Among thousands of others enthuastics SkillzzUp attended Slush 2014, one of the leading Start Up events of its kind in the world. Here are our notes from the Educational key note speakers. In this Part 1 I will cover trends that suit best for kindergarten – grade 12 (K- 12 ) education. I will later release part 2 in which I will cover the megatrends of the future of education.

Walter Bender – CEO of Sugar Labs, ex-Director of MIT Media Lab and One Laptop per Child

Walter was one of the founders of “One laptop per child” –program (OLPC). They created 3 million solar-powered, very simple and durable computers. If they break, kids can repair their own laptops or start mini companies and repair computers of their fellow students too with a small fee.

When you are designing a product or a website, think like you are in kitchen. Put all the things you don’t use everyday to the top shelf (background) and all the daily tools to the desk level (in front page).

Walter created also a platform of collaborative, opensource educational tools especially for teaching kids. Tools include i.e. drawing, programming and teamwork. 30% of the code seen in these tools are actually designed by kids!

Peter Vesterbacka – CEO of Rovio & Sanna Lukander – VP Learning of Rovio

Rovio’s vision is that all the learning should be fun. In Finland young kids have 4-6 hours of school and also a life after school. This is what Rovio wants to promote. In most countries kids go to school from 6-18 and have a lot of homework at home. This is not a way to stay motivated and truly learn things. Peter told us boys learn more English these days because they play games, which are fun.

Sanna told that Rovio can rely on two strong brands: Angry birds and the Finnish education system. Now Rovio has designed a playground for kindergartens. There you can run, climb, play with physical objects or interactive screens. Rovio thinks technology is not used effectively when browsing for information passively but mainly when it can be used to create content and ideas together as a team. Rovio has designed interactive courses for mathematics, science, chemistry etc. Paola Suhola – a Finnish designer has created school uniforms for boys and girls that come with the consept. This way all the kids are equal and can play together with no fear of discrimination. Rovio Learning wants to partner with others to create even better learning experiences to children.

Yaacov Hecht – Founder of Democratic School

Yaacov believes in a democratic school where kids, parents and the school work together and create individual learning plans. I.e. Hadera democratic school.

We too often thing that people can be sorted to a pyramid where the best are at the top, mediocre on the middle and the weak on the bottom. Yaacov thinks we should break this kind of thinking and emphasise there is always be a way to go forward and learn, if you want to. Yaacov thinks school should be built around networking. Everyone can teach everyone. The students can teach each other and even the teachers.

They have created online Moocsters, in which everyone in the network can be a teacher and it includes schools, parents, local companies and banks. 86% finish these kind of courses. A normal Mooc (Massive Open Online Course) has a 4% completion rate and even the best group Mooc reach only 30% rate.

Abel Caine – Director of Learning at Unesco

Abel told a story of Jussuf, refugee in Syria. Jussuf could take only one thing when he fled from home. He took his phone. Now he can learn languages by listening to French radio channels and take photos to share them with friends.

Unesco has started a Youth Mobile Program for 25000 kids (mostly girls) in order to teach them how to learn with mobile phone. Program is mainly for 18-27 year olds. The program is currently being used in Finland, Sudan, Kenya, Qatar, China, Brazil, Tunisia, Lebanon, Iraq and Nigeria.

Unesco will host a global competition in their website to find the best educational applications. They can help educational application developers with funding, educational app development and providing internet connections at the target countries.

Srini Swaminathan – Teach For India

Srini, who is featured in the picture above, believes happiness, magic and joy are the bases for any school.

He taught in Dharavi, Mumbai for two years as a full time teacher in an under resourced school where he used whatever resources he could find – from trash to ipads and other technologies, to accelerate learning in the classroom. He ran many full marathons to raise funds to buy iPads and other technologic resources for his classroom.

There are 400 Million Indan children of which 50% do not graduate above 5th grade. Srini said that unless the children won’t laugh and be engaged they won’t even come to school. I.e. children in India often think they can’t watch teacher in the eye because it’s disrespectful.

When he asked the children to draw a picture of their class, they draw a picture of group of butterflies. His philosophy in everyday teaching is to ask: Will my students go out of the classroom happier than when they came in?