities have registered and started in-services activities for their teachers.
In 2007 The Swedish Schoolnet was replaced by a new Swedish portal for schools – ICT for Pedagogues. The Swedish Schoolnet has had a long history. It was established alredy in 1995/96 and it represented one of the first ICT initiatives for schools worldwide. ICT for Pedagogues enables teachers to integrate ICT into a practical classroom setting. The portal offers many different services, functioning as an information centre, a library and a news agency. The portal serves as an entry to all of the Agency’s websites about ICT (PIM, The Multimedia bureau, Check the Source, Soft infrastructure) and it provides a platform for the development of new educational approaches opened up by the Internet and new multimedia technologies.
In order to make digital resources more available the Agency is developing a brokerage system for digital learning resources in collaboration with international and national partners. The brokerage system called The Spider is available through the Swedish portal ICT for Pedagogues ( itforpedagoger.skolutveckling.se/). The service is based on the work on improving the use of open standards and specifications in a program called Soft infrastructure and it is developed in cooperation with Umeå university (LITU) and the LRE project in EUN.
Internet Safety Policy
Awareness Node Sweden (ANSWER: www.medieradet.se/detungainternet)
The Swedish Media Council and the Swedish National Agency for School Improvement (www.skolutveckling.se) acted together as an Internet Safety node during 2005 and 2006. The overall objective was to serve as the expert centre and knowledge resource regarding children’s use of online media. The node coordinated activities which promoted a safer use of the Internet and new online technologies for children and young people. ANSWERS aimed at raising awareness of safety issues and promoted dialogue between children, parents and educators, and, thereby, stressed the benefits of using the Internet and the online media. The project supported media literacy and media education in general, with special attention given to source criticism. It offered tools which were designed to teach children and young people to become competent, confident and responsible users of online media. The project focused its efforts on empowering parents, grandparents, educators and industry to help children reach this goal.
’Check the Source’
Illegal/ harmful content
In Sweden the organization ECPAT (www.ecpathotline.se) has a Hotline where illegal/harmful content can be reported.
Digital Inclusion policy
There are no major policy programs or initiatives concerning Digital Inclusion.
Policy for Public-Private Partnerships
In the education-sector the Government has taken a PPP-initiative in just a limited area – only concerning IT in schools. The aim is to establish a central function for advice and support to local authorities and schools that want to cooperate with private IT-companies. For this reason the Agency for School Improvement was commissioned by the Government to investigate about legal and economic possibilities and restrictions in this area.
The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions investigated the use of PPP in the municipalities. PPP-solutions are not commonly used; the few examples mostly concern the construction of sport-facilities.
The Swedish National Agency for School Improvement (www.skolutveckling.se) has developed a portfolio application that is free (Open Source) and based on Open Standards. The ePortfolio (www.skolutveckling.se) is built upon SCAM. It is a Student/Teacher portfolio system that can be easily set up by downloading and installing the SCAM ePortfolio (http://scam.sourceforge.net) release. The aim is to show how Soft Infrastructure and Open Standards create pedagogical advantages.
There are no major policy programmes or initiatives concerning broadband at schools. Schools are connected. There are still, however, some broadband projects targeted towards the more rural areas.
The Knowledge Foundation has taken the initiative in developing a national postgraduate programme on learning and IT (Information technology), LearnIT (www.ped.gu.se/learnit). In LearnIT, research is being conducted on how tIT affects learning, knowledge formation and education at the societal, organizational and individual level. Göteborg University hosts the programme, which the aims at the long-term development of knowledge about learning and IT. It runs from 2000-2007.
Initiatives to improve home – school linking
Schoolportals that are provided at local level support more school-communication both related to teacher – learner needs but in many cases designed to improve parents’ involvement. These projects are, however, developed at the municipal level. One example is Sundsvalls municipality which developed Föräldramötet (parents meeting: http://www.foraldramotet.sundsvall.se/hemskola/servlet/core) which was also nominated for Guldlänken (http://www.guldlanken.se) this year.
Monitoring and evaluation
The Swedish government has provided substantial resources during the last ten years to develop technology and infrastructure for the use of ICT in Swedish schools and to provide teachers with the in-service training on the use of ICT as a tool for educational development. The particular programme ITiS ended and the current effort is to create a stable environment where ICT is an obvious part of education and school improvement.
Final report of the previous programme ITiS: (www.itis.gov.se/publikationer/eng/Proposals%20and%20recommendations_finalreport.pdf)
The figures available are from 2004.
