Lasse Leponiemi – Finding power from collaboration through COVID and beyond

ADi International Online Meeting - February 2021


by Lasse Leponiemi
Executive Director, HundrEd, Finland


image022Hi, my name is Lasse Leponiemi and I’m the executive director at Hundred. The title of my speech is Finding Power from Collaboration through covid and Beyond. So within the next 15 minutes, I’m going to explain to you some of the findings we have been doing in 2020 and 2021 and how these different kind of solutions and practices identified by Hundred help teachers and educators and students all over the world.


Before we begin, I want to tell you a little bit, about Hundred. Hundred is a global education nonprofit organization.

We are based in Helsinki, Finland, and during the last six years we have been rehearsing over 5000 education innovations globally. Out of those innovations, actually, a little bit more than one thousand seven hundred are publicly available on So if you are ever wondering what kind of educational solutions and practices there are, please have a look at the website and find some solutions by yourself. So what we do at Hundred is that we identify impactful and scalable education innovations and help them spread.

We firmly believe that education systems and education provided to our students across the world can be made better by truly impactful and scalable education innovations which are providing positive learning outcomes for our students. For that reason, we have been creating our own database of education innovations and we are selecting the best ones of those to be highlighted in our global collection. A list of hundred innovations is announced annually in November from Helsinki, Finland.

IN 2020

So let’s talk about 2020 a little bit. At this time of the year, I was planning to go to Polland University and give a lecture about something important we found out in our research in 2019. In 2019 we were taking a close look to students digital well-being and what we meant by that was how students were finding themselves in online environments, in different social services, which they were using with their peers. And what we found out was that during the last three to five years, the student well-being, especially in online environment, was progressing somewhat alarmingly. We were seeing that there was social isolation, there were different kind of  examples of online bullying or other kind of ways how the digital environment were used against a very good meaning or very good possibilities they are providing.

So therefore, we identifyed multiple academic and non academic sources and we are providing different kind of findings in this topic. But how little did we know at that moment that this online and distant and remote culture was going to be one of the key issues of 2020? A few days before this conference were about to begin, last year, it was canceled for the very good reason of the covid-19 pandemic and at the same time, schools were closing down in different countries, in different cities all over the world. And the students where forcefully put in a very quick manner in a remote learning situation. And many educational systems were struggling in adaptation process, how to be able to cope with this new kind of environment.

And what I was about to be talking last year was about social emotional skills and how to learn that and how important that is, especially when we are working and collaborating more online without physical appearance with our colleagues or friends or family members. So at Hundred, we thought that this was something that we had to be able to react quite quickly. So then we started to create a very practical grassroot level covid-19 toolkit for different teachers and educators all over the world. One of the biggest challenges of this job was to really see and understand how many different educational contexts we have across the world. For example, in Finnish context, schools were continuing quite normally. They just moved to remote learning  mode and more of the studies were happening through different services they were already using.

But at the same time, in some countries in Africa, for example, in Malawi, there were schools triving from different villages, providing home tasks to the students with instructions for their parents how to help the students to do the tasks. However, in both of the cases, the role of the family was much more important than it was before, and at the same time, we isolated our students from their normal social environment and those aspects of their well-being became even more important.

So in collaboration with the OECD, we decided that these solutions and practices are so important that we have to be able to put this available to different countries and different language groups of the world. Our covid-19 toolkit is also available in Italian so if you want to find out more about our findings and the different solutions we were able to highlight, you are very much welcome to head up to our website and see the practices by yourself. There are plenty of them. And I think, one of the key aspects of these innovations or these solutions are practices we were able to feature in a quick manner. They are actually similar compared to our proper collection list of education innovations. When the crisis situation hit us, there were a lot of companies and organizations offering their tools to teachers and students to make that transition easier.

But nonetheless, most of the resources actually came from non-profit sources and a lot of educational solutions and practices where shared across the borders, maybe even more than ever before.

And I think that very clearly they’re showing to us how global the world of education is also coming at the moment, the education world, as it is, has been a long, very national with the national curriculum in the past.

