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Published: 2007-05-29

University online community course to be exported internationally

NEWS Teachers in India, USA and England have been curious about how teacher education at Umeå University utilises the online community Lunarstorm to educate teachers about the internet habits of adolescents.

– The international interest for the course has greatly exceeded expectations, says Thomas Fritz, lecturer at the Department of Interactive Media and Learning at Umeå University.

When Thomas Fritz presented his experiences from the course via an online conference in Hawaii last spring, questions about the course began to emerge from all over the world.

Teacher Education at Umea University has offered a five-credit course on Lunarstorm since 2004. - Lunarstorm is Sweden’s largest and most and most talked about online meeting place. Teachers from all over Sweden that take the course and they do so in order to learn more about communities, chatting and computer games. In other words, to better understand how the youth population uses the Internet. The unconventional aspect of the course is that all communication during the entire class takes place online via Lunarstorm and MSN.

– By using Lunarstorm and MSN, we place the teachers right in the centre of the environment they want to learn more about, instead of only reading and partly studying the phenomenon as passive observers, says Thomas Fritz.

This is a unique method that has truly given concrete results to satisfied teachers in Sweden above all, but now it’s also receiving international attention. Teachers from various institutes of higher education including India, USA, and England have inquired about how they can obtain more information about the course and to establish collaboration.

– We now hope to make the course even better, by collaborating with teachers and instructors from other countries and by obtaining exciting new perspectives about the IT habits of adolescents in a natural manner. Exactly how an international course about net cultures will transpire is difficult to describe today, but Thomas Fritz is enthusiastic about the future.

– The development of new methods to use the Internet is rapid-paced, and the potential to potential to apply it to teachers is tremendous. It will be fun to contribute to a wider global contact network for teachers who are interested in how one can use knowledge about the internet habits of youths in order to develop pedagogies for schools, affirms Thomas Fritz.

For more information, please contact: Thomas Fritz at the Department of Interactive Media and Learning (IML) Tel: +46 (0)90-786 67 70 Mobile: +46 (0)70-581 27 80
E-mail: thomas.fritz@educ.umu.se

Editor: Carina Dahlberg