EduRemix, a Helsinki Challenge semifinalist team, decided to tackle an ambitious question: how can the digitalisation of teaching be supported in a way that motivates teachers and pupils?

To find a solution, in the past weeks the team and its leader, Marja-Leena Bilund, have been working hard, travelling as far away as India. 

Schools worldwide are investing in mobile devices, and tablets and smartphones have become part of digital teaching. Teachers are excited about the new teaching opportunities that technology offers them, but their enthusiasm often wanes due to technological and pedagogical issues. This is why it is so important to find ways to integrate technology into everyday teaching in a way that teachers and pupils find inspiring.

EduRemix approaches the challenge from three perspectives: social support, change and technological development. The multidisciplinary team has professionals in both education and technology working on the challenge – something EduRemix itself considers a strength.

 “It allows us to bring together everyday school work and technological aspects on a global scale,” says Bilund.

Bridging the digital gap

In the Helsinki Challenge, EduRemix seeks to answer a question that comes up both in research and in the field: how to help teachers supervise and enable pupils’ independent digital content production. At present, pupils feel their way of using new technology rarely corresponds to the practices followed at school. Research confirms this digital gap between teachers and pupils.

 “We aim to bridge the gap that arises when the teaching methods and digital teaching tools do not support pupils’ everyday lives,” explains Bilund. “We’re talking about boosting ownership of learning, sparking inner motivation and supporting self-directedness in the digitalisation of schools – also that of teachers.”

During the competition, the team will devise a framework for determining the issues that need attention in the global digitalisation of schools and the adoption of technologies, from the teachers’ as well as the pupils’ perspectives.

Similar challenges in India

Team leader Marja-Leena Bilund, who was named 2016 ICT teacher of the year, has used various technological solutions in her teaching since the 1990s. In January, Bilund served as a guest speaker at an international conference in India. During her visit at City Montessori School, the world’s largest private school, Bilund paid attention to the Indians’ great enthusiasm and ability to quickly adopt various teaching opportunities offered by technology.

 “They use laptops, desktops and Google Classroom. Every classroom has a Smart Board, and even though the classes are large, teachers want to modify their teaching to meet today’s challenges.”

According to Bilund, both India and Finland are dealing with the same question: how to make pupils more active participants in large classes.

 “At one workshop, I helped teachers with questions related to phenomenon-based projects and students’ independent content production. There is global demand for the framework that EduRemix is working on,” Bilund notes.

Technological competence from Cuppla

The team’s business side is represented by Cuppla Technology, a Finnish start-up in educational technology. Cuppla Technology has developed cloud-based management software for mobile devices and digital content, which can be accessed through a smartphone or tablet application. Cuppla provides the technology perspective for the framework.

“The Helsinki Challenge is a great chance for Cuppla to cooperate with different teams, experts, researchers and potential investors,” says Johanna Kartila-Malmivaara, CEO of Cuppla Technology. “The culture of experimentation is key in our team, as we jointly test ways to integrate digitalisation into everyday school activities that motivate both teachers and pupils.”

The Helsinki Challenge is a science-based competition and idea accelerator that links companies, organisations, decision-makers, the media and the public sector. The semifinalist teams are expected to present a solution to any of the competition themes, which are based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The Helsinki Challenge, jointly organised by Finnish universities, is part of the Finland 100 centenary programme. The competition prize, 375,000 euros, is meant for implementing the winning solution.

Twitter:  @team_eduremix #TeamEduRemix

Team members:

  • Marja-Leena Bilund, team leader, CEO, EduRemix, University of Helsinki
  • Heikki Kynäslahti, docent, University of Helsinki
  • Elena Ruskovaara, director of entrepreneurship education, Lappeenranta University of Technology
  • Jaana Seikkula-Leino, adjunct professor and project management, University of Turku
  • Kirsi-Marja Janhunen, headmaster, Urpolan koulu
  • Susmita Basu, convenor, ICPPP 2017; head of quality assurance and innovations department, CMS
  • Linda Helistö, marketing manager, Cuppla Technology
  • Johanna Kartila-Malmivaara, CEO, Cuppla Technology

Read more: Team EduRemix: Digitalization in education is an opportunity, not a threat