Tag Archives: Teaching

The future of education services for schools is in workflow

How will artificial intelligence impact K-12 teachers?

This week McKinsey published a new report addressing the question of how AI will impact K-12 teachers.  The research suggests that 20-40% of current teacher time comprises tasks that could be automated. They estimate that teachers could re-direct approximately 13 hours per week towards activities that raise student outcomes and increase teacher satisfaction.  The tasks of preparing lessons, administration, evaluation and feedback are flagged as high potential for automation.

Be selective

These results echo those of last year’s Learning Impact Survey of Sanoma, in which teachers indicated a desire to go digital in those areas which were most labour intensive, flagging essentially the same areas.  This suggests that not only is the opportunity in these tasks but that the profession is also ready for solutions.


Teaching profession under pressure

The teacher is by far the most positive intervention in education.  However the teaching profession faces significant challenges.  UNESCO estimates an additional 69m teachers need to enter the profession by 2030 to fulfil global demand.  In some parts of the world, teacher turnover is high, for example in parts of the USA annual teacher turnover reaches 16%.  In the UK 81% of teachers are considering leaving the profession due to dis-satisfaction.

Higher impact & happier teachers needed!

Furthermore, on average teachers spend only half of their time actually teaching.  This represents not only lost productivity from the core task but is also demotivating for many teachers whose passion is to teach rather than the ancillary tasks around it.  Enabling teacher workflow could therefore not only increase productivity but also make the profession more attractive.


$400bn impact & opportunity

Make no mistake, the opportunity to solve this productivity gap is huge.  Measured in terms of financials, assuming global spending on education to be some $6trn, of which 45% is on K-12 education,  and of which 75% is spent on staff salaries, this implies a global spend on teaching/staff salaries of some $2trn per year.  A 20-40% uplift in productivity through AI could arguably be worth some $400-800bn per year in terms of paid and unpaid output!  Which is not to say that this is a saving governments could make or a revenue that education companies could earn, because a significant slice of that value should rightfully return to teachers through higher salaries and quality of life, and another part would rightfully get re-directed to teacher-student interaction to increase outcomes and professional satisfaction.



Help the teacher to focus on teaching!

Nevertheless, it’s my belief that the teacher will continue to be the killer app in education, and that the biggest opportunity to make not only a positive impact on learning and teaching in K-12 but also to build a successful business, is to enable the workflow of the teacher.   Probably by combining it with the other side of the same coin: the learn-flow of the pupil.  What other opportunities at this scale of potential impact are possible in K-12 within the next 5 years?

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.


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.”



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!”


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.”


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!

Revitalizing Primary and Secondary Education in Russia

Last weekend I was a speaker/panelist at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum on the subject of Revitalizing Primary and Secondary Education in Russia. Learning outcomes in Russia are rather uncompetitive when seen from an international perspective. I was also surprised to hear that schools in many urban areas run two shifts a day due to a lack of capacity.

Although Sanoma Learning is not currently directly active on the Russian market, we were interested to contribute to the discussion. Firstly, because we believe that education is one of the most powerful instruments known for developing individual talent, reducing poverty and inequality and for laying the basis for sustained economic growth, sound governance and effective institutions across the globe. And secondly since we might be able to contribute to improving Russian learning outcomes in the future.

What can Russia learn from our experience?

I was asked what Russia could learn from our experience. I cannot claim to be an expert on Russian education. However, we are an integral player in a number of education systems that consistently perform very well – including Finland, The Netherlands and Belgium. In addition we are the market leader in Poland which has been one of the rising stars on outcomes in recent years. And we have recently acquired a position in Sweden and are keen to support teachers in raising learning outcomes there too.

On the basis of our experience in these successful systems, we believe there are three cornerstones of excellence in primary and secondary education.

1. Skilled and motivated teachers

The first cornerstone is to make sure the level of skills and motivation of teachers is high. A skilled teacher is like a great leader – the impact is huge. They are the heroes and heroines of education. For example, this means:
a. Getting the best people to apply to teacher training
b. Paying them adequately
c. Making sure they are treated with respect, both in school and in society
d. Not over-managing them – they are professionals. Give them space to run their classes without too many rules
e. Making sure they have access to good learning and teaching materials and are free to choose them based on their professional insights. State-prescribed and created materials tend to lead to lower standards and reduced motivation for teachers
f. Keeping their skills up-to-date.

