The Oppi Festival, An education event for the 21st century

“Oppi birthday to you, Oppi birthday to you, Oppi birthday dear Oppi, Oppi birthday to you!” That’s how the crowd closed the conference at  the final session in Helsinki on Saturday.  This was Oppi’s first birthday and I hope to both share in, and contribute to many more birthdays for Oppi and the organisers

This was an education conference with a difference, and the difference was the attitude.  An openminded, ‘can do’, dare I say it ‘game changing’ attitude seemed to emanate from the contributors and attendees alike and this was a credit to the spirit in which the Oppi festival was forged. Well done to Darina and Claudia (Suklaa founders and Oppi organisers), I still need to digest and decompress but I thought I would do a quick snapshot of what I saw, experienced and learnt at the festival whilst I have a couple of hours to kill in Helsinki Airport.

Finlandia Skoog
Finlandia Skoog

The venue was the impressive Finlandia hall in Helisnki. A bright open venue lined in white marble, space to breath, room to think, all delivered with clean beautiful modern lines.  The open nature of the space had an impact from the start. No poky corridors and sweaty booths. Whilst there were a couple of displays in the the shared open spaces, Rovio, Sanoma, and some young players from the Helsinki start up scene,  there wasn’t the usual ‘exhibition’ tacked onto the conference. It was refreshing to be able to focus on on the programme, and most of all have fun.




The pick for me was learning about Rovio’s education aspirations and the work they have been doing to bring the  fun, because learning should be! Something we believe in whole heartedly at Skoog.  This idea of fun permeated the whole of  the Oppi camp and long may the ripples be felt.   The team at Rovio have got big plans and the education community needs to keep their eyes on  this innovative company. I was pleased to see music already featuring as part of their curriculum. They have commissioned these cool little kid sized Kantele for jamming on. “Music is super important for us all!” says Rovio CMO Peter Vesterbacka.  They are working with a range of partners including NASA and national Geographic and I think we are going to see some really exciting things from this camp in the not too distant future

I met Christopher Thur one of the co-founder’s of Ovelin. Great Apps to help you learn guitar and, yes you guessed it, have fun whilst your doing it.  They have now turned their attention to trying to get the teachers to have fun too, so some exciting things to come from that camp.


Skoog meet Songhi

I had fun at both of our sessions introducing the Oppi crew to Skoog and what we we are about.  Serendipitously I met a member of the team at the Swiss Cottage School in London at one of the Skoog sessions.  I have been in touch with the School for the last 6 months, or more, trying to find a mutually convenient time to meet and talk Skoog. Who would have thought the time would be now and the place would be Helsinki but fantastic to join the dots finally and I hope the sounds of skoog will be heard through the classes of Swiss cottage in the near future.


It was a pleasure  to chat to the founders of Code club a nationwide network of after school clubs for kids aged 9-11to help them learn how to code. Will be checking with Bruntsfield primary school once Coco is back to school to see if they have one there. And if not, it’s super easy to start one!

This segways rather nicely back to the closing session which featured Lilly Kam from the I am angel foundation. Who is involved in getting young people involved in tech – – this youtube video pretty much says it all. This is Will-i-am’s foundation and it does a bunch of cool stuff. Lilly was sharing their robotics outreach in the community.  Lilly introduced us to their first-ever competitive robotics team in Boyle Heights at Roosevelt High School. Robotics is one of the best embodiments of STEAM. It’s about hands-on, project-based learning, and it combines engineering with coding and design. Robotics is like a varsity sport for the mind! We even got a live Skype session with the kids themselves.  And I won a Robotics kit! Super excited about getting to play with that when I get home.

Agit CirkThe closing session also featured some circus antics from Agit Cirk and the mighty Sergei, who had some of the best comic timing I have witnessed from a Strong man.

So all in all a great festival, and it was a festival, not a conference. It was fun, spontaneous, lively and a pleasure. My thanks to Darina and Claudia for inviting me to be a part of it and I strongly suggest you sign up for next years festival as soon as it goes live!  Although I am sure the Oppi crew could do with a brief rest before getting back to the business of getting down.

Being hosted in Helsinki there was also a lot of discussion around the Finnish education system which is one of the finest in the world, but is characterised but less homework, more recess and not starting school until 7! There is a great deal of pedagogy and best practice to share here:

So Oppi birthday dear Oppi, Oppi Birthday to you. An education event for the 21st century.