Finding an LMS to support the new Finnish e-Curriculum
Prakticum is a vocational school based in Greater Helsinki that offers students and working adults both academic and vocational studies. The school prides itself in providing quality education that equips students for the working world.
In August 2021 a new national core curriculum for upper secondary schools was introduced. One of its primary aims is to address individual needs, student self-development and prepare students for adult life.
The implementation team was tasked with finding a new LMS that could support these requirements.
Prakticum’s LMS implementation team (from left) Mikael Eskman, Annette Granberg and Daniel Tallberg.
Why the need for a new platform?
The new curriculum emphasizes guidance and individual learning paths to support student growth and ownership of their learning.
For Prakticum this meant finding a new LMS before the introduction of the new curriculum. They were using Google Classroom, but realized that they needed a more advanced platform that could give them the necessary data to tailor personalized learning and see quickly when students were struggling to give them the necessary support and assistance.
A universal yet customizable solution
“We were looking for a universal system, with the possibility of customization because some subjects at Prakticum are far more theoretical, while other courses are more practical, with students spending their core learning hours in the workshops. The big challenge was then to create a pedagogical solution that would be the same for every student,” says Annette Granberg. “We wanted our teachers to have a variety of tools beyond just creating and grading assignments. Google Classroom didn’t have those tools.”
Annette Granberg, Implementation team leader
The digital team led by Annette evaluated several different LMSes towards the end of 2020. The team was made of up teachers from different disciplines to ensure that their new platform could support all the educational needs at Prakticum.
Annette: “At the top of our must-have list was ‘easy to use for both teachers and students’ and the availability of both Google and Microsoft tools. Some of our teachers liked Google tools while those in economics and financial students required Microsoft Excel for instance. So, we needed that flexibility.
“We also didn’t want to go over totally to a Microsoft solution because some teachers were very comfortable with Google tools and wanted to continue using them. Once we had our criteria, we narrowed down our list to four platforms and it was itslearning that got the most votes.”
They signed the contract in December 2020 and the implementation got under way.
Training began in March 2021. The super users were trained first, followed by teachers in two batches, to ensure that there were no gaps in learning. A decision was made to create a uniform way to use itslearning, with all teachers using the Planner as the main hub for all teaching and learning.
Timing was crucial, but with good planning, alignment and a strong partnership with itslearning, Prakticum was ready for August 2021, when the new curriculum came into force.
Daniel Tallberg who teaches technical and vocational studies, “It was challenging moving to a more advanced system with so many different tools. But once you get over the first hurdle, you discover that there is a lot you can do with the LMS.”
“We use the planner, which the students find easy to navigate. Everything they need is there. Teachers can integrate learning objectives and goals into the planner so students can better understand their learning.
“Additionally, teachers can copy their courses and this makes their routine work easier.”
English teacher Maria Fagerstedt agrees. “As a teacher, I appreciate that Prakticum has made it mandatory for teachers to use the Planner. The entire implementation was amazingly organized and you could also always get help and training.”
For Annette, it is important to give both teachers and students the necessary training and guidance, too. “We made a course in itslearning for teachers. They land on the welcome site and find all the resources and pedagogical tools in this course. Similarly, students also have an onboarding course for using itslearning. I attended itsConvention 2021 and got some good ideas from the implementation process at Southern Denmark University.”
Now, we can build individual paths to even better personalize learning, so students learn at their own pace.
Daniel Tallberg, Technical and Vocational Studies Teacher
“I really appreciate the diverse tools in itslearning. As a language teacher, I can do so much more including having various ways to interact with my students, from giving feedback to recording videos. Additionally, when students are absent, they can send video assignments and in language teaching, this is particularly useful for developing oral skills,” says Maria.
Daniel adds, “The planner gives my students structure, scope and sequence — it’s completely transparent and in one hub. Adding resources is easy. Also, because everything is in one hub with a single sign-on, it’s less ‘maintenance’ for teachers.
“In a nutshell, we needed more pedagogical tools to comply with the e-Curriculum. Now, we can build individual paths to even better personalize learning and this is very important for students, so they see what they should learn in a sequence, and go at their own pace.
“With itslearning, you can easily put a student into a plan that fits with their learning progress,” says Annette.
“The biggest benefit is clarity for students. They have a clear overview of what is required, they can see the learning objectives and goals. Another benefit is that everything is in the same place, so it is easier to create a cohesive teaching plan.
“As in any new software implementation we will continue to review the platform to ensure the best outcome for teachers and students at Prakticum. We now run an itslearning café every Wednesday morning along with a help desk so teachers stay up-to-date with all the updates to the platform. It’s a relaxed clinic – anyone can come and ask any question about itslearning.
“Overall, it has been challenging project but I’m very satisfied with itslearning and the implementation. Now we have more tools, more possibilities, and a lot more individualized learning.”
- Staff: 100
- Students: 1,000
- Location: 3 campuses
- Implemented itslearning: 2021