Two girls conducting experiments in a science classroom.
 Play-based pedagogy is close to heart for many Finnish educators. Image: Mart Production / Pexels

Finnish educators deliver news worth learning about

Finnish education expertise is to continue making a positive impact worldwide with the help of new funding and partnerships.

Aleksi Teivainen

02.11.2021

Kide Science, a Helsinki-based play-based science education specialist, has announced partnerships with Red Balloon in Brazil and Owen Education and Technology Group in China.

Red Balloon, a part of one of the largest private educational organisations in the world, Cogna Educaḉao, will introduce play-based lesson plans developed by the startup to support the development of some 10 000 three-to-eight-year-old children.

“We are so excited to find this kind of partnership where we can also now experience in action how integrated science education and language learning enhance young children’s understanding of science, content and science process skills,” rejoiced Sari Hurme-Mehtälä, chief executive of Kide Science.

A teacher explaining things to three small children

According to Kide Science, an engaging story can make the difference between just another class and a lifelong memory. Image: Facebook / Kide Science

The startup’s award-winning platform utilises storytelling as a gateway into a world of scientific play and places emphasis on language proficiency as a key tool for verbalising questions, observations, processes and results.

Carol Stancati, director at Red Balloon, said the organisation was drawn to the approach because it expands the concepts of science and language education to the “wider underpinning perspective of multiliteracy”.

“Our teachers also value how easy the platform is for them to use and how engaging stories are in all the lesson plans for young children entering the imagination world,” she said.

Children with a laboratory equipment

Kide Science uses storytelling as a way to introduce the scientific play world and improve children’s language learning. Image: Facebook / Kide Science

Kide Science and Owen Education and Technology Group, in turn, plan to leverage play and story-based pedagogy to provide an innovative educational space for modern-day learners throughout Southwest China. Pupils on five campuses will initially experience the hands-on learning during live sessions with a teacher certified by Kide Science. If the implementation is a success, the collaboration could be extended to more than 50 campuses.

Marcus Mi, head of the teaching development centre at Owen, said the company is excited for the 20 000 children who will receive the opportunity to acquire knowledge, skills and wisdom through the programmes of Kide Science.

“We’re ecstatic to see how they incorporate our pedagogy into their well-rounded life skills programme and eager to help them create the next generation of critical thinkers,” echoed Hurme-Mehtälä.

Word of Finnish innovations in the education domain has spread far and wide, as evidenced by the 30-country reach of Kide Science. The Finnish National Agency for Education in May reported that the value of education exports continued on an upward trajectory in year one of the coronavirus pandemic, jumping by 111 million euros year-on-year to 498 million euros.

An empty classroom

The COVID-19 pandemic brought learning to a screeching halt for significant periods of time, leaving many countries to make up for the losses in the post-pandemic era. Image: Fox Dsign / Adobe

The demand is forecast to remain strong due to the learning losses caused by the pandemic.

UNESCO has estimated that more than one-and-a-half billion school children were left without instruction at the onset of the pandemic, forcing countries around the world to make up for the losses in the coming years. Over 800 million learners, it added, were still affected by full or partial school closures a year into what was the most severe global education disruption in history.

“There is constantly growing demand for the various pedagogical learning solutions that are widely known by Finnish teachers,” stated Tuomo Puumala, state secretary at the Ministry of Education and Culture.

“The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the surprisingly weak capacity of many countries to maintain quality education, especially as remote instruction.”

British connections

Another Finnish startup that believes in making learning fun is Seppo. The Helsinki-based developer of a gamified learning platform recently reported it has entered into a partnership with Pearson, a leading education publisher headquartered in London, the UK. Focusing on language and corporate learning, the partnership represents the continuation of fruitful collaboration between the two companies in Brazil and the UK.

Rise and Shine, the English-language course they have co-developed, combines games and other modern-day educational tools to make it easier for teachers to motivate children, all the while tackling the real-life challenges of working with mixed groups and differently abled learners.

A laptop screen

Seppo platform gives every student a chance to learn and show what they’ve accomplished, while extending learning beyond the classroom.

Seppo’s platform offers flexibility that enables learners to answer in different ways and showcase their progress irrespective of their abilities and needs.

“Working together with Seppo has enabled us to create a realistic world that learners can step into, engage with English creatively and extend their learning beyond the classroom,” told Gillian Groenen, manager of young learners portfolio at Pearson.

Two children holding a tablet

Seppo combines game mechanics with videos, animations and songs, and turns them into exciting games with engaging storylines. Image: Seppo

Riku Alkio, CEO of Seppo, said it has been “awesome” to combine game mechanics with world-leading pedagogical materials, such as videos, animations and songs, and turn them into exciting games with engaging storylines.

New Nordic Schools in September revealed it has supplemented its learning platform with resources by Britannica Digital Learning, a leading digital content provider powered by Encyclopaedia Britannica.

The Helsinki-based startup has developed an all-in-one, simple-to-use learning platform that satisfies the needs of both learners and educators, be it in the context of face-to-face or online learning. The platform enables educators to create personalised and interdisciplinary lessons based on the resources it offers.

A girl looking at the tablet screen

New Nordic Schools’ learning platform will enable teachers worldwide to easily create personalised and interdisciplinary lessons for their students, no matter whether they are in an online or face-to-face classroom. Image: Adobe

Britannica’s extensive resource library is a key element of the platform, said Pia Jormalainen, CEO at New Nordic Schools.

“Combining teaching and learning resources with the technology in the classroom therefore needs to be done in collaboration with both content providers and the teaching community,” stressed Caroline Kennard, managing director of Britannica Digital Learning. “It is going to be really important that everyone has access to good quality, copyrighted learning materials through an online subscription-based service like Britannica that promotes the correct use of content in a safe environment.”

Freeed bags funding, Upiopi launches after-school programmes

Freeed, a Finnish peer-to-peer platform promoting support and professional development for teachers, has completed a pre-seed funding round worth 900 000 euros led by the eighth investment of Sparkmind.vc.

A woman with headphones sitting in front of the computer

The Freed peer-to-peer platform enables teachers to exchange ideas with their colleagues and explore how different issues in the classroom have been tackled in other parts of the world. Image: Chaay tee / Adobe

The platform is designed to enable teachers to discuss education-related topics and exchange ideas with their colleagues and explore how different issues in the classroom have been tackled in other parts of the world.

Finland’s Upiopi announced the launch of several live online after-school lessons and programmes for children aged 5–10 years.

A child interacting with a tablet

Upiopi lessons for children deliver fun and rewarding learning experience in subjects ranging from science and engineering to cooking, dance and art. Image: MIA Studio / Adobe

The offering is build on carefully chosen learning solutions, including the science-learning model of Kide Science, that deliver a fun and rewarding learning experience in subjects ranging from science and engineering to cooking, dance and art. It is to be expanded with the likes of coding and mindfulness in the near future.

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