The InnoOmnia Hub - A Learning Community of Entrepreneurs
This case study was prepared by Elina Oksanen-Ylikoski, communication and development director, Ph.D. (Econ.), Mervi Jansson, director of education partnerships, MBA from Omnia, edited by Joseph Tixier from the OECD LEED Programme
Omnia, The Joint Authority of Education in the Espoo Region is a multisector education provider and regional development center with over 700 staff and 10000 students, offering training at 11 locations.
Omnia offers vocational training to young people and adults ranging from basic to specialist qualifications, apprenticeship training, youth workshops and professional development programs for teachers, trainers and school leaders in both the K-12 and vocational training sectors.
Omnia is a forerunner in national and international education development projects focusing on systemic, sustainable solutions, and received the Ministry of Education Quality Award in 2013 in addition to recognition for the most innovative learning environment.
Description of the activity/project
InnoOmnia, a flagship for vocational learning, opened its doors in August 2011. InnoOmnia is a lifelong learning hub located on the Omnia Kirkkokatu campus, offering a unique combination of services.
InnoOmnia addresses several topical educational and social issues in the metropolitan area and Finland in general:
1) Unemployment; How to empower people to make a living through entrepreneurship? How to provide people with new skills, networks and courage needed in creating new jobs in the future?
2) Image of VET; Can modern technology, real world learning, pedagogy and good chances of future employment make it an attractive choice for the youth?
3) Training teachers and school leaders about 21st century learning in VET.
4) Offering on-the-job/work-based learning opportunities for students, often the first job for a 16-17 year-old.
5) Making entrepreneurship sustainable and less of a lone journey by offering community support.
Thus, InnoOmnia’s purpose is to empower teachers, students and entrepreneurs, increase innovation on the grassroot level and ensure high quality VET education through providing
- entrepreneurship support for present/would-be entrepreneurs, mainly from arts and crafts or the service sector.
- work-based/on-the-job learning programs and projects for vocational education (VET) upper secondary students.
- innovation and piloting new pedagogy for vocational teaching and learning e.g. gamification, mobile learning, entrepreneurial teaching methods.
- teacher and school leader professional development for K- 12 and vocational sectors.
InnoOmnia is a community where teachers, students and entrepreneurs share the same coffee pot - literally. All spaces are learning spaces and everyone is both a learner and a teacher.
InnoOmnia's development projects pilot different aspects of 21st century vocational learning, e.g. teaching real world skills, using mobile technology and cloud-based learning to improve learning outcomes, or learning through entrepreneurial projects.
As all the facilities are shared with entrepreneurs, InnoOmnia staff and students, the community develops new forms of cooperation on a daily basis.
Entrepreneurs apply to join the community. Once in, they receive daily community and business support ranging from facilities, training, collegial support to product development and service design projects with students and teachers, business advice, innovative workshops and pop-up-selling opportunities and many more.
Entrepreneurs may rent work premises from the hub. These may range from shared offices, meeting rooms or showrooms for products and services. If they so choose, they may only acquire a keytag that allows use co-creation spaces and pop-upfacilities at the campus and city area. Opportunity to use these facilities in a flexible and cost-effective way has attracted many home-based start-ups and free-lancers.
Working with students and actively contributing to the community is a requirement for everyone. In the application stage, InnoOmnia maps the applicants’ expectations, needs and potential for co-operation with the students and other entrepreneurs in the community, in order to create as successful win-win-relationships as possible. This is pivotal as failure to identify the applicant’s expectations easily results in dissatisfaction, isolation and eventually resignation from the community.
Following examples illustrate the forms of co-creation within InnoOmnia community:
- An entrepreneur participated in one of InnoOmnia’s trainings on gamification. During training, he got the idea of a Job seeking-game for students and teachers. He started to develop and test the board-game with students from Omnia and from a nearby university of applied sciences. As a result, he has launched his game to schools as an innovative pedagogical tool, and soon broadened the product range to different languages, industries, and virtual environments.
InnoOmnia organized a competition in which young students were guided to make their competencies and skills visible through video-cv:s and other digital tools. Four big employers in the area participated in the project through rewarding the winners with summer jobs in their companies.
- Three free-lance entrepreneurs in InnoOmnia met at InnoOmnia’s café, and started to design and provide their services together for potential customers.
- InnoOmnia helped Omnia teachers to start a pedagogical cooperative, through which 40 students are currently integrating their studies and first steps as entrepreneurs.
- InnoOmnia created a concept for an ecological, educative and experiential shop. OmniaShop provides learning and business development opportunities in a highly innovative manner, forming a living lab for ecologically minded customers, students and entrepreneurs.
