Educational Innovations from around the globe: HundrED Summit 2017, Helsinki

In 2017, I was a volunteer at the Summit. In 2018 I work with HundrED.org now. Great feeling looking back and seeing how excited I was to be a part of this community.

/Original Post, Personal Blog, 9th October 2017/

As an Indian educator based out of Finland, I am always looking to connect and get inspired by ideas and innovations that are working to provide equitable education for all kids. In that search, I came across HundrED, a not for profit, charged by setting up connections among ideas of educational innovations across the world. The organisation, headed by Saku Tuominen, aims to seek and share inspiring innovations in K12 education, for schools to adapt and change with a faster-changing world. In 2016, they shared 100 great innovations from Finland, and this last week (4th to 6th October 2017) they launched the first 100 great educational innovations from around the world.

After having stalked their work for a few months in 2016, I reached out to Saku as well as Lasse Leponiemi, the COO of HundrED, to understand their aims and also find a way to collaborate with them. I was welcomed openly to discuss their work (which was very refreshing btw! How many times can you directly email CEOs and COOs of organizations and get a positive response!) and was further invited to attend the Summit to really understand what they were envisioning. Additionally, I got the opportunity to volunteer through the days whenever they needed more help.

Funded by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, they are additionally sponsored by big names like Nokia and Supercell and have many national and international partners. This was quite visible, given the scale of the summit. However, HundrED ensured that the innovators and participants at the summit knew that all their funding is used for the HundrED project and its goals. For example, the HundrED Summit and Innovation Launch were free public events and that there are no hidden costs for innovations to apply for the HundrED Innovations campaign.

The selected innovations included both well-established programs and organizations as well as new ones, ranging across school-based setups, after-school programs, home activities, and online apps. The summit also had amazing speakers like Dennis Littky, the Co-founder of Big Picture Learning; Pia Pakarinen, Helsinki’s Deputy Mayor of Education and Risto Siilasmass, the Chairman of Nokia (Finland). The schedule for the three-day event was packed (you can check out the schedule here) and I left the event exhausted and inspired. Overall, I had a great time, made some new friends, learned a lot and left humbled by the commitment of the HundrED team and the hundred teams of all the selected innovations.

In this post, I would like to share some of the amazing innovations that left a mark on me. These are my top picks and as the HundrED team selects more innovations every year, I look forward to seeing the community grow.

My top five international innovations

1. Hello Ruby, Finland

I was mesmerized by the joy and excitement the founder of Hello Ruby had for her own products. Linda Liukas, the founder of Hello Ruby believes that “To prepare kids for the future, it’s important to give them a robust understanding of what a computer is good at and what a human is good at.”

Hello Ruby started with a storybook, though now has exercises, games and apps for children aged 5 years and above, to enter the whimsical world of computers, technology and programming. Though based out of Heslinki, Hello Ruby has been published in 22 languages and been featured at TED. Check out the innovative idea here for more details.

2. THINK Global School, Worldwide

Another super exciting idea was of the THINK Global School, a traveling high school. The students in this high school spend their time in four countries over a year, learning and immersing themselves in the communities and cultures of the country. The question of cost immediately comes to one’s mind when reflecting on this innovation, though Head of School, Jamie Steckart shares that, “Incorporating the innovative pedagogies of THINK Global School does not require vast resources, only the courage and will to open the door of the schoolhouse and venturing forth in one’s own backyard”. Interesting, the school’s fee model keeps in mind the family income before deciding the fee for a student.

When I met Jamie, he also eagerly shared that a batch of his students was currently in India, learning about Cricket and immersing themselves in the Bollywood culture. To know more about this travel-based pedagogy, check out their innovation.

3. Empower Playgrounds, Ghana

A super simple, yet highly effective innovation was that of Empower Playgrounds. It is a unique off-the-grid power solution for schools where children play on a merry-go-round that charges lanterns. The students then can take these lanterns home and use to study in small groups in the evenings.

For countries, like India, especially where electrical supply is unreliable, this idea is easy and empowering. To check out steps on how to set up such a merry-go-round and understand the project better, read their innovation page.

4. Kahoot!, Norway

Having used Kahoot! myself in my university lectures, I can vouch for the excitement it creates. It is a game-based learning platform that allows teachers to create fun learning games in minutes. Students can take part in these games at school or at home and can even create their own quizzes! As per Erik Harell, the CEO of Kahoot!, “Our mission is to get every single child engaged with and excited about learning the material, so that they feel learning is awesome and fun”.

This is an innovation any teacher can use immediately! You can use it in your classroom if you are willing to use phones/apps, or during your computer periods or even better, send the link of your quizzes to parents and let the kids practice at home! Read more, here!

5. Global Oneness Project, USA

The last innovation that I want to focus on is the Global Oneness Project. Existing now for 11 years, the project brings the world to the classroom through free multicultural stories and accompanying lesson plans to explore cultural, social, and environmental issues through a humanistic lens. I had the chance to spend a few hours with the Executive Director of Global Oneness Project, Cleary Vaughan-Lee and was spellbound by her simplicity and intention. The same comes across the short films as they push for an authentic approach to global learning.

My favourite?:: I live in a country where every Finn is proud of their Finnish roots and language, though I come from a country where I am slowly seeing my family (and others) lose touch with our traditions and more importantly, our mother tongue, Hindi. The documentary about Marie Wilcox, the last fluent speaker of the Wukchumni language and the dictionary she created in an effort to keep her language alive definitely hit home. Again, all videos and lesson plans are free! Check out their work.

Of course, there were many more innovations (95 more to be precise!) that were selected by the HundrED team for its innovativeness, impact, and scalability. Honour mentions must include Forest Schools (New Zealand), Speed Schools (Ethiopia), Project DEFY (India), Democratic Kindergartens (Germany), 5 Ares of Development (Bhutan), New Technology High School: Blog Portfolio (USA), Roots of Empathy (Canada) and BRAC Boat Schools (Bangladesh). Each idea is unique and beautiful in its’ intentions, goals and impact. To see the full list of the 100 innovations split up by countries, see this link!

Are you excited by this community? Want to be a part of HundrED?

If you want to be a HundrED School and receive personal support (for free!) from the HundrED team try these innovations, read here!

If you want to be a HundrED Ambassador and spread educational innovations in and from your country, read here!

If you want to host a HundrED Spotlight in your country, read here!

In past life, educator. Currently, Founder of a social-impact driven Fashion brand.