finnish school reform

Finland has been the model of what education should be and with good reasons. Its students have scored higher than their peers on international assessment tests. Thanks to the education reforms it has made since the 1970s and now, they are introducing phenomenon-based teaching.
The country has just put its National Curriculum Framework 2016 into effect and along with it, they are rethinking the concept of education and what it means to the children of today. Furthermore, Finland wants to focus on the multidisciplinary approach to education and phenomenon-based education is the way to achieve that.

Phenomenon-based teaching can also be described as problem-based teaching as the learners seek answers to the real-life phenomenon that interests them. Examples of these phenomena include topics on climate change, community, or the European Union. However, it takes problem-solving to a higher level because it does not only focus on one point of view but studies different points of view. As a result, it crosses the boundaries between subjects and brings all subjects and themes together.

As the students go through the learning process, it becomes more authentic because the theories and information they learn provide immediate value to what is already present in the learning situation. One of its goals is to make sure the students are able to apply the information they acquire during the learning situation.

It is based on the philosophy that you cannot drive just by using pen and paper. Thus, it recognizes the fact that the problems and challenges students is and will be facing in life is not based on paper and ink, and students need to learn practical information.

One of the best things about the phenomenon-based teaching is that the students are the ones who initiate the learning process by asking questions about issues and problems they are interested in. Because of this, learning becomes natural and deep, unlike theory or reading where learning is only superficial.

Sugata Mitra: build a school in the cloud

Don’t teach. Let the learning be. Ask questions and step back.

Educational researcher Dr. Sugata Mitra’s “Hole in the Wall” experiments have shown that, in the absence of supervision or formal teaching, children can teach themselves and each other, if they’re motivated by curiosity and peer interest. In 1999, Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area). What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other.

The “Hole in the Wall” project demonstrates that, even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher, an environment that stimulates curiosity can cause learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mitra, who’s now a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University (UK), calls it “minimally invasive education.”

At TED2013, Sugata Mitra made a bold TED Prize wish: Help me build a place where children can explore and learn on their own — and teach one another — using resouces from the worldwide cloud.

Download the Self Organized Learning Environment (SOLE) Toolkit >>

  • About Coursera


We offer high quality courses from the top universities, for free to everyone. We currently host courses from Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and University of Pennsylvania. We are changing the face of education globally, and we invite you to join us.

We are a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. We envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions. Our technology enables the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students.

Through this, we hope to give everyone access to the world-class education that has so far been available only to a select few. We want to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.

Our Courses

Classes offered on Coursera are designed to help you master the material. When you take one of our classes, you will watch lectures taught by world-class professors, learn at your own pace, test your knowledge, and reinforce concepts through interactive exercises. When you join one of our classes, you’ll also join a global community of thousands of students learning alongside you. We know that your life is busy, and that you have many commitments on your time. Thus, our courses are designed based on sound pedagogical foundations, to help you master new concepts quickly and effectively. Key ideas include mastery learning, to make sure that you have multiple attempts to demonstrate your new knowledge; using interactivity, to ensure student engagement and to assist long-term retention; and providing frequent feedback, so that you can monitor your own progress, and know when you’ve really mastered the material.

We offer courses in a wide range of topics, spanning the Humanities, Medicine, Biology, Social Sciences, Mathematics, Business, Computer Science, and many others. Whether you’re looking to improve your resume, advance your career, or just learn more and expand your knowledge, we hope there will be multiple courses that you find interesting.

Pedagogical Foundations

The design of our platform is based on sound pedagogical foundations that aim to help students learn the material quickly and effectively. This design is inspired by the work of many researchers who have helped shape our understanding of pedagogical techniques that contribute to student learning and engagement. While there are many papers that contributed to our understanding of key ideas in pedagogy, here are a few that were particularly influential.

The efficacy of online learning

There is sometimes controversy regarding the extent to which online instruction is as effective as face-to-face instruction. In September 2010, the Department of Education issued a detailed report that conducts a meta-analysis of 45 published studies that compare online and face-to-face learning. This analysis demonstrates very convincingly that online learning methods are, on average, at least as effective as face-to-face learning. Further, hybrid methods, which involve both methods of instruction, and is being offered by our partner universities to many of their on-campus students using our platform, are considerably more effective than either method alone.

