How to foster knowledge sharing

The Buddinge School in Denmark enables teachers to meet regularly to share experiences and discuss pedagogical practices around formative assessment.


Municipalities in Denmark have the autonomy to govern and finance their public schools. The Gladsaxe Municipality has set a “School of the Future” vision in which students become more active learners thanks to the use of digital tools for formative assessment. The school head of the Buddinge School explained how they use a digital portal that facilitates the assessment of students’ 21st-century skills. The school wants to encourage the efficient use of formative assessment as well as the school portal through a school culture of peer learning and co-teaching. The school management has established a team of teacher ambassadors who support other teachers in the use of the school portal and other digital formative assessment tools.

Source: Renée Bæch Sørensen & Maja Lindstrøm Abildgaard , Buddinge Skole

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The policy context

Denmark’s public school system is based on local autonomy and horizontal accountability. There are around 1100 primary and lower secondary schools (Folkeskole), which are owned, governed, and financed by Denmark’s 98 municipalities.

The high degree of local autonomy implies that the central government does not set specific goals for individual municipalities. However, the central government has established mechanisms that make it easier to monitor individual municipalities. This includes the development of a data warehouse to which municipalities and schools need to report certain data. The data warehouse includes a wide variety of indicators, such as results from national examinations and assessments, results from surveys on student well-being, and transition rates to upper secondary education (OECD report, 2016, in English).

Gladsaxe is a municipality close to Copenhagen, responsible for 10 schools and almost 7000 students. The municipality has been developing a programme called "The school of the future". The goal is for the schools to meet the demands of the future in which the students will live in. 

Versatile personal, social, and professional competencies go hand in hand with well-being and the preparation for democratic participation in society. The Gladsaxe municipality has described the school of the future as a place where:

  • Students learn the competencies needed for the future
  • Digital learning environments support learning and digital education
  • The learning environments are created in collaboration and are flexible
  • There is professional development and collaboration between pedagogical staff
  • School facilities are used effectively
  • The schools cooperate in and with the local area
  • Different learning environments in academic balance
  • Practice experimentation as an arena for school development

Buddinge Skole is an ordinary school in Gladsaxe municipality with about 710 students aged 6 to 16. In addition, it offers special education on 4th to 8th grade level for students with special needs.

The schools’ focus is on student learning, teaching students how to learn and supporting them to become content producers. Most students are taught in modern and flexible learning environments. The school is devoted to offering interdisciplinary and project-oriented teaching to all students. The teachers and pedagogical staff work in teams to organise teaching, learning and well-being activities for the students. 

The school bases their formative assessment approach on the SOLO Taxonomy (structure of observed learning outcomes) as interpreted by Pam Hook (website in English). Hook’s assumption is that students first need to have some declarative knowledge about a topic (e.g. knowing something about surfing) before they can acquire the functional knowledge (e.g. surfing). With the help of the taxonomy, students learn to monitor their own progress in a learning task and to make more smart decisions on their next steps. SOLO teaches students that learning outcomes are the result of effort and the use of effective strategies rather than luck or fixed abilities.

Learning goals are shared with students at the beginning of the learning unit (e.g. “I am learning to analyse the development of the characters of the novel”). Students also enter their own learning intentions in the online platform. At the end of the unit, both students and teachers assess the students’ learning. During lessons, students can also use hand signs to provide quick feedback on where they are at with their learning.


Figure 1 European Schoolnet visiting the school

Buddinge school uses a digital portal (“Skole Portal”) provided by EasyIQ, a provider chosen by the school. The portal aims to facilitate setting learning goals for 21st-century skills and student reflection before and after a class topic. Teachers can define their goals as free text, but can also select goals for their lesson from a list of 300 items, including responsibility, collaboration skills, fantasy, self-control, empathy, etc.

Figure 2 Overview of courses in the school portal.

For each lesson teachers fill in an index card with the title, purpose of the lesson, classes involved and start and end dates. Teachers, students, and parents can see the lessons. Teachers can also copy lessons from their colleagues, based on the motto: “if it is good enough for your class you can share it with others.”

Parents have full access to the teaching plans and the evaluations regarding their own children. The ownership of the product is kept within Gladsaxe. 

Figure 3 Description of lessons and lesson goals in the school portal.


Figure 4 During lessons, students can also use hand signs to provide quick feedback on where they are at with their learning

Although the school’s digital portal is used by all teachers now, it was initially difficult for all teachers to use it in their daily work and the portal was met with some resistance. 

The school portal also has the limitation that students cannot respond to the feedback left by their teachers or ask questions or for clarifications. That is why teachers are encouraged to use other platforms to complement this. 

