article image

eTwinning in Finland, the land of thousand lakes and islands

With over 70% of its land taken over by beautiful forests, 188,000 lakes and at least 70,000 islands, Finland claims to be the happiest place in the world! But this is not the only reason that make us admire this northern country. One element that strengthens and preserves the Finnish happiness is an education system that is consistently ranked as the best in the world.

Finnish education aims to offer equal opportunities to everyone who wants to receive education. The structure of the education system reflects these principles. The system will rarely prevent you from learning or stop you from progressing to higher levels of education.

As the Finnish national Agency for Education states: The system is highly permeable, that is, there are no dead-ends preventing progression to higher levels of education. The success of the Finnish education lies on the fact that focuses on learning rather than testing.

One-third of the Finnish population (1.6 million people) live in rural areas and Finland tries to give to all students living in the most isolated rural schools a strong educational foundation that will prepare them for work and higher education.

Mirjami Hyttinen, a secondary teacher in Finland and an eTwinning enthusiast, talks to us about her school which is located at the border of Finland and Sweden in southern Lapland.

Ylitornion yhteiskoulun lukio is a small private upper secondary school financed by the state. We have about 62 students who usually study in our school for three years or four years. We are using a lot of technology: all students and teachers have iPads (1:1 solution).

The school starts 8.55 with two lessons of 75 minutes. Then we have a lunch break at 11.35 during which our students are having lunch in the neighbouring comprehensive school financed by the community. The lunch break is half an hour. In the afternoon, we have three lessons. The school stops at 16.00.

Each subject has usually three lessons a week during the period. The school year is divided into 5 periods.

Studying and teaching have changed since we started to use the iPads in our school. It has become more student centered, more international and more interesting. It increases the motivation to study: students can experience what to do with languages and technology, and they learn in practice how to collaborate, not only with their colleagues, but also with students from other countries. eTwinning projects give also great possibilities to integrate different subjects, as a lot of times they deal with interdisciplinary subjects.

We have used technology to contact different schools before, but eTwinning made this contact more visible and offered a variety of ways for collaboration.

Our school was in the first 4 schools that were awarded the eTwinning school label. Since our school is small, it is important for the students to have contacts outside our own school. This makes studying more interesting and motivating. eTwinning helps us to teach skills which are needed more and more in the future such collaboration skills, use of technology as well as languages and studying interaction.