The importance of retrieval and testing for learning

Many people think that the primary purpose of homeworks is to assess or to evaluate students. We believe that a far more important purpose is that they drive learning, and ensure long-term retention. A key factor in the design of the Coursera system is the extensive use of interactive exercises, which we believe are critical for student engagement and learning. Even within our videos, there are multiple opportunities for interactions: the video frequently stops, and students are asked to answer a simple question to test whether they are tracking the material. This strategy has value not only in maintaining student focus and engagement. Research shows that even simple retrieval questions have significant pedagogical value. For example, in two papers in Science, (Karpicke and Roediger III, 2008; Karpicke and Blunt, 2011) show that activities that require students to retrieve or reconstruct knowledge produces significant gains in learning – much more so than many other learning strategies.

Mastery Learning

Many of our courses’ homeworks are designed to give students multiple opportunities to learn the content and demonstrate their knowledge. In many traditional classes, if a student attempts a homework and does not do well, he or she simply get a low score on the assignment, and instruction moves to the next topic, providing the student a poor basis for learning the next concept. The feedback is also often given weeks after the concept was taught, by which point the student barely remembers the material, and rarely goes back to review the concepts to understand them better. In the Coursera platform, we typically give immediate feedback on that concept the student did not understand. In many cases, we provide randomized versions of the same assignment, so that a student can re-study and re-attempt the homework. This process is called Mastery Learning, and was shown in a seminal paper by Bloom to increase student performance by about one standard deviation over more traditional forms of instruction. This means that if in a traditional class 50% of all students pass a certain (median) level of performance, with Mastery Learning, about 84% of students now achieve this level of performance.

Peer assessments

In many courses, the most meaningful assignments do not lend themselves easily to automated grading by a computer. For example, in a poetry course, we would want the students to practice critical thinking and interpretive skills by answering essay-style questions, which do not have clear right or wrong answers. Similar issues arise when we are evaluating business plans, engineering designs, medical chart reviews, or many others. This is particularly an issue in courses in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Business, and other disciplines where a relatively small fraction of the content lends itself well to an auto-graded format. Given our commitment to offer courses from a broad range of disciplines, we have invested substantial effort in developing the technology of peer assessments, where students can evaluate and provide feedback on each other’s work. This technology draws on two bodies of literature: First, the education literature on peer assessments. Following the literature on student peer reviews, we have developed a process in which students are first trained using a grading rubric to grade other assessments. This has been shown to result in accurate feedback to other students, and also provide a valuable learning experience for the students doing the grading. Second, we draw on ideas from the literature on crowd-sourcing, which studies how one can take many ratings (of varying degrees of reliability) and combine them to obtain a highly accurate score. Using such algorithms, we expect that by having multiple students grade each homework, we will be able to obtain grading accuracy comparable or even superior to that provided by a single teaching assistant.

Active learning in the classroom

Many of our partner institutions are planning to use the capabilities of our platform to provide their on-campus students with a significantly improved learning experience. Many studies have demonstrated that standard lecturing is not the most effective mode of instruction. Considerably more effective are the teaching methods that use active learning and interactive engagement between faculty and students, and between students and their peers. For example, Deslauriers, Schelew and Wieman (Science 2011) describe an experiment in an introductory physics class that compares a traditional lecture setting to one that uses active learning. In the active learning group, student engagement nearly doubled, attendance increased by 20%, and average scores on the same test increased from 41% to 74% (where random guessing would give a score of 23%). Similar results, by Wieman, Mazur, and others, were obtained across multiple disciplines and diverse institutions. Our platform offers universities the opportunity to move much of the traditional lecturing – required for conveying the necessary material – from inside to outside the classroom, in an online learning format that is, in many ways, more interactive and more engaging. By doing so, they open up space in the curriculum for the active learning strategies that are considerably more effective in increasing engagement, attendance, and learning.


