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Helsinki Vocational College’s Team Tellu garnered a great deal of interest from people of all ages at the Helsinki Edtech Fair in 2019. Examining the robot with teacher Hannu Korhonen are students Anni, Axel and Sampo. Photo: City of Helsinki/Ilkka Ranta-aho.

The Smart Learning Environments of the Future project improved the business opportunities of companies developing learning and learning environment products, services and technologies via co-creation and pilots. The project also promoted learning environments that are user-driven and open to development by companies in cities.

The project partners were Helsinki, Espoo, Turku, Tampere and Oulu of the 6Aika cities; universities of applied sciences from Turku, Tampere and Oulu; and Forum Virium Helsinki.

Results of the Smart Learning Environments of the Future project

  • The Smart Learning Environments of the Future project accelerated the development of the entire sector. It increased companies’ know-how and understanding of the operating environment and supported product development and the establishment of new partnerships. Approximately 300 companies took part in the project, and a total of approximately 200 pilots were carried out. The themes of the pilots included:
    • virtual learning environments and augmented reality
    • digital tools and new technologies (e.g. the Internet of Things and digital learning environments)
    • the entire city as a learning environment
    • learning and education analytics
    • physical sites as smart and sustainable learning environments
    • product and service development environments and R&D&I infrastructure.
  • The project also involved the organisation of various events for companies, such as coaching and export promotion trips to the United Kingdom (London) and the United States (Silicon Valley).
  • The project developed, described and tested shared operating models for the co-creation of learning environments. The project’s pilots were carried out using the following operating models: programme-based challenge rounds, experiments based on companies’ needs and individual innovation competitions. The models were systematically developed and assessed throughout the project and used as the basis for building a common framework for co-creation.
  • During the project, the participating cities opened up learning environments and more broadly the entire city environment for companies’ user-driven co-creation. Companies have never before been offered opportunities for such systematic co-creation. Pilots were carried out at daycare centres, comprehensive schools, general upper secondary schools, vocational institutes and universities of applies sciences. The project also involved developing virtual learning environments.
Five people (two women and three men) standing in the front of a seminar room. One of them (a female) speaking to a microphone.
The participating cities published development challenges together in the Smart Learning Environments of the Future project’s interim seminar in 2019. In the picture Meri Vainio (LEFT) from Espoo, Matti Hämäläinen from Forum Virium Helsinki, Niina Salonen from Turku, Ville Lankinen from Oulu and Raigo Megerild from Helsinki. Photo: City of Helsinki/Ilkka Ranta-aho.

What’s next?

  • The pilots and co-creation continue in many of the participating organisations. In Helsinki, the project’s operations continue as part of the city’s strategic operations. Edtech is one of the themes on the Testbed Helsinki website, which serves as a collection of the city’s testing platforms. The work carried out in the Smart Learning Environments of the Future project also facilitated the development of the Helsinki Education Hub innovation centre. In Espoo, the testing platform activities are expanding to a city-level-activity, which will be supported by the newly opened Make with Espoo innovation platform. In Turku, the co-creation model has been integrated into the City Education Division’s development operations, with co-creation continuing under the STEAMTurku spearhead project. Turku University of Applied Sciences is continuing the development of the augmented reality learning and participation concept ARiver, among others. In Tampere, the models developed in the project (such as Living Lab Kehittämö and the Rikastamo business cooperation model) have been disseminated in basic education networks, and Tampere University of Applied Sciences is continuing cooperation with the company network in pilots, for example, and will be utilising the co-creation models in future projects. In Oulu, the City’s Department of Educational and Cultural Services will continue to encourage educational institutions to engage in cooperation with businesses, and at Oulu University of Applied Sciences co-creation with companies will be part of the curriculum and new projects in the future.

The aim of the Smart Learning Environments of the Future project was to improve the business opportunities of companies that develop services, products and technologies related to learning and smart learning environments, both physical and virtual. A second key aim of the project was to advance the development of user-oriented learning environments in the 6Aika cities. The project provided the project partners with a shared framework for co-creation between companies, research and education organisations, cities and users. Additionally, a third aim was to develop functional and clear operating models for co-creation and to test and describe them in practice. The fourth aim was to highlight the learning environments open to co-creation that are available to companies and other developers. The project was coordinated by the City of Helsinki, with the other project partners being the City of Espoo, Forum Virium Helsinki, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, the City of Tampere, Turku University of Applied Sciences, the City of Turku, Oulu University of Applied Sciences and the City of Oulu. The project ran from 1 September 2017 to 30 November 2020 and had a total budget of approximately EUR 5.4 million.

Further information

Anna Rantapero-Laine
City of Helsinki

Harri Luttinen
City of Espoo

Matti Hämäläinen
Forum Virium Helsinki

Johanna Pihlajamaa
Oulu University of Applied Sciences

Anne Koskela
City of Oulu

Marja Keränen
Tampere University of Applied Sciences

Juha Sormunen
City of Tampere

Rauli Lautkankare
Turku University of Applied Sciences

Niina Salonen
City of Turku