This time we focus on the learning aspect of SHIFT. Why is it important and how does it manifest itself in the event?

We talked with Aape Pohjavirta, one of SHIFT advisory board members, about the importance of learning. Pohjavirta is the chief evangelist and founder of Funzi, a mobile learning service for the emerging markets and is also an entrepreneurial coach and lecturer in Startup Sauna, Aalto University, DTBi and other institutions globally.

Pohjavirta feels that gaining new perspectives is the best part of what SHIFT has to offer. “We are constantly in touch with our colleagues and friends online, but it has become increasingly rare to meet new people in a setting, which is not directly linked to performing your job. In new situations we might listen to others and open up to new mindsets. That’s why I find events like SHIFT very important, as they are events that bring people together in an innovative way. Not only will there be opportunities to learn from the keynote-speakers, but you will be provided with an excellent arena to exchange views with other participants without any rush.”

In the constantly evolving world we live in, the willingness to learn and stay curious is vital if you wish to succeed. We don’t know what the world will be like in 10-20 years and yet the schooling system is meant to teach the children the skills and knowledge needed through life. Due to the huge amount of fragmented information available, the world seems more complex today and it is easy to feel powerless and think that the problems we are facing are too wicked to be solved. “I don’t think that its true, I think that’s just being lazy” says Pohjavirta and continues: “We should give everyone a chance to learn more about the things that matter to them. All the questions asked and their answers can be found online. The trick is to find new questions and answers that would help us solve some of the big issues like unemployment due to disappearing of occupations, global warming and diminishing resources. How do we convert education into learning? – That’s something we should be thinking about.”

“I believe the greatest enemy of any society is unemployment. What is happening is that many companies and professions of today are not going to be around after 5 years or 10 years. Those who are hiring labour force are mainly new companies. Bringing up new businesses must happen at a more rapid pace if we wish to defeat unemployment. We need more education on entrepreneurship.”

Accessible learning in third world countries
Aape Pohjavirta’s latest startup Funzi is tackling one of the main challenges in education: How to provide access to knowledge. “In Africa many people don’t have computers, laptops or money for education, but most of them have mobile phones. That’s why Funzi brings relevant and practical information to be learned through mobiles. And what is that relevant information? It’s related to the economy. Funzi’s materials are all tailored to the local needs with local partners. They teach the basic concepts of entrepreneurship.”
While the nations in the western world can happily say that their citizens have access to education and internet, we are facing another challenge related to an aging population. “Its a sad fact that the older you get, the less time you have to learn new things. If you take an average student who studies for 40 hours per week, maybe 10 hours of it is learning new things. The rest is just revision. If you take an average middle-aged policy-maker, he or she studies new things zero hours per week. Is it enough? How suitable are the solutions that policy-makers are able to produce to new problems at hand?” claims Pohjavirta. “The population in the western world is getting older while in parts of Africa the average age can be under 20 years old. Unless we wish to turn Europe into a museum, we should pay more attention to get our adults to learn new things, instead of trying to hold something together that was lost 15 years ago. The world will change whether we like it or not” states Pohjavirta.
Now there’s a lot of issues to think about. If you’re interested on the topic of learning, why not get yourself tickets to the very first SHIFT? There you will also have a possibility to join in a round table discussion with Pohjavirta and other influencers.
Lastly, we asked whether Aape Pohjavirta would like to challenge anyone to attend the Shift. “Yes, I would like to challenge Jyri Ahti and Kaj Talas from Sanoma Learning to attend the SHIFT.” Focusing on improving learning impact Sanoma Learning is part of the Sanoma media company. We warmly welcome you to SHIFT!