Author Archives: johnrichardmartin

About johnrichardmartin

CEO at Sanoma Learning

Edtech: hotter than the Acropolis in August

At the beginning of the week I was in Athens celebrating my birthday. Let’s just say I was born in the 1970s :). I’ve always had an interest in Greek mythology (it was a good choice to read Mythos on the way) and as a man of learning, I wanted to see more of the homeland of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.  An inspiring and thoroughly enjoyable visit!

News broke of the sale for $1.75B of plagiarism-checker Turnitin, more than the total amount that all edtech startups raised in 2018 ($1.45B) and also one of the biggest edtech deals this decade, beating LinkedIn’s purchase of Lynda, but smaller than the Ellucian deal.  This underlines the growing importance of technology in learning markets. In the meantime, Sanoma Learning is, with the intended acquisition of Iddink Group, emerging as Europe’s leading edtech company, with a couple of hundred million euros of digital/multichannel revenues and more than 300 tech employees.  It’s a hot place to be.  Hotter than the Acropolis in August!

The immediate focus back at the office was the steering of our High Five program.  At the beginning of March we went live with our Next Gen EdTech Team, where we have created one technology team for the whole of Sanoma Learning. It was good to see we are well on track to launch Kampus in Finland & Sweden, and Bingel in The Netherlands.  Overall I feel we are making great leaps forward with High Five!

Then we spent time with the Iddink team in preparing ourselves for finalizing the intended transaction.  There’s a good click between us, which is a great starting point.

At the end of the week we did the monthly business reviews with each of the units. We’re deploying a new stage-gated investment process into new courses and had a couple of very interesting cases from Poland. I was highly enthusiastic about how the team is approaching this and really appreciated to be able to spend time with them to learn more.  Well done!

Looking forward >>

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Teachers value blended learning

In 2018, we carried out our SLIF survey (Sanoma Learning Impact Framework) for the fourth time. In total 7594 teachers answered the online survey, which was carried out in all our markets: Belgium, Finland, The Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden. The main purpose of SLIF is to investigate the impact of published materials on learning. This time we focused on blended learning materials.

We are happy to observe that digital materials are gaining ground in learning. The most important benefit of digital according to teachers is engagement. 68% of the survey respondents felt that digital materials are more engaging for their pupils/students than printed materials. This is easy to believe: for example Bingel with its visually appealing avatar characters which the pupils can adapt with pingping they earn from doing exercises has proved to be very engaging and motivating.

Ultimately we want to offer learning materials that lead to improved learning outcomes. When we asked which factors have the highest influence on learning outcomes, engagement was mentioned as the most important factor, followed by variation in learning activities, individual coaching, and timely feedback to pupils.

It is worth noting that the second most important factor, variation in learning activities, was also considered as something which is better achieved in the blended model. 64% of respondents thought that digital learning materials are better for providing variation than print materials. Again, this is easy to understand. Digital learning materials include video, audio, animations, interactive exercises, instant feedback, and other features obviously missing from printed materials.

Figure 1 summarizes nicely the teachers’ attitude towards digital learning materials. We can see that only 27% of teachers use only printed materials. Whilst it is significantly more than the amount of teachers using only digital materials (3%), we can see that the majority of teachers are somewhere in between, adopting the blended learning approach: 17% apply half digital / half print approach, and 44% primarily print with some digital components.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Teachers would like to use more digital learning materials

It’s interesting to compare the current state of teachers’ materials with their ideal situation. At the moment 17% of the teachers use half digital / half print materials. However, 38% would prefer to have this combination. The difference in print-only teaching is even more pronounced with 27% of teachers currently teaching with print only, but a mere 1% would like to do so also in the future.  This is firm evidence that demand for digital should grow in the coming years.

“Demand for digital in the blended mix to grow”

Whilst teachers want more digital, as our survey clearly shows, it is worth emphasizing that virtually no-one of our respondents would like to teach with digital-only materials. Currently 3% are doing so, but it is not seen as the optimal state by anybody. What to make of this? Our answer: blended learning models work best.

Santtu Toivonen, Lead Insight Manager, Sanoma Pro

John Martin, CEO, Sanoma Learning

Strongest result in our history so far at Sanoma Learning

We always win

Last week Sanoma announced the financial results for 2018, which were very good with improved operational profits across all three divisions.

“Best result ever at Sanoma Learning”

For Sanoma Learning this was the best result in our history so far, with profitability increasing by 10% from € 55.6M in 2017 to € 61.2M in 2018.  This very much helps to underpin the major investments we are making in the digital transformation.

“Win locally”

I’m especially proud that a large part of this very good performance came from gains in market share in many of our countries, demonstrating that our learning materials are appreciated by teachers and pupils and that we are competitive in the market. Our Learning Impact survey showed that teachers believe our solutions support them in reaching their learning objectives (92%), enable them in their workflow (87%) and help in student engagement (83%). This really highlights the important work we are doing in enabling teachers in developing the talents of our children.

“Working together across borders”

A second driver of the good results in 2018 was the High Five program where we are working together on investing in the next generation of Sanoma Learning, and funding that journey by creating leaner processes on a number of back-office activities. This gave a solid underpinning to the results in 2018, and we will see further benefits in 2019.

“New growth through acquisitions”

In addition we announced at the end of 2018 our intention to acquire Iddink Group which  will increase the size of Sanoma Learning by about half going forward.  Iddink will help us to accelerate the digital transformation of secondary education in The Netherlands, will extend our role in Belgium and will bring us a new position and new opportunities in Spain. During the course of 2019 we expect to become the owner of Iddink.

