Design makes education simple

I have just returned from Helsinki after launching the incubation process of the Open Education Challenge: a full week of incredible exchanges, continuous mentoring and shared discussion.

Thinking about innovation in education seemed so simple when arriving in Finland, the “education country”: well paid and respected teachers, committed students and responsible parents.

And suddenly … Crash! Bang! Education is more complex than we thought and even the Finns are now thinking of changes and innovations. Finland is now discovering the need for more technology in the classroom. Marjo Kyllönen, acting division head at the Education Department of the city of Helsinki, told us about the new technological needs in the schools, explaining how “digital technology will blend into learning environments invisibly and be networked.”

The startups that entered the Open Education Challenge are also a reflection of this complexity. They develop innovative technologies to change the way we teach and learn. But what is technology in education? Donald Norman defines technology as “new stuff that doesn’t work very well”. At the very early stage of their development all innovators are seen as causing confusion, but progressively things get clearer, not less complex but less complicated.

In Norman’s book, Living with Complexity, he says “the major cause of complicated, confusing and frustrating systems is not complexity: it is poor design”. Design is the first key word for our incubation startups.

During this busy week, we worked on their ideas and the educative challenges they want to address. We sat with Mikko-Pekka Hanski and his team at the design agency IDEAN to think about each startup’s grand vision. We stayed at the design factory at Aalto University, sharing Teemu Leinonen’s inspirational thoughts and meeting mentors from all over Finland.

with Aape Pohjavirta at Helsinki

Focusing on design, the OEC incubation process kicks-off in Helsinki


We listened to Yishay Mor as he spoke again and again about learning design principles. We were always pursuing the same objective: get the story right and crisp!

Education and education startups are about good design!

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