All activities within pre-school activities, school-age child care, schools and adult education – Resources – Expenditure
Expenditure on all activities within pre-school activities, school-age child care, schools and adult education 2004.
Budget for ICT related Teacher Training
The Knowledge Foundation has started a new project which is aimed at stimulating teacher college training by using IT as a teaching tool.
The foundation is staking 100 million Swedish Kronor (approximately €1.1m) during the coming 5 years on improvements in the use of ICT in teacher training.
Budget for Infrastructure
Information is not available.
Budget for Research and Development
Information is not available.
Expenditure for other ICT categories
Information is not available.
Total ICT budget for education
Information is not available.
3. The Curriculum and ICT
ICT and the Curriculum
Sweden has a decentralised school system. Curricula and syllabi are goal-oriented. The municipalities are responsible for the education sector as a whole as well as for the schools in their area.
ICT integration in primary, secondary and vocational education
In the nine-year compulsory school for children aged 7-16 course plans today do not oblige teachers to apply ICT in teaching practice. For example: The following is mentioned in the objectives for teaching mathematics:
”have good skills in and be able to use rough estimate and calculations with natural numbers and numbers in decimal shape and per cent and proportionality in the head, with the aid of written counting methods and with technical aids, “
The written text: “with technical aids” gives the possibility to use ICT as a tool in the mathematics education but it is not binding.
In the upper secondary school – that includes both study - and vocational programmes – “DAA1201” aims to give fundamental knowledge within the area of ICT. The course is mandatory for 13 of the 17 upper secondary schools’ programmes. Within many programmes ICT can be also integrated into the courses. The upper secondary schools have also specific courses in ICT as for example writing computer software, network technologies, web design, virtual environments, and digital creation.
As of 1 July 2007 digital competences are to be strengthened in the upper secondary school curriculum, which will become effective upon revision of today's upper secondary school. The contents of the course “DAA1201” will be then integrated in all core subjects, which means that all students in the upper secondary school will get fundamental knowledge in ICT. Specific computer subjects and courses will still exist and will be modernised in order to correspond to the society's requirements on digital competence.
Autonomy of schools regarding ICT integration
The schools and the teachers are independent in how to work in order to reach the goals set by the curriculum.
Main subject areas of ICT use
In a lot of Swedish schools, ICT is used as an integrated tool for processing information. Most of the computers are networked and connected to Internet and all pupils are supposed to have their own e-mail addresses. We have not done any survey since 2001 but some smaller investigations indicate that ICT is currently being used more and more in the schoolwork. In Sweden above 90% of the pupils have access to a computer that is connected to the Internet at home.
Suggested computer distribution in school
In Sweden, we have no such recommendations. It is up to the stakeholder (municipality) that is responsible for the school.
Technical and pedagogical support
This responsibility lies at the local level and there is no summary at national level.
Intranet in schools
There are no collected data at national level regarding Intranet in schools.
There is no requirement from national level that a school must have an ICT plan but many of the schools have that demand imposed on them by the local stakeholder. Since 1997 we have had a national requirement that every school shall make a quality report once a year which should show the schools’ plan to improve.
No specific targets are generally formulated.
No accreditation schemes exist for students’ ICT competence at national level but many schools look at the The European Computer Driving License (ECDL) which is the Pan European qualification demonstrating competence in computer skills.
Monitoring and Inspection
Educational inspection to assert the rights of individuals
The task of the educational inspectorate is to determine whether - and how well - an activity is functioning in relation to the regulations set out in the Education Act, school ordinances and national curriculum. This involves auditing and assessment at the municipal and individual school level, focusing on both the quality and legal aspects of the activities under inspection. Educational inspection, a prioritized activity of the National Agency for Education, also provides an underlying basis for quality development in preschool activities, child care for school children, and the schooling system as a whole.
One of the most important tasks of the educational inspectorate is to note whether everyone actually does have access to child care, schools and adult education to which they are entitled.
Before the inspection itself, a mapping of the authority responsible, which can be a municipality or the board of an independent school, and the separate school(s) is carried out. This is done with the aid of existing materials such as follow-up statistics, national examination results, quality reports, and any previous supervisory decisions, in addition to carrying out special surveys, such as questionnaires. The purpose of this is in part to gain an overall picture of the activities of the authority concerned, and in part to identify possible shortcomings. For example, has enough been done to ensure fair grading practices in the schools, or are there indications that some students are not receiving the necessary support?
