Tag Archives: Finland

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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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!

The Global Search for Education: Just Imagine

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“There’s a real chance that more or less all schoolchildren everywhere will have access to mobile devices by 2050 and will be allowed to use those devices for learning. Imagine the profound impact on our people and planet when that generation gets access to mobile learning across the globe.” — John Martin

Check out my interview with leading education blogger and author C.M. Rubin, published in the Huffington Post earlier this week.  I’ve re-posted it below:

Preparing our students for a new world of Innovation is a theme we cover consistently in The Global Search for Education series. We invited John Martin, CEO of Sanoma Learning, to share his vision for learning in the future.

Sanoma Learning has major markets in Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden, where the company is fast replacing the traditional textbook model by developing innovative, captivating media in multiple platforms that can be individualized to meet the demands of specific educational systems. Sanoma has been dedicated to education since 1889, when it established the newspaper Päivälehti in Finland. Today it is carrying this commitment in leaping bounds into the future. Martin believes that while the teacher remains “the killer app,” edtech can personalize learning pathways for pupils and engage them in new ways, helping to develop the talents of each child. In my interview with John that follows, he shares his broad insights into how we can work towards environmental sustainability, global inclusivity, and intelligent technological adaptation in future classrooms.

How will the school of the future be more environmentally conscious?

I imagine myself as a biology teacher in a school where we have introduced “phenomenon-based learning”, inspired by the world renowned Finnish education system. I’m coaching a course on climate change and teams in my class are working out how to reduce the carbon footprint of the school. I’m sure they will find new ideas and expect this way of learning will have a profound effect on their behaviour too. An earlier class encouraged us to embrace the Internet of Things in helping to limit our environmental impact. Through this network of “connected things” at school, we have reduced our use of energy, water and food, and optimized the travelling. By changing our behaviour and embracing technology we are making a difference.

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“By automating workflows and giving insights, technology will super-charge the teacher as the killer app in education. As the digital infrastructure of schools matures, usability will improve too.” — John Martin

How will the school of the future be more globally inclusive?

I expect that changes in demography, improved access to mobile technology and new norms in the classroom will open up the world of learning. Today, access to mobile learning is limited in three dimensions: to children in richer communities, in rich countries, and in schools where digital learning is encouraged. Consider the world in 2050 where the number of under 15 year olds will be roughly as follows: 70 million in the USA, 90 million in South America, 110 million in Europe, 200 million in China, 300 million in India and 700 million in Sub-Saharan Africa. There’s a real chance that more or less all schoolchildren everywhere will have access to mobile devices by 2050 and will be allowed to use those devices for learning. Imagine the profound impact on our people and planet when that generation gets access to mobile learning across the globe. Is there a more powerful instrument for reducing poverty and inequality, and laying the basis for sustained economic growth and sound governance than this?

How will technology be integrated into the curriculum and how will the school handle the integration of continual advancements in technology?

Technology will be seamlessly integrated into the curriculum and will enable ever improving learning impact. Through personalization, technology will help each individual pupil to achieve their best learning potential. And by automating workflows and giving insights, technology will super-charge the teacher as the killer app in education. As the digital infrastructure of schools matures, usability will improve too. Teachers will be better skilled and more confident than today in deploying technology and will be supported by more advanced ICT departments.

What will be left of traditional craft work and writing?

Partly as a reaction to all things virtual, the “maker” culture will flourish, with pupils and teachers embracing learning-by-doing. Unfortunately, handwriting might eventually become more or less out of fashion, except as an art form. But expression through words will be as essential as ever.

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“Handwriting might eventually become more or less out of fashion, except as an art form. But expression through words will be as essential as ever.” — John Martin

Given the new trends of museums and corporate architecture integrating technology and media into their physical space and infrastructure, will schools evolve in a similar way?

I think the integration of technology with the pupil rather than the building is a more interesting development. With mobile devices and wearable technologies, new “Strava’s of learning” will help pupils to unlock their potential. Regarding the physical spaces in schools, I imagine it won’t be very long before screens and 3D printers are ubiquitously available in rich economies.

Given the efficiency of the Internet and home learning, how much time will students be needed in school?

