2018 was a historical year for EdTech. The Investments made to learning technology companies were massive 16,3 billion dollars globally. Some say that in the future the EdTech business will be even bigger than ICT -business. So, no wonder that the land of snow, lakes and the world´s best education system is now producing also successful EdTech companies. But what does it take to develop educational technologies?
On the first week of March Future Female joined forces together with Reaktor and arranged inspiring night about the future of educational technologies. Again, we had a full house and we heard interesting stories by Reaktor and Kide Science.
Reaktor is one the leading technology companies in Finland and the company is really investing to the future. Reaktor’s Isabella Holm opened the evening by telling how they in Reaktor want to develop technology with greater purpose. Last year they sent their first own satellite to the space and developed together with University of Helsinki a free Elements of AI online course for everybody. Yes, for everybody.
Case – Elements of AI
Together with Reaktor’s Senior Product Designer Janina Fagerlund, we had a closer look on the process of developing Elements of AI course and how everything got started.
Artificial intelligence is difficult to understand if you haven´t been involved with computer technologies in your past. Reaktor came across with this problem also when they were talking with clients and even some of their employees didn’t quite understand what AI really meant.
The more people understand what AI is and how we can benefit from it, the faster we can enhance and develop the technology. Reaktor started playing with the idea with The University of Helsinki – could it be possible to do AI course for everybody and get as many as possible to sign up for it. Challenge was accepted.
When developing an online course, it isn´t just about the technology. The team needs to have also professionals with pedagogical background. And of course, when you are trying to develop a product for everyone, you have to know your biggest competitors. In this case it was free time and activities like watching Netflix. Among other challenges the course needed to be as simple as possible but still as educative as possible.
The team tested the product, gained feedback and developed it further with the professors from University of Helsinki. After one year of hard work the free online course saw the daylight. The response was amazing! Reaktor challenged every company in Finland to educate their employees and in the end, there were 250 companies involved. Today over 140 000 students have signed up to for the course, from over 110 countries and 37 % of participants are women.
The mission in the beginning was to educate 1 % of the Finnish population, but now, the mission is moved to the next level – goal is to educate 1 % of the whole world. They are definitely on a mission to make AI a worldwide movement.
Case – Kide Science
The second case of the evening was a from Edtech company called Kide Science. The founders Sari Hurme-Mehtälä and Aino Kuronen shared their fascinating journey. Kide Science is a platform which offers playful science education for 3-to-8-year-old kids. The idea came when one of the founders, Jenni Vartiainen was doing a research about science education for kids. Vartiainen needed a demo group for her study and they arranged the first play-based science club for kids. Kide Science was born.
Today Kide Science has already three different products: science lessons, Supraland – digital learning tool and TV series running in Finland. But why isn’t the normal way, classrooms, books and chalkboards enough anymore?
It turns out that young kids are really adaptive to learn the language of science, not only the teenagers. In the future, world needs more people with knowledge of science and technology, and they need to adapt more information in shorter period of time. That is what Kide Science is aiming for – to bring the joy of science for kids and the tools for parents and for the teacher in the classrooms.
Even though all the teachers and parents aren’t too happy about the thought that learning happens by using an iPad, but it’s more than that. Every Kide Science product encourages kids to do hands-on experiments while following the instructions. What happens when you rub a balloon on your hair? Or what if you put oil in the water?
Kide Science announced few weeks ago that they have started their first collaboration with a Finnish city, Kerava. Company is also spreading in Asia after good collaboration with Malaysia and we were delighted to hear that they had very successful seeding round. And maybe in some point we are able to visit the wonderful Supraland with VR classes. Will see what future brings!
It definitely seems like the Finnish EdTech is blooming and we couldn’t be happier! Hopefully we will see many other bright stars in the future also. Thank you Reaktor for the inspiring collaboration!
Check out the photos from the event:
Text: Helena Pirhonen
Photos: Maarit Halonen https://www.instagram.com/maaritphotos/