The educational publisher Alinea has worked closely with teachers and pupils to design 28 new digital learning portals for primary and lower secondary schools. Two years’ intense teamwork has now culminated in/produced an ambitious collection of digital teaching resources that can potentially replace physical school books altogether
By Niels Frederik Rickers
After more than two years’ hard work the educational publisher Alinea this spring launched its major digital venture next – a collection of 28 portals that function as digital teaching and learning resources for primary and lower secondary schools. Almost every member of Alinea’s staff has been involved with the project, either directly or indirectly.
‘Obviously, the project has been all-consuming, and it’s enormously satisfying to have finished with no delays. We were determined to do it, and we did,’ says Cliff Hansen, Alinea’s publishing director.
The digital portals, which encompass every subject taught in primary and lower secondary schools, have been designed for all class levels – from school start to finish– and according to Cliff Hansen cover all teaching objectives. In other words, in theory they could replace the traditional workbooks most people remember from their own schooldays. However, Cliff Hansen points out that digital learning involves far more than pupils simply staring at a screen.
‘It’s important to realise that the portals offer more than problem-solving. They can contain both teaching sessions, during which the teacher uses a digital smartboard to instruct the whole class and situations in which pupils individually do digital exercises. In another scenario the teacher could also send the pupils into the schoolyard to find examples of square shapes,’ explains Cliff Hansen, emphasising that teachers will continue to have the supervisory role in a digital teaching situation, and that they do not want a reality in which pupils can simply stay at home on their parents’ couch and learn everything from a screen.
Back to school
While developing next, Alinea sought to maintain a sharp focus on involving pupils and teachers. As part of the project, Charlotte Staun Christensson, a product designer who normally works in Alinea’s digital department, has visited Danish schools regularly to observe how pupils and teachers responded to the portals.
‘Testing the system in practice is paramount. Our interaction with schools has made our product much more targeted and relevant. At the same time pupils and teachers find being involved an extremely rewarding experience. They’ve welcomed us with open arms,’ says Charlotte Staun Christensson.
next has now been launched, but Charlotte Staun Christensson and her product designer colleagues at Alinea are still testing new assignments and functions with the schools.
‘Unlike books, you’re never done with software. But pupils and teachers have given us a quite amazing response, telling us how impressive and intuitive the portals are. To which we can only say no other teaching product in the world can match their quality, and we can take pride in that,’ says Charlotte Staun Christensson.
Here you find more about Alinea.