Category Archives: Teacher

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!

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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!

Inspiring kick-off Sanoma’s Learning Lab in Leiden

Today we kicked-off of the Learning Lab at the Da Vinci College in Leiden, The Netherlands. I was super-excited about this for both professional and personal reasons. I’m passionate about our goal to improve learning as we transform to a more personalized future. I like and respect the forward-looking Da Vinci College in my home-town – the “education city” of Leiden. And this is a great collaboration between Learning and Digital at Sanoma, the teams to which I have committed my professional life in recent years.

Inspiring introductions

annick2We started with some inspiring introductions from the school, Sanoma and facilitator MakerLab. One of the absolute highlights of the day for me was the introduction and welcome to Da Vinci College Kagerstraat by Rector Annick Dezitter. I’d met her before on a visit to the school when we had discussed the personalization of learning. In her introduction, she talked openly and passionately about the future and had a very engaging personal style. I imagine she is an inspiring Rector! She is originally from Belgium and the two Belgians in our Learning Lab team (Johan Merlevede, Chief Transformation Officer in Sanoma Learning’s Leadership Team – the overall sponsor of the Learning Lab, and Joris van Heukelom, Partner at MakerStreet) both proudly reminded me that they are Belgian too, after her speech :-). I very much appreciated her warm welcome and inspiring words.

Lassi Kurkijarvi, innovation hero, at the kick-offAnother highlight was from my former colleague and founder of Sanoma Lab, Lassi Kurkijarvi. He was my first hire at Sanoma Digital and is a mobile native with a can-do mentality and a big heart. I love working with that guy and have learned a lot from him about engaging people. I really liked to see how the style and content of his session had deepened and progressed from our very first accelerator a couple of years ago (it was already good then). I love to see people grow like that!

Selecting the ideas and team leaders

The ten idea owners who will lead the teams from HollandNext, each of the 30 participants pitched their ideas and 10 were chosen to lead teams to develop their concept in the next stage. Seven were selected by the crowd and three through wildcards. It was really fast-paced and exciting! It was great to hear the ideas and to get a sense of the person behind the idea during the pitch. I was very happy with the selection of people and ideas. The 10 team leaders include four teachers, three Sanoma employees and three external “open” applicants. A great mix of talent!

Working out

After lunch the real work began with the first workshop. The teams were formed and the first steps were taken. I’m curious where this will lead us. The spirit and energy were good.

Looking forward >>

We will be continuing with similar kick-offs in Gdansk, Antwerp, Helsinki and Stockholm in the coming days. We will then develop the concepts, five of which will eventually win a place to build a prototype of their idea at bootcamp in Amsterdam in December. I’m truly excited about this! Thanks to everyone who is joining us and respect to you! Looking forward >>

Leading the digital transformation in learning at Malmberg

lijn3Excellence and innovation

Sanoma Learning’s reputation internationally is built on two pillars. First of all, we are a leading and integral player in some of the World’s best-performing education systems including Finland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and also in Sweden. Secondly, we are frontrunners in the digital transformation – with about € 50 m of new media and roughly € 100 m of multi-channel solutions sales (on a total sales base of roughly € 300 m) we are arguably Europe’s leading edtech company today.

“Now is education’s internet moment.”

We are passionate about education and are keen to play a leading role in building the next generation of learning solutions. Our purpose is to enable teachers to develop the talents of every child. And as we develop our learning solutions we keep three goals in mind: i) helping pupils and teachers to achieve great results, ii) supporting the ways of working for time and cost efficiency and iii) engaging pupils and teachers on the journey of learning. We believe digital will be a great enabler in realizing these goals.

Malmberg in The Netherlands at the front of the transformation

Of the markets in which we operate, we see that conditions in The Netherlands are the most mature for adopting digital learning solutions. Our daughter company Malmberg has taken a leading position in the digital transformation and this has been well-received by our customers.

I’ve been super-enthusiastic about the relationship that Sanoma Learning has established with Knewton with Malmberg as trailblazer. I’m really excited to see the prototypes of the next generation solutions we will develop! I am sure they will help to take a quantum leap forward in improving results, efficiency and engagement. I’ve also been happy with the trailblazing role that Malmberg has taken in developing the next generation of editorial tools that we will deploy across Sanoma Learning. Together, these initiatives will help us to serve our customers better and make our business more future proof.

High Five!

In the meantime, school year 2014/2015 has now started and we have gone live with five new big digital initiatives at Malmberg! I wanted to write a few words about them here.

1. Forward (VOoruit) in Secondary Education

VOIn August we went live with our new platform, playing five of our main courses on pc’s, laptops, tablets and smartphones. It looks really great! During the next year we will be migrating more courses onto the platform and eventually expect to power it with Knewton technology, bringing market-leading adaptive learning technology to The Netherlands. The platform covers the complete learning/teaching process from instruction to testing and also includes adaptive practice testing and learning analytics. This is going to really help pupils and teachers! Adoption has exceeded expectations an it’s really been a step up in terms of user experience.

