Problem: The lack of positive relationships among students, teachers and professionals in traditional schools is an issue that the Ritaharju school, based in Oulu, Finland, aims to remedy. The city is notable for being extremely modern and for its high levels of investment in technology. Founded in 2010, the school is a community center that includes a library, charity and services for young adults; moreover, these installations work together very closely. Professionals responsible for each of these specific areas work together in the school, which was conceived and developed through a partnership with Microsoft in the Partners in Learning project, which deals with innovative schools.
Solutions: This public kindergarten and elementary school is notable for its use of technology and student interaction. Students learn by engaging in games and in the use of digital technology, interacting intensely with their professors via the Internet. Once they reach the 12th grade, each student has his or her own laptop.
Flexible environments surrounded by movable walls make it possible for students to separate themselves into large and small groups, depending on the type of activity they engage in. The school also encourages the interaction of teachers from various disciplines and classrooms. These teachers either work in tandem or in groups. Activities can incorporate professionals from various fields, such as elementary school teachers, kindergarten teachers and special education assistants.
Open areas in the building of modern architecture bring students together to engage in activities that are, above all, fun. These areas have table tennis and billiard tables, places where video games can be played, gyms for exercise, as well as facilities where students can enjoy a hot beverage or take a nap.
Outcomes: Students feel happy in the school environment and learn more effectively. The use of technology allows custom learning and familiarity with computers at an early age. Children love their school and want to spend as much time there as possible. They acquire 21st century skills, such as empathy, creativity and compassion. The professionals produce more by working and collaborating together.