Thank you!

I very much want to thank the teachers and pupils who work with our courses for your trust in us. I would also like to thank our teams for the good work in 2018. I know we asked a lot of you and I appreciate the important work we did together.   This has truly been a team effort!

Looking forward >>

We have a big year ahead of us not least with the launch of new platform Kampus in Finland and Sweden, Bingel in The Netherlands, new reforms in Upper Secondary Education in Poland and other reforms in Belgium.  We will be working hard to progress the High Five Program. And we expect to finalize the transaction with Iddink and further develop the business.

We have a strong plan for the coming years and are highly committed to making a positive impact on learning and teaching.  Looking forward >>

Accelerating the digital transformation of education. Sanoma Learning acquires Iddink Group, a leading educational platform and service provider.

Sanoma Iddink

Earlier this week we announced that Sanoma Learning intends to acquire Iddink Group, a leading educational platform and service provider.

Pupils and teachers especially appreciate “blended learning solutions”: mashing up physical and digital approaches to inspire learning.  However the digital element of blended learning in schools needs a boost.

Together, we want to accelerate the digital transformation of education

Together with Iddink and in close cooperation with schools and other partners in the market, we want to accelerate the digital transformation of education. Sanoma Learning invests heavily each and every year in new blended learning solutions.  Iddink Group is also a frontrunner on the digital transformation, with amongst others the leading platforms Magister and Eduarte and intelligence service TIG.

Personalised Learning

Thanks to digital, we will in the future be able to serve pupils with tailored learning materials which play seamlessly on learning platforms in schools.  We believe this will enable personalisation, increase the motivation of pupils, and support the work of the teacher. Positive news for learning and teaching!

Iddink Group and Malmberg & VAN IN will be independent units Sanoma Learning. Naturally, Iddink Group will continue to collaborate closely with other publishers; future solutions and platforms we create will be available and open for the entire market.  This is what schools are asking of us and what will benefit pupils and teachers the most.  Open platforms, populated and integrated with great and up-to-date blended learning content, available to all.  Malmberg and VAN IN will of course, in turn, also continue to cooperate with other educational service providers.

I’m really excited about this development, which I think is going to help us to make a great leap forward in serving schools, especially as we go through the digital transformation together!

Looking forward >>

At the d.school Stanford

High Five!

We’re currently executing the “High Five” program at Sanoma Learning: working together across the borders of the five national units to build one integrated European company.

We serve about 10m pupils and 1m teachers in some of the World’s best performing education systems (Finland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Sweden). Our customers especially appreciate “blended learning solutions”: mashing up physical and digital approaches to inspire learning.  High Five is really about organizing ourselves to be able to create and provide impactful blended learning solutions to schools in the most effective way.

We’ve divided the program into three areas:

  • Investing in the future (our approach to digital applications, courses, data and technology)
  • Funding the journey (improving our procurement processes)
  • Enabling the transformation (making sure our support processes are fit for the digital transformation).
kirsi and winfried

Kirsi Harra-Vauhkonen (MD of Sanoma Pro in Finland & CPO Secondary Education) and Winfried Mortelmans (MD of Van In in Belgium & CPO Primary Education) discussing High Five with the team in Helsinki.

The last weeks we’ve been travelling with the team to all of the countries to engage further with our people as we move forward with High Five.  I have experienced this as an inspiring period, bringing a lot of new energy, and I feel we really have a good momentum with High Five!

I’d like to thank the teams for all the excellent work in co-creating and executing High Five so far and to all our people who joined us in the roadshow.  Very much appreciated and well done!

Looking forward >>

high five logo

Creating a European Champion in Learning

CMD cover

We’re an ambitious company and we are working on building a European Champion in Learning.

Last week we held our annual Capital Markets Day event in Helsinki – which is a good chance for us to share our plans with the investment community.  It was a positive day.  The team was in good spirits and there were lots of great questions from the participants.

I talked about our approach to building a European Champion. Check out the video of the session here.

Our starting point is strong: we serve 10m pupils and 1m teachers in some of the world’s best and most advanced education systems.  We’re a front runner on the digital transformation and have a strong financial performance and track record.  We have a solid plan and believe we can add even more value for our customers in the future.

We have a three pillar strategy to build this European Champion:

  • Win in local markets, by serving our customers well
  • Work together across borders to create one integrated company
  • Make selective acquisitions in current and new learning markets

We’re really excited about the opportunities for the business and our team is going for it!

I’m interested to hear your views and if you see opportunities that you think we should be developing too.

CMD strategy

 

 

Winning Spirit of Nowa Era at 25

Magda

MD of Nowa Era Magda Walczak inspiring the team at the event

Last week we celebrated the 25th anniversary of Nowa Era.  It was really fantastic to be there together with the team, especially in such an exceptional year!

Past to Present

25 years ago it would have been almost impossible to imagine the success that Nowa Era has become today.  I wonder in those early days whether Mariusz and Magda even dreamed

  • We would become the market leader
  • Serving nearly every school in the country in some way
  • With such an outstanding quality of offering.

Present to Future

If you think what the team has achieved in the last 25 years – just imagine the next 25!

The key to the success of Nowa Era is our people

  • Who are doing extremely important work in enabling high quality education
  • In talented and hard-working teams
  • And striving to do it to the very best of their ability.

Spirit of Nowa Era

I call this the “winning spirit of Nowa Era“. I believe it will help us to make the next 25 years even more successful than the first 25.

With respect and appreciation

With respect and appreciation I would like to thank the teams for their commitment and outstanding achievements.  We are extremely proud of you.