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Education for the future

The new EDUCA Flagship brings together data and education researchers in an unprecedented way and significantly deepens the research-based nature of education policy
Professor Matti Sarvimäki gives a presentation on a stage.
Matti Sarvimäki, Associate Professor of Economics at Aalto University, serves as one of the Vice Directors in the EDUCA Flagship. Photo: Aalto University/Mikko Raskinen

The modern school system faces many challenges. Learning outcomes continue to decline and the dropout rate is increasing. At the same time, technological innovations and the increasing number of students from immigrant backgrounds shape teaching and study methods. 

The new flagship programme of the Research Council of Finland, Education for the Future EDUCA, will address these future challenges by combining education, psychology, learning analytics, sociology, and economics with research and development work in the educational sector. 

The consortium of the EDUCA Flagship consists of researchers from Aalto University and the Universities of Jyväskylä, Helsinki and Turku. It is led by Marja-Kristiina Lerkkanen, Professor of Education at the University of Jyväskylä, and Matti Sarvimäki, Associate Professor of Economics at Aalto University, serves as one of its Vice Directors. In total, the EDUCA consortium brings together hundreds of researchers from Finland and global top universities, such as Harvard, Yale, and Oxford.

The Flagship will strengthen the research-based nature of education policy decisions and experiments and the competence of teachers and directors. The research conducted within the EDUCA Flagship will increase the understanding of the variations of individual and social learning processes, optimal learning situations and challenges of learning engagement, as well as the effectiveness of scalable educational technology solutions.

‘EDUCA brings together data and education researchers in an unprecedented way and significantly deepens the research-based education policy,’ says Professor Matti Sarvimäki.

The data infrastructure being built with the help of EDUCA will enable the collection of extensive data on the learning outcomes of students, as well as learning difficulties, motivation and well-being. These newly collected data will be linked to Finland’s remarkable register-based data infrastructure, thus enabling versatile and multidisciplinary data analysis. Additionally, the new data infrastructure will be suitable for the development and testing of scalable and cost-efficient digital interventions that meet the needs of versatile learners. The data infrastructure will be made widely available to researchers.

‘The need for research-based information related to the decision-making in education reforms and teaching, both in Finland and globally, is apparent,’ says Marja-Kristiina Lerkkanen. 

‘The challenges are shared, but the solutions have not typically been research-based. The EDUCA Flagship will rise to these challenges.’

‘The ecosystem of the EDUCA Flagship is globally unique,’ says Professor Mikko-Jussi Laakso from the University of Turku. ‘It is based on the digital ViLLE learning environment, which has received awards from Unesco and Unicef. Currently, it is already in use in more than 70 percent of schools in Finland and in dozens of countries globally. It enables research-based, scalable individual and collective analyses and interventions from the classroom to the national level. EDUCA enables seamless collaboration with learners, teachers, researchers, and decision-makers.’

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