The institution of the school is an important but arguably somewhat weak intervention in the holistic development of our children – after all, in most Western countries, about 80% of their time is spent outside the school. However, schools do offer scale benefits for learning, especially with regard to access to great teachers, learning resources, and to other pupils. Not to forget the added economic benefit of enabling parents to participate in the workforce. In some ways I wonder if a better question might be how we could more effectively look holistically at the learning and welfare of each pupil, rather than how many hours they should go to school?

How important will the presence of physical teachers be?

I believe the teacher is the killer app in education. A great teacher is like a great coach who can help to unlock the potential of each child. Generally, I think it’s best to physically include a teacher in the journey of learning. I don’t think this always has to be in the form of one teacher with 25 pupils; varying the group size and role of the teacher, depending on the situation, is likely to become more common in the future. Some of the tasks of a teacher will probably be made more efficient or even substituted by technology. And there are situations, for example, in case of a shortage of teachers or lack of access to a school, health matters or a wish to learn independently, where a virtual approach would make good sense.

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“With mobile devices and wearable technologies, new ‘Strava’s of learning’ will help pupils to unlock their potential.” — John Martin

Will technology advancement lead to further personalization of education to individual students or will it also increase the techno-bureaucratic need for standardization?

Technology will surely enable the personalization of learning and I would expect that this will result in improved learning outcomes, better engaged pupils and a more efficient school. Whether or not this leads to more bureaucracy and standardization is up to the policymakers. Technology is in itself neither good nor bad but will serve the requirements of the market.

Will we teach students specific “subjects” in traditional classrooms like we have today or will classes be more about integrated/hybrid learning?

I expect the industrial model of education will be re-imagined and re-designed for the post-industrial, knowledge era. It’s a personal view on the future, but I wonder if we will move in the direction of a “T-model” in the next generation. In the vertical of the “T,” each child develops expertise on key “subjects,” but in a much more personalized way than at present – for example, also including adaptive and peer-to-peer learning. And in the horizontal of the “T”, other skills such as collaboration, communication and leadership are learned, maybe in the form of “phenomenon-based learning” programs such as those recently introduced in Finland.

Faced with increasing time spent on digital devices, how can we teach more practical skills, including coping with stress levels and interpersonal conflict?

It was hard to develop “life skills” from a book and the same holds true with devices. The thing about skills is that they generally improve with practice, especially when supported by coaching. So I think it’s a matter of prioritization: don’t over-do the screen time and make sure life skills are on the agenda.

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C. M. Rubin and John Martin

(All Photos are courtesy of Sanoma)

Join me and globally renowned thought leaders including Sir Michael Barber (UK), Dr. Michael Block (U.S.), Dr. Leon Botstein (U.S.), Professor Clay Christensen (U.S.), Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond (U.S.), Dr. MadhavChavan (India), Professor Michael Fullan (Canada), Professor Howard Gardner (U.S.), Professor Andy Hargreaves (U.S.), Professor Yvonne Hellman (The Netherlands), Professor Kristin Helstad (Norway), Jean Hendrickson (U.S.), Professor Rose Hipkins (New Zealand), Professor Cornelia Hoogland (Canada), Honourable Jeff Johnson (Canada), Mme. Chantal Kaufmann (Belgium), Dr. EijaKauppinen (Finland), State Secretary TapioKosunen (Finland), Professor Dominique Lafontaine (Belgium), Professor Hugh Lauder (UK), Lord Ken Macdonald (UK), Professor Geoff Masters (Australia), Professor Barry McGaw (Australia), Shiv Nadar (India), Professor R. Natarajan (India), Dr. Pak Tee Ng (Singapore), Dr. Denise Pope (US), Sridhar Rajagopalan (India), Dr. Diane Ravitch (U.S.), Richard Wilson Riley (U.S.), Sir Ken Robinson (UK), Professor Pasi Sahlberg (Finland), Professor Manabu Sato (Japan), Andreas Schleicher (PISA, OECD), Dr. Anthony Seldon (UK), Dr. David Shaffer (U.S.), Dr. Kirsten Sivesind (Norway), Chancellor Stephen Spahn (U.S.), Yves Theze (LyceeFrancais U.S.), Professor Charles Ungerleider (Canada), Professor Tony Wagner (U.S.), Sir David Watson (UK), Professor Dylan Wiliam (UK), Dr. Mark Wormald (UK), Professor Theo Wubbels (The Netherlands), Professor Michael Young (UK), and Professor Minxuan Zhang (China) as they explore the big picture education questions that all nations face today.
The Global Search for Education Community Page

