Category Archives: Edtech

Five Reasons Why Blended Learning is an Ongoing Success in Finland

 

This week I joined the education event Dare to Learn in Helsinki with colleagues from Sanoma Pro. With 3000 participants from over 20 countries it was well organised and people were in a positive spirit. Thanks to the organisers for having done a great job!

Finland has a world-class education system with several factors underpinning the success including skilled and respected teachers, high levels of equity and trust in the system and an holistic view to the development of children. Education professionals from around the globe are interested to learn about the Finnish ways.

I think that blended learning is an enabler of excellence in Finnish education and gave a keynote talk on this topic, with the headlines:

1.   Blended learning plays to the natural strengths of the local education system, enabling the excellent teachers, taking advantage of the high quality curricula and materials and putting to work the technology available in schools and homes.

2.   Blended learning models are practical and flexible as schools transform to a more digital future. Our research indicates that teachers are increasingly ready and willing for the digital transformation. We’re also witnessing the emergence of new pedagogies such as phenomenon-based learning, and blended solutions can be very helpful enablers of these new pedagogies.

3.   Blended learning supercharges great teachers (and there are many of them in Finland). A Sanoma Learning solution typically saves a teacher about 8 hours of working time each week – time which can be channelled into individual attention to pupils. And with dashboards and personalised learning pathways, teachers have excellent insights and tools to guide interventions.

4.   Blended learning motivates and engages pupils in their learning endeavours. Our learning impact surveys have indicated that 95% of teachers typically report that integrated learning methods help them to engage pupils with learning. Some like printed books while others prefer online materials. Nowadays boys often lag behind girls in learning. Our analytics indicate that gamified solutions integrated into the approach such as bingel are especially motivating for boys, providing a way to bridge this gap.

5.   Blended learning supports pupils’ achievement and outcomes. Blended learning is a step towards personalized learning, which takes pupils’ personal achievement level and preferences into account. In our surveys, 85% of teachers have reported that such solutions help the pupils to achieve their curriculum goals.

 By applying blended learning methods and techniques, Finland can stay on top of its game in education. Teachers can make the most of their teaching and pupils stay motivated, which helps them to achieve their learning goals.

* Blended learning is mix of various event-based activities, including face-to-face classrooms, e-learning and self-paced learning.

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Organising for the digital transformation in Belgium

de boeck blog

I’m really happy that we have acquired the educational publishing activities of De Boeck in Belgium. Welcome to our new colleagues! Click here for a short vlog about it.

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De Boeck is a trusted brand with a good market position, making about € 17 m of revenues in 2015 and employing about 80 professionals. They share our passion for education and learning and there’s a very good fit with our mission of helping teachers to develop the talents of our children.

mission

Why?

Demand for multi-channel learning solutions is increasing. Our customers tell us that digital can support learning impact: improved engagement and higher learning outcomes for pupils and better workflow efficiency for teachers. A great example of using multi-channel to enable learning impact is bingel. So we made this acquisition to enable the digital transformation of learning and teaching in Belgium. We are working hard to organize ourselves effectively for this.

How?

We intend to combine the complementary high quality portfolios and well-developed learning design capabilities of Van In and De Boeck.

This will bring more scale to our significant investments in digital across these high quality portfolios.

We can realize synergies in our operations as we create a new organization ready for the future.

Looking forward >>

Bringing together two great companies, Van In and De Boeck, will help us to better fulfil the needs of our customers, today and in the future. Good luck to the new team in making this a success!

Education reform in Finland

kirsi

This week I caught up with Kirsi Harra-Vauhkonen, Managing Director of Sanoma Pro, market leader in Finland. The Finnish market is currently undergoing both a major curriculum change and digital transformation.  I asked Kirsi to explain more about what’s going on.

You’ve got an interesting background Kirsi, including positions at Nokia and Google. Tell us more.

Continuous learning is my passion, and I have been fortunate to be able to gain experience from many different positions. I have worked for example in recent years in telecommunications (Nokia), digital media (Google) and now in educational publishing. During my career, I have worked mostly in commercial and business development leadership roles. Mostly I have been leading change – be it new opportunities in the market, new ways of working or digital transformation.  I am driven by working with great people and teams.

Finnish education has a world class reputation. Why is that?