Daphne Koller is the Rajeev Motwani Professor in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University and the Oswald Villard University Fellow in Undergraduate Education. Her main research interest is in developing and using machine learning and probabilistic methods to model and analyze complex domains. She is the author of over 180 refereed publications, which have appeared in venues that include Science, Cell, and Nature Genetics (her H-index is over 80). She also has a long-standing interest in education. She founded the CURIS program, the Stanford Computer Science Department’s undergraduate summer internship program, and the Biomedical Computation major at Stanford. She pioneered in her classroom many of the ideas that are key to Stanford’s massive online education effort. She was awarded the Sloan Foundation Faculty Fellowship in 1996, the ONR Young Investigator Award in 1998, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 1999, the IJCAI Computers and Thought Award in 2001the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2004, the ACM/Infosys award in 2008, and was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in 2011. Her teaching was recognized via the Cox Medal for excellence in fostering undergraduate research at Stanford in 2003, and by being named a Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education.
Andrew Ng is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University. He is also the Director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab, the main AI research organization at Stanford, with 15 professors and about 150 students/post docs. In 2008, together with SCPD he started SEE (Stanford Engineering Everywhere), Stanford’s first major attempt at free, online distributed education, which made publicly available about a dozen Stanford engineering classes. Over a million people have viewed SEE’s videos. At Stanford, he also led the development of the OpenClassroom and the ml-class/db-class online education platforms, which were the precursor to the Coursera platform. In Fall 2011, he was the instructor of ml-class, a Machine Learning class that was one of Stanford’s first massive online courses, and had an enrollment of over 100,000 students.

In addition to his work on online education, Ng also works on machine learning, specifically on building AI systems via large scale brain simulations. His previous work includes autonomous helicopters, the STanford AI Robot (STAIR) project, and ROS (the most widely used open-source robotics software platform today). Ng is the author or co-author of over 150 published papers in machine learning, and his group has won best paper/best student paper awards at ICML, ACL, CEAS, 3DRR. He is a recipient of the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, and the 2009 IJCAI Computers and Thought award, one of the highest honors in AI.


John Doerr is a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Doerr earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Rice University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Since joining KPCB in 1980, John and his partners have backed some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, including Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt of Google; Jeff Bezos of, Scott Cook and Bill Campbell of Intuit; and Mark Pincus of Zynga. John’s passion is helping entrepreneurs create the “Next Big Thing” in mobile and social networks, greentech innovation, education and economic development. Ventures sponsored by John have created more than 200,000 new jobs. Outside of KPCB, Doerr also supports entrepreneurs focused on the environment, public education and alleviating global poverty. These include,, the Climate Reality Project and Doerr is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Scott Sandell joined NEA in 1996 and became a General Partner in 2000. Sandell holds an AB in Engineering Sciences from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Stanford. He focuses on investments in information technology and alternative energy, and is responsible for NEA’s activities in China. Present board memberships include Bloom Energy, CloudFlare, DreamFactory, Fusion-io, HelioVolt, SolFocus, Spreadtrum Communications, SugarCRM, Tableau Software, and Workday. Sandell has also sponsored investments in 3ware, Amplitude Software, Data Domain, Fineground Networks, Neoteris (NASDAQ: JNPR), NetIQ (NASDAQ: NTIQ), Playdom, (NYSE: CRM) and WebEx (NASDAQ: WEBX). In 2011, Sandell was also named to the #5 position on Forbes’ Midas List of the 100 most successful technology investors.

how and where to get involved in rsc

If you want to join, in whatever way, or in whatever amount of time, full time or part time or just for a specific and limited task, internal or external, please contact us on:

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Jan Ritsema
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Inna German works at Theory and Practice ( ) – the leading Russian education portal.

Inna German (RU), let me answer your questions:

— What is the main idea of RadicalSchoolChange project?

