Freed from their desks, pupils enjoy smart spaces

Digital learning solutions are continuously improving, as are physical learning spaces and combinations of the two. Led by the University of Tampere, a value network project has sought to develop learning solutions combining the physical world with the virtual. Classrooms have now been replaced by flexible, versatile spaces.

Learning solutions are increasingly based on multisensorial technology. New, active learning spaces were studied and developed in Finland under Professor Roope Raisamo as part of Tekes's Learning Solutions programme. The project was launched by the University of Tampere, where the topic had previously been researched by harnessing technology in support of special needs pupils. Active learning spaces are based on tools that encourage learning, for example through physical activity.

"We had studied new learning platforms and now wanted to introduce them to everyday work in schools, because activity is often a more effective way of helping students to learn than cramming. We sought support from a selection of learning application and technology companies, and formed a value network with them," Raisamo says. SMEs and universities contributed via the municipalities and schools in the value network.

"We interviewed teachers and pupils about problem areas in school before designing our new learning solutions," Raisamo says.

Digitally extended classrooms

According to Raisamo, future classrooms will be flexible, equipped with movable furniture and extended with technology-powered digital classrooms.

"We will no longer sit in front of screens, but take advantage of smart spaces. Our project helped municipalities to design such classrooms. They are equipped with smart lighting, projections and other technology such as motion detectors," he says.

Smart lighting technology is also used by Multisense Oy, a company founded by Raisamo and his colleagues as a spin-off from the project. The company promotes physical exercise among pupils, with the help of stories and games. Another solution tailored for digital classrooms is Berlin Kompass, a simulator-like solution for language studies. It enables pupils to engage in online discussions in the role of a tourist and tour guide. Schools in the Tampere region will integrate this solution into their teaching.

In addition to products designed for digital classrooms, the project resulted in the development of application and software-based solutions that extend the classroom beyond school walls, for example through tablets.

Joint venture took solution into foreign markets

For learning solution builder Neoxen, the value network project offered new product development opportunities. CEO Esa Tervo reveals that the company initially had reservations about the value network, but soon found that the project exceeded expectations.

"The value network concept presented in Learning Solutions was entirely new in Finland at the time. However, companies and universities soon became close and natural partners. The universities began by conducting applied research. Together with other companies, we then used this groundwork to pilot new functionalities suitable for learning solutions," Tervo says.

"In the end, Tekes' Learning Solutions programme pointed us and our business partner to Digile's Digital Services programme, based on which we could continue our product development. As a result, we established the joint venture XoomPoint to offer online learning solutions to corporate clients. The product was launched directly onto the international markets," he concludes.

The participants of the Active Learning Spaces project included six of the nine Schools of the University of Tampere: the Schools of Information Sciences; Education; Language, Translation and Literary Studies; Health Sciences; Social Sciences and Humanities; and Medicine. The Faculty of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering and the Faculty of Education of the University of Oulu also participated. The project involved schools in Tampere, Oulu and Ylöjärvi. The value network included the following companies: Neoxen, Lingsoft, Sanako, Offcode, Context Learning Finland, Sähkötaso and Panphonics. The Cities of Tampere and Ylöjärvi were partners of the project. The project was supported by Tekes and the Finnish National Board of Education.

Further information

CMO Arto Hippula
arto.hippula (at)
Tel. +358 40 846 8024

Multisense Oy
info (at)
Tel. +358 400 855 245

Text: SST Viestintä

Pia Mörk