- Together with two other schools (Laurea university of applied sciences and Unelmakoulu), InnoOmnia created a game to serve as an online community of practitioners, students and teachers. This resulted in a virtual learning community operating with a game logic. It featured a virtual game board, designed to support studies on various educational levels. The purpose was to enable students to work on real businesses’ authentic problems, while competing in teams and cooperating on Facebook. Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, offered their skills and knowledge for the community’s use. The purpose of the gamified setting was to ensure entrepreneur participation from the outset, so that the entrepreneurs were present in the design of the project.
Achievements and impact
Since opening in September 2011, InnoOmnia has supported 110 new/would-be entrepreneurs in making their business sustainable. Over 600 students have benefited from on-thejob/work-based learning within the hub or its projects. Nearly 900 teachers and school leaders have been trained on entrepreneurial teaching methods and educational technology, spreading new teaching and learning across VET in Finland. 700 Omnia staff have been exposed to new pedagogy along with 2700 visitors.
Altogether, Omnia is a forerunner in developing education. In today's networked world, motivated, development oriented people are the key to excellence in education.
With the establishment of InnoOmnia in 2011, developing, piloting and unprecedented innovation in the public sector became the new norm in Omnia. What has been achieved in the past three years could not have been accomplished without our excellent network partners in Finland and abroad.
The following links highlight only some of the great projects and events Omnia has had the pleasure to partner in:
- In 2013, the Ministry of Education and Culture awarded Omnia with the National Quality Award with special recognition for entrepreneurial learning. Read the press release (only in Finnish)
- In 2013 InnoOmnia received the Konsta award for promoting innovation in learning. Read the news at the Finnish Inventors National Federation webiste (only in Finnish)
- In 2012 Omnia's international coordinator Maarit Saarenkylä was nominated as one of thirteen ECVET experts in Finland.
- Omnia was accepted as a member of UNEVOC, a global community promoting excellence in vocational education and training. Read the news at the UNEVOC website. Read about Omnia's visit to UNESCO-UNEVOC
- In 2012 Omnia's LLP TOI project Ready-Study-Go-Ahead! received an honorary mention of European Language Label. Read more about the Language Label.
- In 2012 Omnia hosted Creativity & Innovations in Handicrafts and Arts Leonardo da Vinci contact seminar together with the Finnish National Agency. The seminar was held in Espoo 9.- 12.10.2012.
- Omnia's effort to blend the world of work and vocational education and training were recognised in the 2013 WISE book Learning a Living: Radical Innovation in Education for Work. Read a summary of the article at the Innovation Unit blog News at the Good News Finland website
- InnoOmnia's mobile learning initiatives were showcased by VISIR, a network promoting micro innovation practices in the field of ICT for learning. Read more about Omnia's initiative at the VISIR website
- Since 2012, Omnia has been a member of the ETF good practice network striving to develop indicators for entrepreneurship education and in 2013, Omnia's achievements in innovating vocational education and training were disseminated as part of the Torino process. More information on the ETF website
- Mervi Jansson's profile at the Torino Process Conference 2013 website
- Since 2009 Omnia's mobility actions OmniaOnni and ExpertOnni have had Leonardo da Vinci Certification.
- In 2008 European Language Label was awarded to Omnia's language learning project (LLP) Ready Study Go! Linguistic cultural coaching in initial vocational education and training. The materials were especially targeted for those students who would go for an on-the-job period abroad; learning about the target culture, working culture and language was seen as a special support for motivation and orientation. Also students who were not able to go abroad got an opportunity to study new languages and to learn about new cultures in their home country.www.rsgo.eu
- The hub connects and empowers students, teachers and entrepreneurs.
- InnoOmnia offers flexible solutions and support as a learning community; real-life-learning and authentic business environments for students, three levels of support (daily mentoring, community support and business support) for entrepreneurs, professional development opportunities and entrepreneurial immersion for teachers and new models for public-private-partnerships for the organisations.
- Entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial learning are not only buzzwords in InnoOmnia. On the contrary, we have a growing number of people teaching and learning from each other over coffee and by working together.
- Entrepreneurs are role models for the youth.
- Physical spaces support openness and collaboration.
- Modern technology, new pedagogical solutions and professional development, give VET a high profile.
- On-the -job/work-based learning supports informal and non-formal learning of real world skills and individual learning paths.
- Breaking the boundaries within the parent-organisation and InnoOmnia16.10.2014, between education silos and in creating common physical spaces blending businesses and education.
- Establishing a vocational entrepreneurship hub, as all previous ones have co-existed with universities.
- Disrupting the conventional learning paths including students' and teachers' schedules, subject-based boundaries and introducing work-based learning as a daily instead of annual activity.
- Raising the awareness of the importance of micro size service companies as previous hub initiatives have catered first and foremost high growth start-ups.