Roughly a month ago we started the Sanoma Learning Lab 2014. Here’s a recap and some feelings from our Helsinki kickoff:
As I write this blog post, we are about halfway through the Lab. There has been great development. The teams have been formed and are now working on the following ideas*:
Idea 1 assists students to find job opportunities. It does matchmaking by connecting the opportunities in workplaces with skills and interests the students have.
Idea 2 is tackling the common need of teachers to have everything they need in one place, fast and efficiently. The time saved can be used for interacting with the students.
Idea 3 is set to make 3D printing significantly cheaper and more straightforward for schools than it currently is.
Idea 4 is a digital notebook for teachers to give better feedback to students. It enables this by providing the teacher with extensive analytics of the students’ behaviors when they are studying, especially when doing exercises.
Idea 5 combines traditional presentations with interactive feedback and various kinds of participation mechanisms.
Idea 6 aims at keeping up the motivation of learners. It is a service to keep a record of language learning progress by collecting data from different sources and presenting it in a fun way.
Idea 7 is a curriculum-aligned mobile game for lower secondary school pupils to get engaged in the subjects they find difficult to follow and master.
Idea 8 is a peer-learning platform for upper secondary students. Students can help each other in various ways, using chat, video, graphics, and other media. By helping others a student earns merits.
Idea 9 is a system for answering questions with physical movements. We know that both children and adults sit down too much these days so this is a very relevant research area.
Idea 10 is a role playing game for learning history. The pupils can assume various roles in historic events and see how their behaviors in the game turn out (as opposed to how things really went down in history).
Finally, idea 11 is an anatomy and physiology game for nursing students to self-learn important skills. The game is organized as a set of mysteries for the students to solve.
This is how the ideas look like at the moment. However, our program is all about pivoting so who knows what they’ve transformed into come next week. Mind also, that these are only the Finnish ideas. There are plenty more from Sweden, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Poland.
I recently blogged about an extensive study my employer Sanoma Pro conducted among Finnish K-12 teachers. Sanoma Pro is part of Sanoma Learning and has sister companies in Sweden, Poland, The Netherlands, and Belgium. Sanoma Learning also carried out a similar study. Highlights of that study from the Finnish point of view are depicted in the infographic below:
The findings of this study are quite well in line with what we found out locally in Finland. For example, schools need good digitalization plans, devices for pupils and teachers, and especially teacher training. Generally teachers have faith in the digital future. They are confident that digital content and solutions enhances pupils’ motivation, result in better learning outcomes, and support teachers’ daily work.
The one topic that perhaps most clearly separates Finnish teachers from the rest is the position they see themselves in the future. A whopping 98% of the teachers see themselves as playing a crucial role in the digital transformation. I mean, even the average 85% of Sanoma Learning’s business units is very high, but 2 per cent short of a hundred is quite amazing.
It is no surprise, though, if you stop and think of it. Let’s remember that Finnish teachers are highly valued by parents & society and only 1-2 in 10 applicants get in teacher training which is given in universities (they graduate as masters). Teacher’s role is central in Finnish K-12 education and the digital solutions we come up with should not shatter that but foster instead.
A white paper based on the Sanoma Learning study can be found here (pdf).
Well, we have always co-created with schools. By we I mean my employer, Sanoma Pro. Teachers play a vital role in creating educational materials together with our editors and other experts.
But after the summer we are going to try something new. Introducing the Learning Outcomes Accelerator program, which was announced last weeked at the Oppi Learning Festival. Together with local schools in our core markets (Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden), we are going to address digital transformation and how to harness it for creating better learning outcomes.
Sanoma has organized accelerators before, for example in the areas of mobile innovations, digital content, and commerce. Accelerators are short and intense innovation programs lasting for a couple of weeks. Participants from all over Sanoma create hundreds of ideas and then by applying lean startup methodologies end up with a few, of which the best ones are implemented as working prototypes.
In previous programs the focus has mainly been on B2C innovations. The upcoming one is going to include schools, which is for sure going to add a new interesting twist to MVP validation and other ways of working. I’m very excited about this! If you are too, register at the program’s web site to learn more.
I saw a wonderful presentation by my Belgian Sanoma Learning colleagues earlier this week. At Van In they offer a service called Bingel, which essentially is an online exercise platform for primary education, kids aged 6-11.
Normally Bingel has a beautiful user interface of an island floating in the clouds. However, on October 17th 2013, a story started to unfold. First a panel appeared counting down the days until November 7th. An then, the mountain on the island erupted as a volcano, spitting red lava in the sky.
Bingel users were then encouraged to collect sand in order to make the volcano to settle down. And how to collect sand? You guessed it, by completing exercises. As a result, during the following week Belgian children did three times more exercises than normally during that November week. By now the volcano has calmed down, but the story is still developing…
These little things are what build up gamification. You take your normal routine activities and bring in some extra spices. Think of Google Doodles. Although they have become more complex through the years, they are still somewhat small things bringing temporary delight to information searchers.
These small gamification elements have to tap into users’ emotions in order to work. The Bingel volcano eruption caused some suspense no doubt, as well as joy in the end when enough sand had been collected.