Nordic EdTech News #89: 2023-05-22
Your Weeks 19-20 update from the Nordic and Baltic EdTech ecosystem
Nordic EdTech News is the best way to keep up with the EdTech ecosystem across 8 Nordic and Baltic countries. I curate it from company updates and a wide variety of international sources. It’s a passion project of mine - the rest of my time is spent advising / consulting the companies who lead the future of learning. If you’d like to find out more, drop me an email.
Hello and thanks for reading today’s Nordic EdTech News. 👋
Given the ongoing debate about whether to prioritise textbooks or digital teaching resources, the recent publication of the 2021 PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) results held even greater significance. PIRLS is an “ongoing international assessment program of students’ reading achievement in their fourth year of schooling” and data collection for the 2021 survey took place during the Covid-19 pandemic. Six Nordic nations took part (Estonia and Iceland did not participate) and the results for the big four have caused widespread concern as coverage in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden illustrates.
Despite all four countries reporting a drop in reading performance, they remain near the top of the international rankings, but now belong to a second-tier of nations behind Singapore, Hong Kong, Russia and England. Results for the Nordics also show:
The pandemic did have an impact on performance (see the full report here.)
Large % of students do not enjoy reading - Danish and Norwegian 10-year-olds actually report the lowest level of enjoyment in all participating countries. This is a problem given the link between interest, self-confidence and performance.
Fewer readers in the top tier, more at the bottom and a widening gap between them.
Girls are still outperforming boys and the gap between readers from well-off and disadvantaged families / schools is growing.
Interestingly, the results have led politicians to different conclusions. Those in Denmark called for more physical books in schools (Link). While Latvia’s Minister of Education and Science, Anda Čakša, emphasized that digital transformation was needed to better respond to the reading culture of children and young people (Link).
Last week also saw the Swedish government tear up Skolverket’s proposed digitisation plan for schools (Link - $$). After publication, the plan was criticised for not being sufficiently evidence-based and the comments of influential bodies such as the Association of Pediatricians and the Karolinska Institute have caused Education Minister, Lotta Edholm, to think again.
In other news, Skolon AB have announced the sale of their subsidiary, Svensk Talteknologi AB, to the Texthelp Group (Link). The deal is worth “SEK 16 million on a cash and debt-free basis” and will help streamline Skolon’s Swedish operations and enable “increased investments in new countries.” The companies have also announced a new “long-term, international collaboration.” Notably, this is Texthelp’s third Nordic EdTech acquisition in recent years following Claro Software, Oribi and Wizkids.
I was delighted to participate in Ludenso’s recent Future of Textbooks Summit, held just outside Oslo. It was great to discuss key issues in educational publishing with colleagues from Cambridge University Press & Assessment, De Gruyter, DK, Microsoft, Natur & Kultur, PG Online, Sage and the Swedish Edtech Industry.
Finally, do check out the Edventures Global Business Acceleration Fellowship if you are looking to build or scale your presence in Asia. The Fellowship is looking for growth stage Nordic EdTech ventures offering proven solutions, especially those leveraging AI, data analytics and XR. Apply by 30 June - full details here.
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News from Denmark
The Minister for Children and Education is setting up an expert group to expand knowledge about ChatGPT and how institutions can use digital tools to limit cheating. (Link)
Copenhagen Municipality has been storing thousands of files relating to vulnerable children in Aula and MS Sharepoint. (Link)
CEO of Dansk Industri, Lars Sandahl Sørensen, argues for screen time restrictions and a national ban on the use of mobile phones in folkeskole, except when it is relevant to teaching. (Link)
Interesting perspectives on generative AI in education from EasyCorrect. (Link)
Shape Robotics confirm plans to open a subsidiary in Moldova. (Link)
UNIwise have been selected as the digital assessment provider for Baden-Württemberg in Germany, starting with students sitting exams in 2024. (Link)
News from Estonia
EdTech Estonia has released its strategy for 2023-2027. (Link)
Estonia’s Board of Education and Youth argues that: “Digital savvy is needed for the entire school team.” (Link)
How SpeakTX helps develop children’s speech and language skills. (Link)
News from Finland
4.5 million tasks were recently solved in a single day on Eduten. (Link)
Join the Helsinki Education Hub’s EdTech Incubator Gala on 25 May. Full details here.
Kide hired Felicia Braverman as their new School Impact Director for the US market. (Link)
Otava Group published their 2022 financial statement showing a 6% decrease in net sales to 239.6 million euros (2021: 255.3). The overall share of digital products and services increased to 15.6% of turnover (2021: 14.6). Almost 80% of sales to upper secondary schools are for digital resources. (Link)
Sparkmind.vc joined UK EdTech Oneday’s Series A funding round. Oneday is building a new formal education system around entrepreneurship. (Link)
News from Iceland
Positive feedback for Evolytes from a leading Danish maths commentator. (Link)
Mussila sign up their sixth Australian library customer for their Music and WordPlay propositions. (Link)
News from Latvia
Latvian universities combine to help students and industry professionals learn vital digital skills. (Link)
Infrastructure loans will be made available to municipalities to transform the school estate. (Link)
News from Lithuania
Amazing to see the launch of an universal IT exam in Lithuania - for school students, IT professionals and anyone interested in IT. (Link)
Turing College can now offer EU-accredited Data Science & Analytics Masters degrees. (Link)
News from Norway
Important intervention from Morten Søby, who argues that middle-class parents' anxiety about screens should not be allowed to dominate the debate about ICT in education. (Link - $$)
Creaza has launched the Alphabet Planet - it’s a playful resource for children who are learning to read and write. It will launch in Sweden in August.
Curipod is one of 5 companies selected for the US State Educational Technology Directors Association 2023 Cohort of Emerging Partners. (Link)
Dfavo, a platform that connects students with universities, has raised NOK 5 million. (Link)
A survey of US educators by Kahoot! highlights student engagement and behaviour as their top challenges. (Link)
Learnlab launches new AI tools for formative assessment. (Link)
Following a recent webinar, Ludenso published best practice guidance in creating AR-enriched textbooks. (Link)
News from Sweden
New research shows that 47% of pre-school teachers are negative about using digital tools in their classrooms. (Link)
Notable Swedish investor, Roger Akelius, is a major new shareholder in Albert. (Link)
Bonki’s cards help parents have meaningful conversations with their children and are now heading to the US. (Link)
Research from Chalmers University of Technology shows that Swedish students are positive about the use of AI, but 62% believe that using chatbots during exams is cheating (Link). Separately, Skolverket has advised teachers not to use homework assignments as a basis for grades because of generative AI tools. (Link)
Gro Play launched Grow Planet to change “the way children aged 6-12 engage with STEAM subjects. (Link)
Magma Math has confirmed a new partnership with GeoGebra. (Link)
Joel Hellermark, CEO and founder at Sana, on being the ”Google for companies” and competing with Big Tech. (Link via Swedish Tech Weekly)
Trelson’s new Focus extension allows teachers to reduce digital distraction and lock students’ computers during class and not just during exams. (Link)
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