Once this initial mapping has been done, inspections are planned and carried out in the form of visits to municipalities and schools. The inspectors of the National Agency for Education conduct interviews with staff from different professional categories: school administrators, educators, school nurses, etc., as well as students, parents and the politicians who are in charge. They also look at whether school premises, teaching materials and equipment are properly adapted according to their purposes.
The inspectors’ observations are documented and compiled into a report.
When the inspection is complete, the municipality or other school authorities and their schools are given a report based on the compiled data, which is also published on the website of the National Agency for Education. Inspection reports serve as a basis to be used as a starting point for improving the quality of municipal schooling. Examples can include the inspection’s focus on efforts to counteract offensive treatment or how the school’s own quality work is structured.
Inspection of independent schools is carried out in the same way as for municipal schools, although in some cases they can occur more frequently.
Frequently, the National Agency for Education receives reports from parents or other parties wishing to draw attention to apparent inconsistencies in a school or activity. If the National Agency for Education judges that there are grounds for review, an investigation is conducted into what happened and the accountability of the relevant authority or school in the matter.
The National’s Agency for Education educational inspectorate is made up of five regional offices, based in: Göteborg, Linköping, Lund, Stockholm and Umeå. The offices are responsible for carrying out inspections within their respective regions.
The latest research is entitled ‘The Nordic Ministries of Education and Ramboll Managements investigation E-learning Nordic 2006 - Uncovering the Impact of ICT on Education in the Nordic Countries’.
Does ICT have an impact on the pupils’ learning? Is ICT used as a tool for pedagogical development? And what is the impact of ICT on knowledge-sharing, communication and home-school co-operation? The inter-Nordic study ‘E-learning Nordic 2006’ is the first study in the Nordic countries to focus on the impact of ICT on education.
ICT has been introduced into the Nordic schools throughout the last 10-20 years. While many studies have analysed how and how often ICT is used in schools, hardly any studies have taken this analysis to the next level: What is the impact of ICT?
‘The inter-Nordic study E-learning Nordic 2006’ focuses on the impact of ICT on education within three key areas:
ICT has a positive impact on the schools’ overall target
E-learning Nordic 2006 shows that ICT has a positive impact on the schools’ overall target – improving the pupils’ learning. However, the study also shows that the full potential of ICT is not being fully realized in many schools. Teachers are mostly focused on using ICT to support the subject content. Still, a positive impact of ICT on teaching is also seen in pupils’ engagement, differentiation, and creativity and less as a waste of time. The study also shows that the preconditions for using ICT for knowledge sharing, communication and school-home co-operation are at hand, and ICT is indeed being used for this in many schools. However the positive impact of this is as yet only moderate.
Impact of ICT on Pupil Performance
The teachers assess that the impact of ICT is strongest on the pupils’ subject-related performance. However, a positive impact can also be seen on learning basic skills such as reading and writing. 60% of the teachers reported that they experience a moderate or high degree of positive impact of ICT on the pupils’ writing skills.
Also, teachers experience that ICT support differentiation is challenging both the academically strong pupils in new ways and supporting the academically weak pupils so that they can more easily participate on equal terms with other pupils. Many teachers find that it is easier to differentiate their teaching with ICT than without.
Impact of ICT on Teaching and Learning Processes
Results from ‘E-learning Nordic 2006’ indicate that ICT generally has a positive impact on the teaching and learning. However, some people expected that ICT could in some ways revolutionise the teaching and learning processes at school, and taking this view into consideration, the impact must be seen as more limited. ICT does not revolutionize teaching methods. The teachers are mostly focused on using ICT to support the subject content. However, the impact of integrating ICT in teaching can be measured in pupil engagement, differentiation and creativity.
It has been stated in the public debate – for example in Denmark – that a barrier to the integration of ICT has been that too much teaching time is wasted. The results of the study cannot support this argument, since the great majority of teachers do not experience that more teaching time is wasted with the integration of ICT.
Impact of ICT on Knowledge Sharing, Communication and school-home co-operation
‘E-learning Nordic 2006’ shows that the use of ICT as an organizational tool has not yet fully matured. The preconditions for using ICT for knowledge sharing, communication and school-home co-operation are at hand, and many schools, teachers, pupils and parents use the ICT infrastructure for informational and collaborative purposes. However, in spite of massive ICT-based communication within the teaching staff at many schools, the positive impact on co-operation and knowledge sharing is as yet only moderate.
