Category Archives: Innovation

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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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

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.

The Chinese are coming to a school near you

 

Last week we visited China with a small team to learn more about their education system. The timing was good with today’s announcement of the results of the latest PISA survey,  with the Chinese regions once again performing very well.

china

Amongst others we visited a variety of successful private and state-owned enterprises as well as a government department of education and – best of all – a primary school. It was an inspiring experience and we were greeted warmly and had open discussions everywhere we went.

The primary school felt very similar to those in our home countries, although the class sizes were twice as big at 50 rather than 25 students.  We sometimes have the impression of Chinese children doing heavy duty rote learning, but I was struck by the emphasis on meaning, aspiration and happiness in the school we visited.  Teachers were experimenting with project-based learning and digital, not dissimilar to recent innovations in Finland.

The companies we visited were all proud to present what they were working on, very open to answer questions and to curious to learn about us too.  Finnish education was well respected.  The tech companies looked and felt very similar to those in Silicon Valley but somehow seemed even more keenly commercial.

The government clearly has a big voice in education, with central government setting overall policy through the five year plan and the local authority we visited was actively working to understand and improve school performance across the region, driven by quite a rich set of data.

It made me wonder:

“is China going to lead the next wave of breakthrough innovations in education and learning?”

The scale of the market, commitment of the key players and innovative potential of the ecosystem  create a compelling case.

Scale

With a population of over 1.3 bn inhabitants and about 200 m students in K-12 education this is a huge market.  Each year about 17 m new students join the system, with this number likely to get boosted by up to 6 m each year due to the recent move to a “two-child” policy.

Commitment

The government is highly committed to education and the 13th 5-year plan (2016-2020) focuses on improving quality and access, with a key role for digital. Significant new resourcing is being dedicated to the transformation. At the same time, private spending on education is huge, estimated to be of the order of 1/3 of average household disposable income, driven by the “six adults – one child” phenomenon resulting from the earlier “one child” policy. The commitment to education in China seems unrivalled on the global stage.

Innovative potential

The companies and organisations we met had high quality management and development capabilities at least comparable with what we have seen in the West. There seems to be a “learning culture”, with people keen to try new things and work hard at it. There is everything to win. The transformation need is clearly articulated and well-funded.  Authorities and companies are building large networks of users and rich databases.  Surely the insights that will come from this ecosystem about learning on all levels (individual, class, school, region, nation) will power innovation in education and learning?

China: coming to a school near you

All-in-all I think it’s highly likely that China will become a powerhouse of innovation in education in the coming years – and that our education systems will also benefit from Chinese innovations in education.  Also, given the growing global importance of China, how long will it be before Mandarin is a common second language in our curricula?  One way or another, the Chinese are coming to a school near you pretty soon.

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.

logo_deboeck

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!