We believe this platform takes us a step ahead of the competition and are going to use it to win a position in the market for maths, which is the biggest market in which we don’t yet have an offering. The time is ripe for renewal in that market. We are building the course now and will launch it next school year.

2. Language Blocks (Taalblokken) in Vocational Education

taalblokkenThis year we have renewed our didactic concept, concept and platform for Taalblokken. We have focused on usability and differentiation. Our first usability analysis has just been completed and both students and teachers have rated the solution with 8/10. Great! A few years ago, Taalblokken and Rekenbloken (languages and maths) were our first courses to play digital first/digital only, and they have been a big success for teachers and students and also helped us to grow our business. We have the ambition to sell 25% more student licences this year, and the signs are that we will achieve that.

3. Pluspunt Digitaal in Primary Education

pluspuntWe are market leader in primary education and our platform is now used by more than 1 m pupils in The Netherlands. We have just created a fully digital tablet version of our winning maths course Pluspunt and are testing it with 40 schools. We expect this course will help teachers and pupils to get better learning results, save time and stay motivated. We also notice that they trust the brand and like that they can deploy print and digital as they wish.

4. Final year testing (eindtoets) in Primary Education via ICE

iepThe government has taken the good decision to open the market for the final year test to new entrants. ICE has an excellent reputation for quality, usability, innovation and digital and we are introducing a new solution to be deployed in 2015. This will be great for our customers and the competition will be good for the market. Cito, here we come!

5. Taking the Primary Curriculum into the home with Family Pluym

pluymWe’ve extended our language and maths courses to the home via a fully digital learning environment following the learning lines and pace of the school curriculum. We started with a soft launch last week and will be rolling it out in the next month. I really like the user experience and believe that parents are increasingly looking to support the learning of their children in the home environment. Our market research and user testing have shown that parents and children like the extension of the trusted school brand into the home too – you know that it is high quality and in time and in tune with the school. This is a potentially new market for us and I am very curious how this will develop.

Investing in the future of learning

2014 is a crucial year for us in investing for the digital future. The first signs are that our customers appreciate and have adopted the renewed offerings.

I admire the frontrunner role that Malmberg takes at Sanoma Learning and in the Dutch market. Customer focus and innovation sit deep in the genes of our people. Respect!

Looking forward >>

Sanoma’s Learning Lab hits the right note

learning-labI love the start of the new school year: it feels like a time of new beginnings and new opportunities. I’m especially excited about the coming semester because we will be running our Learning Lab in partnership with five great innovative schools!

Improving the impact of education on learning

We’re a key partner to schools and frontrunner in the digital transformation in some of the World’s best performing education systems, including Finland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and also Sweden. We’re deeply committed to supporting excellence and equity in education. And we see that many stakeholders in education are looking for renewal: for improved learning outcomes, for better engagement and for new ways of working. Our goal with this Learning Lab is to co-create new concepts, together with our partners, that help to improve and evidence the impact of education on learning.

In time and in tune with teachers

Our target was to recruit 150 participants. However, the Lab has been heavily over-subscribed: we have received about 350 applications! We will increase capacity to take account of this. Interest has been especially strong from teachers. The subject and timing of this innovation lab seems to be very much in line with the needs of our customers. We really appreciate your trust in working together with us in developing new ways of teaching and learning.

Five innovative partners

Thanks to all the individuals and also to the five partner schools for showing their innovative colours and joining us on this journey of discovery. The partner schools are:

It’s great that you have taken on this challenge together with us.

Looking forward >>

I can’t wait for the kick-offs at the beginning of October. We’re going to learn new skills, broaden our networks and take a positive step to improving learning.  And we’ll have a lot of fun on the way!  I’m excited to be working with you on this initiative in the next few months!

Inspiring leadership in education

This week I attended the Global Education Conference in Boston sponsored by Harvard and Goldman Sachs. This was one of the most inspiring conferences I’ve attended in recent years. Sessions were spread over two days and included hot topics such as “financing disruption”, “creating value in a world of content abundance”, “bridging the skills gap” and “the promise of accessible education”.

I could happily write a post about each of them. But I will write about just one. The absolute highlight of the meeting for me was the opening keynote by Geoffrey Canada, CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a charter school network of 12,300 students in New York. He has been instrumental in improving the performance of his students over a period of two decades such that 95% of high school seniors these days are accepted into college. He gave the best live keynote speech I have ever seen.

GeoffreyCanadaMuch of the focus of the conference was on technology, and I certainly believe that technology can be a great enabler in improving education.

However, Geoffrey’s impact comes from excellent leadership. In particular in taking actions to re-set the normative behaviour amongst the stakeholders including the local community. In a nutshell, in changing expectations in the community from “you have to be a genius to go to college” to “if he can do it, I can do it”. And amongst teachers from “don’t blame me, this is a mission impossible” to “my job is to get these kids into college”.

