What is a Nordic approach to learning, and how can it be digitized?

What is it about the Nordic approach to learning that earns global praise? How are Nordic learning methods and strategies adaptable to a digital context during COVID-19, and what features are available in a learning platform that is built on a Nordic approach to learning?


For the past 10-15 years, the Nordic countries have been the center of attention every time the conversation revolves around learning. Perhaps because students in Finland year after year keep scoring higher than the OECD average in reading, mathematics, and science? Or because the Nordic learning approach seems to be fostering creative, emotionally intelligent, and independent ‘whole’ young people that we so need today and in the future?


There are some essential core values in the Nordic countries that the school system and learning methods derive from. Values such as equality, social responsibility, and trust.


There are some essential core values in the Nordic countries that the school system and learning methods derive from. Values such as equality, social responsibility, and trust. These values are general, but when looking closer they are fundamental when creating an innovative growth mindset with respect for the individual and the group:

  • With a fundamental sense of equality, the individual is encouraged to challenge solutions and the status quo – because your ideas may be just as good as mine?
  • With social responsibility, the individual understands that we are all part of a team, that people are different, and add different values.
  • And with a fundamental sense of trust, it becomes easier for the individual to take chances, to think creatively and in new ways.

But how do you teach someone these values? When looking at some of the Nordic approaches to learning, the following methods stand out:

  • Problem-based learning
  • Group work and collaboration
  • Communication
  • Play, imagination, and creativity
  • Experiential learning and roleplay

These methods are used in the Danish educational system from primary school to higher education and even in universities, where problem-based learning, hackathons, and megaprojects are the fundamental learning methods at some universities. In fact, the University of Aalborg is now quite famous for its problem-based approach and ranks as the best engineering university in Europe.

But do these approaches only apply to the physical learning room or can they be translated to a digital format? The answer to this question really depends on the LMS or LXS you are using and whether the digital system supports social interaction, collaboration, and group work and allows the users to work with the content through discussions, creative thinking, and with a focus on solving problems rather than replicating knowledge. The good news is that there are digital systems like that, and the funny thing is that these digital learning systems have been developed in the Nordics.

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