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Norway > ICT Usage in the School Norway > ICT Usage in the School

As described above, the Ministry of Education and Research has strongly emphasised the role of ICT as part of learning activities in schools. The actual implementation of ICT for the promotion of learning differs between syllabuses. The major change from former plans on ICT in education is the specific educational use of ICT in different subjects, often with specific learning goals for digital literacy itself (European Schoolnet, 2011).

The National Network for IT-Research and Competence in Education (ITU) undertakes an annual survey of the use of ICT across the Norwegian education system. There most recent report (ITU, 2009) provides a helpful overview of the current issues facing the Norwegian education system as they increasingly adopt ICT and develop approaches to digital literacy within their schools. Key findings from the 2009 survey included:

  • Primary schools still lag far behind upper-secondary schools in their use of ICT in daily school work;
  • There are major variations in use amongst student groups, schools and when compared to grade levels;
  • Teachers in upper-secondary schools use ICT a lot more than teachers in the 7th and 9th grade;
  • Computers are best integrated and used most frequently in the teaching of the Norwegian language;
  • Digital divides have been noted between students in respect of their computer utilisation and digital literacy;
  • A positive correlation has been noted between ICT usage in subjects like Norwegian, English and Mathematics and the fact that the school has a person employed full-time as an ICT coordinator;
  • Teachers report a relatively limited us of digital learning resources.

Despite primary schools lagging behind upper-secondary schools in their use of ICT, Norway ranks as one of the highest uses of ICT in the primary school when compared to other European countries, with 90% of teachers making regular use of computers in their daily work (European Schoolnet 2009, p.2). Unlike many other countries, the major focus here is on pupils using computers within the classroom, with 97% of this 90% of teachers stating that pupils work regularly with computers in classrooms. In terms of the spread of use across subjects, Norway ranked as 3rd with regard to ICT use in traditional subjects such as numeracy and literacy; 81% of head teachers reported that ICT was embedded across the whole curriculum which is broadly in line with the European average.

Almost all Norwegian primary schools have internet access through a broadband connection. Therefore, it is not surprising that teachers make good use of online teaching materials and rely less on offline materials.
In terms of primary school teachers' perceptions of the benefits of ICT in teaching and learning, Norwegian teachers are nearly all optimistic, with 93% expressing agreement with the statement that 'pupils are more motivated and attentive when computers and the internet are used in class'. A minority of teachers (15%) agreed with the statement that 'using computers in class does not have significant learning benefits for pupils' (European Schoolnet, 2009, p4).

The overwhelming majority of primary school teachers (90%) have good or very good ICT skills themselves. Only 2% are classified as having no ICT skills.

Despite these very positive developments within the primary education sector, Norwegian teachers are quite outspoken about the barriers or obstacles that they face to using ICT in their classrooms. Approximately half of them find it hard to find adequate learning materials for teaching and consider existing teaching materials on the internet to be of poor quality. However, they did express satisfaction with the number of computers and the infrastructure to provide technical maintenance and support. This has led to the following conclusion in the STEPS survey of 2009:

It should be clear that the demands with regard to availability of high quality learning material and higher levels of ICT proficiency of teachers increase with the overall level of sophistication of ICT deployment in teaching. The wide range of barriers expressed by Norwegian teachers here seems to point to a situation where the supply of learning materials and skills is not keeping up with the technical infrastructure. (European Schoolnet, 2009, p4)