Phenomenon Based Learning (PhenoBL)

So Finland is leading the way in approaching education in a different way in the digital age. Finland has become renowned for its innovative educational approach to education with shorter days, shorter terms, more play and no homework! Education moves out of the classroom to engage with the outside world in person or online. Use of innovative technology and sources outside the school are key to the success, engaging experts and museums to enhance the learning experience and create learning networks.

What is PhenoBL?

“Phenomenon based teaching and learning use the natural curiosity of children to learn in a holistic and authentic context. Holistic real-world phenomena provide the motivating starting point for learning, instead of traditional school subjects. The phenomena are studied as holistic entities, in their real context, and the information and skills related to them are studied by crossing the boundaries between subjects. Phenomena are holistic topics like human, European Union, media and technology, water or energy. This enables students also to learn 21st century skills like critical thinking, creativity, innovation, team work and communication” (Phenomenal Education, 2017).

21st Century Skills

The freedom to discover, communication, remove traditional classroom barriers, become connected and be adaptable.


  • Digital citizens
  • Critical thinkers
  • Technical skills
  • Innovators
  • Team players
  • Global citizens


Does this approach favour the brightest, who understand what is expected of them while the lower end struggle with concepts and higher thinking. This approach can potentially widen the education gap.

What about the grounding of baseline knowledge, does this take a step too far in the taxonomy of learning and steps are missed out for true understanding?

The jury is still out until actual evidence this approach actually works on a wider scale in other environments, other than in Finland.

Heavy workload for the facilitator, again reproducibility is  the question. Finland has small class sizes, well funded schools and a very different education system compared to most countries.

Adult Learning

My personal thoughts are this is an amazing approach and challenges the testing and accreditation heavy educational philosophy that is standardising education into a restrictive manner for both student and teacher. But the classroom still has face to face time which is essential to set goals and expectations. I do think in online learning this can be achieved but it takes time, effort and highly motivated learners to truly engage. Also in vocational professions, such as in healthcare there has to be hands-on and experiential learning events.

Keywords: PhenoBL; Phenomenon-based Learning.


Iyer, H. (2015) EdTech Meets Phenomenon Based Learning.

Kekkonen, T. & Tallinn, A.L. (2015) Phenomenon Based Learning: Students on the Focus.

Phenomenal Education (2017) Phenomenon-based Learning: Re-thinking from Finland.