Entrepreneur and innovator Peter Vesterbacka and EBS Head of Development and Innovation Andreas Veispak discuss educational innovation, where it takes place and what contributes to it in the provision of business education in the latest episode of EBS podcast Satellite. It is also the first public recording of the podcast in Satellite’s history at the Aparaadio Podcast Festival.
“I am not a huge fan of the term ‘educational technology’ because in the majority of the world, the provision of education is not a question of technology,” stresses Finnish entrepreneur and visionary Peter Vesterbacka. “An analogy can be drawn with the business world – for example, if you have a poorly functioning process, automatising the process won’t make it better. Similarly, digitalisation and automation won’t instantly improve a poor education system.”
He brings an example of how the number of Vietnamese secondary school students has increased the most in Finland because they believe that the Finnish education system supports them best. “They find that the main difference between the Finnish and Vietnamese as well as the rest of the Asian education system is the high competitiveness in the latter’s education system,” the Finnish entrepreneur explains. “You always need to fight to get from a good kindergarten to a good secondary school and from there to a good university, a journey that is filled with exams.”
Vesterbacka highlights how one Vietnamese girl, who is studying in Finland, told him how she has started to love long walks in the forest – in Vietnam, doing something like that or even saying that she likes it is unheard of because everyone goes home after school and studies until the late evening. “What makes our education system great is that we acquire knowledge for life, not for passing exams, and we have time for activities outside of school,” the Finn stresses.
He proposes that we should focus first and foremost on decreasing the administrative burden of teachers to leave them more time to focus on their core tasks and teach in an interesting and exciting manner. “In my opinion, automation of the educational system is a poor innovation and we should instead focus on the quality,” he explains. “It is more important to bring together people who understand both the technology and education.”
EBS Head of Development and Innovation Andreas Veispak notes that if we observe the global literacy and numeracy indicators and how they have changed during the last 200 years, we can say that at least in the West, the education system has developed very well over time. “We are talking about 8-9 times growth – if it was 12% in 1810, now it is 90% or 95%,” he states. “Therefore, I agree with Peter that technology is only one tool of educational innovation – it is not its own objective.”
When defining educational innovation as a term, Veispak thinks that the most crucial question is ‘Why?’ because it enables us to see issues from a new perspective. “What I see is that instead of simply studying for tests, asking the right questions will become increasingly important in our education system,” the Head of Development and Innovation remarks. “Our education system often answers the question ‘How?’, sometimes also ‘What?’, but I have observed that the answers to the question ‘Why?’ are lacking – how something will be completed and what is its aim.”
Veispak also notes that when looking at how neuroscientists approach the brain structure, although the notion is that children’s brains are very plastic and as people grow older they become more apathetic and insensitive, it appears that their brain structure does not actually change. He also emphasises that removing the stress element from the education system or any other environment has shown to increase people’s performance.
How big of a role does the environment in which educational innovation takes place play, how important are the coaching skills and the teacher’s humanity and how have start-ups changed business education and its provision – we will talk about all of this in the latest episode of the EBS podcast.