C. M. Rubin is the author of two widely read online series for which she received a 2011 Upton Sinclair award, “The Global Search for Education” and “How Will We Read?” She is also the author of three bestselling books, including The Real Alice in Wonderland, is the publisher of CMRubinWorld, and is a Disruptor Foundation Fellow.

Re-designing education in Finland for the 21st Century

Finland has achieved remarkable success as a high-performing and inclusive education system. But what needs to be done to design a system that will serve the country well in the 21st Century?

Last Friday I joined a workshop in Helsinki organised by Esko Aho, former PM of Finland and his colleague Marco Steinberg, with special guest speaker Prof. Paul Reville, Director of Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Education Redesign Lab, to contribute to the debate on designing a new solution.

Right question

I was enthusiastic about participating because this question is exactly right, and not only for Finland. Sanoma Learning is keen to take a leading role in co-developing and operating new learning solutions and systems. And it’s inspiring to learn from the experience of experts with a passion for education and learning – not only Prof. Reville and Dr. Steinberg – but also the other talented people who joined from amongst others Sitra, Tekes, the City of Helsinki and other companies and institutions.

Revving up the Engine

Prof. Paul Reville, Director of Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Education Redesign Lab I was especially interested to hear Prof. Reville’s vision on the key areas that should be addressed by a future proof solution (or in his words, Human Capital Development Engine for K-12):

  1. To individualise/personalise/customise education such that each pupil emerges from school ready for meaningful employment and 21st Century citizenship
  2. To develop each child holistically including their health and well-being, looking not only at academic performance but also supporting disadvantages such as poverty, mental and social disadvantage and so on.
  3. To significantly increase out-of-school learning opportunities (80% of a child’s time is out of school, making the school environment itself a relatively weak intervention) including such things as summer school, tutoring, sporting, music and art and so on, especially for the less advantaged.

But what are the answers to these challenges? And how to realise change in such a complex environment as education, with many stakeholders?

Advice to Government?

We workshopped on what our advice would be to the new government in Finland on creating the next generation education system. The most important themes that emerged from the discussion (probably not the formal standpoints of any of the organisations represented) were:

  1. To enable the personalisation of learning: developing the talents of every child
  2. To train teachers for 21st Century teaching and learning
  3. To create strategic ownership for the change

How to personalise?

Looking specifically at suggestions that arose from the discussion to government on how to enable personalisation, the main themes were:

  1. To digitalise and personalise the curriculum
  2. To further develop the role and skills of the teacher
  3. To change the organisational model, enabling formal and informal learning, both within and outside the school.

Doing it on purpose at Sanoma Learning

I learned a lot about the design of education systems and about Finland during the day and was inspired by the outcomes of the discussions. I also felt that our purpose at Sanoma Learning – “to enable teachers to develop the talents of every child” is consistent with the described future proof model (or at least the role we can play in it), and that the investments and changes we are making to support this purpose are in the right direction.

Looking forward >>

After the meeting, I have the impression that on the level of the education system, i) bringing strategic ownership to leading the change ii) enabling the skills, pedagogical, curriculum, technology, organisational and cultural change iii) finding a transformational approach for schools from the standardised to the personalised model (it will take years and will not “flip” overnight) and iv) investing in and implementing the change at the right pace, will be harder challenges than concepting the “engine” itself. It’s not going to be a quick-and-easy transformation journey, but if we get it right, we could make a huge positive impact on the learning of our next generation.

Thanks to the team for organising an inspiring day!

