English abstract


Skolathing is a teaching facility at the Althingi (Icelandic parliament) for pupils in the last years of compulsory education: years 8, 9 and 10 (pupils aged 14-16). The objective of Skolathing (School Parliament) is to give young people insight into the interaction of events in society, public opinion, political decision-making and the work of parliament. 

The pupils participate actively in a role-playing game, learning to listen to arguments, put forward their own views, and reach a democratic decision. Multimedia technology is used to make the process more accessible and exciting for the young people. Skolathing also seeks to meet the demand from schools for school visits to Parliament House. It adds a new dimension to how pupils can learn about parliament. Conventional school tours of Parliament House remain available. 

The Game 

  • The group of students is divided into four imaginary parties. The role-playing game requires at least 12 “members” of parliament, and a maximum of 32. The “members” debate three parliamentary Bills, and listen to the contributions of imaginary “experts” and “interest groups” who appear on a TV monitor. In the parliamentary chamber of Skolathing the pupils make speeches to the assembly; they also hold meetings in committee, and sessions of the parliamentary parties. They can call upon government ministers (on screen) for consultation, receive deputations, and choose between proposed amendments to the Bills. 
  • They choose spokespersons among themselves to chair the meetings. 
  • During a break in the game, refreshments are served. Pupils may use this opportunity to try to convince others to vote in their favour. 
  • The role play concludes with the third reading of the Bills, and a vote in the chamber of Skolathing. The Speaker, played by a staff member, chairs the sessions in the Chamber, while other roles are played by actors on-screen.  A session of Skolathing lasts for 2½-3 hours and is free of charge. Role play is led by a member Althingi Administration staff.
  • Booking Groups visiting Skolathing must be pre-booked. A short guided tour of Parliament House can also be booked in conjunction with a session at Skolathing.

Technology and multimedia 

  • The game is computer-based. The project is developed in Flash from Adobe. The solution comprises four systems running independently in different rooms, controlled by a pilot from reception. The computers are connected on local net and are connected to a central server which contains the database. 
  •  The database contains all texts and references to all documents (photos .jpg, video .flv, sound files .mp3, etc.). All texts are in three XML files. The database has 18 tables with 425 records. The system has almost 300 files and is almost 1 GB:
  • 13 execution files (.exe), 30MB 49 Flash files (.swf), 11MB 72 video files (.flv), 800 MB 78 sound files (.mp3), 50MB 55 photos (.jpg), 10MB 11 power point files (.ppt), 6MB
  • The programme installed on the nine client PCs receives data from the servers and comprises the audio-visual user interface. 


  • Skolathing is located in Austurstræti 8-10 in a 300 m2 space, designed and planned for this purpose, comprising specific activity areas. 


  • The first teaching facility like Skolathing was opened in 2003 at the Danish parliament, Folketing. Similar centres have since been set up at the parliaments of Norway (Storting) and Sweden (Riksdag). Skolathing was established in Iceland by a decision of the parliamentary Presidium, on the initiative of former Speaker Sólveig Pétursdóttir. Skolathing was formally opened by Sturla Böðvarsson, Speaker of Parliament, in November 2007.
  • Staff of the Althingi Administration who supervised preparations for Skolathing are Karl M. Kristjánsson, Solveig K. Jónsdóttir, Þorbjörg Árnadóttir, Sigurlín Hermannsdóttir and Einar Farestveit. Other Administration staff also contributed to the preparatory work, including Arna Björk Jónsdóttir, Berglind Steinsdóttir, Hildur Gróa Gunnarsdóttir and Sigríður H. Þorsteinsdóttir.


  • The script for Skolathing was written by Gerður Kristný who was assisted by administration staff Solveig K. Jónsdóttir, Þorbjörg Árnadóttir and Sigurlín Hermannsdóttir. 
  • Script read by: Ellen Klara Eyjólfsdóttir, Námsgagnastofnun National Centre for Educational Materials, and Lilja M. Jónsdóttir, Iceland University of Education (now University of Iceland School of Education).

Skolathing logo

  • Hafþór Smári Sigþórsson, a pupil in year 10, won a competition to design a logo for Skolathing. His proposal was developed and completed by graphic designer Örn Smári Gíslason.
  • Competition for Skolathing logo supervised by: Jón Guðmundsson, Námsgagnastofnun/National Centre for Educational Materials.


  • Staff of Gagarín involved in design and preparation of multi-media content:  Berglind Káradóttir/programming, Bjarni Kjartansson/design, Bríet Friðbjörnsdóttir/testing, Daði Georgsson/sound, Guðmundur Sverrisson/programming, Guðný Káradóttir/management, Helgi Grímsson Laxdal/video, Jónmundur Gíslason/video, Kristín Eva Ólafsdóttir/design, Pétur Valgarð Guðbergsson/programming.
  • Staff of Althingi Administration who appear in multimedia presentations: Berglind Karlsdóttir, Erna Erlingsdóttir, Friðleifur Helgason, Haukur Hannesson, Hlöðver Ellertsson, Hugrún R. Hólmgeirsdóttir, Kjartan H. Grétarsson, Magnúsína Valdimarsdóttir, Sigrún Helga Sigurjónsdóttir, Sigurlín Hermannsdóttir.

  • Actors from the Mosfellssveit Drama Club who appear in multimedia presentations: Birgir Sigurðsson, Brynhildur Sveinsdóttir, Bylgja Ægisdóttir, Eva Björg Harðardóttir, Eyþór Ingason, Fannar Víðir Haraldsson, Grétar Snær Hjartarson, Gunnar Kristleifsson, Hersir Albertsson, Hrefna Vestmann, María Guðmundsdóttir, Ragnar Pétursson, Sigrún Harðardóttir, Sigsteinn Sigurbergsson, Stefán Bjarnason. 
  • Subcontractors for Gagarín: Anna Katrín Guðmundsdóttir/production management, Elín Hirst/TV reporter, Helga Guðrún Johnson/reading/reporter, Kukl ehf. film, actors from Mosfellssveit Drama Club, Ólafur Darri Darrason/reading, Upptekið ehf./sound. 
  • Video presentation on the history of Althingi: Jón Þór Þorleifsson, producer at Filmus ehf., Kristján U. Kristjánsson, director/designer at Filmus ehf., Einar Tönsberg music, Jóhanna Vigdís Arnardóttir reading. 

Architects, project management construction of facilitities

  • Architects: Guðrún Fanney Sigurðardóttir, Tangram, Guðrún Lilja Gunnlaugsdóttir, Studio Bility, Massimo Santaniccia, Iceland Academy of the Arts. 
  • Electrical design: Guðjón L. Sigurðsson, Kristinn Steinn Traustason and Þórdís Rós Harðardóttir, all at Rafteikning hf. 
  • Project manager, Government Construction Contracting Agency: Gísli Tryggvason.
  • Construction/installation of Skolathing facilities: Álnabær, GÁ húsgögn, Einar Beinteins ehf., Epal, Exton, Formatlausnir ehf., GG lagnir, Guðmundur Ingólfsson (photographer), Ísloft - blikk og stálsmiðja ehf., Litaver, Málarasmiðjan ehf., Merkjalist, Rafteikning hf., Rými, Steggur ehf., Style, Tengi ehf., Raftíðni ehf., Stálsmiðjan ehf., VSB Consulting Engineers.