Monthly Archives: July 2014

Sanoma’s Partnership with Knewton – the Next Generation in Empowering Teachers & Motivating Students

sanoma-logoknewton Sanoma Learning serves about 10 m pupils and one million teachers in Northern Europe. Our experience in education dates back to 1833 and these days we are known internationally for two reasons. Firstly, for quality: we’re a leading and integral partner in some of the World’s best performing education systems including Finland, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Poland, as well as Sweden. Secondly, we’re innovative and are frontrunners in the digital transformation: of our sales of about € 300 m, about € 50 m are generated from pure-play digital and a further € 100 m from multichannel solutions, making us arguably continental Europe’s biggest ed tech company today.

I believe there are three cornerstones of excellence in education: skilled teachers, motivated pupils, and high-quality learning materials. And I believe that the next generation of learning is personal: by tailoring pedagogy, curriculum, and learning support to the needs of the individual learner we can improve learning outcomes, enhance workflow efficiency, and support engaging learning.

That’s why I’m thrilled about the work we’re doing with Knewton, the global leader in adaptive learning technology with over 7 million students expected on the platform by the end of 2014. Knewton technology uses data to understand how individual students learn. Sanoma Learning products integrated with Knewton will include personalized content recommendations for students and in-depth reporting for teachers.

Knewton technology will allow us to scale personalization across our wide portfolio of course solutions, improving learning experiences for every student. Malmberg in the Netherlands is the first Sanoma company (and the first publisher in Continental Europe!) to integrate with Knewton technology.

Malmberg’s first Knewton-powered course will be a new grammar-specific English Language Teaching module. This module will provide targeted practice for any ELT student looking to focus on critical grammar concepts. Like all Knewton-powered courses, the course will feature interactive reporting dashboards to help teachers to pinpoint struggling learners in need of intervention and engage advanced students with more challenging material.

Malmberg’s instructional experts and Knewton’s adaptive course designers are making great progress in the development and building phases. Students and teachers will pilot the module early next year. Meanwhile, the teams are also in early planning phases for product builds in other subjects. I can’t wait to see these Knewton-powered products come to life. I truly believe they will contribute to better learning!

The collaboration in the Netherlands is just the beginning. We’re looking forward to rolling out Knewton-powered products across Europe, continuing to empower teachers and motivate students with high-quality, cutting-edge learning products.

Designing the Future of Digital Education

Jose Ferreira of Knewton interviewing Hillary Rodham Clinton

Jose Ferreira, CEO of Knewton interviewing Hillary Rodham Clinton, former US Secretary of State

This week I joined the Knewton Symposium in San Francisco and was a panel speaker on the subject of “Digital Readiness”. We have recently started partnering with Knewton, which I am enthusiastic about since I believe adaptive learning is the next generation. I joined the meeting to make sure I’m up-to-date on the latest thinking and for the networking opportunity.

Great program

The program was a mix of speakers and panel sessions. I especially liked the interesting and provocative speakers:
Jose Ferreira, CEO of Knewton (“transparency on what drives outcomes”);
Andy Rosen, CEO of Kaplan (“why Knewton will fail” – which emphasized the open dialogue of the symposium);
Michael Crow, President of Arizona State University (I was intrigued by his words about the “rise of the super-faculty” – it sparked my interest in the potential “rise of the super-teacher” enabled by technology in schools).

Also, some of the panel sessions gave food for thought, especially:
Investing in Edtech (I liked the quote by Michael Moe, partner at GSV “the best IRR will be produced by education companies that deliver the best ROE”)
The OER Impact (“80% of materials for university foundation years can be found Open Source”)

It was great to hear the “Big Ideas” of entrepreneur Tyler Bosmeny, CEO of Clever about solving Single-Sign-On and intrapreneur Ben Schrom from Google Classroom about simplifying digital workflows. (It was nice that he cited me and my “killer app of education is the teacher” quote too, a boost for Finnish thinking there :)).

Go Hillary!

From my perspective, the highlight of the meeting was the interview with Former US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. She talked intelligently and engagingly about international affairs in a no-nonsense and straightforward way. Firm but fair. I liked her passion and commitment to education, for example with the “Too small to fail” program, helping to improve the health and well-being of children aged 0-5 years. Her words about making sure that schools are fit for children to attend and treating teachers as professionals appealed to me too. We had a short photo session afterwards, and even though we exchanged only a few words, she was funny and nice and I really liked her. Go for President Hillary!

Main takeaways

The three main takeaways for me from the meeting were:
1. The move to adaptive learning is the next generation. I believe we are right to be investing.
2. It will be of great importance to evidence and improve outcomes and to take a more proactive stance in positioning outcomes in our value proposition. We need to raise our game here. Our Learning Lab starting in September can help us in that regard.
3. It’s good to look and be outside, to be up-to-date with the latest developments and to be connected with talented people in the industry alongside the talent we have at Sanoma Learning.

