EPISODE 10: Balancing push & pull education with Mark Willems

Mark Willems is a pedagogical employee in innovation and ICT integration at the Gemeenschapsonderwijs, in short GO!, A Belgian governmental institution that organises education in Flanders.

We personally know Mark and GO! because one year ago they came to us, at Knight Moves, with the question ‘How can we provide the right tools for education in a rapid changing world?” Together we went on a journey of tackling this challenge. In collaboration with all stakeholders we developed a tool that changes the classroom into a place where every student can follow their own path, where students can learn more than the theory and where teachers are more like a coach to support the students in their learning.


Push vs Pull

Throughout the whole project there was a red thread, the vision of GO! to combine push & pull learning. 

Push learning

  • Curriculum based education
  • Learning the theory 
  • Abstract
  • Static 

Pull learning

  • Experienced based learning 
  • Knowledge is more subjective an gained from experience
  • Less abstraction, focus on the application
  • Dynamic

Both have their advantages and pitfalls, but both sides need each other. The magic will happen when both are combined in a powerful way. You can discover more about the push & pull vision in the episode. 


Most surprising insight

The most striking aspect we discovered throughout the project was the fact that we all underestimated the skills of the students themselves. We used a variety of techniques to give them a voice and take on the challenge of shaping the way education is brought to students. They really took their learning path in their own hands and took the responsibility to improve the overall educational system based on their own needs. 

I believe that service design is a very fresh way to look at designing the educational systems and solutions. Especially when we put youngsters themselves in the front seat.
— Mark Willems


What we learned

We discovered the different needs of measuring succes at others stages of the project. 

Mark explained how he experienced these needs. In the beginning this was more subjective, it was a matter of getting people involved and measuring the enthusiasm of collaboration on the story. Soon more colleagues and schools wanted to be part of it. The willingness to give feedback of these different stakeholders grew along with the evolution of the project. 

Now that the MVP is live and schools are experimenting with it, they need to gather more quantitative data.  


A behind the scene story 

We know Mark pretty well because we worked closely together over the past year. It was great to do this episode together and take the time to look back at what happened the past year. This made us reflect on the values of Service Design. Some aspect that helped this project move in the right direction: 

  1. Putting the student central in his own learning process. This might sound obvious, but doing this at every stage and every decision had a major impact. 
  2. Involving all stakeholders, from students to didactical experts and from teachers to other platform builders. Soon the project became very big, more and more people wanted to get involved. This gave us a goldmine of feedback to keep improving along the way
  3. Looking at the bigger picture. The end deliverable is a digital tool but we didn’t only focus on this, we looked at the interior of the classroom, the role of the teacher and even the possibilities of moving beyond the classroom. The digital tool was only seen as a means of improving the context.
  4. This project had an impact on the organisation as well. The iterative way of work where the student played a crucial role inspired different people at GO!. They are now implementing sprint meetings, organising workshops and doing qualitative research in schools. 

As you can hear, we are really proud of this project ourselves :) 

Hope you enjoy the episode as much as we did! 


Interesting links Mark shared: 

Go! website

Mark on Twitter

Mark on LinkedIn