Please introduce yourself and where you work. 

My name is Akseli and I work at Dare to Learn, a Finnish festival for rethinking learning. We focus on making continuous learning truly available for all and bringing together learning enthusiasts from all over the world to explore the new world of lifelong learning.

What about education or edtech do you think is a) overlooked and b) gets too little attention? 

In general, I think we are overlooking learning itself, and most of the time focusing on teaching, educating, managing instead. If we would pay attention to how learning can be made to happen, we would end up with better design, more learner-centric practices, and better outcomes. 

Within learning, there is one specific topic that gets too little attention: motivation. There’s a crisis of motivation in elementary education, especially with boys. But also us adults tend to drop out of MOOCs, skip learning and move to the easier tasks. To get more learning results, we should find ways to support motivation.

What’s the biggest learning-related challenge you have had at work? How have you approached/solved the challenge?

It’s definitely “how to make thousands of people learn at a single event”. As we know, according to science, people learn when they are active and thinking consciously. This means that an event that wants to make learning happen has to be participatory, activating and support reflection and encounters with meaningful people. This is the ultimate challenge we’re solving daily at Dare to Learn.

One important theme in learning is assessment and how it should be done. What’s your take on it? When and how assessment should be used? 

On-site, in context, looking forward. Basically, we need to start by asking WHY do we assess in the first place? If the answer is, as I assume, that we assess to enhance the learner’s abilities in the future, then we need to have assessment that best support future development. And as we know, it’s hard to do better if they only tell you weeks later that you didn’t succeed well enough. So that’s why assessment of learning should take place in the context of learning, to provide the possibility to do better next time.

What is the biggest learning related challenge to solve in the next five years? Do we have the tools to solve it? 

I can’t name only one, but I mention two instead: Firstly, the global learning crisis – almost every child gets to school these days, but according to e.g. Unesco, they don’t all learn anything at all. This is a massive issue from any point of view. Secondly, the continuous learning of everyone – not just highly-educated professionals. This also affects organizations, nations and individuals alike.

What can the world learn from Finnish learning expertise in solving future challenges? And what can Finnish education learn from others? 

In general, the field of learning is quite isolated nationally. Everyone has stuff to learn from their colleagues abroad – or the next room! Maybe Finland’s best contribution is the attitude: considering learning as something for everyone, not just for the school kids. On the other hand, Finland could learn a lot in opening educational institutions towards wider society – making schools and universities the hearts of their communities rather than isolated fortresses.

If you had a magic wand that could make everyone learn 3 skills, what would those skills be? Why?

The first one would definitely be the skill of learning to learn. In my opinion, this is mainly a meta-cognitive skill, meaning that it is directed towards your own thinking. The second one would be kindness, as I people tend to go for the benefit rather than what’s good. Thirdly, anticipation, meaning the skill to see the bigger picture and shape the future by acting in the present. 

Akseli_Huhtala

Akseli Huhtanen

Akseli Huhtanen is the CEO of Dare to Learn, a Finnish festival for rethinking learning. Dare to Learn focus on making continuous learning truly available for all and bringing together learning enthusiasts from all over the world to explore the new world of lifelong learning. 

Photo credits: Jaakko Tähkä

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