HundrED, a Finnish programme focused on finding and sharing innovations in education from around the world, recently released its 100 Global Inspiring Innovations of 2017.

HundrED’s in-house research team analysed over 1,000 innovations to find out if they were addressing a problem from a new perspective, if they provided real impact, and if they could work somewhere else and be scaled. The 100 selected innovations span 41 countries.

Here are 10 innovations from this list that Kiwi educators may want to adopt in their schools.

1. Mehackit

Country: Finland

What is it? A programme that give students the opportunity to create something personal with technology, allowing them to see technology and their own technological ability in a new way.

The goal is to make creating and building technology as easy and natural as using technology is today. Mehackit also breaks down prejudices associated with people working in the tech industry and gives students new role models.

The courses are already used in over 60 high schools in the Nordic countries. The study unit teaches young people how to build technology and program in creative ways. Mehackit’s course material also offers teachers the opportunity to learn how to teach similar courses in the future.

“Mehackit wants to increase equality and self-confidence by providing everyone with the opportunity to experiment with building technology with their own hands” – Heini Karppinen, CEO, Mehackit

2. Make “Yes” the default

Country: Australia

What is it? Templestowe College has a ‘“Yes” is the default’ policy, which means that any request or suggestion from a student, parent or staff member has to be answered “Yes” unless it will take too much time, too much money, or has a negative impact on someone else.

This has given enormous scope for all members of the school’s community to take control of their own learning and anything that affects them at school.

“At Templestowe College we don’t want kids to be endlessly preparing for the future. We want them to create and live this future now!” – Peter Hutton, principal, strategic development

3. MeeTwo

Country: United Kingdom

What is it? Meetwo is an app which provides an early intervention support solution to the problem of teenage stress and anxiety. The app was created by a psychologist and an educational technologist in collaboration with teenagers from schools in England. The young people involved wanted a discrete, easy-to-access service on their phones that was as quick and simple to use as social media platforms such as Twitter.

Peer support is at the core of the app. Users can ask any question, but a 300-character limit demands focus. Other users can reply with advice or ideas, or click the ‘MeeTwo’ button to say that they share the same problems. This reassures young people that they are not alone. Young people are also able to submit artwork, longer written pieces or photography to express their feelings.

“I didn’t feel I could tell my friends about my panic attacks. But with MeeTwo, within a few hours of posting you get several replies from people who might say, ‘Yes, I have that same thing, here’s what I try.’ You get help with your problem, but you also get to help others by replying to their problems, which makes you feel better too” – Phoebe, aged 15

4. Shadow a Student Challenge

Country: USA

What is it? Shadowing a student gives the opportunity to understand school from a student’s perspective by immersing fully in the experience of being a student for the day. Leaders start by seeing school through their student’s eyes, identifying meaningful opportunities to improve the school experience for the students, and then taking action to create change at their school site. This is organised into four steps: prep, shadow, reflect, and act.

Shadowing a student embodies the idea of ‘walking in another’s shoes’ and can push leaders to challenge assumptions and establish deeper insights. It is an immersive experience in observation. While school leaders spend much time in classrooms throughout their school day, it’s often for just a few minutes at a time. What is missed is how these moments play into the whole student day.

It gives staff an opportunity to understand the experience of those students who may be underserved or at the margins of school culture.

“Take an empathy deep dive. Shadow a student to see what school is really like for your students” – Peter Worth, Shadow a Student.

5. GlobalLab

Country: Russia

What is it? An educational tool that takes the premise of project-based learning and expands the scope for data collection from the classroom to the whole world.

In project-based learning, students can draw data and information only from their immediate surroundings and are unable to know whether different answers would be found elsewhere in the world. Over the past three years, GlobalLab has built up a platform of projects on a variety of topics and subjects such as literature, science and psychology. Students from all over the world can contribute to these and can use the data gathered in their own studies.

Both GlobalLab and students can make suggestions for projects. Groups can then collaborate to work on the project and gain a truly global perspective on an issue, topic or problem.