Some teachers have found some good methods that need to be shared with colleagues. The school, therefore, gives these teachers time to explore digital tools for formative assessment and share their knowledge with colleagues. The idea is that these teachers should be co-teachers and be part of other colleagues’ preparation, teaching, evaluation, and adjustment of a teaching practice. They are given time to do this (two hours a week). To make up for the diminished teaching time, teaching staff had to be increased.

The practice of co-teaching and knowledge sharing was also first met with some resistance. Teachers were not comfortable with the idea of receiving ideas from their colleagues or having their classes observed by peers. This is because teaching is still seen as a “private practice” in Denmark, not open to others’ view and observation. It is difficult for teachers to interfere with each other’s teaching, mostly because it can be uncomfortable for a teacher to be evaluated when it is not a normal part of the school culture.

The school aims to change the culture of the teacher owning the classroom and practicing their teaching, without interruption or feedback from other teachers or their daily leaders. 

The school management makes it possible to have teachers form committees and meet to share knowledge. The school has a specific structure for when and how staff can meet during a school year. Some committees work to achieve a specific goal, while others have more freedom to decide what to focus on. The school staff is very interested in sharing knowledge with each other and uses these committees for this. The teams also collaborate on the development of the learning environment and share knowledge both internally in teams and across the school's teams.

Teachers and the pedagogical staff work in teams to organise teaching, learning and well-being activities for the students. Each team has a weekly meeting of 1-2 hours. For grade 6th to 9th there is a 2-hour timeslot reserved for teachers and pedagogical staff to meet. The school expects every team member to participate. The school made time for teachers to meet by e.g. making Thursday classes start at 09:30 or having sports and craft classes together.

Some teachers use various digital formative assessment tools. Depending on the goals of a given task, they choose the best tool. They strive to teach students to take ownership of their own learning process. These teachers have been tasked with examining how students learn best and thus also how best to evaluate their learning process. They work with implementing the strategies like how to work with feedback given to the students and each other. Then they plan activities and strategies for helping their colleagues learn and practice good feedback. They are organised in committees called "LIC" and "PUK".

LIC is a small group of learning agents who organise the sharing of knowledge and who act as co-teachers. PUK is a way of structuring the collaboration between the teachers. All teachers and pedagogical staff are placed in a committee that works with the themes "Learning", "Student well-being" and “The school of the Future “or” Employee well-being". 

To encourage the use of the school portal, workshops are organised, and support is also provided for technical difficulties. If the school needs help concerning the School Portal, there is the possibility to call for support from EasyIQ or from a person within the school system who can help translate the problems to EasyIQ for a solution. Workshops are also organised on how the portal supports good teaching and the work with 21st-century skills. 


Research – ‘Pedagogical usability’

Baya’a, Shehade and Baya’a (2009) propose a framework for evaluating web-based learning environments, including criteria related to usability, content, and educational value. Usability refers to the clarity of the purpose and added value of the web-based learning environment, navigability, readability, and relevance of various features. Content criteria refers to the quality of resources and references, relevance to learning needs, sufficiency of information (i.e not an excessive amount), and appropriateness of method and level of difficulty. Educational value refers to the specific learning activities, monitoring of learning, opportunities for feedback and scaffolding of learning. 

Nokelainen (2006) suggests that when deciding how to use digital formative assessment, teachers need to consider criteria for their ‘pedagogical usability’ to address the question, ‘Does the system, and/or learning material it contains, make it possible for the student and the teacher to achieve their goals?’ (p. 189).

The criteria they propose include:

  • learner activity 
  • cooperative/collaborative learning 
  • goal orientation 
  • applicability 
  • added value 
  • motivation 
  • facilitate the sharing of relevant information with other professionals and students' families. 

Teacher school committees can adopt similar criteria to discuss the selection of tools and assess the usability of existing digital applications. For instance, the school has already discussed that in the future the school portal could include the feature for students also provide feedback to teachers, or respond to teacher feedback.


Through formative assessment by using digital tools, teachers can get insight into the students' learning and can adapt it to further teaching. The teachers say that it enables them to make better content in their teaching. The students are therefore more committed and motivated to work on a given task. 

Currently, the students do not see the full value of the assessment of their competences on the school portal because graded assignments are more important. However, the school believes that 21st-century skills will become important in students’ future careers.

The school tries to emphasise this by telling students that they value the assessment of these skills. 

Currently, all teachers use the school portal for at least one class subject. The school aims for teachers to use the portal daily in all subjects. However, the change of teacher routines can take time, which the school acknowledges and respects.

Finally, it would be even better if the students could interact with the platform when assessing their knowledge at the starting and end points of a lesson. For now, the students cannot make comments or ask questions. The same applies to the feedback the teachers give to a given assignment. However, this encourages teachers to complement the digital feedback with a face-to-face talk with the student that strengthens the relationship between teachers and students and minimises the possibility of misunderstandings.