Finland may be less ostentatiously hipster than its Scandinavian neighbors but it is filled with forward-thinking and super-smart people. To mark 100 years of independence (from Russia), Finland is embarking on a wave of celebrations in 2017, one of which is HundrED, a bold project that aims to advance and scale innovation in education, initially in Finland but with global ambitions.The initiative began in late 2015 when Finnish schools and educators were invited to submit their ideas for experiments to be trialed over the course of one school year. More than 700 hundred schools and organizations applied and in April last year, the successful applicants were announced and trials have been ongoing across the 2016/17 academic year.
These trials are being rigorously documented, measured and assessed with the overall aim of them being beautifully packaged on the HundrED platform, so that educators anywhere can access them.
The man behind HundrED, Saku Tuominen, who refers to himself as a "recovering TV producer", has, for the last three years, been directing his 25-year experience in creativity and innovation at the education sector. HundrED is the expression of his background in a new arena. He explains the overall vision, "Our goal is to be the deep experts in the world, who know what’s out there [in education innovation], what’s working and which ideas could be scaled."
Tuominen says there is no shortage of innovation in the sector but what is lacking is a way for those ideas and initiatives to be packaged so that they are accessible, easy to follow and furthermore, have a fair chance of spreading.
This platform approach, which effectively amounts to branding, is key to HundrED. Tuominen says, "We aim to make everything beautiful, everything understandable, so that any teacher, in Manchester, in Bangladesh, in Singapore, in San Francisco, can have access to the best education innovations globally. So that they can clearly see what the idea is, what resources are needed, and the dos and don’ts. For us, one key area is recognizing the innovations but just as important is the packaging part."Finland has long been recognized as having one of the world’s finest education systems, it topped the OECD’s international results table in 2000, 2003 and 2006. The country’s centenary provided the perfect opportunity for an education themed initiative on this scale. Tuominen wanted to create something bold and impactful so pitched his vision to the government and the organization responsible for centenary celebrations, framing HundrED as a way to think about and prepare for the next 100 years of education, creating something better based on the excellence the country already has.
Tuominen says, "The world is changing extremely fast and schools need to change as well, but it’s not an easy task because, all over the world, education is happening in silos. Every country is a silo, every state is a silo, every city is a silo and every school is a silo. There are gatekeepers everywhere, so it is complicated to make change happen.
"Our idea is that there are a huge number of creative things that happen in classrooms all over the world but the problem is that practically no one knows about them, so, what if our mission is to recognize them, document them, evaluate them and package them in a beautiful, simple way and then help to make them spread?"