140 newly graduated Swedish high school students participated in a two-day innovation workshop in Budapest, and worked on a project how to improve the learning experience at their schools, Thoren Innovation School. Several Hungarian startups and large companies held speeches, students participated in a Design Thinking training, so they could come up with more innovative and creative solutions. And their ideas? For sure, the spirit of competition is very much alive in the Swedish students, since there were several ideas for year-round competitions between classes. They came up with a sound-insulated mobile space divider wall against the noise of lessons in the classroom, formed a plan to introduce strategic and business computer games in the curriculum to help students learn the basics of economics and urban planning. AR and VR technology would be used for the safe execution of chemical experiments, and the basic concept for an IT security videogame was also born.
In the Swedish education system, it is really important that the education methodology is adapted to the students’ interest and motivation, so even introducing VR glasses is realistic. Last year, coaches were hired to the teaching staff at the Thoren Innovation Schools, focusing on students’ goals and personal development, so teachers have more time to develop educational tools. Preparing students for the world of work are at the center at Thoren Innovation School, as after four weeks of study, four weeks of internship take place, and this system rotates all year round. Thus, at the end of high school studies, many students already get a job offer from the company providing the internship.
„Do not imagine blue-collar workers”, said Enikő Nőthig-Hegedüs co-founder and CEO at edUcate „the students participating in the two-day Innovation Tour will have the foundations of an engineering, IT or a science profession, they are learning more or already starting to work in this direction. Many times, right after graduation, companies are hunting for them thanks to their special knowledge. It was a great experience for us as well to hold the training for them, as the students were very open-minded, with creative and practical attitude. No wonder that so many fantastic and feasible ideas were born just in two days.”
EdUcate got in touch with the Thoren School in Gothenburg in the summer of 2017, during the company’s international expansion. They immediately identified common points and synergies, and the concept of the Innovation Tour was born. As a result of the event, students managed to discover the basic motivation behind learning and came up with a number of solutions to maintain it. The competitive spirit is strong in students, so a lot of ideas were built on how to conduct a year-long competition between classes, which keeps their interest constant, but also encourages them to help each other in learning.
Students love the small-group sessions in class, but at the same time, it is difficult to concentrate because of the noise generated. Thus, as a technological innovation, the concept of a mobile separating wall was created which is sound-proof and functions on both sides as a whiteboard. There was a team that would complement the security class with a video game which simulates a company and its technical devices, and the player’s goal is to protect it with the resources available. When a virus invades the company there is a deduction of points, but if they manage to defend the attack, they get extra points.
„We usually hold Design Thinking trainings for companies to help their growth. This is a creative problem-solving thinking and methodology. It provides innovative and marketable ideas that provide a new perspective and tangible growth opportunities for the company, but t is totally applicable for other organizations too, e.g. schools who wish to innovate themselves. During the Thoren Innovation Tour students learn innovation from experienced professionals, then work on the development of education, finally they presented their ideas to the school board who decides which ideas to implement in practice” – Enikő added.
The director of Thoren Innovation School in Gothenburg, Madelene Schöldberg, is very pleased with the results. Every year they organize a meeting for Thoren students which is mainly about networking and relationship-building. „This was the first time when the meeting had an innovation focus as well, and I think we build a great tradition on this, because who would know better what they need for learning more than the students themselves?! I’m so glad we went for it, and spent a few days in Budapest with edUcate. We’ve heard many inspirational speeches and we can take back to Sweden a lot of implementable ideas. And we’ve already started planning the Innovation Tour for next year!”
During the two-day training, a long list of Hungarian companies and startups helped the students with speeches and presentations about innovation: Skyscanner, Supercharge, BemyBoss, DayOne Capital, CEU Innovation Lab, IBM and the National Tradehouse also took part. Students visited company offices and gained insights into their workflows such as product development and design, then listened to inspirational speeches on the future of startups, innovation and the local ecosystem, and finally, participated in a workshop on „how to leave their podium fear behind” with Alejandro Duque.