Internet and technology

When high schools look THIS amazing

I’ve been living in Ørestad, one of the areas in Copenhagen, Denmark, for year and a half now. And every single time I walk back home there is one building that keeps pulling me in, wanting to have a closer look at it.

At first I thought it was a gym. After all the walls clearly state “Ørestad Gymnasium”, and for about a month I really thought that was the case.

Then I learned that Gymnasium is the Danish word for the institution that teaches the two years prior to university, separated from traditional high schools.

Wait, what did you say? That beautiful building is a high school?!

Yes. And not only does it look amazing from the outside, it’s also an impressive design on the inside! This is definitely not your traditional education institution. There’s no such a thing as boring square classrooms with a blackboard where the teacher just stands up in the front and gives a boring lecture. In fact, as the Wall Street Journal defines it in an article they wrote about this school, the entire 5-stories building is one large room, with only a few glass walls separating the space.

But it’s not just the building that is innovative and different from the rest: the education system is also something new.

In fact, according to the WSJ article teachers are forced by the building’s own distinct design to be creative when preparing their lessons. Group work and even one-on-one lessons are the norm, and because of the open space nature of the school, students learn quickly to be quiet so as not to bother the rest of the groups.

Technology is also a big part of the education at Ørestad. So much in fact that since 2012 students do not use books, with computer-based learning becoming a big component of the system. Teachers can also mix up the lessons by combining classrooms together when needed and encouraging students to do their homework in new ways, like for example, by creating a podcast in which they solve math problems or having foreign-language conversations online.

With such an exciting curriculum it’s no wonder Danish students feel more encouraged to keep studying, as opposed to other countries where the student drop-rate is exceedingly rising. Of course the fact that education in Denmark is 100% free, even at university levels, helps a lot.

So although the architecture of the building is incredibly beautiful, it is also the Danish education system that amazes me. In the past three years I have been loudly complaining about the awful education system in Spain (and, to a lesser extent, in the US). Spanish high schools and universities force students to learn the class material by heart, being able to recite it word after word without looking at the textbook and taking points out of written finals for every minor detail that the student forgot to mention.

What do students get out of that? Definitely not knowledge or experience. When all the courses force you to do that all you get is a short-term memorization of what you were supposed to learn, something that fades away in just a couple of days, with only the most important aspects sticking there.

Compare that to exercise-based teaching in which you learn by practicing and actively working on something vs passively sitting down and memorizing, and you’ve got a clear winner. And it’s not the Spanish system in which it is quite common to see over 50% of a class fail a university exam on their first try or students who are taking the final exam for the fourth or fifth try.

Did I just get a little bit off-topic here? Yeah, I did. I guess seeing how well Denmark is doing in this aspect compared to Spain makes my blood boil.

So just to relax a little bit more, here are a few pictures of the awesome Ørestad Gymnasium. (And don’t forget that you can click on them to expand!)


betaDwarf ITU Copenhagen Videogames

A day at Copenhagen Games

I have a confession to make:

Up until last week I had never seen any e-sports event. Not just that I hadn’t ever been to one in person, but I just seriously had no idea how big the scene was!

And now, after spending an entire day at Copenhagen Games with the awesome people at betaDwarf, I can say I’m amazed at all the craziness going on.

Starcraft II matches being commented live? Check.

Counter-Strike 1.6 teams full with their own jerseys? Check.

Booth babes giving away free coke and chewing gum? Check.

Lots of beer in Denmark? Check.

So what was I doing there? Capture every single moment on video, of course! betaDwarf had their booth in a very visible area, right next to the Snot! and World of Football booths, two amazing indie games under development right here in Copenhagen, and in front of the massive EA booth for FIFA Street.

And what was going on in our booth? You guessed! We were letting people play the latest playable build of Forced!

Forced is the new name for what was previously being called Faith of the Guardians, a co-op arena combat game in which up to four players will have to complete a series of challenges as gladiators.

Some of the people who stopped by and participated in our tournament to see which team achieved the highest score even walked out with Diablo 3 beta keys!

I’m sure you will be able to see what it was like at Copenhagen Games really soon at, but meanwhile you can have a sneak peak with these pictures.


betaDwarf Videogames

And here’s the third developer diary of betaDwarf! Now with 300% more crunch!

Poor Kristian Klie, he thought he could escape me and my camera and survive in betaDwarf without having a major role in one of the developer diary series I’m doing for them. Last time he had a class to assist in as a TA, but this time he just couldn’t run away. I made him host the third episode and get viewers to know a little bit more about the way people work here.

Programming, designers insisting on programmers, programmers taking a break, programmers talking about cabbages with musicians… (ok, that one is NOT in the video, but I can assure you that it happened!).

Oh! And did I say musician? Yes indeed! Special thanks go to Fredrik Häthén for providing a very amusing monologue about music. And coffee. And Totoro… And well, countless other things that just didn’t make the cut for this video but might pop up some other day.

But of course also to the entire betaDwarf team! Weren’t it for the craziness that you all provide, these videos wouldn’t be the same!

So here’s the latest video! Please share it, tweet it, like it, comment on it or anything that comes up to your mind!

Oh, and as an extra, here’s a company picture! (In which the photographer had to be photoshopped in…)