No 3/2018 Abstracts

Editorial: A step towards the future

Turo Kilpeläinen, President, Lahti University of Applied Sciences

Digitisation has not only changed consumer behaviour but also the tried and tested methods of many sectors. And it goes without saying that, if it has not already done so, this shift will make an impact on the traditional structure of many higher education institutes (HEIs) Finland, in particular, has experienced the reality of demographic development alongside urbanisation processes and an ever-increasing sustainability gap in public sector funding.

As such, Finnish HEIs must carefully consider how to best go forward with the task of using public funding to generate the expertise and experts required by society. We must also think long and hard about the future role and purpose of HEIs from the perspective of both the individual and society as a whole.

It is generally accepted that HE students are mainly focussed on developing the knowledge and expertise necessary to secure their dream job. And when thinking about young students, the pressing questions are how and at what stage of their institution-based learning journey are they able to take what they have learned and apply it in the wider context of building a life of their own. In an era when it takes a just a second for a super computer to calculate the answers to a millennium’s worth of maths homework for every child in the world, we are going to need new ways of sparking their motivation to learn.

Currently, HEIs are primarily organised around the goal of completing degree-level qualifications. The paradigm shift we are experiencing, however, challenges us to make education more flexible, open, and accessible. In practice, this means we may need to tear down the foundations of the entire HE system. Not only should individual study modules be viable solutions for students pursuing a degree, but for professionals working towards CPD and job-seekers developing their expertise profile, too.

The impact of an increasingly flexible approach to higher education will inevitably bear fruit in terms of HE admissions. Indeed, courses and programmes will be opened up to everyone seeking to update their expertise. Students in Higher Education are increasingly diverse in terms of their background. Consequently, greater flexibility may mean that students are able to tailor the content of the study modules they take or their whole study plans in order to benefit from the expertise of leaders in their fields, both here in Finland and the rest of the world. In this model, the competencies that students develop are not limited by the education available at the institute they are attending. Instead, they can take advantage of a global pool of knowledge and expertise.

Predicting the future is difficult, though. When considering the impact of societal change, we may take the view that the expectations held by the state, regions, stakeholders in working life, and students in relation to HEIs will all change. That being said, we must also assume that the expectations of these actors will not necessarily be the same. The role of digitisation in facilitating accessibility and a completely new form of instruction would appear to be vitally important.

Consequently, this publication seeks to consider concrete examples of the ways in which digital developments are making an impact on teaching and learning at universities of applied sciences. The themes covered include digital competence among students, teachers’ digital pedagogical expertise, pedagogical approaches, raising the profile of universities of applied sciences, and a wide range of practical examples of learning environments and digital tools. The premise behind all this is a desire to meet the needs for expertise in professional life.

As a group of universities of applied sciences and one university, we have taken a courageous step towards the future with the development of the “eAMK” network (an e-resource for universities of applied sciences). The bringing together of HEIs in this way will hopefully foster a permanent community of expertise that transcends institutional borders. Indeed, glinting on the horizon is a new kind of network-based operational model for the entire HE sector.

 

It is all about the future digital competence

Marja Kopeli, M.A., Faculty Coordinator, Savonia University of Applied Sciences

As a part of eAMK project four universities of applied sciences (HAMK, Humak, KAMK and Savonia) made in November 2017 a Webropol inquiry for students concerning their digital skills. In the questionnaire there were 48 claims and with them the students estimated their digital skills and also estimated the importance of mentioned skills.

According to the survey the students have good skills to study in digital learning environments chosen by their home university. The UAS orientation services seem to work quite well from this point of view. Instead the students seem to need more training to lead their identity in digital world and also to gain, use and create information in digital environments. Overall the students estimated their skills lower than the importance in 80 percent of the claims.

When planning degree programme curricula the future orientation should be in an important role, also in digital skills point of view.

Co-configurative approach to digital literacies in higher education

Olli Vesterinen, Ph.D. (Ed.), Principal Lecturer, Diaconia University of Applied Sciences
Sara Sintonen, Adjunct Professor, Senior Lecturer, University of Helsinki
Heikki Kynäslahti, Adjunct Professor, Senior Lecturer, University of Helsinki
Yutaro Ohashi, Associate Professor, Nippon Institute of Technology

Digital literacy is crucial in higher education sector as well as in future work. Higher education institutions can prepare students for the world of work better if the developing of digital competences is acknowledged. Interventions in formal education are urgently needed, and more attention should be given to teacher training and in-service training in order to narrow the digital divide gap (Kaarakainen, Kivinen & Vainio 2017). The article discusses five points of digital literacy: 1. to self-evaluate or to test? (evidence) 2. perspectives (such as identity) 3. participation (agency) 4. dynamic in terms of time (development) 5. individual vs. team (peer-learning). All this connects with the digital pedagogical practices. A co-configurative approach has been developed to look beyond traditional tool-based self-evaluations, which have been the current narrative in the research on digital literacy.

