Tag Archives: Adaptive Learning

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.

diddit_campagnebeeld

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.”

screenstudent

 

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!”

screenteacher

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!

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Creating a learning company: lessons from the Bay Area

At the d.school Stanford

Earlier this month, our leadership team at Sanoma Learning visited the Bay Area. Our purpose was to learn more about their approach to disruptive innovation in education. The timing was especially good following the recent announcements around Lynda.com (sold to LinkedIn for $1.5 bn), Altschool ($ 100 m investment from Founders Fund, Zuckerberg) and all things Uber.

Hoover Tower Stanford

We started at the Graduate School of Education and d.school at Stanford. Then we spent a few days in smaller teams visiting about 20 edtech ventures and a handful of investors in the area. Finally we wrapped it up with a discussion about what we had learned and what it means for us.

A few things particularly stand out from the visit.

Culture: an “open adaptive learning platform”

Rapid adaptive learning seems to be at the core of the success of the Bay Area ecosystem. The architecture of the platform is good: curious scientists, practical engineers, passionate entrepreneurs and risk-friendly investors. The “intelligence” of the platform is the driven by the culture (open, passion for purpose, fast-paced) which results in a rapid exchange of insights. We found it easy to meet outstandingly good, high-level people, even on short notice. They were enthusiastic to share views and to look for opportunities, to move at a pace. The whole ecosystem gets smarter and better when this much talent gets together in that culture.

Opportunity: return on education

Based on our experience in Finland and other great education systems, we hold the view that the teacher is the killer app in education – and technology can help to super-charge the teacher. We believe a skilled and well-equipped teacher is the single biggest factor influencing learning outcomes, pupil engagement and the cost–effectiveness of education (all “returns” or as we call it “learning impact”). Investors seem to particularly like the return on investment theme (from the customer perspective).

Online education marketplace Udemy announced raising $65 m expansion funds, shortly after our visit :).

Online education marketplace Udemy announced raising $65 m expansion funds, shortly after our visit

Their thinking is that RoEs should be good for business: for example when completion of a course can lead to career progress, the company providing that course should be able to capture a slice of the benefits (particularly in vocational education). Although clearly influenced by the ventures we chose to visit, we experienced much more enthusiasm for professional learning than edutainment or B2C markets (monetization problem – poor RoE?), and for higher and further education above K-12 (more direct link to career progress in further education and go-to-market approach is very hard for disruptors in K-12). One way or another, proving and improving “returns” will be important to future success.

Evolution (or revolution?): changing ecosystems

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Edmodo, collaborative learning platform, has 50m users

Some of the most interesting discussions of the week centred on how ecosystems for educational resources are changing. How can we develop a symbiotic relationship with Open Educational Resources and User Generated Content that could delight teachers and pupils? How can we further boost the “platformisation” of our business? How should we most effectively inter-operate with other players? How can we put data to work for better learning impact whilst carefully respecting privacy? Evolving with our ecosystems must be core to our strategy.

Proud of the team

It was a thrilling trip, full of inspiration and energy, with our team in excellent form: one of the best weeks of my life! Sensing the energy, curiosity and intelligence of the team as we de-briefed what we had learned each the day was simply a gift. Great job team!

Looking forward >> How to become a true learning company?

I believe that Sanoma Learning can rightly be seen as one of the world’s best education companies. Ultimately, I think the most important question to come from the visit was: how can we become a true “learning company”? A company that can consistently learn from and with the best and translate those learnings into great “impact” for pupils and teachers. This is the exciting journey we’re on!
PS I was kidnapped by Betsy Corcoran, CEO of Edsurge during our visit. Check out the podcast here

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!