Apple Distinguished School – a lever for school digitization

Skapaskolan is a uniqe private school that was founded because of the fact that Swedish schools in general had great challenges with digitalization at the time. Skapaskolans founder Christer Holger wanted to change that. He did so by showing the world how a school could be built and function when digitalization is in its DNA, and of course permeates the pedagogy. From idea to a finished school building, however, took its time.

“This brought us an opportunity in the sense that the staff had time to develop Skapaskolans value-creating pedagogy. The learning environment and digitalization are key factors in that. Our basic attitude has always been to use the possibilities with digitalization for students to become active, not passive recipients of information”, says Fredrik Plahn, principal at Skapaskolan.

Skapaskolan has come a long way. Digital tools and work processes have been a part of everything that has been done since the beginning. Digitization is not its own path. It is part of the infrastructure, pedagogy and the organization overall.

“The primary purpose is to benefit the students’ knowledge development, the methods and the pedagogy we strive for”, Plahn explains.

In 2017, Fredrik Plahn took up the position as principal at the innovative Skapaskolan. With a background as a teacher and principal in both municipal and private management, and experience from all stages and age-ranges, the goal is to create a contemporary and meaningful experience of school – together with educators and students. In such, value-creating pedagogy is central, and also the digital competence of both staff and students.

Skapaskolan has strategically chosen to work with Apple’s products because they are one of the market’s most innovative players, says Plahn. An important factor is that Apple is constantly developing their services and products.

“Both the digital units and applications are extremely easy to use in teaching. The MDM systems are great support in handling the process and creates an overall view. We now have a much clearer framework for which apps and tools are used for learning, by whom. We use iPads in teaching, not private mobiles for example”, Plahn says.

What we see today is a different Skapaskola than the one that was founded first. The school has grown and developed. The number of students has doubled, which made the small scale disappear.

“We have made sure to create an organization with broad digital competence, in this way we do not put the development and innovation on individuals, which is important. Instead, we make sure to create conditions for a systematic development and keep it alive at all times”, he continues.

Developing Skapaskolan with Apple and Foxway, does not only mean bringing digital tools in teaching, but it also means an educational and methodological journey. Skapaskolan is working to become an ADS school (Apple Distinguished School) and has come a long way. This means that 70% of the staff have to be Apple Teachers in order to reach the goal.

“The pandemic put the mockers on people meeting in real life, which created a silence in many ways. That motivated all of us at to take the next step with the ADS opportunity. We started, and exceeded the goal. 100% of us met the requirements to become Apple Teachers. It really includes all of us, from teachers to school management”, says Plahn.

By following a program like this, a tremendous development takes place that also benefits others. 

“One of Skapaskolans basic values ​​is transformation. We want to be involved in changing the system and to do that we need to reach out with what we do, how we do it and why we do it”, Plahn says.

Becoming an ADS school creates enormous value for the entire business, for both students and teachers. Above all, the basic level of digital competence of all those who work in the organization is raised. It is a way to take the next step in the school’s own digitalization process.

“It means that we are given the opportunity to examine ourselves, in a positive context. Without focus on flaws and errors, that really provides a much faster development. We get the opportunity to build in a structured way on what is good in our work. In addition to this, we have the opportunity to meet and network with other schools for further digital development. It is a massive access to learning. When we show how we have done, we also become aware of what shortcomings and development opportunities we have”, says Plahn

It is a structured teaching with iPad that gives the best results. In addition to the research available in the field, Skapaskolan has its own experience.

“We have learned by experience that a well-defined plan is needed. Therefore, we have set up a framework for content and use, based on a basic level that everyone should have access to. Then, based on needs, we add on products in different ways. All of us in the team made decisions together about attitudes, and expectations of everyone”, says Plahn.

In order to maintain a high level and ensure that digital devices and services are up to date, Skapaskolan collaborates with Foxway.

“It is important for us not to support a culture of wear and tear. We change machinery every three years but do not buy new units, instead we lease and are thus part of the circular economy. Foxway ensures that the products get a new life while we have the opportunity for an up-to-date, digital school. It is absolutely crucial to be able to have an updated machine park. Because of their services in IT support and process management, we can do what we are good at, the daily operation of the business”, Plahn concludes.

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