How the Finnish education system is developing students' 21st century skills is described in the articles of a new book, "Finnish Innovations and Technologies in Schools. A Guide towards New Ecosystems of Learning". The authors specify various ways in which technology incorporated into daily school life has blurred the boundaries of formal and informal learning.
Hannele Niemi, professor of education at the University of Helsinki Faculty of Behavioural Sciences and one of the editors of the book, discloses that although it is on the strength of the core curriculum under way, that future skills are to play an increasing role in education, activity is already in demand – now also in schools.
"The Finnish core curriculum leaves a great deal of freedom for applying future skills to education. Nonetheless, it has been observed through the research projects introduced in this book, that in carrying out reforms, the entire school working culture will have to be changed. School communities should learn a new kind of cooperation and culture of sharing. No longer is it one's own subjects and corners; it's joint projects that everyone is doing nowadays," observes Professor Niemi. In describing numerous examples of cooperation, the articles in this book will acquaint you with cooperation among researchers, teachers, head teachers and representatives of the public sector and business life, for instance. The articles will also bring you some of the knowledge this cooperation yields.
Motivated learning without high-stakes testing
Beyond core curriculum development, the book also deals with questions of principle regarding student equality and student assessment. Professor Niemi anticipates that these fresh articles on students' active learning in daily school life will provide food for thought especially to foreign teaching professionals.
"Unlike Finland, much of the world is using standardised school achievement tests on nearly all grade levels, and education constitutes a preparation for those tests. In the book, we're giving our foreign colleagues food for thought in this respect," Professor Niemi explains. "According to our view, standardized final exams and high-stakes testing are a substantial constraint to education. Assessments should inspire learning and guide towards creativity," she says.
One of the key models in the book is the Innovative School Model, in which student motivation is created through experiences that yield joy, such as gamification. The role of new technology in promoting learning at future schools is emphasised by Professor Niemi as well.
"It has been interesting to see how much you can do with a mobile phone to activate students. In digital storytelling, for example, it was surprising how much passion and fun a mobile phone and making videos brought into learning," she reflects.
The making of "Finnish Innovations and Technologies in Schools. A Guide toward New Ecosystems of Learning" has involved numerous Learning Solution Programme project players, such as Cicero Learning, the University of Helsinki and the Pori campus of the Tampere University of Technology.
Professor Hannele Niemi
Phone: +358 40 555 8975
hannele.niemi (at) helsinki.fi
Learning Solutions Programme