The compliance of teaching and guiding with digipedagogy

Eija Heikkinen, Ph.D. (Sc.), Development Director (Education), Kajaani University of Applied Sciences

Working life requires collaboration between universities, businesses and stakeholders. Students, teachers and staff need opportunities to learn how to connect with each other to create and develop new operating models, products and services. An open business culture requires a proactive attitude towards goal-oriented collaborative development activities and allows the staff members of companies and universities to make mistakes.
The pedagogical approach of Kajaani University of Applied Sciences (KAMK) is called cKAMK, where C describes the concepts of connect, create and coach. Teachers and students work in teams and use project learning methods to solve problems or to develop new products and services collaboratively. In coaching, the teacher is the expert who guides students to find the information they need. The students are responsible for learning and active participants in their work. In addition, KAMK develops a digipedagogical approach and has created a staff competence development model, which includes digital tools for the model’s connect, create and coach functions. This article describes the cKAMK approach.

A Teacher’s Role in the Midst of Digital Change

Tarmo Alastalo, M.Eng., Certified Business Coach, Senior Lecturer, Karelia UAS
Maarit Ignatius, M.A., Coordinator, Blended pedagogy, Karelia UAS

Karelia University of Applied Sciences promotes the creation of flexible study and learning opportunities and the diversification of year-round education by supporting the development of the personnel’s digital skills, change of working methods and the transforming role of a teacher. According to the strategy of Karelia UAS (2017–2020), the implementation of each study unit should form a pedagogically coherent whole that suits the learning environments used.

The objective of this systematic development of learning and study processes is both a functional and pedagogical change aiming at emphasising the student’s role in the learning process and the development of more individualised learning and study processes. The goal of the development cycles is not only to enhance the digital pedagogical skills of the teacher, but also to create new tools for the long-term guidance, counselling, teaching and evaluation of the student. One of the tools used in the development of the digital pedagogical change and in the change of the teacher’s role is the SAMR model by R.R. Puentedura (http://hippasus.com/blog/).

Online implementations by the support and assistance of eAMK project 

Kati Mäenpää, M.Ed., Senior Lecturer, Guidance Counsellor, Oulu University of Applied Sciences, Ph.D. Student, University of Oulu
Päivi Tervasoff, M.Soc.Sc., Senior Lecturer (Social services), Special Education Vocational Teacher, Oulu University of Applied Sciences
Päivi Rautio, M.H.S., Lecturer, Work Guidance Instructor (STOry), Oulu University of Applied Sciences
Minna Manninen, M.H.S., Senior Lecturer, Head of Midwifery Education, Oulu University of Applied Sciences
Satu Rainto, M.Sc. (Health Care), Senior Lecturer, Oulu University of Applied Sciences
Jukka Kurttila, M.Ed., Senior Lecturer, Oulu University of Applied Sciences
Juha Alakulppi, M.Ed., Senior Lecturer, Psychotherapist, Authorised Sexologist, Oulu University of Applied Sciences
Minna Perälä, M.H.S., Senior Lecturer (Midwifery and Health Care), Oulu University of Applied Sciences
Marja Kinisjärvi, M.H.S., Senior Lecturer (Midwifery), Oulu University of Applied Sciences
Henna Alakulju, M.Ed., Study Affairs Planning Officer (Student Services), Oulu University of Applied Sciences
Jukka Savilampi, M.A., Senior Lecturer, Oulu University of Applied Sciences

A team of health and social care teachers planned a new online course (Violence against woman and domestic violence, 5 CU) to a Finnish university of applied sciences shared digital course offering, Campus Online portal. The course was planned and constructed by the support and assistance of eAMK project and its training programme. This article describes a pedagogical example of the course planning process, online implementations and co-operation. It highlights the possibilities of improving or building up new high quality online education in network, with support of a higher education professionals and working life co-operation partners.