Thank you Knewton!

It’s always great to be in the USA. I love the optimism and the way they go for it! Thanks to the Knewton team for having arranged a great meeting!

Welsh Rarebits


Emboldened by last year’s Scottish heatwave we ventured back to Blighty for our Summer holiday. Again sunshine galore! Having emigrated to Holland for the better weather, I wonder if this is an omen that it’s time to return? Two weeks of sunshine in Northern Ireland next year would complete the miracle and confirm the omen.

I will spare you all the details, but wanted to share with you Eight Things That Made Me Happy on Holiday (must kick that twitter addiction …).

1. Family Fun in London

View of well-lit Tower Bridge on returning to hotel

At the beginning of the holiday we met up with my family in London (we are from the Heart of England, so this feels a bit like a visit to New York). Amongst others, we visited The Shard, The Tower of London, the London Dungeons and a musical. What fun and great to see my family again! Thank you!


View of London from atop the Shard

2. Peace in Chester

The water of life – an inner spring always welling. Cloister Gardens at Chester Cathedral

After the Big Smoke we moved on to the more tranquil Chester. The Cathedral was beautiful and I loved the peaceful Cloister Gardens. It felt really good there.

3. Hiking in Snowdonia

The ascent at Snowdon

View from the summit at Snowdon

I love hiking, especially in the National Parks of North America. We’ve previously hiked two of the Three Peaks in Great Britain, but not yet Snowdon. We stayed in pretty Caernarfon and perfectly timed the hike up the mountain before the storm. It was by far the easiest of the Three Peaks yet a most enjoyable hike with great views of the area. Glad we did it.

Caernarfon – a lovely place to stay to explore Snowdonia

4. Biking at St David’s

By the time we arrived in St David’s the weather was radiant and we found a beautiful ‘Welsh Rarebits‘ Hotel (Warpool Court Hotel). We took a relaxing walk along the Pembrokeshire coast in the evening and a much more strenuous (hilly) 70 km bike ride along the coast the next day ending with a couple of pints and fish & chips in the sun at The Bishop in sight of St David’s Cathedral. Heaven on Earth.

St David’s Cathedral

A couple of pints and fish & chips at The Bishops after a strenuous day biking

5. Waterside Walks in the Brecon Beacons

Between the hustle of Cardiff and bookish Hay-on-Wye we stopped off at another lovely Welsh Rarebits hotel (The Bear) in Crickhowell and did a pretty and relaxing walk along the canal and riverside. It was fairly flat hiking terrain too, which made it an extra relaxed experience; this was remedied by a quick run up Table Mountain the following day …

Lovely waterside walk in the Brecon Beacons

6. Learning about Oxford

It wasn’t in our original plan but we decided to visit Oxford on the way back to Dover-Dunkirk. With my passion for learning I always get excited when I go to one of the great University cities. We visited some of the colleges in the glorious sun and then spent a couple of hours in the gigantic Blackwell’s bookshop. I bought as many books as I could carry and felt no shame that they were paper and would not be read on my Kindle. I need to do this more often!

Christ Church, Oxford

All Souls, Oxford

Bodleian Library, Oxford

Trinity, Oxford

7. Books on the Beach

When I was a child, our family typically went to the Devon, Cornwall or the Welsh coasts on holiday and spent most days on the beach. I’ve got happy memories of playing tennis with Dad in the sun and of playing in the sea surf with Grandad. These days I can’t take too much sun, but like to spend a few hours on the beach every now and then. On a beach in Pembrokeshire I read the laugh-out-loud funny ‘The Rosie Project‘ by Graeme Simsion about a scientist looking for a wife, and on Brighton beach I read ‘The Glass Closet‘ by former BP CEO John Browne about improving LGBT rights being good for business. I rarely have the time to read a book cover-to-cover these days and it was liberating to immerse myself into their stories. I can recommend them both.

8. English delicacies

A typical day nowadays might start with a muesli breakfast with soya milk. Lunch: a low fat cheese sandwich on multigrain bread without butter. Dinner: fish with no desert. Well, I was born in England in the 1970’s. For the last two weeks I have indulged heavily in the fine English delicacies of my youth. Full English breakfasts. Fish & Chips. Chicken Tikka Curry. Sunday Roast. Walker’s Crisps. Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate (I still have a Pavlovian response  to purple wrappers to this day …). Every bite savoured.

Full English Breakfast: protein and fibre galore!

Fish, chips and mushy peas: well-rounded nutrition!

Cadbury’s Dairy Milk: rich in calcium and iron!













So those were a few of the things I especially enjoyed. Feeling good and energized and ready to go again!