To create an international MOUVEMENT that is strong enough to DEMAND RADICAL CHANGES of how we nowadays organize information transfer and appropriation. Information Transfer and Appropriation happens in institutes we call schools.
The information transfer as we know it now is all over the world organized to fit the industrial way of producing. As if nothing has happened since then, as if we still need to prepare a workforce that works as an obedient mass all doing the same at the same moment.
Of course there are many exceptions, many different methods to individualize the transfer of information, but in general, most schools, whether they are public or private, organize information transfer and appropriation in classes. A group of students is addressed with the same information, equal to all participants of the class by the same instructor at the same time.
In the 19th century this system was developed because it seemed the most efficient way to prepare people for the assembly line work.
Nowadays all who take part in this sector of information transfer, whether these are the teachers, the students, the parents or the governments, are aware that this system does not work anymore. Moreover it turns out to be counterproductive. Aggression took hold of these institutes and this is just one example of its dysfunction. A peaceful activity as the appropriation and transfer of knowledge, techniques and experience in an institute for physical, emotional and intellectual development and growth, should not be a zone of war and hatred, but a zone of generous cooperation and exchange.
Although all participants agree that fundamental changes are necessary, none of these groups seem to be able to change the system. Many reforms have been tried out to improve the schools, their effects are very small as long as the fundaments of the system are not tackeled.
What is needed is a RADICAL CHANGE, that radically thinks information transfer and appropriation differently.

How to get this done?
We think that RADICAL CHANGE can’t be initiated from the government, as they are bound to too much law and regulations, nor from the teachers, they will be afraid to lose their (difficult) job, nor from the parents, they are afraid that they will lose the crèche that controls and keeps their children away from home, so the only revolutionary potential seem to be the students of the colleges and gymnasia themselves, aged between 12-17/18. They have nothing to lose only to win by dismantling this prison of information transfer that treats them like cattle, holds them ignorant, makes them aggressive and teaches them a-social behaviour.

The main idea of the RadicalSchoolChange project is to prepare and develop alternative, radically different models for modern information appropriation and transfer, and to try to implement them. But, when this won’t work, because there is too much of a resistance towards a Radical Change of Schools we also prepare and organize simultaneously a revolution, planned, for instance, for november 2015, in which the students in europe leave the schools and only return when the flexible models they propose are fully accepted.

Everybody who shares our concern can take part and spent time to prepare these necessary changes. A lot needs to be done. As we want to propose an integral plan that implies law and regulations as well as principles and contents for many different models of information transfer and apprpriation.
We dont want to create one model. We want to propose a wide range of models for information appropriation. Whether this is the existing classical instruction model or a model that offers total freedom to the student to decide what and how and when she or he wants to learn.

The teachers are in our models no longer only the instructors of information who decide which information in which quantity will be taught and assessed. (Read the Ignorant Schoolmaster by Jacques Rancière). But the teacher will become the consultant AND stimulator AND helper, one that can advise and consult. Not the one that knows what is the best for you, not the one you have to listen too, not the one you have to follow, but the one that is giving proposals, alternatives, assistance to help you reach your goals or to help you to formulate or reformulate your goals.
The school it self, becomes a building, a site, full of information, informators, tools, and machines to be consulted and to be used. Well equipped with enough of the latest models and information. Think of libraries, different libraries for different segments of information and or society, instruments for natural and medical sciences, gymnastic tools, a radio and tv station, a printing unit, workshops for all kind of activities and equipped with up to date instruments.
The school will transform into sites for information and excercise. Free access for in principle all members of society.
The teachers will no longer lose their time to instruct classes, but will be there to explain the use of the instruments and sites. Not to posses and protect them, but to have them used as much as possible and as smart as possible.
The school can become the place where young citizens can develop new products, writings, ways of doing.
And the school will work in full cooperation with society, means that it will be able to use, professional sites and instruments of all aspects of society. And it will work in full relation with the practices outside the school. The school develops businesses, services, associations, practices just like the world outside the school. See for this on the fresh website: Geoff Mulgan, a short introduction to the Studio school.

For this to happen we need to think the educational system less protective and safe.
Parents now trust their kids to schools to be sure that nothing will harm them and the school takes over all responsibility and is therefore obliged to treat their population under a regime of heavy control and very restricted freedom of mouvement.
The new Sites for Information Appropriation and Transfer (siat), as we propose to name these new ‘schools’ will no longer be liable for the safety of the students, but the students themselves will be. No protection, no safety, no assurance, parents take the responsibility for their own children, despite the fact that inscribing to a SIAT till the age of 14 is obligatory.

