I made today a very short online tour to some of the education portals provided by the Finnish municipalities. I didn’t check them all. Actually there are more than 400 municipalities in Finland, running thousands of schools and educational institutions with hundreds of thousands of teachers and students.
I didn’t look for school web sites, but the web sites about education provided by the municipalities.
Most of the municipalities do not have “educational portals” (“a web portal is a site that functions as a point of access to information on the World Wide Web” – from Wikipedia). I didn’t find a single “personal portal” provided by the municipalities for their employee or citizen (“a personal portal is a site on the World Wide Web that typically provides personalized capabilities to its visitors” – from Wikipedia).
It looks that the municipalities do not really – at least in public (they may have some Intranet-services) – provide any web access points for their teachers or students.
What did I found?
I found web sites where the municipalities are presenting their educational administration and educational offering. These sites are primary targeted for the officers and bureaucrat of the municipality, and secondary for citizens (parents). They are providing very little help for teachers and students working and studying in the schools.
However, I found one good site that is primary targeted for teachers and their students, but it is also useful for parents and anyone interested in education in that municipality. It is the edu.vantaa.fi by the City of Vantaa.(*
The main blog in the main page have the official news for the schools. As the platform is a multi-user blog service, I assume also teachers (and students) may have their own blogs in the server.
In the side bar there are links to Tools (työkalut): teacher’s home directors (file service), web mail, student administration and course registration system and to five online collaboration / learning management systems: Fronter, Dicole Mimerdesk, Fle3, Moodle, and Dokeos.
After the tools section there are two more sections of links: Intranet-services: open positions/jobs, booking audio visual equipments, and Intranet news; and Basic Information: Schools in Vantaa, holidays, school meal menus etc. This information is presented in the general site of the City.
Below some points why I think edu.vantaa.fi is a good municipal edu portal.
- The news is a blog – you can follow the news with a RSS reader and syndicate them e.g. in your own school web site or in your “personal home page”.
- Teachers and students will find the online learning tools from a single address: edu.vantaa.fi. The site can be made also the home page of the browsers in the schools.
- The tools offered are diverse: one teacher is maybe happy to use Moodle in her courses when some other teacher wants to use Fle3 (designed for progressive inquiry and knowledge building) or just a blog or wiki ( great tools for guiding your students online.
- When all the tools are made visible in the site, teachers may get to know them just by themselves. It opens up them to ask: What are these? How they work? How can I use them in my own work? Why the city is offering these tools for my students and me?
- The web site communicates for teachers, students, parents and the general public that the City is interested in to advance and develop online services for its schools. It does it much better than any committee report in the generic web site.
Even that the “Not Invented Here” syndrome is a national disease in Finland I hope other municipalities will look for edu.vantaa.fi and learn from them. If not in Finland, at least abroad.
*) I do not have any interests to showcase Vantaa. I went to school in Tampere and live in Helsinki. To be honest for me Vantaa has been “the airport town” (sorry about this). Today it is a bit more for me – almost a “dynamic education town”, thanks for the edu.vantaa.fi.