Finnish pupils have scored highly in the PISA surveys for many years. This is a result of the high quality public education system in Finland. Excellent teachers are one of the most important cornerstones of the system. All teachers have a university degree, and being a teacher is a highly respected profession. The fact that high quality education is available for everyone, is very important for Finland. High quality, versatile learning materials also play an important role in helping pupils and teachers to achieve excellent learning outcomes.

What role does Sanoma Pro play in Finnish education and why are our methods popular?

Sanoma Pro is a major publisher with a very good reputation and the most extensive offering in the Finnish educational market. We publish learning materials for all grades K-12 and also for vocational education. In addition we also have the Oppi & Ilo edutainment line for the consumers as well as tutoring services by Tutorhouse.

Our learning materials are used in almost every school and class, and our digital learning environment has more than 100 000 active teacher and pupil users. Our solutions are developed through very intensive collaboration with our customers, and our authors are the best professionals in their own subjects.

Our solutions are popular because they are high quality, they fit the curriculum perfectly, they are easy to use, and they have a good mix of print and digital elements that match the ways and needs of the classroom.

And they provide excellent benefits by enabling learning impact: they help pupils to achieve good learning outcomes, they engage and motivate pupils to learn, and they save time for teachers in their professional work.

 

There’s curriculum reform coming this year and next. What’s happening and how are we supporting the change?

The reform is a combination of driving change in the pedagogy and in the learning goals and related learning contents. First of all the reform is encouraging strong engagement of pupils and thus changing the role of the teacher to become more like a coach for the active pupil learners. Another theme is to update the learning objectives to equip children with such skills and knowledge that better meet their needs of the future. Also the need for more theme-based learning is emphasized as well as the aim to bring digital into the everyday work at schools.

We have integrated these themes in our methods, in addition to the new learning contents, and provide a lot of supporting tips and tools to help the teachers to adapt to the new ways of teaching.

 

What are the most important digital initiatives we are working on?

We are very excited about our new digital learning solutions. It’s now possible to use fully digital learning materials for teaching and learning in all of the primary subjects in the new curriculum. In addition, for the teachers who prefer a hybrid solution, we are launching the gamified, curriculum-fit exercise environment Bingel. Bingel supports seamlessly the Sanoma Pro learning methods and makes exercising engaging and inspiring for pupils.

In upper secondary we have Kompassi, the digital testing and assessment tool that provides teachers an easy way to create and assess tests, saving a considerable amount of their time and providing students with the opportunity to get familiar with the digital testing. The first national digital matriculation tests in Finland will take place this Autumn.

What are you most proud about with Sanoma Pro?

I am very proud of our extremely professional and talented team. Going through a phase of digital transformation in the market simultaneously with the very intensive curriculum change is not an easy task, but the team has shown great effort and we have been able to bring all the print and digital products to the market, while also innovating new concepts.

Our new learning solutions bring a lot of new opportunities and support for the teachers to renew their way of teaching, and to engage and inspire the pupils. I am very proud of this achievement, and having delivered this as a team!

 

Exciting times

Thanks for talking us through this Kirsi.  These are exciting times in Finnish education and it’s great to hear more about our commitment to working together with our customers in bringing new innovations to the marketGood luck to all our people in Finland!

Child-friendly learning design at Bureau ICE

I like the way Bureau ICE helps in identifying and developing the talents of our children.  I also especially like the child-friendly and child-centric design thinking that they use, which engages pupils to show their talents.

“Helping to identify and develop the talents of our children”

This week I caught up with Karen Heij, Managing Director of Bureau ICE to hear more.

karen-heij

Karen Heij

Karen, I’m interested to know more about Bureau ICE and your personal  motivations as MD

We specialise in tests and exams that help learners to really show their capabilities. We believe it’s a human right to be able to develop in a way that gives you the best opportunities and helps you find a direction in life that makes you happy. Since testing often plays such a major part in a person’s (school) career, we believe that these tests should help you show what you’re capable of, and not hold you back. In the 26 years that I’ve worked for Bureau ICE and especially the last 16 years as managing director, this has always been what drives me.

Bureau ICE joined Malmberg at Sanoma Learning in 2012. How have things been going since?

Sanoma Learning and Bureau ICE share the same goals: we both want to improve the impact of learning for pupils, teachers and schools.

“Investing in improving learning impact”

Joining SL has given us great opportunities in entering the primary school market. Until 2014 this market was dominated by one other makers of tests and exams.  But when the government decided in 2013 that the final primary school exam should be mandatory for every school, it prompted the decision that a monopoly wasn’t allowed anymore: schools had to have a choice of tests. We wanted to pursue this opportunity and the investment of creating tests for a completely new market would never have been possible without the support of Sanoma Learning.

