Local schooling through remote digital collaboration
How do you rate this example?
- What’s the solution?
- What makes it smart?
- How is the solution implemented?
- In what local context has it been applied?
- Who was behind the implementation?
- What was the local journey?
- What have been the main outputs & results?
- What does it bring the village/community?
- What’s needed
- What to do…
- and not to do.
Where to find out more?
Region or village : Eskola, Finland
Country : Finland
Population : 450
Contact person :
Last updated : 19/08/20
What’s the solution?
After the closure of the village school in 2014, ‘home-schooling’ was organised by some parents, until a digital remote education pilot project ‘brought the school back’ to Eskola in 2018.
A group of 14 children (aged 6 to 12) took part in the experiment. While a teacher and a teacher’s assistant were educating the kids locally, remote cooperation with a town school in Lapinjärvi - 500 km away from Eskola – allowed to take some specialist courses online together with the partner school, using digital technologies (Google jamboard and tablets).
The initiative created the possibility for children in the small rural village of Eskola (Finland) to continue education in the village even after the formal closure of the local village school.
What makes it smart?
• Using digital technology to provide education locally in depopulating and ageing rural areas.
• Cooperation of stakeholders: municipality/ town (that can be very far away), local social enterprise (provides the facilities), parents’ society.
• Social enterprise owned by villages that provides all the facilities and some of the services (such as catering).
How is the solution implemented?
- 2010: A social enterprising project and drafting of the idea of village service company was launched.
- 2014: The local school was closed. Most children started to travel to nearby municipality Kannus for school (mother town). At the same time, home-schooling started by parents who didn’t want to their chlidren to travel 20 km daily.
- 2014-2018: Parents did volunteer work to gather the money for the teachers, so that all families have an equal chance for participating, independently from the financial situation of the family.
- 2018 – 2020: The municipality of Lapinjärvi (Southern Finland, 500 km away) started cooperation with Eskola through an experimental digital (remote) education project. Some joint classes (e.g. Swedish, arts & craft, etc.) using Google Jamboard . All the kids have their own chromebooks/ student tablets. Kids from Eskola travelled once to Lapinjärvi to visit the pupils there.
In what local context has it been applied?
Eskola is 12 km away from the nearest municipality (Kannus). It is not an agricultural, but an ’industrial’ village, with some 200 industrial work places. There are many people who come to work here. It is facing typical problems of rural villages, such as young people leaving, ageing population, public services closing.
Local services ended one-by-one, including the daycare (2013), the school (2014), the post office and shop (2015). The closing of the daycare and school ‘could have been the last blow to the village’, as children needed to travel long distances daily to the nearby municipality.
Who was behind the implementation?
• Social enterprise: Eskola Village Society owns around 24% of the company, the rest is owned by villages, former villages, and other people (130 different owners).
• Parents who decided to keep their children in the village school and did a lot of volunteer work to finance the teacher.
• Lapinjärvi municipality (500 km away from Eskola) and town school.
What was the local journey?
• Administrative burden/ fighting bureaucracy: convincing authorities that this is an effective and highly (cost-)efficient way of education
• Sustaining the enthusiasm of parents despite the difficulties, including securing home-schooling financed through volunteer work of parents (during four years prior to digital collaboration)
• Ensuring sustainability of the project (at least for the final year) when Lapinjärvi decided to retrieve from the experiment after two years (no partner school for the final / third year).
What have been the main outputs & results?
- 14 children educated locally through the school experiment from preschool to the sixth grade (aged between 6 and 12). Respectively, parents (especially those working in the village) could educate their kids locally.
- Revenue for local social enterprise from letting the facility (approx. €250/ month) and from local catering for children (€3.25 / day/ child)
What does it bring the village/community?
- Supports the ability of families to remain and/or come to live in Eskola;
- Strengthened local community and solidarity among local people, e.g. through joint voluntary work of parents;
- Strengthened cooperation among parents (parents’ association), local stakeholders (130 villagers owning the local social enterprise), Eskola Village Society.
The specific ‘smart solution’ costs are related to technical equipment
In addition, running the school also implies general education costs: staff, facilities, catering, books and other materials.
Main types of cost:
Initial/set-up costs: €4,250 (IT equipment only)
• Jamboard starts at approx. €4,250, including 1 Jamboard display, 2 styluses, 1 eraser, and 1 wall mount. Source: https://gsuite.google.com/products/jamboard/ (2020). Students can use tablets, chromebook or phone.
Ongoing/recurring annual costs: €510 (IT equipment only)
• Approx. €510 annual management and support fee. Source: https://gsuite.google.com/products/jamboard/ (2020)
Implementing the smart solution also implies the associated costs of education: salaries of teachers (one teacher and assistant teacher in Eskola); renting facility (in the case of Eskola, space in the community house), catering: in the case of Eskola: €3.25/ day/ child.
|Lapinjärvi municipality through pilot project (cooperation with Google)||4,250 €||Technical equipment (Jamboard and tablets)|
|Public education money (paid by state through municipality)||N/A||The ‘standard’ education costs were covered by public education money: teachers’ salaries, facilities, catering, books, etc.|
• Teacher & teacher’s assistant
• Village representatives especially, if the mother school is situated in another municipality (for the local enterprise and possible non-profit-organisations)
• Teaching and catering facilities (rooms and other spaces)
• Good broadband connectivity
What to do…
- Set up a social enterprise to deliver the smart solution and make sure this is independant of the school;
- There are many suitable digital solutions on the market, what matters is to adapt them to your local cooperation needs context;
- Municipalities have to make sure that the local voice is heard; and villagers should insist on being heard in decisions;
- Have a solid (business) plan for the use of village facilities (e.g. old school buildings). Simply letting it to the municipality might not be enough to cover all costs.
- Treat the partners with respect and equality.
and not to do
- Don’t expect the school to run as a “normal” public school, it will be different, but different doesn’t mean worse;
- Don’t give up when seeing administrative burdens (keep fighting);
- Don’t settle for anything less than high quality education – but be open to new ways of providing it;
- Don’t underestimate the power and knowledge of the village and the parents, they are the best experts of their own surroundings;
- Don’t settle for the first solution, keep learning and trying.