Monday, April 4, 2016

Lessons Learned In Finland

Last week, the Codapillar team had the awesome opportunity to visit Finland, one of the top countries in the world for education and technology. We met with a few other startups that shared our vision of revolutionizing education, an accelerator that focuses on developing education tools using the most advanced pedagogy possible, and a couple of experts on the startup scene in Europe, as well as teaching engineering and technology.

One of the Codapillar team's past projects together was a part of the Product Development Project at Aalto University in Otaniemi, Espoo, Finland. While participating in this project, aside from gaining valuable product development experience, we made some friends who share our passion for fantastic education and empowering others with technology.

First we spoke with Ville Taajamaa, who is doing research on the most effective pedagogy for teaching engineering in schools. He brought in a couple more fresh minds to join a great conversation about what the educational needs of adolescents are, and how we might address them. We also spoke about how to make sure our tool show young women that coding is not just for boys. Ville introduced us to a team he worked with at University of Turku, who was working on a visual learning tool that allowed for collaborative work.

The next day, we took the bus over to Turku to meet with the ViLLE team. We spoke with them about their research, and their progress with the platform that they are developing. Several of their developers are teachers as well, and encountered the same problems in Finland that we were running into in the United States. Because of increased use of mobile devices in schools, many students didn't have the basic computer skills we were anticipating they would have. We discussed how we might adapt. It turned out that ViLLE was working through a lot of the same challenges that Codapillar is in regards to product development, and making the most useful tool. We're very happy to be able to put our minds together to try to find good solutions.

We also had a visit to xEdu, a new education technology accelerator program based out of Helsinki. We loved talking with them, because we got the opportunity to hear about what makes Finland's education system so successful, and how Finland plans to use their learnings around the world. Finland is the third country to sign a law that mandates a computer science education at all grade levels, acknowledging that technical literacy is becoming critical in the blossoming digital world. Finland is also in the process of reforming their entire education system, focussing more on project-based learning, and the blending of subjects. Coding is extremely well suited to this, since technology is a part of all disciplines. xEdu focuses heavily on applying top-notch pedagogy, testing heavily, and building the products of the future that can be adapted to other education systems around the world.

One of the companies we met through xEdu is BomberBot, a tool that teaches programming skills in early elementary classrooms through a game. BomberBot is a very visual tool, and includes lesson plans for instructors as well. We had a chat with them to hear about some of the lessons they've learned in the education technology sphere.

Codapillar is very appreciative of everyone who took the time to chat with us, and share with us their insight. We are so impressed with all of the work going on around the world to help unite us all with code!

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