Monday, 11 June 2012

Notes from the Education Seminars #5: How could we learn from each other and collaborate around the topics of education*?

Auli Toom, Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences in the University of Helsinki blogs about the importance of collaboration in education

The discussion around the topics related to (Finnish) education and schooling seems to be lively, although it has started several years ago after the first PISA results. We have already got used to the thousands of questions that researchers, policy-makers, journalists and other visitors have in their mind when they come to our educational policy institutions, teacher education departments at universities as well as our local schools. We have many relevant and definite answers to the presented questions, but we also have areas that we don’t know anything about – yet. We also have some serious signals, like teachers’ and pupils’ well-being, emotional load and stress related to school work, that should be taken into account immediately.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

New democracy is something you can do!

Kalle Nieminen of Sitra's Synergise Finland development program blogs about new implementations of democracy.

The word 'synergy' implies energy, interaction, dynamics and the interest in new ideas. Synergy is created when people get active, creative, proactive and enthusiastic. Sitra's Synergise Finland development program looks for solutions to today's challenges from these perspectives. The first forum was held in spring 2011, focusing on the concept of new work. The topic of second forum, and the theme of this blogging, was new democracy.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Notes from the Education Seminars #4: Policy transfer, or an opportunity for reflection on ourselves?

Senior Researcher at the RSA, Louise Thomas, blogs about gaining new perspectives on England's schooling system through comparing it with the Finnish one.

The education debate in the UK seems mired in sets of assumptions about accountability, teachers, curriculum, notions like ‘excellence’, ‘dumbing down’, ‘prizes for all’ and so on. Our opinions of our own education and that of our children, coupled with the peculiar English prejudice towards academic excellence, means that our thinking is often clouded by prejudice. I, for one, have found reflection on the Finnish system a tonic, allowing me to think outside of the particularity of the English system.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Notes from the Education Seminars #3: Local, National, Transnational

Dr. Mary Hilson, Senior Lecturer in the department of Scandinavian Studies at UCL, blogs about Lessons from the North seminar held at the Finnish Institute in London at the end of March.
The second seminar in the Finnish Institute’s recent mini-series on education, “Lessons from the North”, was a collaboration with the UCL Nordic-Baltic Research Group, as the final seminar in their ESRC-funded seminar series “The Nordic and Baltic Countries in the European Political Imagination”.  Throughout the series we have explored different areas of policy exchange and transfer between the UK and the Nordic-Baltic region, including economic policy, health and welfare, tolerance and diversity, environment and energy. (link to

Friday, 20 April 2012

Notes from the Education Seminars #2: The Times They Are a-Changin’, but what is the course education is taking?

Finnish Educator and Consultant, Sirkku Nikamaa-Berg, one of the panelists in the 'Lessons from the North' seminar, blogs about the future of education.

The pace of societal and technological change places increasing demands on individuals and communities yet schools seem to dawdle when they could and they should be fully engaged in the development. The task of basic education is to raise adults of the future, help prepare them for jobs that may not exist yet and to give them tools and capabilities for a good life. The goal of education cannot merely be the delivery of the curriculum, but the internalization of the underlying concepts, and the ability to think critically and act socially.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Notes from the Education Seminars #1: What Was Said

Ilari Lovio blogs about the key perspectives discussed in recent education seminars, organised by the Finnish Institute with its various partners. These topics will be discussed further in the forthcoming series of blog posts on education.

During the last week of March, the Finnish Institute’s event series that tackles education from various perspectives started. Two seminars were held on the 29th and 30th of March, organised in cooperation with the Institute of Education, UCL Nordic-Baltic Research Group, University of Helsinki, and the Embassy of Finland in London.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Our new research on open data argues for better user engagement and more research on the societal impacts

Fellow at the Finnish Institute in London, Antti Halonen, blogs about his newly published report: Being Open About Data

The Finnish Institute in London has recently completed a five-month research project on the British open data policies. Report looks on how the open data ecosystem has emerged in the UK and what lessons can be drawn upon the British experiences. The year 2012 will be a big year for open data in Finland, and this report also partly aims at further facilitating the development of open knowledge in Finland.  

Thursday, 22 March 2012

London is Entering a Golden Age of Social Investment

The Director of SharedImpact, Paul Cheng, blogs about Social Investments.

For over 300 years, London has been one of the world’s great centres of financial innovation. Ideas, for example, about how to manage financial risk through structures such as companies limited by shares and the concept of insurance were developed and refined by pioneering financiers in the London coffee houses of 18th century England.

Monday, 12 March 2012

The Future of Openness or the Age of Uncertainty?

Mikael Järvelin from the Finnish Institute in London blogs about censorship in modern society.

On the 29th of February 2012 London School of Economics organized a panel discussion on the topic ‘Censorship in an Age of Freedom’. Charlie Beckett, the director of Polis and the author of a book ‘Wikileaks: News in the Networked Era’, Heather Brooke, investigative journalist and the author of ‘The Revolution Will Be Digitized’ and Nick Cohen, journalist and author of ‘You Can’t Read This Book: Censorship In an Age of Freedom’ held a discussion on censorship in today’s society based on their newly published books. This blog post contemplates the ideas of that discussion. At the same time as people cheer for opening of government data, governments are taking drastic measures to conceal unwanted information offered by Wikileaks and the likeminded websites.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Service Design – An approach to Better Public Services?

