08.22.2017 — by Reetta Heiskanen

Interview with Karin Nygårds: Tech education in Swedish schools

In Categories: Educator In English

Karin Nygårds is a teacher, programming enthusiast and TV host of the program "Programmera mera". We were lucky enough to chat with her about the level of technology education in Swedish schools, necessary future skills and exciting technologies. 

Picture: Severus Tenenbaum

Karin, how is technology education present in Swedish schools right now?

We have some schools that are way ahead, and I dare to say among the best in the world, but then we also have the ones that are way behind. Generally speaking, I think education still focus too much on using the tools, and too little on how they affect us. Teachers should get more involved in discussions what technology is doing to us, and how it changes the world we live in and the way we think and learn. Teachers are the ones who see the changes first.

In your opinion, what should technology education be like?

I think we all need more knowledge about the systems that surround us. Many aspects of our lives will change because of technology - everyone should be able to see how technology affects us. The more transparent the technology gets, the more important it is for us to reveal the invisible barriers. I also wish that every teacher, not just the programming teachers or math teachers, thought about how digitalization affects education. It's a matter that we all should care about.

What is your background, how did you get excited about programming and tech?

I used to be a regular Swedish teacher. I started to use a blog with my first graders in 2011 and that made me more curious about how to incorporate the digital world in my classroom. I wanted to create something with my students and started to look into programming with kids. After taking my first programming course in 2012, I was convinced this was something we need to teach in school today. 

Learning how to write my own programs for my computer made a huge impact on how I see the digital world. I want my students to feel the same power over the tools, not just being a slave under them.

What are the necessary skills that today's youth need for the future?

It is a challenge to manage all the distractions in the digital world. How do we disconnect and focus? It's not getting any easier. We still need to get things done. Focus will be a great skill to excel in.

We need to be able to communicate cross cultural, since the arena is multicultural. How do I express myself, in words and pictures, in a way that people with different background can understand?

And, of course, we need to be better at questioning who made what and why. Critical thinking is our most important skill, now and forever.

Which technologies are you really excited about right now? 

I see the power in VR and AR for the future. Such a great opportunity for schools to exchange conditions and experiences over the world. We can travel far, without leaving the classroom. 

Professors from all over the world can show up in the classroom, through the web. Instead of just watching a film about cole mines, we can step into one and experience what it's like to work in one. Hopefully, this will be a great tool for deeper learning.

Thank you Karin!

Mehackit organizes programming and robotics courses in Nordic high schools. During autumn term 2016 the Mehackit Visual Programming course started in Viktor Rydberg Gymnasium in Stockholm and ever since Mehackit has held several workshops for youth and teachers in Sweden.