Digital competences in the social and health care education

Anna-Leena Eklund, M.H.S., Specially Trained Nurse, Lecturer (Nursing), Kajaani University of Applied Sciences
Taneli Rantaharju, M.Sc. (Tech.), Senior Lecturer, Study Programme Coordinator in intelligent systems, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences
Heli Ylitalo, M.H.S., Lecturer (Health and Wellbeing), Kainuu Vocational College

Reforms in social and healthcare structures and functions due to digitalisation are instituting a demand for change in healthcare provision and training. The aim of the DIGIOS project (1.3.2017–31.5.2019) implemented jointly by Kajaani University of Applied Sciences, Kainuu Vocational College and Kainuu Joint Municipal Social and Healthcare Authority is to develop competence in electronic health services and health technology in the region.

The project has created a multi-purpose scalable learning environment in which modern technology- assisted nursing interventions and principles can be practised. The learning environment enables cooperation between the project partners as well as the opportunity to practise multi-professional nursing. As well as nursing and healthcare, the beneficiary of the project is the engineering degree. The results of this joint development initiative are highly applicable in advanced engineering studies, in which the students gain in depth knowledge of health, wellbeing and sports technologies, among others. In addition to teaching, the learning environment will be used in supplementary training and induction for social and healthcare sector and information technology staff.

How to do things right? Blended learning in teaching ethical decision-making in health and social sciences

Soile Juujärvi, D.Pol.Sc., Principal Lecturer, Laurea University of Applied Sciences

In health and social care, ethical competence is one of the core competences that is increasingly studied through E-learning. Dilemma discussions have previously been found to be the most effective method for advancing ethical decision-making. This paper introduces a pedagogical model for professional ethics course based on blended learning. Classroom teaching was combined with dilemma discussions on the digital platform. Students solved real-life ethical problems by applying professional codes, values and ethical theories. Integrated face-to-face and virtual learning engaged students in shared learning process. Threated asynchronous dilemma discussions were important for exploring theoretical knowledge. The role of the teacher was to facilitate learning and provide an example for critical discussion. The model is recommended as a highly motivating method for ethics education.

Creating a change – how does online degree education look like in the eyes of a student?

Ilona Laakkonen, M.A., eLearning Specialist, JAMK University of Applied Sciences

In 2015, we launched an online BBA programme at JAMK School of Business. Our students are motivated and have experiences from the world of work, but face the challenge of allocating their time between work, family life and studies. The past years have been an era of continuous pedagogical development and transformation for our staff. Have we succeeded? How to improve in the following years? This paper reflects these questions in the light of the student feedback and proposes present and future solutions for some of the problems common in adult online education: workload and rhythm; learning assignments and course structure; presence and social interaction. We still have room for improvement, but student responses indicate that hard work also pays off.

Distance education works well in immigrants learning of Finnish language

Kukka-Maaria Raatikainen, M.A., Senior Lecturer (Finnish and Communication), Savonia University of Applied Sciences
Anne Karuaho, M.A., Lecturer (Communication), Savonia University of Applied Sciences

Web pedagogy in learning Finnish language seems to be an effective way of learning at least when the immigrant cannot participate in traditional teaching. In Savonia University of Applied Sciences, we have developed seven courses in Finnish language and during 2018–2019 those courses will be held online. During the summer 2018, an experiment of web course in Finnish language not tied to time nor place took place in Savonia. Feedback has been mainly good: the participants felt that they have learnt many new things especially about idioms and some certain structures in Finnish. Some participants nevertheless felt that, there were not enough materials about oral language or theory about difficult subjects. It is obvious that we have to offer flexible solutions in Finnish language courses in the future also.

Immigrants getting ready for higher education studies online

Tiina Hirard, M.A., Senior Lecturer, Turku University of Applied Sciences
Heidi Stenberg, M.Ed., Project Director SIMHE-Metropolia, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences

This article deals with the higher education preparatory program for immigrants and its online implementation that will be carried out by nine Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences. The main objective of the online implementation is to add to the availability and accessibility of the preparatory program on the national level. Furthermore, studying online develops digital skills that are essential in today’s higher education studies and that are thus considered both as objectives and contents of the preparatory program. The pedagogical approach of the online implementation is based on co-teaching, collaborative construction of knowledge as well between students and teachers as among students, activating learning and teaching methods and continuous assessment and guidance. The online implementation can be seen not only as a new way of implementing the preparatory program but also as a new kind of cooperation and sharing know-how between higher education institutes.

