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2 minutes to read Posted on Friday January 24, 2020

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

portrait of Loa Steinunn Kristjansdottir

Loa Steinunn Kristjansdottir

History teacher , EUROCLIO - European Association of History Educators

portrait of Georgia Evans

Georgia Evans

Senior Editorial Officer , Europeana Foundation

Professionals in Focus: Lóa Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir, History Teacher

Europeana Members Councillors have diverse jobs and wide experience across the heritage sector, but are united by their passion for digital cultural heritage. In our ‘Professionals in Focus’ series, we speak to our Councillors about their roles, working lives and plans for their time on the Members Council. This month, Lóa Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir discusses her 30 year career as a teacher and the importance of embracing digital resources. 

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Lóa Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir
Hafsteinn Óskarsson

About Lóa 

I studied history at the University of Iceland. I found the subject fascinating and enjoyed working with sources and carrying out research. I then studied pedagogy and became interested in working on my subject with students. Soon after graduation I had the opportunity to teach at an upper secondary school, where I have now worked for 30 years. I love my work and continue to find it inspiring.

I always look to add to my knowledge and skills and try out new methods and teaching strategies. Professional development is very important to me. I have taken part in seminars and projects both at a national and an international level. I have benefited a lot from this participation, which has made my work more meaningful and enjoyable and to the best of my knowledge, made me a better teacher.

What are you currently working on? 

I teach history full time and I also take part in various projects with my fellow teachers to try out methods of developing new teaching and learning material. As well as rewriting and rethinking the curriculum, I try to make my lessons impactful and interesting for my students. 

I have always tried to take part in international projects, for example around Nordic cooperation. Currently I am participating in a project with schools in Denmark, Sweden and the Faroe Islands. The project is funded by Nordplus, a programme from the Nordic Council of Ministers.

What are some of the challenges in your role? What are some of your favourite elements?

In Iceland the education system has undergone many changes in the last five years. In the school where I work, study is now focused around assignment-based learning with no formal exams. This calls for new approaches and the use of diverse teaching material. 

It is important for professionals to take on challenges and for teachers to be open-minded to new approaches. I have long tried to embrace new technology in my teaching. I remember the first time I had a computer in my classroom and went online, which was over 20 years ago! Then, the room was filled with cables and wires and there was not much useful material online. Today there is more material, but the challenge is to find good and reliable resources for students. Having online platforms like Europeana and Historiana is very helpful in addressing this. 

 A big challenge for a small country like Iceland is finding texts and material in our native language. Most digital material is in a foreign language and although students have large English vocabularies, they lack the specific vocabulary to use historic materials. Working with digital material can be complicated and more challenging than using traditional textbooks, but we need to embrace technology without throwing out the book!

What was your motivation for joining the Members Council? 

I became interested in joining the Members Council of Europeana after I left the board of EUROCLIO - the European Association of History Educators - in 2018. Through EUROCLIO I learned about the work of Europeana and as an ENA member I wanted to contribute and play an active role in the network. 

What do you plan to do as a Members Councillor? 

I want to advocate for Europeana within my network and amongst teachers all over Europe, and play an active role in the Europeana Education Community. I would like Europeana to be well known source of material. I want to reach out to people in the field of education and make it easy for teachers and students to find material and sources in Europeana Collections.