Primary school teacher
Laura, an elementary school teacher, decides to test the Knowledge Constructors system in her classroom. Laura teaches the 4th grade and her students are used to trying out new study methods and are relatively independent and responsible. Laura signs up as a test user and she makes plans with the administration about the schedule. Testing the system is free, and doesn’t require any paperwork. The administration creates user accounts for Laura’s students. Laura has decided to use the system only in history and science lessons. Students are given user rights accordingly.
During history and science lessons Laura’s students are free to study on their own using the system. When the school’s IT classroom is available, Laura’s students can search information in pairs. Laura keeps track on the help requests and goes to help her students when asked for. Laura decides to organize small lectures on few topics that several students have asked for help. Some of the students decide to participate in the lectures and others keep on studying on their own. Also the students see each other’s help requests and can help each other.
When the IT classroom isn’t available, Laura picks some reference books from the school library, and students can access the classroom’s own computers in turns. Laura has agreed with the parents that some of the students are also allowed to use their mobiles to search for information. The questions and tasks have also been printed on the classroom walls, so that the students can see them even without computers.
Laura sees from the system the progress of her students in real time. The system provides a graphical view of the progress, so that the teacher can see with one glimpse how everybody’s doing. Some of the students finish early and Laura has prepared some extra questions for them.
The Comprehensive School
A middle-sized comprehensive school decides to start using the Knowledge Constructors step by step. The students who are working on their final grade are left out, because they aren’t expected to familiarize themselves with a new system when they’re just finishing their comprehensive schooling. Others get to familiarize themselves with the system through three phases.
In the first phase some of the teachers start using the system with some of their students. Those teachers form teams which share their classrooms during those lessons where the system is in use. During these classes the students are free to study any subjects that are included in the first phase and freely move between the classrooms that participate. Teachers keep track on the comings and goings of the students and check for help requests and organize lectures when needed. Special assistants are helping in the IT classrooms and helping students individually.
In the second phase all the teachers join in the system, but some of the subjects are still left out. The daily schedule is formed so that during certain hours the students are studying using the system, and are free to move around the school building and study whatever they choose, wherever they choose. The corridors are in efficient use and some sofas, chairs, tables and computers have been brought there to turn them into an efficient study environment. Teachers and assistants organize themselves to take responsibility over different physical area sof the building. Also the school yard is freely used and supervised at all times. Teachers announce lessons through the system and in the classroom doors. Classroom teachers and tutors monitor the progress of their students. When students finish themes, the teachers test them and mark their progress and evaluation to the system.
In the third phase the school starts to use the system in all subjects. In practice the hours where the system was used in the second phase just extend to cover the whole school day. The biggest changes include individually flexible schedules and switch from age based classroom teacher groups into mixed age tutoring groups. Considerable amount of the money spent on study books is now spent on new computers and other study material. There are computers all over the school and many students also use their own tablets and mobiles. The studying is fully student centered and teachers follow, guide and test the progress of the students. The amount of optional courses based on the know-how and skills of the teachers has increased considerably. The work of the teachers has become mostly tutoring, guiding and supporting the students in their individual studies, though teachers still organize lessons based on help requests and their own personal interests. The students have been included in the curriculum designing and for each theme there are alternative ways of completing them. Disciplinary problems have practically disappeared, learning difficulties and bullying have significantly decreased, the general learning atmosphere is positive and supportive and the students use actively peer support in their learning.
Peter is a 5th grader student who doesn’t want to go to school anymore. The parents decide to start homeschooling Peter.
In Finland homeschooling starts after parents announce to the local municipality that they take full responsibility of their children’s education and remove him/her from the school.
Peter is enrolled into Phoenix School as a student and a user account is created for him to the online study system. Phoenix School assigns Peter a tutor, who meets the family and Peter and deals with the practicalities of starting the homeschooling in Phoenix School. Peter starts to study in his own pace. The local municipality gives the contact information to a teacher who is responsible for checking in with Peter and making sure that the parents are taking their responsibility in the homeschooling. The teacher is given a user account for the online study system, where (s)he can follow Peter’s progress and arrange meetings.
In one month Peter finishes the first theme in science and signs up for a test with the municipality teacher. During the test the teacher questions Peter orally about the questions and tasks of the theme and gives feedback about how well Peter has understood the theme. Peter has also finished some group tasks which he has worked on with other students of Phoenix School, and also those tasks are discussed. Peter passes the “test” and continues his studies on his own pace.