Director of Administration and Finance in the City of Jyväskylä, Heli Leinonkoski, gives a Civil Servants view on Service Design.

That was the question on my mind when I first time heard about the discipline called Service Design - only a year and a few months ago. As a civil servant I wondered if this was the way to connect citizens more closely to the service development work we do at the local government level. I became immediately interested. So much that in two months, February 2011, I was already in London chasing up what Service Design is really about. Thanks for that arrangement go for Mr Jussi Nissilä, Programme Director at the Finnish Institute in London and the City of Jyväskylä, my employer in Finland.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Comparing Finnish and British Education: Does Diversity Matter?

Ilari Lovio from the Finnish Institute blogs about education and diversity, raising some questions that will also be tackled in forthcoming seminars.

Finnish education has recently gained substantial attention and interest among politics, policy makers, and the general public in countries such as the United Kingdom and USA. This interest is largely due to Finland’s success in the OECD’s PISA studies, where Finnish students have achieved top ranking results. Consequently, the questions frequently repeated during the last couple of years have been: How is it possible that this small northern nation came to be an educational superpower in just a few decades? And further: Is it possible for other countries to copy the magic recipe?

Monday, 20 February 2012

Defining Open Design as an Open Knowledge Domain

Massimo Menichinelli of Aalto Media Factory writes about open design and the second Open Data meet-up in Helsinki.

As Kat Braybrooke wrote one month ago, the discussion about Open Knowledge has already started in Finland with a great involvement of people. During the first meet-up of the Open Knowledge Foundation held in Helsinki we had so many interesting ideas and discussions that we decided to organize at least another meet-up in January. Furthermore, we decided to focus this second meet-up on one specific topic of the Open Knowledge universe, Open Design.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Broadband access is a human right. Then what?

 Burcu Baykurt and Minna Aslama Horowitz blog about the importance of a broadband access as a part of knowledge society.

German historian Gerhard Oestreich (1968) says one could see in every basic right the aims of the political and social ordering. As the global discourse on civil and human rights moves toward a more democratic direction, one can easily trace the evolution in communication rights starting with the emphasis on the freedom of expression in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) to the more inclusive forms of communication such as the right to have access to information or the right to communicate. With the normalization of the Internet in daily life, the rights-based approach to ICTs becomes more critical on a global as well as national level. Not only the recent protests in Tahrir or Wall Street that use multiple and advanced tools of technology to challenge the established power, but also growing public interest and concerns about our rights in the so-called cyberspace (privacy, copyright, freedom of expression to name a few) confirm Oestreich’s view about the relationship between rights and the political/social order.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Open Data Monthly Review 01/2012

A review of latest news and blog posts in the field of open data.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

What do you think of our blog?

We would like to know how you find our Pardon My Finnish blog. We would appreciate your opinion to make our blog even better. Please fill out this small questionnaire by the end of February. The questionnaire will not take more than five minutes of your time.

We have now picked the winner of the Amazon gift card, but your opinion is still valuable for us and the questionnaire is open.

Thank you!

Monday, 30 January 2012

Amplifying Social Wellbeing by Design

Alastair Fuad-Luke and Kirsi Haikio from Aalto University blog about changes in design

The School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University organised first workshop in London together with The Finnish Institute, as part of the 365 Wellbeing project for the Helsinki World Design Capital 2012, in order to share learning about designing for wellbeing. It was the first of the series of international seminars discussing 365 Wellbeing project as it evolves.

Monday, 23 January 2012

The Proposed ‘Stop Online Piracy Act’ Could Be a Threat to the Freedom of Speech

Mikael Järvelin from the Finnish Institute blogs about the latest news on The United States' war against online piracy.

Last Wednesday, the January 18th, the English Wikipedia and many other significant websites blacked out for 24 hours. The blackout was a protest against The United States house bill, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and senate bill, PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act), which have been put forward to fight online trafficking in copyrighted intellectual property and counterfeit goods. The Proposals would ban advertising on the allegedly infringing websites, bar search engines from linking to these sites and order Internet service providers to prohibit access to these sites. The proposal would also criminalize streaming of forbidden content with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Monday, 16 January 2012

A Londoner’s Experience of the First Open Knowledge Meetup in Finland

Community Coordinator of Open Knowledge Foundation, Kat Braybrooke blogs about the first open knowledge meetup in Finland.

Last month in Helsinki, four Finns, a Russian and a Canadian huddled anxiously around a desk at Aalto University's School of Economics with a fleet of glowing laptops, finishing last-minute prep for the first Open Knowledge Finland meetup and hoping a few brave souls would show up. A few hours, 80 participants and many intriguing discussions later, I stopped in the midst of a conversation to reflect upon the inspiring Finns around me - and I realised I had witnessed the start of a movement.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Open Data Monthly Review 12/2011

A review of latest news and blog posts in the field of open data.