Education platforms

Why is this important?

Education platforms such as Class Central or EDX gather a broad range of free online courses from universities such as MIT, Harvard etc. These kinds of platform are said to democratize, demonetize and decentralize our education system. The brick and mortar campuses of the past will give way to education online and on demand. The greatest teachers will be teaching in virtual reality (Tech Crunch), reaching millions of students at an incremental cost of near zero. The educational institution business model will shift to performance based learning with tuition rebates for course completion and job guarantees upon graduation (NY Times). Learning becomes continuous and an inherent part of everything we do enabled by blockchain validated nanodegrees, leading to a learning economy (IFTF). Tenure will be a thing of the past (Super Scholar). An interesting question is what will be the impact to the popularity of different disciplines. For example, the number of liberal arts colleges has continued to decline and the focus has shifted more towards “career-oriented” education (AACU).

Things to keep an eye on

In Finland there are a few interesting examples of using platform thinking in education. One recent example is Funzi, which offers practice-oriented courses tailored to be read on mobile phones (Funzi). It has gained media attention for empowering asylum seekers to learn more about Finland (GoodNewsFinland). Another example is RailsGirls, a community focused on getting more women interested in coding and IT (RailsGirls). Started in Finland, the concept has been transferred to multiple countries and the community is expanding. Another example of exploring new ways to teach coding is SlushSmackdown, which introduces the basics of coding through a game. In basic education, both Rovio’s FunLearning initiative and the Paths to Math learning tool are exploring new ways of learning, drawing from the combination of the top-ranked Finnish education system and the opportunities arising from platforms and digitization. The Paths to math founder Maarit Rossi was chosen among the 10 finalists in the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize (GTP).

Selected articles and websites

When Virtual Reality Meets Education
Where Are They Now? Revisiting Breneman’s Study of Liberal Arts Colleges
Udacity Says It Can Teach Tech Skills to Millions, and Fast
Learning is earning in the national learning economy
Tenure a thing of the past?
Funzi empowers asylum seekers with its mobile service
Finnish game wins Europe’s biggest hackathon

Victor Vurpillat

Global X-Network

Mikko Dufva

Research Scientist VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd