Monthly Archives: December 2015

2016: The Year for Digital Educational Content?

New Year's

Education and learning is clearly in transformation, you already knew that. This transformation takes many shapes, but at the core of it is the transition from analog to digital, from print to online.

Upcoming disruptions always generate hype and overkill. You have these snake oil salesmen painting pictures of the future. Pictures where everything will be different. In reality, things often change slowly and stealthily. There is a tipping point, but it can often be identified only post hoc, when things have already changed.

For institutional learning to complete this transformation, many pieces are still needed to complete the puzzle. Both teachers and pupils/students should have proper client devices which are maintained and upgraded appropriately. They also need to know how to make the most of these devices and the programs running in them. This calls for both simple UIs and systematic training.

Connectivity and other infrastructure should be seamless not only at school, but at home and preferably also during commute. It should be as reliable and effortless as working with pen, paper, books, and other tangible resources.

Various other things should be addressed too, such as privacy (of underage people), assessment, differentiation, personalization, and cyber-bullying. All of the above are important things to be taken care of, many of them are plain hygiene factors. You simply cannot transform to digital if you don’t have proper devices.

However, sometimes the single most important piece of the puzzle gets ignored: content. Imagine a classroom equipped with superfast internet connection and top notch devices for all pupils. If the pupils and the teacher cannot access relevant digital content, the devices remain secondary.

The base level for digital educational content is that it should address the curriculum. Not only partly, but as well and as completely as the analog content does. However, and this is important: it shouldn’t mimic the analog content to the letter. No, it should make the most of what devices connected to the internet can provide. Think videos, animations, online exercises, adaptive personalization, group work, and learning games to start with.

Finland starts to roll out new K-12 curriculum from fall 2016 onwards. Aligned with this, my expectation and wish for the new year is more and more great digital educational content.

Flickr image CC credits: Mathias Erhart

 

hundrED: 100 Ambitious Learning Projects Launching in 2016

I participated the hundrED project launch December 8th in Helsinki. The project is carried out by SCOOL * whose mission is to help schools change. SCOOL already provides learning instruments such as the Campus seminar for teachers, Dreamdo platform for global sharing between schools, and Triplet for turning news into educational materials overnight.

 

 

hundrED fits SCOOL’s portfolio nicely. It indeed aims to help schools change. This time the method is by inviting schools and other stakeholders to apply with innovative projects. One hundred of them will be accepted by the end of January 2016 and then these projects will be carefully documented (in English) and shared with the rest of the world. hundrED is part of Finland’s 100th birthday celebrations.

Besides 100 school projects, hundrED will interview 100 educational thinkers such as Pasi Sahlberg, Ken Robinson, Salman Khan, and Sugata Mitra. Furthermore, it will share 100 education innovations across the globe. One of hundrED’s innovation partners is IDEO, the famous design & consulting company from San Francisco.

As we know, institutional education market is very siloed and constrained by local curricula, languages, cultural conventions, etc. The hundrED project will probably not break these silos completely, but what it can do is provide something extra, something which can be adapted to learning and teaching habits nevermind the local characteristics.

My guess is that hundrED will focus on identifying and sharing methods and processes rather than the actual content to be learned. If a class in Finland comes up say with a new method for jointly learning mathematical concepts, they can share this with the rest of the world via the hundrED community.

Saku Tuominen emphasized that afterwards everything will be documented and shared free of charge. After his presentation someone from the audience asked a relevant question: how about during the project, is it possible to follow what’s going on. The answer to this too was yes. I think this is important.

These days it is vital to communicate also during creative processes instead of delivering “complete results” after all the work is done. First of all, I don’t believe in complete results. There’s always going to be a new iteration. Secondly, handing out heavy content packages all at once is not optimal in this TL;DR day and age. People want results and findings in smaller consumable chunks along the way.

Central topics to hundrED are learning, teaching, assessment, learning environments (to be understood broadly, containing digital, physical, and social environments). Digitalization as such is not the end goal of hundrED, but only one means to an end. I like this, it makes the project more easily approachable for anyone. All and all, excited to see what will be delivered!

* My employer Sanoma has invested in SCOOL