Why are these changes necessary?
Students nowadays know much better in which direction, in which specific direction they want to develop themselves. The classical system orients students in a very general direction, students have the impression to lose their time, as they know nowadays much better what they would like to learn but the school does not provide neither the content nor the time to this. Modern tools like computers, mobile phones and the internet offer nonetheless a lot of the information the student would specialize him or herself in.
The new school should offer a much bigger differentiation of the knowledge and experience that apparently is available and that would fit the many different needs of the many different students. That suits them to how they want to function and contribute to society, based on their interests, passions, and intellectual, physical, emotional, social, sexual and verbal capacities.
So the new SIAT (Site for information Appropriation and Transfer) has to become the place that helps to organize and stimulate every individual student to follow their own very specific curriculum.
We don’t need more teachers for this, we only need to redirect the task and function of the educational consultant, the teacher, we prefer to call him or her educationl assistant, will no longer lose time in instructing and controlling the groups/classes. As many students will work on their own in the SIAT, finding the material they look for and exercise the appropriation of it, the educational consultant can pay more attention to those who ask for help or need more help.

In short, The RadicalSchoolChange project aims at preparing this radical change, to start up experiments and tests and to develop pressure to demand full implementation and if necessary prepares for a specific, internationally organized moment to force the implementation.
And for this we need a lot of help.
We need to reformulate educational laws
We need to develop many different models of siat’s.
We need to develop models that can absorb without exception any potential student, that no-one is and will be excluded and that everyone can get the most out of their capacities and affinities.
We need to formulate a wide range of possible curricula.
We need to reformulate all aspects regarding assessing, obligatory progress, control, safety, connections and communications with society.
We need to reformulate the status and position of the educational consultants.
We need to connect to all existing schools and create units for change, with students, teachers, parents, politicians, boards.
We need to organize and prepare the communication and marketing of these ideas in paper, online.
We need to organize experiments and test sites of SIAT’s.
We need to develop science and evaluation. Books and brochures need to be written. Websites and blogs developed.
We need to find funds and funding.

The ‘factory for products of radical change’, that we develop in the building of the PerformingArtsForum in the north of France, can host for the beginning period the main offices.

— How radical these changes should be? Do you stand for evolution or revolution concept in changing educational paradigma?

The answer on the first question indicates that ONLY Radical Change is were we are aiming at.
Since the 70-ies the educational administration is bombarding the schools with reformations. All not making it better. More often to the contrary. These reformations kept the educational staff in the schools so busy with the implementation and adaptation of all these reforms that this took away any revolutionary potential from the side of the teaching staff. They are more than tired and fed up with these often obsolete but time consuming reforms, whether these came from their unions or from the administration.
So we stand for revolution.
But we have to prepare the revolution from within the schools.
This might give rise to a revolutionary evolution. Successful experiments might quickly be followed up.
We intend to prepare the revolution for the west but all other countries and continents that want to join are more than welcome. Like you in Russia.
We can imagine that the revolutionary potential in Russia is bigger and better prepared to demand and implement radical change than in the spoiled west.

— There are a lot of ideas in the air but almost no solutions. We have Khan Academy but it can do nothing with actual school problems?

You are right. What the Kahn Academy shows is that models of individual learning are available and moreover very successful. It shows that a lot of information, experience, will to exchange and help generously is available on the net. The Kahn Academy developed also a smart system of assessment.
Salman Kahn’s Academy shows that we can open up the schools. That we can use other sources of information and experience than only that of the teacher-instructor.
But the KahnAcademy and similar models of which we show some on our fresh website: ,cannot change the existing schooling system controlled by the state. This change is something we the people, we the students, we the teachers, we the parents, we the politicians have to do ourselves. And we have to do it radically.
This need for Radical Change does not come only from us, but also, or above and for all from a modest character but active propagator for school change like Sir Ken Robinson. It is he who formulated that our schools need “a learning revolution that will change the school into something else”.

Please contact us on:
Or visit the blog:

Jan Ritsema
15, rue Haute
02820 St Erme Outre et Ramecourt

T/F +33323801846
mobile: +33642806901
skype: janritsema

Some videos proposing thinking the school different

Salman Khan:

Sir Ken Robinson: