Please introduce yourself and where you work.
I am Raigo Megerlid and I work as a business development advisor at the City of Helsinki. I am creating new services that help companies in the education sector test and develop their products at schools. My background is in teaching, so I tend to evaluate edtech companies’ business models and new technologies from a teachers’ and school administrator’s perspective.
The City of Helsinki wants to serve as a platform for companies to test and develop their products. This is truly pioneering work because there are not so many international examples where the education sector and companies collaborate in this manner.
What about education or edtech do you think is: a) overlooked b) gets too little attention?
We have completely forgotten to improve and optimize work procedures at schools. Most innovations and technologies that enter the market are designed to improve teaching and learning and are pedagogically orientated. Systems that support pedagogy have not been developed much. One still books school’s premises or devices the same way as 20 years ago and timetables are created with programmes that are outdated. Personalising is almost 100% manual work for teachers and so is assessing tests.
Systematic evaluation of new technology and its implementation gets too little attention. Emphasis on the word ’systematic’.
What’s the biggest learning-related challenge you have had at work? How have you approached/solved the challenge?
The biggest challenge is managing one’s own working hours. I believe many employees experience this. How to divide your time accordingly, how to say no when needed and trust others’ input? One can easily lose focus when one takes too many things on board and tries to make the world ready.
I am working on this challenge still and believe I will continue to do so for the rest of my career. I have actively tried to avoid telling other people I am in a hurry. When one keeps mechanically repeating one is in a hurry it will generate the feeling of actually being in a hurry. If one’s work feels too hectic, then one’s approach to work can be rather reactive and not focused on creating new.
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 in your opinion?
It is clear that we need both summative and formative assessment. Students and also adults need to be able to tell how good they are for example at Excel or languages. On the other hand, assessment guides learning immensely, so assessment should only be used to facilitate learning.
Learning can be examined also on a broader level than just pedagogically. How could schools learn from each other and evaluate others’ solutions and their fit to one’s own school? How could the whole education system accumulate collective assessment information from new technologies and pedagogic innovations?
What is the biggest learning related challenge to solve in the next five years? Do we have the tools to solve it?
From the perspective of an education institution the biggest challenge lies in keeping traditional and effective methods in balance with new innovations. When reform is too rapid or unclear, some teachers won’t have enough time to digest the new innovations. On the other hand, some teachers get too excited about everything that is new and forget to consider if there is any added value. Also, when the reform is too slow, schools’ reality diverges from the everyday life of students and thus school becomes irrelevant for students.
The education systems that succeed in Pisa-surveys have managed to balance the traditional teaching and the new innovations. Balance and well-designed reforms lead to better learning results. I believe we already have some tools for this but there is still a lot of pioneering work to do.
What can the world learn from Finnish learning expertise in solving future challenges? And what can Finnish education learn from others?
I feel that Finland has succeeded in balancing different aspects of studying when it comes to elementary education and high school. Our academic subjects are in balance with handicrafts and arts. Studying is in balance with resting and eating, free school meals being one example of this.
From others, Finland could learn how to systematically reform elementary education and maybe how to have a clearer vision. Many European countries seem to have a clear and nation-wide vision and they take determined steps in realising it. A positive exception is Finland’s new tutor teacher network that has a clear vision and concrete steps to make it work.
If you had a magic wand that could make everyone learn 3 skills, what would those skills be? Why?
All the three skills would definitely be soft skills. First one would be empathy, then self-regulation and thirdly, networking. The significance of these skills in both private and work life will not diminish in the future and mastering these skills will increase achievement and the feeling of success at work.
I chose these skills because learning these skills, in my opinion, is more difficult than for example mastering a coding language, learning how to play a violin or how to change the oil in your car. The latter ones can be learnt later in life with the help of YouTube. The soft skills I chose can only be learnt when interacting with other people and the mistakes one makes while learning them will inevitably affect other people. Thus, we should provide as many opportunities as possible to learn these skills already at school.