FinNode Global - Future of Learning
Project's main objective in September 2011 to April 2012 time frame was to draw a visionary road map for Finland in the space of learning and education, enabling Finland to utilize her reputation in educational excellence in global market place. The secondary objective was to identify concrete ideas for Tekes Learning Solutions Programme and for Future Learning Finland program managed by Finpro.
As the Finnish resources are limited, it is naturally important to assess the feasibility and scalability and business models when considering new market entries. Of the five countries, Russia and China are already focus countries for the Future Learning Finland and those countries will continue offering opportunities also in the future as the markets are big and there is a huge gap between the needs and the offering. India would also be equally lucrative for the same reasons whilst Japan might offer least opportunities partly because of huge systemic and cultural differences. The study revealed that the US would have a great opportunity for Finnish edutech companies. The approach would be to organize a bootcamp in the US and work possibly on Tekes funding.
However, during the project the discussion of the Finnish Narrative in the learning and education space came up in many contexts. Along the project, it became quite obvious, that a narrative would greatly support not only the existing programmes but also get a wider understanding and commitment in Finland. Equally the idea of investing in consulting and integrator business was discussed but it seems that one challenge is the current number of players in this space. However, it is anyway mandatory to build local networks of delivery partners.
- Finland enjoys a certain brand in particular in K-12 but so far she has not been able to capitalize on that in larger scale. We feel strongly that this discussion about Finnish narrative should be carried out and an owner or platform should be identified. Can it be Future Learning Finland as an initiator and facilitator? How to involve and motivate all the stakeholders?
Despite the differences between the studied five countries, certain trends and phenomena are common for all of them: need for education reform, need to increase the quality of teacher training, increased private sector presence because of government's inability to meet the changing requirements not only financially but also content-wise, digitalisation, need to increase industry cooperation and up-skilling and re-skilling of adult learners. - It was interesting to identify so many common factors between developed countries and emerging markets, and with very different educational systems, for that matter.
with its rapidly aging society, facing strong changes in the traditional life long employment at one company and slowing economic growth, Japan has a need for educational reforms to meet with the up-skilling and re-skilling of the aging population in non-formal environment. Lifelong employment is not any more guaranteed and the Japanese need to be prepared and coached to face this change. Traditionally the employing corporates used to impart the life-long learning opportunities but that is not anymore the situation. The demographic quotient seems to be the key driving factor in Japan.
Digitalisation, gamification and personalized learning plans are coming strongly in K-12 and in higher education. Japan also needs to open up more internationally. Finnish teacher training in particular is highly regarded in Japan. The high competitiveness between individuals and the need to be successful from early age are still there, but according to the study this reality is changing and the bigger picture needs to be taken into account by developing more equal opportunities for children and for adult learners, too.
with a very fragment educational system (there are 52 state level educational systems) is facing diverse challenges in creating more uniform systems and common core curricula and more standardized measurement systems.
The main general trends are blended learning, digitalisation with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) phenomenon, open educational resources, common core curriculum and personalized learning and the use of social media as a learning platform. Interestingly, the corporate learning trends seem to match very much with the K-12 trends.
USA on one hand has many really progressive, state-of-the art schools but it also has a big number of schools with poorly performing students. One of the major bottlenecks, which also applies to the other countries studied, is the teacher training. In the US teacher career is not seen as a lucrative one and therefore the teacher material and also motivation are not very good.
New business models are evolving in the changing scenario (e.g. trends towards Social Media Business models) and also private funding is entering more into the pictures. Edutech companies and publishers and analytics companies are mushrooming and challenging the traditional business models.
as a big emerging market is facing a multitude of challenges but also offering various opportunities. China has launched in 2010 a National Plan for Medium and Long term Education and Development reform (a 10 year programme) focusing on life long learning, targeting to rural areas and disadvantageous segments, improving overall quality and undertaking systemic reform.
The working population is still increasing for some time and currently the percentage of degree holders in China is still low. However, today it has become almost mandatory to acquire some diploma level skills on top of the university degree as the working life requirements have rapidly changed, demanding more versatile skill sets. World Bank is currently carrying out a study to better match the gap between industry needs and what the education sector provides - again the same phenomenon as in the other countries.
Shanghai area as such is a very progressive educational hub with state-of-the art schools and progressive teacher training methodologies being applied. In the metropolitan areas of China the modern trends like online and mobile learning and digitalisation are happening but the vast rural China faces a completely different reality. According to the study, a lot of material is available online but a common platform or sharing tool is missing. There is still also a lot room for improving the technology aided learning.
is another example of a densely populated emerging countries but with a unique demographic quotient: almost 50 per cent of the Indians are below 25 years. The British gave their educational system to India but currently the rapidly growing and evolving market needs badly a reform not only in K-12 but also in higher education and in skills development. India has around 300 universities with over 22 000 affiliated colleges of various quality, producing annually xxxx graduates. India also faces a major language related challenge: the Indian constitution recognizes 22 languages and even though English is quite widely spoken, even at higher education level other languages are used and needed.
For India to keep up with her GDP growth it is mandatory to train and up-skill 350 million Indians by 2020 - a huge task which the government cannot handle on its own. India's big metro-cities have some state-of-the art schools and universities but again, as in China, the rural areas lack the basic school infrastructure and teacher absenteeism is a major hurdle. Teaching career is not lucrative because of low salaries and almost non-existing career path.
India needs a lot of private and foreign participation not only in the funding but also in systemic development and expertise in the space of formal education. The Human Resource Development Ministry of India has started a very ambitious initiative of connecting xxxx villages in India with broadband connections, enabling distant learning in the remote areas.
Skills development is a major challenge but also an opportunity for foreign collaborators to help India to bridge the gap. On one hand, India needs to be able to create more industrial and manufacturing jobs and needs skilled manpower, but on the other hand India faces also the challenge of having only around 30 per cent of the undergraduates being directly employable. Currently the employers need to either provide them in-house training for an average 6-month period, or to outsource the skills development to third parties. The undergraduates are very young by the Finnish standards (20-21 years) and they seldom have any work experience and hence need to be trained starting all the way from soft skills.
Other trends in India are life long learning, digitalisation and mobile learning.
was the third emerging market in our study. Again, there are similar trends there: inclusion of rural and less privileged segments of the society, gap between corporate needs and educational outcomes, online learning and a strong need to enhance life long learning. The Russian educational system has opened up for international cooperation. The Russian government has launched an Innovative Economy Strategy 2020, indicating clear changes in policy making.
New educational standards are being introduced and at the same time more resources are allocated in including more of the vast population in the initiatives, making good education more accessible. Russia has several state-of-the-art innovative educational institutes but again faces the rural challenge.
According to the study, the vocational education system lags behind which offers opportunities for foreign collaborations. Introduction of National Qualification Framework is under discussion but there is no holistic approach of the reforms needed.
Project team presented the following country specific summaries in events during the early summer 2012:
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