Thesis process in the digital era

Merja Koikkalainen, Ph.D., Principal Lecturer, Master’s Degree Unit, Lapland University of Applied Sciences
Marika Kunnari, D.H.S., Principal Lecturer, Master’s Degree Unit, Lapland University of Applied Sciences
Soili Mäkimurto-Koivumaa, Ph.D., Principal Lecturer, Master’s Degree Unit, Lapland University of Applied Sciences

In autumn 2017, Lapland UAS launched a new multidisciplinary Master’s degree programme, Service Management in Digital Era, which is completed entirely online. The programme was designed to meet the challenges of rapidly changing working life. The multidisciplinary MONT thesis process, developed previously at Lapland UAS, was adopted for the programme’s thesis process. Most importantly, the MONT process is interdisciplinary and close to working life. MONT theses are written in small multidisciplinary groups. In an online thesis process, the students’ own activeness and responsibility throughout the process are vital. The MONT process, which is done online, is constructed such that a thesis is completed over the course of 18 months. Small thesis groups write articles on their individual development task, and students in each thematic group also compile a joint knowledge base connected to their theme as a co-creation project. Based on student feedback, satisfaction with the MONT project is connected to multidisciplinary work and the broad analysis it facilitates. Areas in need of improvement include specifying the schedule of the overall process right at the beginning of studies.

Increase personal relevance with learning diaries

Minna Jukka, D. Sc. (Econ.), M.Sc. (Tech.), Project Manager DaaS – Open Data as a Service, South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences

Increasing digital teaching creates a need for new kinds of interaction and personal relevance with the studies. One option is self-reflection of learning by writing a learning diary that supports the forming of personal insights helping to understand and remember. Reviewing over 40 learning diary instructions suggests the best learning diary instructions are tailored to each course, and clearly outline the goals of the diary, the teacher’s expectations and its evaluation. Guiding questions are also included: what I want to learn, what I learned, what was left unclear, what this new knowledge means to me, and what thoughts it aroused. With virtual courses, and especially with adult learners, the learning diary instructions were more detailed, suggesting that self-directedness of the studies needs more detailed guidance. Therefore, the new era of digital teaching needs good guidance in learning diaries.

Master’s Students as the Developers of Communication Skills

Mervi Varhelahti, D.Ed., M.A., M.Sc. (Econ. & Bus.Adm.), Senior Lecturer, Turku University of Applied Sciences
Mirjamaija Mikkilä-Erdmann, D.Ed., Professor, University of Turku, Department of Teacher Education

Changes in the world of work are posing new challenges in orientation in higher educational institutions. This study focuses on the development of adult students’ communication skills ‒ especially media choice ‒ in Master’s studies in universities of applied sciences in Finland. The approach used in this study is mixed method, combining a framework of digital communication skills to the media synchronicity theory as theoretical background. Results suggest that a stronger link to working life orientation could be achieved with a varied choice of digital communications tools in learning.

How to Learn Use of ICT Tools while Learning in Student Projects

Anu Kurvinen, M.BA., Senior Lecture, Saimaa University of Applied Sciences
Pasi Juvonen, D.Sc., Senior Lecturer, Head Coach, Saimaa University of Applied Sciences

Change in digitalization has been rapid. Future working life will need employees who are skilled in different areas. While educating the next generation professionals, we are teaching them capabilities to take over new ways of increasing their knowledge. There is plenty of information available. Thus, one has to be able to think critically, have skills to synthesize and put the information into action in a wise way. This article presents an example of learning environment where ICT tools are learnt in conjunction with student cooperative’s business projects. Since 2009 we have been developing a new learning environment combining studying content knowledge (theory) learning by doing (practice), and employing dialogue in knowledge sharing, knowledge creation and reflection. Adopting and learning to use ICT tools is not depending on the availability of the ICT tools or applications anymore. It’s rather a question to learn how to better utilize the free to use tools available on the market, and harnessing them in the student projects. The article presents pedagogical choices that according to our experiences are increasing the readiness of adopting ICT tools and utilizing them alongside learning business.

Profiling in the virtual world of education

Ritva Kosonen, L.Phil., Principal lecturer, Saimaa University of Applied Sciences
Taina Sjöholm, M.A., Senior Lecturer, Novia University of Applied Sciences

International evaluations show that Finland’s university system is still fragmented and profiles are minimal. A weakness is also that the universities of applied sciences in Finland cooperate only to a limited extent.