Innovative ICT Projects
Since the beginning of 2006 every student at compulsory school must have an individual development plan (IUP). Once per school term, the teacher, the student and the student's parent or guardian shall meet to discuss how the student's learning as well as social development can be best promoted. This dialogue shall give students a voice, allow them to take responsibility, and empower them in their school situation and the planning of their studies. Parents receive the necessary information on the objectives of the school and how schoolwork is organized in order to provide their child with proper support. Teachers are given an opportunity to find out about how the student and parents see and experience things, and an opportunity to reflect on their teaching and how they assess the student's work and progress. It is important that all parties involved in the development dialogue are aware of school objectives and the content of school and course curricula and local work plans. These meetings shall result in the individual development plan which shall be presented in the form of the schools’ documentation of the results of the dialogue. Unik is a project run by the company Unikum in close cooperation with schools and aims at developing an on-line support for this process. It also provides support in communicating the goals in the form of relevant steering documents, supports the dialogue and finally supports the documentation of the IUP. Unik is also based on the principals developed in the Soft infrastructure-programme.
Uptake of new technologies
The use of collaborative online learning environments is widely spread among Swedish schools although we lack statistics. There is also an increasing interest in the use of interactive whiteboards but they are not so widely used. However, some schools have started using podcasts (with or without video).
This year UR (the public service broadcasting company specialized in education) have introduced a new distribution technology for providing streamed media. Due to the restrictions of the intellectual property rights the distribution has to be limited to educational networks and the solution is therefore based on distributed networks.
4. Digital Learning Resources and Services
Content development programmes/ Public-Private partnerships
The development of multimedia educational content rests on the division of responsibilities between public providers and commercial providers. Within the public sector several organisations produce content which is made freely available to schools. Some publishing houses also produce such content which is bought by the schools that have the authority to choose which content to use. The market for digital content is still under development and the demand is limited.
Initiatives to purchase multimedia education content
There are no programmes designed to help schools purchase multimedia educational content.
Initatives for content exchange
As a part of the soft infrastructure programme several initiatives have been introduced in order to create brokerage services and federated search facilities in order to improve the possibilities of sharing digital content. A national network for increasing both the production and availability of digital content has been established with a large number of participating organisations.
Virtual educational services for teachers and students
There has been an increased interest from different actors to provide on-line repositories, among them a number of organisations producing a repository for content within the field of sustainable development. National resource centres in different subjects – often forming part of universities – either take part in existing repositories or develop their own.
Their use, however, is still rather limited and not monitored enough to be ranked.
However, one of the interesting initiatives is the Lektion.se which is an on-line repository and community for teachers with primarily more traditional lesson-plans. The service, which is a private initiative, attracts a lot of interest but the real use is not known. About one third of Swedish teachers have registered according to the sites’ own statistics.
Public-private partnerships for equipment
There are no government initiatives and apart from some organisations which provide used computers for schools there are no national programs/initiatives. This is also a local (i.e. municipal) responsibility.
The responsibility for quality, choice of content and related issues rests with local authorities. In some cases – when the content in a particular kind of textbooks is criticized – the Agency for schools can be asked to make a review. Such reviews are then used to improve the content but again the responsibility turns to the publishers and ultimately the “customers” - schools.
5. Teacher Education for ICT
Integration and sharing of responsibilities
This is decided at each university i.e. the local level.
Teacher training programme
The KK-foundation (Knowledge Foundation: (www.kks.se) has started a program for improving teacher training. This involves a number of projects and the foundation will invest 100 MSEK (11 millions Euro) during a 10 year period.
Type of training
No information is available due to the fact that each university develops their own models for teacher training within a very broad national exam framework.
Support for staff
This is a question for local decision-makers and varies a lot between municipalities. From the national level, i.e. The Agency for School Improvement, there are a number of different information sources that can be used locally like PIM, competence development for teachers, and ICT for school leaders, all of which provide support materials on various related subjects.
Evaluation of training programme
Studies conducted some years ago indicate that the knowledge of the recently examined teachers on how to use ICT in schools is more limited if compared with those of the experienced teachers. It indicates that ICT is not integrated enough in teacher training.
The KK-foundation funds some research in this field together with its program which deals with improving the level of teacher training.
ICT competence targets for teachers
None i.e. municipalities can participate in programs like PIM which includes a possibility for assessment.
Ministries of Education are asked to update their country report on the basis of the 2011 questionnaire.
Timeline: March - June 2011
- Download the 2011 questionnaire (doc)
- Download the guidance sheet for Ministries (pdf)
COUNTRY REPORTS 2009/2010
Reports (pdf) available here
Previous reports (pdf) available here