Recently, you’ve had a lot of success with the new IEP Eindtoets.  What is it?

IEP Eindtoets

The IEP Eindtoets is one of the three government approved final exams for primary schools in The Netherlands. It measures the language proficiency and calculus capabilities of 12-year old children who are on the brink of leaving primary school and moving onto their secondary education. In The Netherlands we have different levels of secondary education. The primary school teacher decides which type of secondary school his pupils should attend.

“A child is more than his cognitive abilities”

To help the teacher make that decision we not only have the IEP Eindtoets, but also the IEP Advieswijzer. This is a package of tests designed to measure other characteristics than language proficiency and calculus capabilities. After all, we believe a child is more than just his cognitive abilities. Therefore the IEP Advieswijzer consists of various tests measuring creativity, social skills and learning approach. We also have an IEP English proficiency test especially for this group, the 12 year olds. All our language tests are based on the Common European Framework of References for Languages.

Why did we win?

In short: our test is significantly more child friendly than the two competitor’s tests. We’ve created the IEP Eindtoets in a way that it would enable pupils to really show what they’re capable of. So we gave the test a recognizable and playful design. It’s very easy to use, so making the test becomes less stressful. And less stress means better performance.

“Child-friendly design and choice for schools”

Also, in the calculus items we only use the language necessary to measure that specific skill. Superfluous usage of language can throw children with weaker language skills off and we didn’t want to do that.

But there’s a longer story to it as well. Schools have been forced to use the same test provider for decades and now that there’s choice, they want to choose something that fits their school’s vision.

“More than 30.000 children will use the IEP Eindtoets this year”

Last year was our debut and around 7.000 students made our test. This year this number will surpass 30.000! Of course this has to do with the quality of the test, but also with the great experiences of the users last year. They really spread the word to neighbouring schools.

What makes you most proud about Bureau ICE?

In the past 25 years we’ve really been able to bring about a change in the way people in The Netherlands think and feel about testing.  We’ve taught policy makers both in government and schools to think about what they believe students should know and be able to do at the end of an educational period. We have shown them how to create tests that measure their desired outcomes and this has in turn shaped the course contents.

What would you change about testing in The Netherlands?

I’m hoping I can help to change the ranking  approach that is currently used at age 12 in determining the future school path. Currently students are ranked against the rest of their group and the relative ranking determines the specific schooling path.

“Change the ranking approach”

In other words: it’s not an absolute norm or end goals that determine the level of school you will go to, but your capabilities in comparison to the rest of the group.  This ranking is unfair and demotivating I would like to help change policy in this area in the near future.

Positive spirit

It’s not only the child-centric philosophy that I like about Bureau ICE.  You feel the passion for their mission throughout the company and this energy feeds a healthy entrepreneurial spiritGreat job by Karen and the team in creating this!

Working together to develop scalable technology at Sanoma Learning

One of the key trajectories in our strategy is using technology to help pupils and teachers. We believe technology is an enabler of what we call learning impact: engaging pupils, improving learning outcomes and supporting the workflow of the teacher. Developing and deploying the right technology in the right way is therefore critical to our mission.

Key parts of our technology are developed together and scaled across our units. This is not easy but brings benefits in terms of speed, quality, cost, skills and shared learning.

This week I caught up with new recruit Heikki Rusama, in the team of our Chief Business Technology Officer Arnoud Klerkx, who recently moved from Rovio in Finland to Sanoma Learning’s co-development team in The Netherlands, to learn more about this work.

Tell us about your background and why you joined Sanoma Learning

I’ve been interested in learning since my teenage years and studied educational science to originally prepare for a role in academia. I’m keen to work in a role that will allow me to combine my passion for education with technology.

I found such a role when previously working at Rovio Learning, the entertainment company behind the Angry Birds. However I joined Sanoma for two reasons: to me it is important that learning is the company’s core business and secondly I see potential for further international growth in learning. Therefore, Sanoma Learning feels like a perfect fit for me.

What’s your role at Sanoma Learning?

My role as one of the Business Technology Consultants is to help business units to grow in digital learning by providing building blocks for the current and the future applications. This I do by leading some co-development initiatives like Edubase (learning engine), Identity & Access Management, and later this year Learning Analytics.

How does this bring value to our ways of working?

