Tag Archives: Sanoma

Looking for new opportunities in education (technology)

Europe’s biggest edtech company

After 10 years at Sanoma, mostly leading Sanoma Learning, I’ve informed the company of my intention to move on as of spring next year, giving plenty of time to arrange a smooth handover to a successor.  Check out the press release of 13 November about it here.

Great place to work

It’s been an honour to lead Learning during this period, and I’m really proud about what the teams have achieved.  I love the dedication to learning that can be felt across the company and very much respect the commitment of our people to do a great job for pupils and teachers.

Growth and successful transformation

Our teams have achieved a lot of success in local markets and made great leaps forward on the digital transformation.  We have worked together intensively across the company on the High Five program in building one Sanoma Learning.  And we’ve completed a number of acquisitions including Sanoma Utbildning in Sweden, Tammi Learning in Finland, De Boeck in Belgium and and Iddink in The Netherlands, Belgium and Spain.  We are now about twice the size we were five years ago.

Amongst the best performers in the industry

Today we stand as a very successful company.  We are positively impacting about 11m learners and 1m teachers in some of the World’s best education systems through a professional organization of some 1700 talented people. We are a frontrunner on the digital transformation, arguably Europe’s biggest edtech company today in terms of revenues and employment.

We’re growing and amongst the best performing companies in the industry financially: 2018 brought us the strongest result in our history so far, and we are well on track to extend that success further in 2019.  It has really been a privilege to be part of this great company!

My priority right now is to continue leading Learning effectively and then to handover to a successor before leaving Sanoma.

Investing in education/technology

After that, I’m intending to make some investments in the education (technology) sector and to see where that  brings me.  For early stage investments I will be investing in and working together with eduimpact.fi.  For later stage investments I will work together with other investors.  Feel free to reach out to me at johnrichmartin@gmail.com if you think I could in some way help your company to prosper.

Thank you!

Thank you to my colleagues at Sanoma Learning for their excellent work and cooperation through the years. Wishing them and Sanoma Learning all the best for a bright future ahead!

Looking forward >>

John Martin

How many edtech companies are exporting more than $20M each year?

Source: HolonIQ

Source: HolonIQ

The promise of education markets is well marketed.  Estimates have been made that global education and training spend will reach approximately $10T (that’s $10,000,000,000,000) by 2030, about 6% of global GDP, with approximately 55% spent on the K-12 sector (somewhat above $3T this year).

Global edtech spend is forecasted to grow from $152B in 2018 (a paltry 2.6% of total spending) to $342B in 2025 (a slightly less meagre 4.4%).

Growth in edtech spend

Source: HolonIQ.com

Applying technology to learning and teaching should be a massive opportunity to both improve learning impact and to build a successful business, right?

I’m convinced on both counts.  But if global spend on K-12 is $3T then why is the spend on edtech so relatively modest? It’s mainly important to remember that about 80% of spending in K-12 is on teachers and other staff, with additional spending on other fixed costs such as buildings. Conceptually, in a pure-play digital future, in which teachers might be replaced with AI and robots, this could be an addressable market. However, this seems unlikely to happen at scale any time soon, since it would be not only pedagogically unsound but also socially unacceptable.  (It’s my own belief that the human teacher is the “killer app” in education).

Spending on Staff

Source: OECD Education at a Glance 2018

It seems more likely that technology will be used to super-charge teachers and enable more flexible organization forms for teaching.

Is there a global market for K-12 edtech?

If we would assume for the sake of argument that 2.6% of spending on K-12 education is digital (see above), this would imply a current spend of about $85B.

I would like to understand how much success the edtech industry is having in scaling internationally. How much of the $85B is being spent on local vs global solutions and how big is the opportunity for global vendors? It’s important for us to understand this dynamic as an industry: it will inform our investment decisions and potential to make an impact on learning.

Although the edtech market is not yet very mature, it is of a sufficient scale that we should expect to see successful global operators in edtech in K-12, if the market has a (partially) global nature.  Imagine we set a very low threshold: 0.025% of $85B spend, roughly $20M.  How many edtech companies are there in K-12 today who are generating $20M sales or more each year on edtech offerings being sold outside their market of origin?  More than 100? Less than 10?  I simply don’t know, my guess is there are tens rather than hundreds or thousands.

Who is exporting more than $20M?

I am very keen to discover and understand examples of such companies (exporting more than $20M of edtech each year outside of their home markets in K-12).  I would appreciate it if you would reach out to me when you know of good examples, or if you know of any good reports on the subject.  (Of course there are a number of examples I am aware of and I am excluding the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and so on, which are more generic tech solutions than specifically edtech).

Assuming it’s likely the international opportunity is currently under-developed, are there things that we can do together as an industry to unlock this potential?  At Sanoma we have successfully scaled our bingel platform in primary education across geographies, and are now working on the same with Kampus in secondary education.  Therefore within a Group it seems to be possible.  Are there other examples across Groups or through partnerships that have scaled successfully across international markets?  What can we learn from these examples?

