Digital challenges faced by Helsinki’s schools being tackled in ten agile pilots

Artikkelikuva: Digital challenges faced by Helsinki’s schools being tackled in ten agile pilots

Forum Virium Helsinki has been closely involved in the development of a new operating model that aims at transforming schools into innovation platforms.

According to Project Manager Niko Lindholm, these efforts are very important: “The School as an Innovation Platform operating model is truly pioneering work when examined from a global perspective, as this kind of operating model has not been created or used anywhere else in the world. The model benefits both schools and businesses. For businesses in particular, the model offers very strong support, allowing them to co-develop their products with the best teachers in the world in the best education system in the world. The School as an Innovation Platform operating model will serve as the cornerstone of the development of Finnish education exports in the future.”

As part of the operating model, the City of Helsinki’s Education Division collaborated with teachers to find out what kind of challenges currently being faced at schools could be addressed with digital services. Based on the results, ten agile pilots are now being launched in Helsinki’s schools in the autumn, in which solutions offered by companies will be tested in practice.

Digitalisation boasts immense potential when it comes to the everyday operation of schools. However, the services supplied by companies and the demands of schools have not always aligned, as information on the actual needs of schools has been scarce. In spring 2018, the 6Aika project ‘Smart Learning Environments for the Future’ collaborated with teachers to survey challenges identified at Helsinki’s schools that could be addressed with the help of digital solutions produced by companies.

After the publication of the challenges, companies were given the opportunity to offer their own solutions to them. From among the most promising proposals, teachers have now chosen the companies with which schools will be carrying out agile pilots in September-December 2018.

Companies co-developing solutions for schools

The solutions offered by the participating companies will be co-developed during a four-month pilot period in the autumn of 2018 at Kalasatama, Jätkäsaari, Hiidenkivi, Aurinkolahti and Ressu comprehensive schools and the upper secondary schools of the City of Helsinki. These agile pilots will allow schools to test new solutions and evaluate their usability and pedagogic effectiveness.

As a result of the pilots, participating companies gain references, user experiences and third-party product evaluation & impact assessment on the use of their products as part of the Finnish school system. One of the goals of the project is to generate exportable learning technology tools.

In Helsinki, the project is steered by the Economic Development and Planning Division of the City of Helsinki Executive Office, the City’s Education Division and Forum Virium Helsinki, the City-owned development company specialising in digital urban services.

The five digital challenges of schools and the companies chosen to address them

1st challenge: How to develop assessment and the giving of feedback at schools?

Peer assessment via a digital service

House of Learning is a digital service that brings key pedagogics to everyday life. The visual appearance of the House of Learning clarifies the over-arching objectives of a school’s curriculum to pupils as well as teachers and guardians. In the pilot, the House of Learning will be used for peer assessment. 
House of Learning

Taking pupils’ views into account in the product development of a learning platform

Claned is a cloud-based learning platform that combines artificial intelligence, collaborative learning and pedagogy. In its pilot, Claned will collect feedback on its learning platform as well as pupils’ views for product development. The practical implementation consists of an information retrieval oriented service package as well as the technical co-development of the platform with 7th-grade Finnish language pupils studying in the technology track of Aurinkolahti Comprehensive School. 

2nd challenge: How to utilise learning spaces outside of the school?

Learning outside of the school

CoReorient’s service allows teachers to find new spaces for teaching in facilities outside of their school. The product is being co-developed at Kalasatama Comprehensive School. 

User-oriented facility service design

The aim of Muotoilutoimisto Uhcu’s pilot is to design a user-oriented procedure by which teachers can discover facilities suitable for teaching use outside of the school. The pilot is being conducted in collaboration with Ressu Comprehensive School.

3rd challenge: What can immersion, augmented reality and virtual reality offer to teaching?

A global storyworld as a learning platform

Lyfta is a digital learning platform for teachers and pupils. The aim of this pilot is to co-develop the features of the next version of Lyfta’s global storyworld and validate its pedagogic effectiveness. In addition to this, the pilot will involve testing how suitable Lyfta’s stories are for the immersive room due to be completed at Hiidenkivi Comprehensive School in autumn 2018. The product is being co-developed at Kalasatama and Hiidenkivi Comprehensive Schools. 

Learning socio-emotional skills in augmented reality

3DBear supports the learning of socio-emotional skills with the help of augmented reality (AR). The new concept is being co-developed with teachers and pupils at Jätkäsaari Comprehensive School.

Teaching history in a virtual environment

In its pilot, Zoan is looking into how a virtual environment (VR) affects pupils’ motivation and what kind of pupils are successful at VR tasks. In practice, the pilot will have 7th-graders testing a VR environment modelled after the Diet of Porvoo and Senate Square in Helsinki in the early 19th century as part of their history studies. The pilot is being carried out at Aurinkolahti and Ressu Comprehensive Schools.

4th challenge: How to support the development of socio-emotional skills at school?

Positive education with the help of a digital service

Positive CV’s pilot involves familiarising teachers with positive education by using and co-developing the Positive CV product in collaboration with pupils, teachers and parents. At the same time, the pilot aims at finding ways of observing and documenting diverse competence on a paper and electronic platform. The product is being developed at Kalasatama and Jätkäsaari Comprehensive Schools.
Positive CV

5th challenge: How to develop the job-seeking skills of upper secondary school pupils?

CV preparation and gigs for upper secondary school pupils

In the Work Pilots pilot, upper secondary school pupils will learn to identify their own strengths, create their own digital CV on the Work Pilots platform and, if they so choose, do paid work gigs offered via the platform. With the help of the pilot, the company aims at learning how the platform could better assist upper secondary school pupils in finding work and developing their working life skills. The service is being co-developed at Helsingin kuvataidelukio. 
Work Pilots

Job-seeking support for adult upper secondary school pupils

Uniikkiura is tailoring their HR Help job-seeking service to better meet the needs of adult upper secondary school pupils and guidance counselling. The aim is to make the service as self-directed as possible. The HR Help service is being co-developed at Helsinki Upper Secondary School for Adults as part of guidance counselling.



6Aika, the Six City Strategy, is the shared sustainable urban development strategy of the six largest cities in Finland, namely Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Turku and Oulu. The aim of the 6Aika project ‘Smart Learning Environments for the Future’ is to improve the business opportunities of companies that develop services, products and technologies related to learning and smart learning environments, both physical and virtual. The project supports the City of Helsinki’s aim of serving as a pilot and development platform for companies and products.

The agile pilots are partially funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The next set of challenges will be published in November, followed by the launch of a new agile pilots programme in January 2019.

Forum Virium Helsinki is the innovation unit of the City of Helsinki, which aims to build Helsinki into the most functional smart city in the world in collaboration with companies, the scientific community and residents.

Photo credit: Riku Pihlanto / City of Helsinki

Futher information:


Niko Lindholm

Mobile: +358 40 682 6464

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