Presenting the People Behind EAF EdTech Evaluation Service: Marjo Paappanen

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Presenting the People Behind EAF EdTech Evaluation Service: Marjo Paappanen

January 16, 2020

Marjo Paapanen - EdTech Certification - Impact Evaluator at Education Alliance Finland

EdTech Certification by Finnish Teachers

Education Alliance Finland's EdTech product evaluations are based on peer-reviews, made by Finnish teachers who have been trained to use our science-based impact evaluation method. Before a product gets issued the EAF's EdTech certificate, several teacher-evaluators have conducted a product audit and evaluation. By having teachers as evaluators our aim is to get their voice better heard when learning solutions are being created.

In this post, you get to know one of our most active evaluators, Marjo Paappanen, from Pihlajanmäki Primary School. 

Hello Marjo, could you first tell us about your educational and professional background?

I’ve got an MSc in Education, I’m a class teacher and a music subject teacher and specialized in early childhood education. I have worked for 12 years as a teacher and for four years I’ve been a regional ICT tutor on the side of my teaching job.

The past two years I have also worked building my own EdTech startup, which has been totally awesome learning experience and served as a path to corporate life as well. My love for learning technology has grown more along with conducting EdTech evaluations at Education Alliance Finland.

Finnish teachers are known for their smart use of EdTech. Tell us briefly about your experiences in using educational technology in teaching.

I've always used creative and versatile educational technology in my work a lot. Various Media and Music Technology Projects - Green Screen shooting, audio recordings, animations, and composing music with kids is great! I create learning environments for children and with children, using different methods so that technology integrates seamlessly with schoolwork through my own mobile phone, tablets, and computers.

I strive to be aware of children’s trends through social media, games and incorporate them age accordingly into my teaching. I make a lot of own educational material using technology, and my smartphone, tablet, and laptop are all essential tools of my working day.

In regard to the present use of EdTech in schools, what is working and what is not? What could be improved, in your opinion?

There are many learning applications that are nice and useful in the classroom. Still, I think kids need more support for developing their basic computer skills - mouse skills, keyboarding, and understanding different operating systems. We use a lot of software and learning environments that are designed for office use rather than school use for young children. Their UX is not that pleasant for children and they can be hard to learn how to use.

In my work, my aim is to make children's digital learning environments clear, easy, engaging, interactive, and also emphasize ergonomics, navigation skills, and the hierarchy of knowledge. My tip for big international technology companies is that you should always have a few elementary school teachers to design the solutions with you.

As one our most active EdTech evaluators, what kind of observations have you made when reviewing learning solutions?

Today, there are really good pedagogical game-based learning apps on the market. When it comes to the solutions' pedagogy, we’ve come a long way from the old-world’s “quizzed until correct” activities. In a high-quality learning solution, the importance of feedback is taken into account and through the use of artificial intelligence, the apps are able to construct meaningful learning paths. Products have also become more visual and personalized serving the needs of different kinds of users.

The EdTech sector is experiencing massive growth. Where would you like to see the development of learning applications going?

I would like to see more products for doing creative learning projects entering the market.  For teachers, the most important aspects of new applications are that you get easily started and get the first benefits of the use fast. 

I would like to see high-quality VR materials for learning, such as mathematics tools, environmental science applications or history learning materials in primary school. Virtual Reality solutions' visuality can help students to perceive difficult concepts, which is beneficial especially if a student has difficulties with reading comprehension.

How is it like to review learning solution's using our EdTech evaluation & certification method?

EAF’s evaluation method is truly versatile and carefully designed. It is an exciting process to use the method because as a teacher I feel every time I get a new idea or perspective to evaluate my own teaching as I go through the evaluated app using the method. Discussion with the evaluation administrator is also a very important part when evaluating a product. In addition to the evaluation scores in different sections (Curriculum alignment, Assessment of Pedagogy, Assessment of Usability), we check that all the product’s components are properly understood and that nothing has been overlooked. 

Has your work in conducting EdTech reviews and issuing EdTech Certifications given you any new perspectives on the use of technology?

Absolutely! I've got plenty of new teaching ideas for new projects as I’ve familiarised myself with the evaluated products. A few educational apps have remained in my classroom use and I’ve dug deeper to learn more about some specific learning technologies after I’ve familiarised with them through the work at EAF. For example, we evaluated and certified a lot of educational robotics products last spring as part of EdTech market research and then I started learning more about new and useful robotics trends.

Thank you Marjo! After hearing your replies I must say that you're a true early adopter when it comes to EdTech. We want to thank you for the great work you're doing in promoting the smart implementation of learning technology and allowing students to express themselves and be creative while learning.