2. Motivated pupils

The second cornerstone is to ensure that pupils are motivated. The correlation between motivation and outcomes is high. This includes:
a. As described above, recruiting and retaining good teachers who can motivate pupils and classes
b. Promoting equity. It’s important to support poorly-performing students and students in economically less advantaged areas. Furthermore, to include marginalized pupils such as those with special needs or from diverse backgrounds and minorities in the mainstream. Their education should be well resourced. It will significantly improve their life chances and lead to better overall outcomes
c. Ensuring that education is valued in society. Amongst others, this will encourage parents to support learning, and this will raise expectations which typically raises outcomes too
d. Finding ways to personalise the process of learning, for example by using technology, or ensuring the teacher has time for individual intervention, or by providing access to tutors. Personalisation improves engagement and better engagement tends to lead to improved outcomes
e. Using high quality learning materials, that both pupils and teachers appreciate.

3. High quality learning solutions

We believe that the third cornerstone to excellence in education is to provide teachers and pupils with high quality learning solutions. They can make a significant contribution to achieving excellent learning outcomes, in a time- and cost-effective manner, whilst keeping pupils and teachers engaged on the journey of learning. Such solutions could include the following elements (for some parts depending on the ICT status of the school):

a. Close “fit” with the local curriculum, language, culture and ways
b. Excellent instructional design
c. Good user experience
d. Play multichannel
e. Capture data and can give insights, and on that basis can be personalisable and adaptive
f. Deploy a coherent learning path and design – easy to use for both pupil and teacher
g. The teacher should have a high level of freedom to choose from a competitive offering – to find the solution that fits them and their class best.

Our beliefs

So those are our beliefs about the cornerstones of creating excellent education systems. There is probably not a single approach that can be copied and pasted across the globe. But the chances are good that most education systems (including Russia) would benefit by focusing on skilled teachers, motivating pupils and providing high quality learning solutions.

Flipping 2.0

flipping 2.0I’m curious about how we can ‘personalize’ learning: how can we help each individual learner to best develop their talents?

‘Flipped learning’ has caught my attention as one potential route, characterized by a more student-centric classroom, higher-level thinking as a goal, and good use of face-to-face interaction between students and teachers.

For this reason I recently read Flipping 2.0: Practical Strategies for Flipping Your Class, compiled by Jason Bretzmann, with authors contributing to sections on 1) Flipping in the core content areas, 2) Can anybody flip? and 3) Just for teachers.

I would like to recommend this book to teachers interested in flipping their classrooms and to other creators of educational resources looking to support personalized learning. I thought it was surprisingly accessible and there were three things I particularly appreciated about it:

1. Expert

All of the contributors have in-depth and first-hand experience of transitioning to a flipped classroom and describe that transformation clearly.  I thought the cases were helpful and real-world descriptions of the benefits and pitfalls. This is not a book of idealized concepts written by hands-off consultants but a very credible “how-to” handbook.

2. Practical

I especially liked the practical nature of the book. Amongst others, it’s a great resource for working out which technical resources might work best for teachers and students. There’s a lot of useful practical advice on creating learning materials, engaging students and dealing with challenges connected with flipped learning such as access to technology.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

3. Passion for teaching and learning

I love it when people are passionate about what they do. The contributors to this work share a passion for teaching and learning and that oozes through the pages. You feel throughout the book that they are striving to be great teachers and are constantly looking for ways to excel and improve in that role. Respect!

By the end of the book I personally wanted to create my own lessons and I’m not even a teacher! Apart from thinking how we could support the flipped classroom at Sanoma Learning, it also made me wonder if I could use some of these learnings in my own job. Somehow a ‘flipped board meeting’ doesn’t sound quite right :-), yet we do say that we want to spend less time going through powerpoint slides and more time on discussing and improving the strategies. Worth an experiment …