How Finland’s Education System is Evolving, One City at a Time

Kirsi Lehto explains how she is building the DigiOne Learning Ecosystem in Finland. DigiOne was invited to join the Forge Futures Summit last week with other learning ecosystems from around the world.

Tell us about yourself and the work you’re doing

I’m Kirsi Lehto, the Program Director of DigiOne

Our goal is to improve learning and well-being by creating a groundbreaking change in a way the educational services are produced in Finland. This is achieved by building an open ecosystem where all actors working in the field of education can join together to build a national service platform for education.

What motivated your organisation’s start, and how has it grown over time?

At first, our goal was simply to update the outdated student management system. But soon, we realized a much bigger opportunity: why not build a comprehensive ecosystem linking various educational services through APIs? The challenge was deciding whether to collaborate with a single partner or involve multiple partners. After many discussions, it became clear that large companies were hesitant to join a competitor-led platform, and smaller companies feared being overshadowed by larger corporations. Ultimately, we chose Tiera, a municipal entity, as our main partner, and reached out to various SaaS providers to ensure our ecosystem would be truly open and inclusive.

The project initially began in Vantaa, but we quickly saw the need to expand beyond a single city to achieve a national impact. Now, our program includes seven cities, encompassing over 25% of Finland’s population. This scale allows us to drive significant change across the country’s educational landscape.

What are the main challenges your community faces, and how is your organisation working to address them?

One of the biggest hurdles we face is technological—integrating various services to function seamlessly together. This challenge extends beyond just tech; it requires substantial changes in how municipalities and companies collaborate within the ecosystem. Recognizing the magnitude of these changes, we’ve prioritized comprehensive change management strategies. We’ve developed detailed plans and actively involve end-users in the process to ensure that everyone’s needs are addressed and that the transition is as smooth as possible.

How does thriving look in your community?

Thriving in our community looks like widespread collaboration and enthusiasm. Currently, seven cities, representing over 25% of Finland’s population, are actively participating in our initiative. Additionally, about ten companies have joined us, either integrating their SaaS solutions with the DigiOne platform or partnering to develop new services. The interest continues to grow, with many more municipalities and companies eager to be part of our expanding ecosystem.

How does your organisation work like a learning ecosystem?

Our organization functions much like an ecosystem, with various entities collaborating towards a common educational goal. A prime example of this is our partnership with several major cities—Espoo, Jyväskylä, Lahti, Oulu, Tampere, Turku, and Vantaa—as well as with Kuntien Tiera. Together, we’ve committed to a long-term cooperation agreement to develop the DigiOne service platform. This collaboration is fundamental in shaping an interconnected and robust educational framework that supports the needs of our communities.

🗞️ Read all about it!

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