Slush 2014 – Shaping The Future Of Learning

In November last year I was a keynote speaker in the edtech session at the startup meeting Slush in Helsinki.  I was excited about participating.  I love the positive energy of entrepreneurs, it’s a great place for networking and inspiring to hear the new ideas.  And as continental Europe’s biggest edtech company in the K-12 space, Sanoma Learning is keen to play a full role in helping to bring new solutions to schools and to support the startup community that can help to accelerate such innovations.

I truly enjoyed the event.  It was rather huge and slightly scary on that stage!  You can check out my keynote here.

▶ Slush 2014 – Shaping The Future Of Learning | Green Stage #slush14 – YouTube.

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!

Learning outcomes accelerator: co-creating new solutions with schools

The future of learning is personal

personalAs we move from the industrial age to the knowledge age, our ways of working in education will change too. Amongst others, technology will enable us to tailor pedagogy, curriculum and learning support to the needs and aspirations of each individual learner. Developing the talents and potential of individuals and helping them to make progress in their lives will be key.

Our thinking needs to shift. From inputs …

Governments have traditionally put a lot of emphasis on the inputs into education. How much do we spend? How many pupils per classroom? How many hours of class time? How much do we spend on learning materials? How many devices in the school? These things are all important.

… to outcomes

input-to-outcomesHowever, the value is in the outcome not the input. Are we helping individuals to make progress in their learning career? Are we preparing them for effectively for work? Are we enabling them to become good and fulfilled citizens? These are the big outcomes questions.

Maybe these questions are so big that we only know the answers when it’s too late. Therefore, on a more practical level, we should break it down into something more manageable. For example, for each activity (“course” or “lesson”):

– does this contribute to a good learning result for all of the individual pupils?
– in a way that is engaging and motivating for pupils and teachers?
– and in a way that is effective in terms of time, cost and energy?

By bringing these outcomes into focus, we can reshape education for the next generation.

Enter the Learning Outcomes Accelerator

At the OPPI Learning Festival in Helsinki last week (great initiative!), we announced the launch of an open Learning Outcomes Accelerator:

“how can we improve and evidence the impact of education in the new era?”

In each of the countries in which Sanoma Learning operates (Finland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Poland and Sweden) – pretty much an all-star cast for PISA 🙂 – we would like to work with one school where at least one teacher/class would participate.

Also, we would like to ask academics (with expertise in outcomes, learning analytics, pedagogy and so on) to join us to bring an extra richness to our thinking and approach. And 75 professionals from Sanoma, with expertise about course and curriculum development, design and user experience, and lean startup methodologies will join us in creating new prototypes.

How does the accelerator work?

Participants at bootcamp

Participants at bootcamp

We will launch (in September, dates to be finalized) with five “live” kick-offs, one in each of the main schools participating. This will be followed by a seven week program of ideation and training, during which hundreds of ideas will be created, tested and improved. Towards the end of the process the best five ideas will be selected by public voting and the winners will be invited (expenses paid) for a four-day bootcamp in Amsterdam to build their prototype. I’ve previously blogged about how an accelerator works and what happens at bootcamp. It’s really exciting and inspiring to be part of it!

What is it, what isn’t it?

The accelerator will be above all about learning by doing! It will be fast-paced, highly practical and we will go from idea to functional prototype in less than 10 weeks. It will be structured in terms of the goals, process and support. And open in terms of ideas. It will be a journey of discovery and experimentation and this is what makes an open accelerator so exciting.

It’s not a big academic exercise. We won’t write a book about it. (Even if books are good too.)

Register and help us co-create new solutions for outcomes

If you would like to join the accelerator and you’re either a teacher at a school in one of the five countries mentioned earlier, or an academic from there or elsewhere, please let us know at sanomalearningoutcomes.com. We will strive to have decided which five schools to work with on this particular accelerator by the end of June. Participation is free of charge. We will be accepting applications until 1 September.

I was positively surprised by the interest from other groups at OPPI too. For example, some Foundations, Universities, other companies, schools in other countries and educational journalists also wanted to get involved. If you are from one of these groups and have something exciting to bring to the accelerator, then please take contact with me and let’s see if there are possibilities for us to adapt the program so you can join us.

Looking forward >>

I believe that by bringing outcomes into focus, we can reshape education for the next generation. I hope you will join us on this exciting journey!