One of the many strengths of this company is the deep understanding of education including the local differences. Through our co-development program we identify and build common, scalable technology.  This helps us to develop higher quality solutions, faster and at lower cost and also to share learnings across our footprint which includes some of the World’s best education systems. If we are able to take co-development to the next level, we are going to create more Bingels in the future.

What are your first impressions of working with us?

I really enjoy my work. Like today, when I had meetings with Business Technology teams from Van In (Belgium) and Sanoma Utbildning (Sweden). Not only are they inspiring people to work with, I really admire the drive and passion they have for learning and technology. With teams like these, the co-development agenda will succeed.

Where do you think we stand on the digital transformation?

The future of our business seems bright yet increasingly complex. I am confident that we are tackling the right questions. We’re clearly a frontrunner on the digital transformation, which is going to be a long journey. Our deep understanding of learning combined with our technology capabilities make us strong. Further building on our co-development abilities will prepare us better for the future, by enabling us to make better products faster.

Thanks for the feedback Heikki. I believe enabling our learning methods with technology to help our customers is the way forward.  The co-development agenda is a great way for us to scale investments, skills and learnings as we progress.

P.S. Leicester City has a five point lead at the top of the Premier League.  Go Foxes!

From the makers of bingel: yes we diddit!

Vicky Adriaensen

This is Vicky Adriaensen, Business Unit Manager Flanders at Van In

This week I caught up with Vicky Adriaensen who was recently appointed into the new role of Business Unit Manager Flanders, combining both primary and secondary education at Van In. I’m a big supporter of Vicky and admire her sharp focus on the business and inspiring positive energy and enthusiasm – a really great attitude and team leader!

The huge success of bingel in Flanders is well known. It’s used in about 80% of primary schools with more than 500 m exercises completed since it was launched in 2011. Bingel helps to engage pupils with learning, enable good learning outcomes and support the workflow of the teacher. It’s also been good for business and has helped us to grow our sales and market share in primary education. In the meantime we’ve scaled bingel further to Sweden, Finland and Wallonia. It has been a major investment for Sanoma Learning to make, but thankfully a good one.

In the meantime bingel has inspired us to launch a new learning platform in secondary education called diddit. This has been one of the reasons for us to ask Vicky to lead both primary and secondary education units in Flanders. I was especially interested to hear more about diddit from Vicky.

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This is not Vicky Adriaensen.

Tell us about your background and new role Vicky

“I’m proud to have been part of the primary education team in Flanders when we were launching bingel and more recently the secondary education team as we have been launching diddit. Since 1 February I now have the opportunity to work with both excellent teams, helping to guide teachers as they take their next steps in the transformation. We share many common opportunities and challenges in the two departments – in creating new learning methods and helping teachers to use them and taking a lead on the digital transformation. It’s great to be able to work on these things together and get the maximum synergies along the way.”

We all know about bingel in primary education, tell us about diddit in secondary education.

“The bingel success story inspired us to do something similar for secondary education. We adapted the approach to fit the different needs of this age group, including a more mature and personalisable look & feel. We believe we have created the perfect successor for pupils stepping into secondary education, starting with the first grade. It offers the possibility for teachers to easily differentiate and personalise their education, to evaluate digitally and find lots of inspiration both inside and outside the classroom. Pupils can make exercises endlessly on an adapted level, get adapted feedback and also get rewarded by credits for fun and short games.”

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What do our customers like about it?

“The killer argument for the teacher is definitely the fact that it helps them differentiate very easily. The fact that after a test you can automatically generate personalised tasks for every pupil by just pushing one button, is a great time saver for them. Also they are now able to see exactly what students are doing and how they are performing, and of course all input is corrected automatically. Also the fact that they can find everything in one spot is considered very practical. Students use it extensively to prepare for exams and according to them, it works!”

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Do you consider the launch a success?

“Absolutely! Since the last reform in secondary education in Flanders five years ago our market share has been under pressure. Recently, although there wasn’t a specific curriculum “trigger”, we noticed that teachers and pupils were looking for something new from the market. We took the initiative with diddit creating a “big bang” connected with a whole set of new methods. For the first time in five years we managed to grow again and position ourselves as true digital leaders in the secondary education market as well. With more than 30.000 users in the first few months we definitely have the kick-start we were hoping for.”

What’s coming this year?

“On the customer side it’s clear: go for even more users and more usage! From the development perspective we will be expanding the content to cover the next grades and listening very carefully to customer feedback to make sure the user experience of the platform is super friendly and simple.”

