“Let’s discover the earth first and after that reach for the stars. Let’s teach the basics… If students don’t know how to use IT properly for the purpose, it kills the joy of the whole project and takes the concentration to wrong places.” – Janne Männikkö, Finland

Recently named Expert Educator Janne Männikkö believes in starting with the basics. In the Partners in Learning Hot Topics discussion forum he leads, Männikkö is quick to point out that fundamental technology skills – really understanding how to apply basic programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint in meaningful ways – is essential. Not only in class, but ultimately, for the 21st century workforce. 

Männikkö has used relatively simple technology to teach his students these basic skills, like in this cartoon project (in English) that explores how bullying may affect students and why it mustn’t be tolerated. Using tablet computers, along with SkyDrive and Word, the project prompted discussion about bullying and its possible outcomes, and made great use of foundational tools. 

Männikkö not only practices this approach in his own classroom, he generously shares his expertise with fellow educators at his school and around the globe, through the Partners in Learning network. 

His message – that of preparing students for real jobs once they complete their education – is one we plan to deliver strongly at this week’s BETT Show in London, as teachers, school leaders and policy-makers gather to explore the latest innovations in education technology. We have more and more data (some of which we’ll be sharing on Daily Edventures later this week) about what skills will be needed for jobs in the coming decades, and I’m thrilled that teachers like Männikkö are working to ensure their students are prepared. 

I hope you enjoy today’s Daily Edventure with Janne Männikkö.  

What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?

Pure chance. I wanted to study law, and English was my backup plan. I didn’t get to study law but I got chosen for the university’s English department and I am still on that road. I enjoy being a teacher. In this job, I can make a difference and have an effect on the youth. 

Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?

My primary school teacher in 6th grade. He had a great sense of humor but he still could be strict when needed. All the kids loved him. 

Please describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education.  What has changed as a result of your work?

I have presented and taught different ways to use ICT in teaching to my colleagues. This has resulted in increasing use of ICT in teaching. Also I have presented the proper use of our school’s Wilma system, which follows the students’ absences, results, etc., so now the system is used in more effective ways. 

How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

I have created (hopefully) innovative learning activities that involve ICT. 

How has the use of apps, cellphones, and mobile devices changed education? And your work?

Collaborative work and communication is much easier and will become more and more part of everyday school life. Seeking information is easier. 

If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?
A pen. Everything starts from the basics.

What is your country doing well currently to support education?
University-level teacher training supports education quite well, although the training should be ongoing throughout the whole work history.

How must education change in your country to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?

Teachers’ ongoing training should be ensured in order to keep them up to date so that they can pass the knowledge on to their students. 

What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?

The resistance to using new technology. 

How can teachers or school leaders facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

Proper training helps to overcome the fears and the resistance to new ideas. 

How have you incorporated mobile devices/apps into your classroom and have you seen any improvements?

I have used BYOD in my classroom and it made the students’ project more interesting to them. It was also done more quickly than normally. I have also used tablets for reflection. Our school and VTT (government research center) have developed a program called WeLearn, that I used for it. 

About Janne Männikkö

English/Swedish Teacher, Metsokangas Comprehensive School

Kempele, Finland


  • Birthplace: Oulu, Finland
  • Current residence: Kempele, Finland
  • Education: English philology, MA
  • Website I check every day: Partners in Learning network
  • Person who inspires me most: Tony Wong (my karate Sensei)
  • Favorite childhood memory: The days with my parents at our summer cottage
  • Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Espoo (work)
  • When was the last time you laughed? Why? Yesterday one of my colleagues cracked a good joke.
  • Favorite book: Stephen King’s The Stand
  • Favorite music: Rammstein
  • What is the best advice you have ever received? Be yourself
  • Your favorite quote or motto: “If nobody hates you, you are doing something wrong.” – Dr. House, MD
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