Thought Leadership: Global change makers explore the future of education

In Issue 7 of #TheFeedUK we featured an article by Kate Robinson, Editor in Chief of HundrEd, which explored the future of education from the perspective of those change makers throughout the world. 

#TheFeed is an online magazine produced by Microsoft Education UK, in conjunction with teachers, students and academic institutions. Featuring stories, best practices and thought-leadership, #TheFeed is written by educators, for educators.

View all past issues of #TheFeed on, and be sure to follow @TheFeedUK on Twitter.

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In 2017, Finland will celebrate its 100th year of independence. To mark the occasion, HundrED is taking an in depth look at the future of K-12 education in Finland and globally.  We are interested in how education needs to change in order to adequately engage and prepare students for the world in which we live.

Over the next two years we will create 100 case studies of the most exciting education initiatives worldwide, trial 100 innovations in a selection of schools and interview 100 global thought-leaders. Our findings will be shared with the world for free.

We know that the world is changing faster than ever. We’re all doing our very best to keep up with the latest technologies and advancements in science and medicine, all while constantly amending our diets to keep up with the newest dietary information. Businesses continuously have to take stock and re-evaluate long held methods of operation. Established Goliaths of industry are finding themselves face to face with armies of Davids.

And yet, while the music industry adapts to a world with on-demand streaming like Spotify, and the advertising industry takes a long hard look at itself in the face of social media platforms that allow anybody to brand and market themselves overnight, too often education seems to have its heels firmly dug into the ground.

It’s a sweeping generalisation, but there is some basis for it. From Monday – Friday many students step into a past without smartphones, social media and tablets; a past in which teachers are the best source of all knowledge; a past in which disciplines such as maths and art are kept entirely separate. In this bizarre anachronism students often sit still and silent for fifty minute periods of time as if they are empty, vessels to be filled with skills and information.

Over the past ten months HundrED has interviewed over seventy-five international thought leaders on the state of education across the world. The first question we almost always ask is: ‘are schools teaching the skills students need?’ Not a single interviewee has responded with ‘yes.’ The reasons they give vary with the person and their area of expertise, but they all agree that on the whole schools are not adequately preparing students for the world in which they live.

Generally, our interviewees expressed concerns that schools are not encouraging the development of skills such as resilience, grit, communication, collaboration and curiosity.

“As the world changes and changes again, it seems that one of the most valuable lessons we can instil in a student is the awareness how he/she learns."

As Lord Jim Knight, Chief Education Advisor of TES Global, puts it: schools are ‘not building the love of learning, the resilience, the rounded set of skills that young people need to prosper both in terms of living fulfilling lives for themselves, but also for them to be successful in the labour market,  which is changing so rapidly.’

It would be easy to assume that education is all doom and gloom and failing our children on a sweeping and terrifying level. But dig a little deeper and you will find incredible examples of individuals, teachers, students, parents, schools, and even governments actively challenging the status quo and taking education reform in new and exciting directions.

HundrED is designed on the premise that the way to make change happen is by identifying ambitious, proven education innovations and spreading them globally. While there are amazing innovations and projects taking place all over the world, they tend to happen in silos - an effective initiative taking place in one school too often seems  to remain in that school. Why? Is education the one sector in which ideas can’t travel? Surely not.

In the early stages of our research into global education innovations, we are finding a wonderful and encouraging truth: for all the issues flagged about the way schools educate, there are multiple examples of original and exciting solutions to them being implemented.

For example, a concern raised across HundrED’s interviews was the pressure on teachers as they find their traditional roles being challenged.

The Educator’s Lifelong Learning App (ELLA), developed in Australia by history teacher Matt Esterman and is designed to place professional development directly into the hands of teachers. Through the app, teachers can set their own learning goals, gain actionable insights into skills gaps and learning needs, and keep their professional learning records in sync with accreditation authorities.

Almost all interviewees said that the nature and implementation of testing  is at odds with its supposed purpose,  which is to gain insight into what students have learned and can do. The problem, as Sir Ken Robinson identifies in his HundrED interview, is that…

“Rather than being a way of improving the culture of education, testing has become the dominant culture of education. The whole thing is the test."

Sharing these concerns, MUSE School in California approaches assessment in an entirely personalised way.  At the beginning of each day, students set personal targets. At the end of each day they review them with the teacher and assess how they feel they have done in each area. This method of assessment begins from the first day of kindergarten and continues through high school.

It not only provides teachers and students with the information they need to make decisions on how and when to continue moving forward, but it also encourages self-awareness in students – another skill that many HundrED  interviewees feel is lacking in conventional education.

These are just a couple of examples that the transformation of education has not only begun, but is well under way. The aim of HundrED is to help innovations like these gain momentum through identifying, studying and sharing them.

Additionally, we recognise that many schools, teachers, parents and students have brilliant ideas they would like to pilot in schools. HundrED has collected 100 such ideas in Finland and will trial them in schools over the course of one academic year, beginning in Autumn 2016. These experiments will undergo rigorous and continuous evaluation as they are in process, and those found to be effective will be shared with the world for free.

"Our hope for HundrEd is that it will be used to spark tangible education transformation globally."

In order to make this happen we are actively searching for amazing innovations across the world as case studies. It turns out that the world is a very big place, so if you are involved with, or know of such innovations please let us know. Shout them from the rooftops, write them in the sky, or, probably a more effective method,  go to and fill out our handy submission form.

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