The First Future Classroom School (Part 2)


- Part 1 -

Mr Mikko Salkinoja, a school principal from Pirkkala (10  kilometres away from Tampere), is one of those principals who always tries to keep up to date with the latest innovations and developments in education. It was with this goal in mind that he decided to attend ITK’19 conference, Finland's largest digital education and learning event.

This is where he met Mikko and Tuomo. As Ambassadors of the Future Classroom Lab, they were invited to speak at the event and to present to the attendees the FCL concept and the learning zones model. The initial presentation further evolved into a discussion on the potential of the active learning pedagogy to transmit 21st-century skills to students more effectively than traditional methods of instruction.

After the presentation, Mr Salkinoja was impressed but not completely convinced. Flipping the classroom from a student-centered to a teacher-centered space was going to require a significant shift in the way the teachers in his school thought about instruction and education. If he and his staff were to put students at the center of the learning process, everyone needed to be on board.

“Change in the operating culture is usually very slow and might even never happen. Quite often, even the best of ideas never become reality, because the change requires determination and a really strong vision and leadership. It is kind of a “safe bet” to continue the old way”, says Mikko Horila from KAKS10.

He and Mr Salkinoja had a brief chat at the event and exchanged contacts. No further interaction was foreseen and the FCL remained just an interesting idea Mr Salkinoja had heard for the next few months. Then he heard the news.

A new construction project was about to commence in Pirkkala and ideas were needed for developing the facility into a school. The building was unusual and did not have the design of a typical school. Something completely new had to be created from scratch but this was a challenged Mr Salkinoja welcomed.

His understanding was that preparing students for life and work in the world of the future requires training of a different kind compared to the schooling he had received. There was a growing understanding among the teachers in his school that in the future, people will have to become more autonomous and more independent in their learning. They will need to continuously acquire new skills throughout their lives and therefore, developing the skill to own your own learning journey was becoming more and more indispensable. The question was how to nurture this mindset from a young age.

He called Mikko again.

“Clearly, we had something that aligned with his vision”, Mikko remembers.

Mr Salkinoja requested a tour around KAKS10 to familiarise himself with the mechanisms of teaching and learning in the different learning zones. He spoke to teachers and school leaders about the curriculum and the different activities that educators did with students in each of the zones.

“It immediately seemed that we were on the same wavelength regarding how this innovative space design could support learning.”- says Mikko.

This discussion about the operational ideology led to several other meetings and, ultimately, to the bold decision to scale-up the FCL model and establish a whole school where instruction will take place entirely on the basis of the learning zones model.

Once the decision was taken and all parties involved were firmly set on this course of action, the technical process around setting up the school did not seem that complicated.

”From the first time we talked with Mr. Salkinoja about learning zones, it finally took only four years for the completely renovated Kirkonkylä school to be opened in Pirkkala, where the planning was based on learning zones and a strong idea of working together.” says Mikko.

During those years, teachers from the school visited FCLab in Tampere a few times to explore the concept and develop their own ideas about working with pupils in different learning zones. The team at Tampere FCLab also supported the Kirkonkylä school with advice on furniture, and technology choices and by providing feedback on solutions that had been in use at KAKS10 for several years.


Interested in exploring how the concept of the Future Classroom Lab can benefit your school? The Future Classroom Toolkit offers a collection of tools, guidance and resources for designing future classroom scenarios and using them to bring advanced and innovative learning and teaching to the classroom.