Understanding Finland Education in Three Days

Ajay and I landed in Helsinki on the night of 11 March with the objective of understanding Finland’s education system in 3 days, an ambitious project by any means. However, the shortness of our visit didn’t deter us from aiming big. Maarit of IBM, Finland, had ensured that we get to do meetings at universities and the ministry of education, visits to schools and presentations. Thanks to the Finland team, every minute of our schedule was utilised to do or learn something.

We first headed to Turku. Our day started with interaction with the VILLE team from Future Technologies group. They have developed a collaborative education platform that enables teachers to create virtual courses and automatically assess exercises of different kinds. It was interesting to see how they use learning analytics to improve platform design and content. We then moved to the mixed reality lab where weexperienced the interiors of the Holy Ghost Church through a virtual church application. This church was completely demolished in 1650; some archaeological researchers and technologist decided to recreate the church virtually. You can experience the virtual church at this link.

Any educational field visit is incomplete without a school visit. Our first school visit was to a primary school in Turku. Do you know that in Finnish schools, students and teachers must break for 15 minutes after every two classes of 45 minutes each.They haveto go out of the classrooms and staff rooms to the ground or play area. Wow!

Image 1: Students working on a geography project

After the school visit, we met Prof. Sutinen, Dean, Department of Future Technologies, and our dear friend Maarit. We explored the possibilities of university collaborations and exchange.

After Turku, our next stop was Jyväskylä. At the University of Jyväskylä, we presented CLIx to the faculty of the Education and Information Technology department. The faculty introduced us to the structure of the Finland school system and teacher education. The faculty of the Finnish Institute of Educational Research briefly introduced us to their teacher education curriculum, which you can read here.

We were lucky to have an opportunity to visit a teacher training school funded and run by the University of Jyväskylä. It has a school attached to it for practicum by masters students. The faculty and research scholars at the University actively work with this school.

Image 2: A teacher educator assessing a trainee teacher

From Jyväskylä, we returned to Helsinki to attend the IBM Open Artificial Intelligence conference. The discussion was on AI asopen source, AI architecture and its role in different industries. It was interesting to see the imaginings of the future with AI and how AI would change the vocations available to humans. Do watch this video to see how Finland is imagined with AI in the next 100 years.

Our visit concluded with an early morning meeting with the Finnish National Agency for Education and from there we headed to the Helsinki airport to make our long journey back to Mumbai.

Omkar Balli, Implementation team co-lead, CLIx

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