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Norway > The Current Curriculum Context for ICT Norway > The Current Curriculum Context for ICT

Within the Norwegian National Curriculum, ICT is defined as 'the ability to make use of information and communication technologies' and is one of five basic skills. ICT should be integrated within all the learning activities of the school across all subjects. Targets for students' use of ICT relate to the usage of various ICT tools, broader issues associated with assessing information using these tools, and other management skills. As ICT is an important element in most subjects, ICT-related skills are assessed through traditional school subjects. There is no separate test or examination of ICT skills across the whole country, although a small number of local initiatives have explored this option.

Norway's latest curriculum reform (the Knowledge Promotion, 2006) defines the following basic skills of learning:

  • The ability to express oneself orally;
  • The ability to read;
  • The ability to do arithmetic;
  • The ability to express oneself in writing;
  • The ability to make use of ICT.

This applies to all levels of primary and secondary education.

As a result of the implementation of this piece of curriculum reform, the following results have been noted:

  • New subject syllabuses in all subjects, clearly indicating what students and apprentices are expect to learn;
  • New distributions of teaching hours per subject;
  • New structures governing available choices within education programmes;
  • Freedom at the local level with respect to work methods, teaching materials, and organisation of classroom instruction. (Plomp, 2009, p556)

Although national definitions of skills and competencies do not exist, several 21st century competencies are mentioned in the core curriculum or subject curricula documents. Teaching and assessment guidelines for a selection of subject curricula are in the process of being developed. In addition there are national tests in the basic skills of reading, mathematical literacy and reading in English (OECD, 2010, p26).

In terms of assessment of quality within this system, the Norwegian approach emphasises the role of local responsibility to ensure high quality. So, based on the British self-review framework for the use of ICT in schools, an online tool has been provided for schools so that they can evaluate their achievements in this area.

Alongside these pieces of curriculum reform, there has been recent Programme for Digital Competence which has covered primary and secondary education and training, higher education and adult learning. The programme's priority areas have been related to ICT infrastructure, competence development, research and development, digital teaching resources, curricula and working methods. The programme had the following key objectives to meet by 2008:

  • Access to high quality ICT infrastructure and services;
  • Digital competence at the heart of all levels of education and training (focusing on how all learners could be able to use ICT in a secure, confident and creative manner in order to develop the skills and knowledge needed to participate in society);
  • To establish the Norwegian education system as one of the best in world in regard to the development and use of ICT in teaching and learning;
  • To use ICT as an integrated tool for innovation and quality development in Norwegian education.

The evaluation of this programme by the University of Oslo highlighted that, despite improvement to ICT infrastructure across the various contexts, the use of ICT in schools particularly did not reflect the increased possibilities that this infrastructure could provide. Moreover, it was noted that there was a lack of a holistic understanding as to how digital competences could be nurtured and developed which often led to educational strategies and policies being too specific and narrow in their focus.

Additionally, there have been longitudinal studies of the use of ICT in basic education across Norway. One of these (Arnseth, 2007) provides interesting data drawn from web-based questionnaires completed by teachers, pupils and school leaders from 499 schools. The study found:

  • An increase in teachers' time spent using computers at all grade levels between 2005 and 2007;
  • An increase in the use of e-portfolios for marking and assessing student work;
  • An increase in the amount of time that pupils spend using computers in classroom work;
  • Digital learning resources not being widely used in primary and lower-secondary schools;
  • Pupils using multimedia resources more at home than at school;
  • Significant variations in digital literacy skills amongst pupils within the same grade;
  • Positive use of learning management systems in all schools.
  • These improvements noted in 2007 have continued to be built upon as we will see below.

Digital literacy is defined as a basic skill in the Norwegian national curriculum. The Knowledge Promotion curriculum defines general and specific goals in each subject and for each Key Stage. The use of digital tools includes the skills to apply critical assessment and use of sources, exercising digital judgement.

It is the responsibility of school owners to ensure that schools have the necessary equipment in order to meet the competence aims regarding digital literacy, and each municipality or county authority has its own programmes or initiatives in order to meet these demands. In upper secondary schools, most students have their own laptop provided by the school. This development happened as a result of a national requirement to provide free teaching materials for students in upper secondary school.

There are government initiatives regarding digital exams and tests, as well as initiatives on e-Safety. The Government’s policy is to reduce the number of national strategies. As a consequence of this, a number of National Centres have been established and given responsibility for developing initiatives in various areas of the education system.

Recent responses to country surveys (2011) reveal a number of key ICT priority areas within the Norwegian educational system for the coming year. The following table is drawn from the report:

Initial ICT related Teacher Training
In service teacher training
Curriculum development
ICT based assessment
Infrastructure and maintenance
Digital learning resources
School-home connections
ICT for learners with disabilities / special needs
ICT related research
Reducing the Digital Divide
Interactive Whiteboards
Developing key competences