“itslearning is essential to online classes at Folkeuniversitetet,” says Misha Bowles, regional coordinator of online classes. “itslearning is an important tool, especially for our online teaching. It collects and directs our students. We use itslearning both as a ‘meeting point’ where students can access all of their subject information and as a virtual classroom, where students can follow classes and interact with teachers. As geographical distance could mean that you might never meet your classmates face to face, itslearning can be very important.”
Making education accessible to all adults
Folkeuniversitetet was founded in 1864 as the “Student Association for free education”. Its goal was to provide free education to those “in need”, making leisure courses and further education accessible to all adults regardless of social background, physical handicaps or geographical location. Folkeuniversitetet has been important to many individuals over the years and its mission is still very relevant in today’s diverse, knowledge-intensive society.
Folkeuniversitetet provides courses in more than 300 of Norway’s municipalities. Even so, it is often hard for some students to attend classes due to physical handicaps, geographical location, etc. Therefore, Folkeuniversitetet offers online access to some of their courses to people who have difficulty following ordinary courses.
“It might be easy to find a class in Bergen, but getting to places in the middle of winter somewhere remote like Sogn og Fjordane, or even finding a teacher, is more of a challenge. That’s where itslearning comes in.” says Misha, who is also the itslearning administrator at Folkeuniversitetet. “We have ‘live’ classes where some students join in via video conferencing. We also have courses with a teacher alone in a room and all participants attending via their computers. We record all of these lessons and put them on itslearning for students to review afterwards,” she explains.
itslearning acts as a kind of hub so that students can access all the things they need such as notes, semester plans, classroom material, links to video conferences etc. It’s also a place where they can communicate with teachers and fellow students. itslearning allows students to gather in online communities; through discussion boards, conferences, file sharing and community/project sites.
More about the school:
Folkeuniversitetet is an idealistic, non-profit organisation. It’s Norway’s largest organiser of adult education; offering classes at the university, vocational school and secondary school levels. It offers trade-related education, language instruction as well as courses in cultural and leisure activities. Every year approximately 70,000 people register for one or more of its 6,500 courses. There have been over a million course participants at the Oslo location alone.
The distance-learning program
Folkeuniversitetet’s distance-learning program was established in June, 1946. It was originally called Folkets Brevskole, or community correspondence classes. Folkeuniversitetet is a government-approved distance-learning institute. It is a member of the European Association of Distance Learning (EADL) and the International Council of Distance Education (ICDE); organisations working to improve distance learning for participants.