“We built GlobalLab as a new type of educational tool that utilises crowd sourcing to foster the skills of problem-solving, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration” – Tatsiana Krupa, president, GlobalLab

6. Scientix

Country: Belgium

What is it? Scientix gives teachers an easy-to-use online portal, which has inputs from experts in specific subjects, so they can teach their students the most up-to-date ideas and work in their chosen field.

It can be difficult to share best practices and new information about STEM education in an easy way. By showing students how the subjects they are studying can be applied in real life and the usefulness of what they are learning, it increases students’ personal motivation and engagement in class. Access to real-world examples and science activities can help to achieve this.

“Thanks to our supporters, Scientix is now able to provide a platform to get the knowledge flowing: to ensure that no project works alone, that no STEM centre or organisation has to start from scratch, that no teacher faces unaided the hard but most needed task of getting kids to know, like and dream about science” – Dr Àgueda Gras-Velázquez, project manager of Scientix, science programme manager at European Schoolnet

7. Learning Space Design Labs

Country: Denmark

What is it? Autens, a leading Danish education consultancy, runs Learning Space Design Labs for educators. In these workshops, all staff come together to co-create a new learning environment on the basis of a shared vision for learning. Staff have the freedom to think, play and create together so that the outcome is as innovative, insightful, shared and inspirational as possible. The design process is hands-on, project-based learning in action, with an authentic, real-world problem that demands a solution.

One innovative teacher might improve their classroom layout and culture, but this is unlikely to have a long-term impact on the learning culture of the school. For lasting impact and meaningful change, the whole school community needs to play an active role in changing the culture and design of learning spaces.

“We are not designing learning environments, we are designing a learning culture” – Lene Jensby Lange, founder, Learning Space Design Lab

8. Seppo

Country: Finland

What is it? Seppo is an authoring tool for creating educational games. It is an easy-to-use tool for teachers, that makes lessons inspiring and motivating for students. Students solve problems in teams using mobile devices and teachers give feedback in real-time.

Creating, maintaining and enhancing learning motivation in schools has become a growing challenge because the world around us offers more and more exciting and motivating stimuli for kids. Schools have to keep up and make education exciting and relate it to the students’ lives. There is a great need for ways to make learning fun in a pedagogically meaningful way.

“It was easy to get into Seppo. The students were exploding with the joy of learning and experimenting and demanded more. The kids had excellent performances, moved around and were fully in” – teacher using Seppo

9. Lexplore

Country: Sweden

What is it? Lexplore is a screening tool that makes it possible to identify children with reading and writing difficulties early on, using cloud analytics, artificial intelligence and eye tracking technology to help screen for the likelihood of dyslexia or related learning difficulties. This means that schools can intervene quickly and children no longer need to fall behind. The method also provides useful data for schools and districts on children’s general reading and writing ability.

This method ensures that every child can have access to screening, so that fewer children go undiagnosed. The Lexplore team is able to quickly screen large groups of children, by taking them out of class for only five minutes each to read short texts. Upon receiving the results, the school is then empowered to make decisions about getting a full diagnosis and early support for at risk children.

“We got a fast and objective result with Lexplore that the special education teachers and classroom teachers could work with and analyze. This made it possible to do the right interventions” – Kent Ylvesson, school development leader, Ånge Muncipality, Sweden

10. Project DEFY

Country: India

What is it? Project DEFY (Design Education for Yourself) is a system of learning that believes anyone can teach themselves anything by using the internet and the community around to find solutions.

The mission is to change the way people think and ignite individual passions so students can believe in their abilities to educate themselves, others and their communities. With a device at hand, the community customises a makerspace that fits their own requirements, and develops its own learning space, called a Nook. Projects can be anything – artistic, technical, or other – to fit each student’s own learning interests and experience.

“We do not want education to be merely a transfer of instruction. Education is a much more interesting process of self-discovery and understanding of local and global surroundings” – Abhijit Sinha, founder and director of Project DEFY.


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