HolonIQ

Source: HolonIQ

The Chinese, Americans and Indians have the advantage of huge internal markets.  At the same time, many of their edtech ventures are focused on capturing that big local opportunity.  However, it seems only to be a matter of time before some of these companies go global.  Whilst lacking their scale, could we Europeans (better) develop the capability to scale across geographies as a competitive advantage in edtech?  What would we need to do to make that happen?

Of course it’s a possibility that K-12 education and edtech markets will remain mainly local.  In which case we as an industry can adjust some of our investment hypotheses accordingly.  Yet I expect growing teacher shortages, pedagogical innovations and technological progress will drive change in our markets. We should organize ourselves to be ready for these changes.

 

Sanoma’s Start-up Challenge Five Years On

Five years on from Sanoma’s Start-up Challenge on the Future of Learning at TNW2014, I checked out how the five finalists have fared.  I’m impressed!

Winner Labster raises growth funding

Winner of the Challenge Labster has been prospering and announced at the end of last month raising $21M in a series B round to develop more digital lab simulations and to grow in the US market.  Next stop the World.

DragonBox joins Kahoot!

Maths app developer DragonBox announced today that it has been acquired by Kahoot! for $18M.  Their claim is that together they are going to make learning maths awesome!

ClassCharts wins BETT

Edukey’s ClassCharts, a seating planner and behavioural management tool, has gone from strength to strength based on the close understanding of teaching and the classroom underpinned by a strong data and analytics capability. Edukey won Company of the Year at BETT2019.

Jumpido combines movement with software to boost maths learning and looks like quite a fun thing to do in primary schools.  Although the website is still active and the company was a finalist at the Forbes e-volution Award in 2016, they have been rather quiet since.

The website for the final contender Eduvee, an intuitive learning and tutoring platform, now re-directs to the education page of custom software and consulting company Elinext, likely indicating that some form of major pivot has taken place for this company.

Impressive

Overall it’s really impressive to see how much success these companies are achieving.  We were lucky to have selected such a strong cohort for our Start-up Challenge.

Inspiring

What I found inspiring in all of the contestants at the time was their deep understanding of their customers and their passion and drive to make a difference.  Five years on you can see the positive impact of the energy they have put into their ventures.

Looking forward >>

I’m curious on how far these companies will go in the next five years, and wish them every success in turning their ambitions into reality.

Teachers value blended learning

In 2018, we carried out our SLIF survey (Sanoma Learning Impact Framework) for the fourth time. In total 7594 teachers answered the online survey, which was carried out in all our markets: Belgium, Finland, The Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden. The main purpose of SLIF is to investigate the impact of published materials on learning. This time we focused on blended learning materials.

We are happy to observe that digital materials are gaining ground in learning. The most important benefit of digital according to teachers is engagement. 68% of the survey respondents felt that digital materials are more engaging for their pupils/students than printed materials. This is easy to believe: for example Bingel with its visually appealing avatar characters which the pupils can adapt with pingping they earn from doing exercises has proved to be very engaging and motivating.

Ultimately we want to offer learning materials that lead to improved learning outcomes. When we asked which factors have the highest influence on learning outcomes, engagement was mentioned as the most important factor, followed by variation in learning activities, individual coaching, and timely feedback to pupils.

It is worth noting that the second most important factor, variation in learning activities, was also considered as something which is better achieved in the blended model. 64% of respondents thought that digital learning materials are better for providing variation than print materials. Again, this is easy to understand. Digital learning materials include video, audio, animations, interactive exercises, instant feedback, and other features obviously missing from printed materials.

Figure 1 summarizes nicely the teachers’ attitude towards digital learning materials. We can see that only 27% of teachers use only printed materials. Whilst it is significantly more than the amount of teachers using only digital materials (3%), we can see that the majority of teachers are somewhere in between, adopting the blended learning approach: 17% apply half digital / half print approach, and 44% primarily print with some digital components.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Teachers would like to use more digital learning materials

It’s interesting to compare the current state of teachers’ materials with their ideal situation. At the moment 17% of the teachers use half digital / half print materials. However, 38% would prefer to have this combination. The difference in print-only teaching is even more pronounced with 27% of teachers currently teaching with print only, but a mere 1% would like to do so also in the future.  This is firm evidence that demand for digital should grow in the coming years.

“Demand for digital in the blended mix to grow”

Whilst teachers want more digital, as our survey clearly shows, it is worth emphasizing that virtually no-one of our respondents would like to teach with digital-only materials. Currently 3% are doing so, but it is not seen as the optimal state by anybody. What to make of this? Our answer: blended learning models work best.

Santtu Toivonen, Lead Insight Manager, Sanoma Pro

John Martin, CEO, Sanoma Learning

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