Tag Archives: Cito

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!

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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 >>