A Learning Platform built for Collaboration
While Finland is renowned for its successful educational philosophy, the country’s migrant students consistently score 25% less than their native peers in standardized tests.
Covid-19 and digital education shed even more light on the challenges faced by disadvantaged communities such as migrants. A digital divide was highlighted with a lack of basic computer science and digital literacy knowledge. For foreign communities, the language barrier added to the struggle.
Bridging the educational challenges faced by migrant students
Migrant students tend to feel isolated from their school peers, due to cultural differences with regards to the importance of education, knowledge differences, or a language barrier.
As data shows, such students have reduced chances of succeeding academically.
Needfinding done through research and interviews led Team Plan International to identify the lack of basic computer science skills and language barrier as key obstacles to modern academic achievement.
In school, students not only benefit from a gain in knowledge, but also from interacting with their peers and the local culture. Such an aspect is unlikely to happen in a normal context if a student is unable to communicate actively, not to mention the inability to utilize digital communication tools in remote learning.
Our corporate sponsor
Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. The NGO was created in 1937, and has been operating in Finland since 1998. Plan does not have any religious or political claims and is supported by tens of thousands of people worldwide. They believe that gender equality is central to achieving long-term change and have a vision of a world that values girls, promotes their rights and ends injustice. In addition to the development of projects and child sponsorship in developing countries, they also work on a national level in Finland. Their focus there is on corporate partnerships, as well as advocacy and communication with children, who are actively included in Plan's decision making.
Nosta welcomes students who wish to elevate their language skills and create connections with their peers, to benefit their education.
We believe in the power of collaborative games. Students are grouped in teams according to age, hobbies and Finnish language level, and play interactive games together, where they learn without realizing.
I'm Laila, 15 years old from Syria, and I arrived in Helsinki 2 years ago
Join the platform
I am struggling with the Finnish language at school, Kata from Plan International encouraged me to join Nosta. As my reference for Nosta, she ensures the veracity of my profile on the platform and I can safely meet new friends.
Improve through group learning
During the 2-week cycle, I get to improve on my Finnish ability while evolving my computer science skills with my new friends. The group activities like storytelling or group quizzes help us strengthen our bond. I feel less shy expressing myself to other people now. It is so much more fun not having to learn on my own!
Keep getting better with Nosta!
Our supervisor gave us great feedback on our storytelling performance. I'm glad he was able to help me with my grammar, Finnish really is a tough language. We also learned to collaborate on online documents to create our story, it's a win-win!
In only one cycle, I've already gained 3 performance badges. Our supervisor told us there are more exciting learning contents to come. I can't wait to keep improving throughout the next sessions.
Behind the solution
We make child safety a priority
In a world where more and more of our everyday lives are becoming digitized, it is essential that we ensure the safety and privacy of the students using Nosta. Therefore, it will be mandatory for all students to have a Nosta approved adult liaison upon sign up. Users who fail to provide such credentials will not be allowed to access the platform. In doing so, we restrict access to the learning platform to verified students only.
Upon signing up, students will pick an avatar and a nickname that will be shared to their teammates. No personal photos will be allowed in order to protect everyone’s identity.
As part of the learning experience, facilitators will be present in all sessions to supervise students and provide feedback. Facilitators will be vetted professionals supplied through Plan International in order to ensure that students will be interacting with professionals of the highest standard in a safe and controlled environment.
Nosta's aim is to build bridges between students of various backgrounds and similar age, skills and hobbies. Students rank hobbies, such as music, arts or sports according to their preferences.
Students are also asked to rate their Finnish language skills on a scale ranging from 0, very beginner, to 5, proficient speaker; and also mention the preferred language skill they wish to improve on, be it reading, writing, speaking or listening.
Creating a profile
As students sign up to the platform for the first time, they will be asked to self-assess their language level using a rubric similar to the CEFR rubric (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages assessment). Students will be shown a simplified rubric where they will have to make an honest assessment of their own abilities in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The resulting language level, in addition to other data supplied during the profile creation process, will result in the student being placed in a suitable group.
Date of Birth
Finnish language skills
Ability to work on
Other spoken languages
How grouping in Nosta works
In order to sort students into groups, a specially designed algorithm is used to ensure that the teams designed lead to the best learning environment.
Groups are created by assessing a number of attributes, such as date of birth, language level, hobby, or spoken languages. By using that data, we are able to create a suitable mix of different abilities within the group. Since there is no available proven theory about the reciprocal relationship between improving language skills and improving computer science skills, as well as a lack of a standardized assessment, computer science is out from the sorting metrics.
The algorithm reduces the number of students who speak common languages, as a means of indirectly forcing students to converse in Finnish rather than their native languages. With regards to their hobbies, the algorithm aims to group individuals with similar interests. This will not only improve the chances of students bonding but also allow for the group activities to be centered around a certain hobby that they all enjoy.
Nosta offers various learning activities through group interaction focusing on improving language and digital literacy skills. Some of the activities are gamification products made by the Plan International team (storytelling or the vocabulary race) while some are powered by third-party creators like Blended Play (space sale for Google Suite). As an open-source platform, in the future, Nosta encourages other education evangelists and developers to contribute more learning activities and games alongside us. We aim to become the biggest hub to connect people for endless learning and creation.
The language learning activities vary according to the skill chosen by the student teams. Students of beginner Finnish level will not yet have the ability to evolve around more advanced game structures, unlike their more advanced counterparts. Thus the activities are designed taking into account multiple factors such as the skill to work on - reading, writing, listening or speaking, the group's preferred hobby as well as the average language level of the group. Throughout the activity, a facilitator will be present to provide guidance and ensure all students are contributing equally
One of the activities designed to help with language learning will be a storytelling game. The aim of this activity is to enhance student’s reading and writing skills, in addition to expanding their vocabulary.
Using emojis as a means of graphical translation, students will be required to collaboratively create a story where they will have to use specific words or avoid the use of certain others to create a storyline. This activity will allow students to practice their spoken language skills in a group setting as they decide on how to approach the storyline.
By completing mini-missions throughout the game, such as including up to 3 available vocabulary words within a sentence of the story, teams will gain points that will be an invaluable addition to the team's score.
Grammar made fun
Another game that students will get to play will be an arcade-style game where they are asked to answer a series of questions regarding Finnish grammar.
Not only will this game expand their vocabulary, but it will also make learning grammar a fun experience for the students while also giving them the chance to work as a team.
Once again, the points earned through the completion of such activity will play a great role in the team's achievements.
Throughout a two-week period, the student will get a chance to participate in four sessions alongside their peers and under the supervision of a facilitator. At the conclusion of the two-week session, the student’s language level, as well as their strength and weaknesses in computer science, will be assessed by the facilitator after considering their performances over the course of the cycle. The updated language level will then be used in sorting students into groups for the next cycle. To increase motivation among students, Nosta relies on peer assessment, where students get to rate the quality of their teammates' engagement throughout the sessions. Both feedbacks from the facilitators and teammates will be taken into account to reward participants.
As students complete various activities, they will be given badges to signify milestones and progress made. Students will be given the chance to recommend their peers for various badges.
After successful completion of activities, students will be awarded points on an individual basis, as well as points being awarded to certain groups.