8.2.2016. I interviewed Johanna Pellinen, CEO of Vuolearning www.vuolearning.fi at SLUSH and was amazed at how a small team of smart students could produce an outstanding application that significantly improves the efficiency of teaching almost any field of science and humanities for adults and children.
Johanna, how did you come up with this concept?
When I was asked to write a study material for a university course, I came to realize that the traditional PDF-form would be too limited for the purpose. PDFs never worked properly on my primary screen – a smart phone. Even worse, paper-like formats miss all the potential of digitalization. As I couldn’t find a convenient product to solve this problem, I recruited two talented coders and an experienced instructor and we started to create a new mobile learning platform. Our solution would be flexible enough to adapt on any screen and would provide interactivity to support learning in a relevant way.
How did you go about finding common and flexible solutions for subjects as far apart as medical science or learning languages?
Studying how people actually use course materials, we soon found out that the problem is wide spread, and it forms a severe bottle-neck affecting the use of content. Educational institutes and businesses are loaded with training materials – having them often as PDF’s and PowerPoints. Simultaneously people would like to use more and more mobile devices, exactly the screens that those formats do not fit.
To unlock the potential of pre-existing content, we developed algorithms for converting the course content from Word, PowerPoint and LaTeX-documents into a mobile and interactive format. The VuoLearning platform converts documents into HTML5-based form, which runs on any device and adapts on any screen, adding interactive features, such as chat, analytics and search function, all automatically. As it is a cloud service and runs on the browser, there is no need for installations and manual updates, neither for downloading attachments.
It is one thing to write and application, but how can you be sure that teachers and students will use the application?
From the beginning it was clear to us that the platform should be so easy and fast to use, that the instructor could focus fully on the content. Moreover, it should be beautiful and give a professional look and delightful touch and feel – so that training companies and universities would feel it to be a perfect package for their service. Thus we’ve paid attention on the user experience, creating the platform use-case by use- case, discussing constantly with customers and implementing user experience research in collaboration with Aalto University.
Thanks to numerous conversations with innovative teachers and talented instructors, pilot courses in business life and organizations, in an elementary school and in the University of Helsinki, we’ve received plenty of user feedback. This feedback has guided us to design a great combination of practical functionalities with great usability. As the demand for easy editing and mobile learning are increasing globally, we’re about to start pilot courses in Italy and Australia.
For more details and contact information see their website www.vuolearning.fi