I personally believe that excellent education can be delivered when skilled teachers, motivated pupils and high quality learning materials play together effectively for the benefit of the learning of the pupil. The role of the school leader has not been strong on my radar. But of course, these three cornerstones rely on selecting and leading the right teachers and ensuring that a healthy culture and practices are in place in schools and their communities! The role of the school leader is pivotal. I should re-examine my beliefs!

Canada is a brilliant and inspiring speaker. You know that he wants the best for his pupils. You know that he will do whatever it takes to make it happen. He is highly engaging and has tremendous energy. He’s firm but fair. It’s not about him, it’s about the future of the kids at his school. I liked the clarity of his message. “Your job is to get these kids into college. The military is good. Vocational training is good too. But your job is to get these kids into college. That is what I expect from you”. I liked that he saw it as a journey. Year-on-year he saw impact. But transformation is a journey and the impact 20 years later was massive.

What would the equivalent message be for my own team? The essence of it is “help teachers to excel at developing the talents of every child in their class”. I believe this is the right direction and will be the journey of learning in the coming decade. How to achieve and measure that? If you have inspiring ideas then you are welcome to join our Learning Lab this coming Autumn!

Most of Canada’s keynote was energetic and funny. He is also a poet and took a more serious tone at the end by reading one of his own poems “Don’t blame me”. Inspiring and touching. Thanks Mr Canada, a brilliant leader, for making a positive impact on thousands of lives, and for inspiring me too.

DON’T BLAME ME
February 2007

The girl’s mother said, “Don’t blame me.
Her father left when she was three.
I know she don’t know her ABCs, her 1,2,3s,
But I am poor and work hard you see.”
You know the story, it’s don’t blame me.

The teacher shook her head and said,
“Don’t blame me, I know it’s sad.
He’s ten, but if the truth be told,
He reads like he was six years old.
And math, don’t ask.
It’s sad you see.
Wish I could do more, but it’s after three.
Blame the mom, blame society, blame the system.
Just don’t blame me.”

The judge was angry, his expression cold.
He scowled and said, “Son you’ve been told.
Break the law again and you’ll do time.
You’ve robbed with a gun.
Have you lost your mind?”
The young man opened his mouth to beg.
“Save your breath,” he heard instead.
“Your daddy left when you were two.
Your momma didn’t take care of you.
Your school prepared you for this fall.
Can’t read, can’t write, can’t spell at all.
But you did the crime for all to see.
You’re going to jail, son.
Don’t blame me.”

If there is a God or a person supreme,
A final reckoning, for the kind and the mean,
And judgment is rendered on who passed the buck,
Who blamed the victim or proudly stood up,
You’ll say to the world, “While I couldn’t save all,
I did not let these children fall.
By the thousands I helped all I could see.
No excuses, I took full responsibility.
No matter if they were black or white,
Were cursed, ignored, were wrong or right,
Were shunned, pre-judged, were short or tall,
I did my best to save them all.”
And I will bear witness for eternity
That you can state proudly,
“Don’t blame me.”

The killer app in education is the teacher

edtech-logoLast week the second EdTech Europe meeting was held in London. It was an inspiring day and attracted high quality participants including quite a large audience of start-ups, established operating companies and investors. Thanks to Charles McIntyre, CEO of IBIS Capital and Benjamin Vedrenne-Cloquet, Founding CEO of Edxus Group, for having arranged this excellent meeting!

I was a speaker on one of the panels and also a member of the Advisory Board, so I was happy it was a success. I loved engaging with the entrepreneurs running the edtech ventures. It’s inspiring to hear their stories and feel their energy. And it was also a great networking event for meeting peers from across Europe.

Technology, platform, content, data?

This was a meeting about educational technology, so there was rightly a lot of discussion about the transformation of education and the roles that technology, platforms, content and data will play. What will be the “killer app” of education in the future?

The killer app in education today is the teacher

Today I believe that the “killer app” of K-12 education is the teacher. Great teachers engage individuals and classes, ensuring that they are motivated to learn. They stretch and support individual pupils so that they reach the best learning outcome they can. And they guide the ways of working such that learning time is spent usefully.

Technology will both enable and disrupt teachers in the future

Effective use of technology, platforms, content and data can help to raise learning outcomes (e.g. data-driven personalised learning), bring efficiency to the ways of working (e.g. automation and performance dashboards), and support engagement and motivation (e.g. gamification and storyfication). The teacher is therefore likely to get both enabled and disrupted by technology in the future.

Yet although the role of the teacher will change, I believe they will remain the “killer app” of education in the future too. They are likely to remain the leader of the classroom. They will probably more-or-less remain as the primary guide and gatekeeper to the learning activities that are carried out. And their relationship with classes and individual pupils will remain pivotal to engagement and motivation.

Enable teachers to develop each child

Our ambition is to use edtech to enable teachers to excel at developing the talents of every child, resulting in higher outcomes, better engagement and new ways of working. That’s something I believe in and would be keen to invest in.