A learning journey began in 2003, when I travelled to Colombia to teach English. I went there to teach, but was soon learning more than I ever thought possible. This blog documents sporadic snapshots of educational highlights from my 5 years in Colombia and beyond. The learning continues...
Meet Joni AlWindi Multicultural business and education entrepreneur with a passion and mission to provide quality education worldwide since 2007. Started out in EdTech in 2009 bringing a European solution to Latin America, founded his first own EdTech company in 2013. Co-founded present EdTech company in 2015. Alumnus from AIESEC in Finland one of the speakers at the #AlumniTalksAAIC - Day 3!
From having workshopped with countless numbers of teachers, observing how students become and don't become engaged in the learning process, my voice concerning what I feel needs to be said and heard around the education industry and beyond is becoming more and more crystalized. For proper validation, I pitched a talk for a huge event (from my perspective and limited speaking experience) and am now signed up to talk about my findings under the topic:
"The future of education - from far-fetched vision to immediate impact"
On a high level, I observe how governments worldwide are taking decisions towards reforming their education systems with a modern approach. Modern education solutions are overpopulated with technology, having targeted a need that pedagogical decision makers have not been fast enough to fulfill. With 150 000+ apps for learning only in App Store, it's impossible for teachers and decision makers to navigate this jungle in any consistent way. An understanding of the need to look for specific pedagogical quality is being developed and the question is who will provide it and how.
I think proactive teachers have always been the heroes of the education industry, spending countless hours to learn about ways to improve their teaching. However, when they are stuck in bureaucratic systems due to no fault of their own, we need new heroes to join forces with the traditional educators. Working and leading my third edtech company now, I highly appreciate the great persistence that is required to survive as an education entrepreneur, both to successfully navigate through the noise and to find a sustainable business model.
In Finland, where the first Accelerator for Education Businesses of the Nordics was created just a year ago, a unique ecosystem of players has been developed to boost new education startups in collaboration with local governments, schools and universities. The model has already gained global attention and Finland, having been on the global map as an education superpower for over a decade, is highly enjoying the attention. At the same time, the Finnish National Board of Education has as late as in August 2016, put into effect a new national core curriculum that goes hand-in-hand with the development of the global society overall, which has set the stage for global education reform.
Spain, and more specifically, Alicante, is just about to experience how this ecosystem can be developed. The company Fun Academy has been an igniting force in this project. A first event, which I happened to be able to join in on already in the planning phase, is to set the pace for the development in the city. Right now, I'm on my way to prepare for the event and look much forward to an exciting week.
Experiencing first hand how the teacher training demand has increased tremendously just in the last year, mainly as a consequence of the new national core curriculum taking effect in August, the decision to package our own training offering at EdVisto as an independent product was a natural next step. Instead of letting school children wait for their teachers to get trained enough in new learning methodologies to dare putting them to use, I felt urged to push for a way to help catalyse the process of introducing our kind of solutions to them. Our digital product includes pedagogical guidelines behind the scenes that are not easily visible for teachers, who don't actively use digital products. So instead of focusing only on convincing teachers and decision makers to try the product, we decided to offer a training around the concept that also includes the theoretical mind shift necessary to try new solutions in the first place.
An important key point I think is necessary to highlight on a theoretical level to teachers is the importance of the facilitator role. With emphasis on encouraging students to creating their own learning material in collaboration, teachers could try to step back and enjoy guiding and monitoring the learning process rather than enforcing it. I've experienced teachers having a hard time letting go of the control, the need to know everything before introducing something new to their students. At its worst, I'm afraid the exaggerated over-preparation before class, each class, every day, all the year, is killing even the most ambitious teachers' enthusiasm to be the role model their students need them to be.
I think we need to learn to trust students' own creative process and ability to learn without too much teacher input. In the end, it's only the students' curiosity and willingness to learn that will define where their lives' learning path will take them. There are no guarantees that even a straight-A student will get a good, normal job after studies, nor necessarily want one. Even he or she can become a broke entrepreneur with a vision to change the world in a way no academic education alone can predict.
A short interview about my entrepreneurial story (in Finnish) has reignited my interest to continue telling my story on a larger scale. Two initial talks, at a local high school and at Aalto University Executive Education, gave me the opportunity to start reflecting anew on the entrepreneurial aspect of my last 10 years.
As a hobby project, I'm back to writing the complete first draft of my "5 Years in Colombia - How I Reeducated Myself in the Slums", while I'm a little more than 2 years in to working on making "Video Storytelling as a Learning Method" the next big thing in the education system of Finland and worldwide.
5 years have passed, since I moved back from Colombia and I have now spent another 5 years in Finland, the educational Mecca of the world. In Colombia, I got to visit 200 schools in the slums of Aguablanca, an adventure that started an eyeopening learning journey that still continues here in Finland. Here, after having worked with hundreds of Finnish teachers, while fine-tuning our learning platform that aims to grow global to empower the children of the world, I'm experiencing how all the pieces are falling into place in the grand jig-saw puzzle of my professional ambitions.
I'll continue using this space for my own reflections, possibly publishing some of the chapters from my book, possibly rehearsing some of the material I aim to use for teacher trainings. I've spent the last year and a half digging into the craft of storytelling, taking it as a professional training as well as a passion project to start developing my own storytelling skills. Although my stories might not be published here, my reflections will.
In the role of CEO for my new company DiSEL21 (co-founded with Helsinki University and my team) discussing commercialization of the edtech research behind our product EdVisto.com at Finnish Yle Morning TV.
More than a year and a half has past, since I was asked to write a chapter for this eminent piece of work, composed by so many highly respected authorities in their respective fields. My passion for education and development is what I share with the co-authors, whom I'm so proud and humbled to be published together with.
Thank you dear Pauline Dixon for being a driving force throughout this process and thank you Edward Elgar Publishing for this beautiful hardcover!