By Altti Lagstedt
On the 17th of January 2020, Eduix Ltd. and Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences (UAS) started a very special cooperation. From the Eduix-business point of view, partnering with a research institution is a new approach towards software development. From the Haaga-Helia higher education point of view, this cooperation opens new possibilities to conduct economically effective research.
This kind of privately funded research concept with clear business objectives is not typical among Finnish universities. As a result, the cooperation concept itself has aroused interest and eagerness from observers, potential partners, and clients.
The main target of this innovative partnership is quite exciting: finding sustainable ways to digitize education processes in emerging markets. Such an ambitious target aims at addressing two main challenges.
First, even though schools and universities have put more emphasis on digitizing learning experiences, they have not been eager to adopt digitized processes in education management. However, having a plethora of different kinds of e-learning platforms, collaboration tools, message systems and other kinds of learning applications does not automatically help teachers in their daily work, nor produces usable data for managers. It can be quite the opposite: the risk is that teachers crumble under various media and data channels, and the only outcome data managers have is sporadic and scattered results with no use in decision making.
Second, emerging markets have their own matters as well. Or, to be more precise, most of the issues are rather general, but in some emerging markets they can be heavily amplified. Students’ background affecting heavily on their academic success; teacher’s facilities lacking resources for a successful practice; teachers demanding proper training, education managers making decisions with incomplete data; all of it impacting on the whole society at different levels.
In order to carefully consider the particularities of such contexts, a new expert-oriented digitalization approach is utilized in this cooperation project. The purpose is to digitize education in an economically pervasive way. So, we are not interested in “project tourism”, which is the approach rather often applied in emerging markets: some foreign organisation comes and conducts a publicly funded development project, and when the project is over, funding ends and nobody is interested in the results – nor how to continue from that. This kind of project can be beneficial for those foreign organizations, but they are not economically sustainable, because the local organizations and end-users are not involved in the project development neither operate with the results. To be economically sustainable, there has to be local partners that customize the project to the local needs and characteristics, and develop the results for future applicability.
In this co-operation, we are developing an innovative paradigm for digitalization in emerging markets in economically sustainable ways. Therefore, in addition to Eduix Ltd. and Haaga-Helia UAS, we are partnering with local entrepreneurs from the target markets involved. We aim to develop education data platforms that support the blooming of new business possibilities for local organizations, which can further take the involved agents for new kinds of business ecosystems.