But now when we are talking more about 21st century skills, social, emotional learning, collaboration, critical thinking… it is opening up totally new kind of avenues, new kinds of ways for us to collaborate across the country borders with our peers, with our colleagues and different education stakeholders. And we strongly, strongly support that kind of movement here at Hundred.

IN 2021

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So let’s go to 2021. Some of the things we were witnessing already in 2019 have been increasing, especially during 2020. So, for example,  loneliness and depression are on the rise among all ages. But especially that is happening with young people. And no wonder they have been working most of the 2020 in isolation from their peers or they have been using different kind of very special arrangements to be able to be part of the education they should be in. At the same time, when we are looking at the global big picture in the developing countries, we are also seeing that learning poverty is increasing alarmingly at the moment. And what do we mean with the learning poverty?

Learning poverty means that the students or young people, who should be able to read, are not able to read anymore because they have been dropped out from the school or the schools have been closed and they are not able to even understand those simple text, simple stories they should be able to read. And this is not going to be solved after covid vaccinations are given to everyone. This is actually a much more deeper crisis also combined with lack of teachers, lack of resources and something that we need to be addressing within the coming years, maybe even more than ever before. And when we were doing our research at Hundred, we were also seeing this trend of sharing resources and finding solutions and practices workable in classrooms where on a rise. Almost 2000 innovations were submitted to our global collective research process during last year and then also the interest towards education innovations were very visible in our review process when our global Hundred Academy members, 150 of them, they’re doing the innovation reviews.

We were given a little bit more than three thousand four hundred reviews to create the global collection 2021 selection. And our Hundred Academy members were voting these innovations based on their impact and scale and that’s the way how innovations are then ending up into our global collection list. And also, this list is now available on and when we are looking at the different solutions and practices featured on this list we see a lot of social emotional learning innovations, but then also different kind of solutions which can help us to provide good quality education in different contexts, especially in the developing countries without Internet access. So there is this kind of hybrid learning ingredients more in this year’s collection than before.

ADi conference Leponiemi.018This, on the right, is the word cloud tag of the education innovations selected for this year. So we can see that social learning is there in the middle. We are also seeing a lot of resources to be mentioned and how teachers can be trained or how teacher training can be adapting to this new situation, which is impacting our learning ecosystems globally at the moment. So to be able to answer these needs we at Hunderd are at the moment working with these different projects to provide some resources to education today, to the education world. So we are talking a lot about social, emotional learning and holistic education at the moment. But we are also looking at how the parental engagement can be made better and how teacher training can be supported in different corners of the world and what kind of new facilitation and sustaining of skills teachers could be equipped with when they are in their classrooms.

But how innovation, how education systems can be adapted into these new kinds of situations in a more quick manner? Between 2019 and 2020, Hundred, in collaboration with the Finnish National Agency for Education, worked on a research project where we were looking at how education systems can be adaptable and how they can improve the ways they traditionally operate.


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So one of the key findings is that the development work should always happen in collaboration and to make this collaboration happen, we have to be able to engage the teachers and other schools and school stakeholders to be part of those development discussions and to make them understand what kind of demands and what kind of changes there needs to be in the school level. And at the same time the school community needs to be heard and what they are saying needs to be taken into account so that when we are developing this system level, we are able to understand what kind of solutions would be impactful in that context. So when we are adapting to this pandemic crisis situation or to any other future changes, these are the three recommendation areas we are providing to different education stakeholders, education providers and ministries to look at when they are starting implementing something new. So first of all, it’s very important that we would have an experimental culture available so that everybody can take part of that collaborative development work. And when we are finding solutions that are impactful, we have to put in enough time and resources for the implementation. But it cannot be a top down approach: the motivation has to come from the school level. And then thirdly, there needs to be resourcing available. There needs to be time resourcing, but there needs to be also financing available to really implement these new solutions on a deeper level. And we have to be given time and trust to our educators to do so. So thank you for your time. These were my remarks for for you this time. And I wish you the best of the conference. Thank you.

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