Respect!

Thanks for the feedback on this Vicky. I truly hope that diddit will delight pupils and teachers in secondary education just as bingel has done in primary education. Good luck to you and the teams in making it happen. Respect!

Sanoma Learning 2015: taking the right steps to prepare ourselves for the future

the-story-of-sanoma-learning-image

Following the announcement of Sanoma’s 2015 financial results earlier this week, I would like to share with you some of the operational highlights from Learning.  There is a short video summary of it here too.

Engaged customers and colleagues

We engaged with about 10 million pupils and 1 million teachers across Northern Europe, helping pupils to develop their talents and teachers to excel as professionals. We invested heavily to strengthen our position as a leader in the digital transformation. Thank you to our customers for your trust in us, and also to our people for your good work throughout the year!

Good progress on the (digital) transformation

We made good progress on the digital transformation and achieved 15% organic growth in new media sales in our footprint compared with previous year, showing new media sales growth in all of our footprint markets. The number of users and time spent per user increased significantly across our digital offerings. Also we took great steps forward with our co-development program including exporting bingel from Flanders to Wallonia, Sweden and Finland. We realized double-digit growth in market share in Poland with an excellent performance from the team at Nowa Era. The profitability of our core markets was solid, although overall profits were impacted by cleaning up legacy positions at YDP.

Making a positive impact on learning

In 2015 we introduced Sanoma Learning’s Impact Framework which helps us to measure the benefits our solutions bring to our customers. Through the SLIF, we have learned:
95% of teachers reported that our materials help them in enabling pupils to achieve their learning goals
85% of teachers reported that our methods help them with engaging pupils with learning
Teachers typically save about 8 hours of working time each week by using our solutions
I believe this is excellent evidence of the value we bring to education.

Van In realized an outstanding performance across a broad range of indicators including higher sales, market share, digital sales and digital usage. Great job by the team at Van In! Bingel prospered and won the prestigious “International Educational Learning Resources Award 2015” in London and together with Diddit “ICT Project of the Year 2015” in Belgium. New platforms Diddit and Wazzou have been launched in Flanders and Wallonia. Together with SchoolOnline and bingel, they have helped us to win in the market. YDP is now starting to look at taking bingel into new international markets.

Nowa Era achieved double-digit growth in market share, driven by the new business model and a strong operational performance. I am super proud about how the team has dealt with the extremely difficult market conditions resulting from the new legislation. In addition to this, winning in new segments such as exam preparation has brought us access to new markets. Vulcan has performed well and shows good potential for cooperation with Nowa Era in creating new offerings for schools.

Malmberg had a solid year. Good progress was made on the digital transformation, especially with the adoption of new offerings from VOoruit in secondary education. Bureau ICE made an excellent overall performance and it was brilliant to see their success in winning more than 30.000 customers for the IEP Eindtoets. Great job! Our first adaptive course JUMP! – created in cooperation with Knewton – has now gone to market and the early results are promising. I also very much appreciate the important role Malmberg plays in our co-development agenda, including the Editorial Tooling Suite Sanoma Learning (ETSL), Testing and Assessment platform (TEAS) and Edubase. Thank you!

Sanoma Pro faced a smaller market in advance of the broad-based curriculum reform starting in 2016. A big part of the plan for 2015 was to prepare ourselves for this new curriculum. We’re looking forward to bringing our new generation of multi-channel methods, including TEAS and bingel, to the market this year!

At Sanoma Utbildning our positions in secondary education and Swedish for immigrants performed well. Bingel is getting good traction with customers. Through the investments we are making in new learning platform Fox (built on Edubase and populated with content created with ETSL), we believe we are taking the right steps to re-position ourselves for future growth.

At YDP we hired an excellent new Managing Director who has formed a strong new management team which has addressed legacy issues and has made a financial clean-up. This team is now building a new product offering, a new commercial approach, and a leaner organization structure, to prepare ourselves for future growth. As a result of these actions we are optimistic that we will be able to improve performance and profitability at YDP in 2016 when compared with 2015.

2016: focus on winning in challenging markets

Last year we have taken the right steps to prepare ourselves for the future. We are using technology to bring more value to our customers. We will continue investing in new multichannel methods across our markets. And we’re bringing together content and workflow functionalities, to help pupils and teachers in ways that really work.

Proud of the teams

I’m proud of what our teams have achieved in 2015. I want to thank you for your good and hard work and look forward to working together with you in 2016!