Two days full of activity in the biggest learning festival in Northern Europe. Thousands of passionate game-changes, forerunners and learning-lovers. Co-creative, interactive, solution-oriented, exciting and empowering program. But what did actually go down at Dare to Learn 2019?
Let’s go to the start. Close your eyes.
You step out of a tram on Mannerheimintie. It’s a crispy morning in mid-September Helsinki. The fall is clearly in the air, yet the sun kindly brushes your cheeks. It whispers the warmth of summer. The leaves are starting to cover the streets and they rustle beneath as you make your way to Korjaamo. A faint beat suddenly reaches your ears. First somewhere in the distance then growing stronger step by step.
As you reach the entrance, the music is in its heights and you so is your anticipation. Then you see it:
Already from the start it was clear that this was not an ordinary event. Instead of participants the place was full of daring ones and inspirators. As a matter of fact, every fourth of the people you saw at the event had something to do with the program! This set the level of engagement to its own level.
And then there was the venue. As one of the workshop hosts put it, facilitation in an old tram is way cooler than in a regular room! Even though there weren't unfortunately enough trams to host all the sessions in, Korjaamo with its intimate spaces from a movie theatre to the tram museum and the sunny garden truly made Dare to Learn 2019 feel like the festival it has always been.
Rethink & Redo
Workshops and interaction have always been at the core of the program. There are keynotes yes, but their role is to give you inspiration, a pause to dive into words and balance in the middle of the festival hustle. The keynotes create a rhythm but the workshops are the living soul of it all.
In Dare to Learn 2019, there were altogether 47 workshops and other interactive sessions. Together they challenged us to find actual solutions and practical tools to re-think and redo learning. From troubleshooting global problems to finding motivation for personal learning, the workshops engaged to interact with each other. This way the people who should meet but normally don't, were sitting in the same space, sparking conversation and creating something new. From students to CEOs, educational professionals to officials - what’s better than that?
Rethinking and daring affected also the way the whole festival was set up. This year, art was introduced to the program through an open call for it. Thanks to that, we got a chance to make a mandala, enjoy interactive karaoke and dive into collaborative learning through art.
Gamification was harnessed to the use of learning and the official Dare to Learn -game introduced to the world! Everyone got a chance to try out the game created by World of Insights and also take it home to help own organizations rethink learning.
There were also new matchmaking and networking sessions to boost connections. Loft, the now renowned matchmaking space, was indeed filled with warm murmur throughout the festival. Whether it was about innovating higher education or learning solutions in organizations, the conversations were flourishing and new connections created.
Talking about innovation, Scandinavian GESAwards was again there to lift the best edtech startups in the Nordics and Baltic countries. Kino was filled with the best 9 and eventually the winner, Four Ferries, was chosen to represent us at the GESAwards final in London later this year.
But GESA was not the only competition to amaze us and make our hearts go raising. At Dare to Learn 2019, we were also rethinking and redoing higher education as the first ever Hacking Higher Education final took stage. The competition grew from a desire to tear down walls and find solutions to revolutionize higher education and as the ten finalists shared their visions, there was no question about it. Before the winner was announced, almost 7000 votes were given. These votes chose Bazaar as the first Higher Education Developer of the Year.
Energizing &... Calming?
Dare to Learn 2019 was all about learning - no surprise there. But it was also much more. When we asked our fellow-game changers to describe their emotions and experience during the days, the true nature of it all was revealed.
To most, the festival was indeed about energy levels and high interaction. In the end, the answers varied from beautiful to energizing, invigorating and calming. But how can one event be at the same time energizing and calming? The secret lies in the atmosphere: while the festival was beating energy, excitement and engagement it was also a safe, warm environment to interact and connect. Together this created a unique space where new solutions were naturally nurtured. You could socialize and connect and then take your time to reflect, even work if needed and go back to the dance. And what's better, do that in an old tram!