The eAMK project acknowledges the importance of profiling. In the autumn of 2018, the project sent a request to all universities of applied sciences asking on which areas of education the university wants to focus considering online studies.

Two of the universities expressed their desire to profile themselves in one area of education, four wanted to profile themselves in two different areas of education. For the rest (15) the wishes were divided into several areas of education. At this stage of the project, it would be challenging to try to create a clear profile of online studies for each of the universities of applied sciences.

In the long term, we should aim to improve cooperation in those areas that provide synergy effects. The work within the eAMK project has come to a good start and we look forward to a wide variety of activities in the future.

Practitioner researchers’ current and future visions of education & learning

Authors: Marcelo Giglio, Mauri Kantola, Mervi Friman, Inneke Berghmans & Manuel Peixoto.

In this Special Issue The European Association for Practitioner Research on Improving Learning (EAPRIL) joins forces with the Journal of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS Journal) to highlight practitioner-researchers’ visions of future education and learning. This is the second special issue reported by EAPRIL and UAS journal (see https://uasjournal.fi/arkisto/eapril/). EAPRIL and UAS Journal both focus on research and development in education. That is, on the one hand, UAS Journal focuses on the fields of practice-oriented higher education in Finland since 2011 and, on the other hand, EAPRIL focuses on practice-based research and bridging research and practice with the aim to improve learning, both in education and organisations.

From the point of view of the higher education research, the classification proposed by Teichler (1996) may serve a good basis to analyse the themes of the articles included in this special issue. As of the beginning of the millennium, Teichler’s classification proved to be an important model for structuring higher education research (Ahola & Hoffman 2012). In addition to the classification itself, Teichler’s four areas of research have thought to include links to the different knowledge interests in various fields of science.

Teichler (1996) has argued that research on the challenges in our demanding higher educational system has an integrative task on two important stages: firstly, it aims to stimulate the use of theories, paradigms and methods of the various disciplines, and secondly to integrate knowledge concepts in different disciplines. He has pointed out that if research on higher education tries to draw from single disciplines, paradigms and spheres of higher educational research, this might be only appropriate for a minority of themes. It could also lead to artificially narrowing the scope of the subject, which is not suitable for striking the balance between theoretical insight and a sufficiently complex understanding of the object of analysis (Teichler 1996). In this sense, the Teichlerian framework (Teichler 1996, 2000, 2003) also suits our purposes when studying the included articles of our special issue, as this special issue aims for a multidimensional approach, covering various paradigms and settings.

In this issue, the pedagogical research has been popular among authors. These themes have included questions that have otherwise also sparked plenty of discussion in the public platform. Workplace orientation towards the future of students, including workplace relations and employment, has not been a particularly common topic in this edition. The classification of the articles presents clearly the profile of EAPRIL, which promotes practice-based research on learning issues in the context of initial, formal, lifelong and organisational learning. EAPRIL’s mission is to bring together persons who are interested in the connections and reflections between research and practice. (https://www.eapril.org).

* * *

Last year, EAPRIL hosted its 12th annual conference under the theme ‘Inspired by the visions of future education and learning’ in Hämeenlinna, Finland, at the Häme University of Applied Sciences in close cooperation with the Federation of Universities of Applied Sciences (FUAS). This EAPRIL 2017 Conference proved to be a rich space for creative, innovative and reflexive exchanges between delegates. It has inspired the EAPRIL Executive Board to call for papers on this important topic, looking from the past to the present, but also anticipating the future visions of education and learning based on current views and expertise. This particular focus complies with the contemporary need of the world and, consequently, with the current need of all the levels of education and training. Starting this millennium, UNESCO promoted a humanistic vision of learning based on principles as respect for life, the human dignity, the cultural diversities, the social justice and international solidarity presented. It was reported in the two landmark publications by UNESCO ‘Learning to Be’ (Faure et al. 1972) and ‘Learning: The Treasure Within’ (Delors et al. 1996). Between 2010 and 2016 several informal and formal meetings of UNESCO served as platform opportunities to reflect and present frameworks for competencies and learning objectives for Education for Sustainable Development, Global Citizenship Education on the future of education and skills programmed by OECD. Some of the conclusions were that education needs to aim at interdisciplinary learning and students’ competencies to solve problems through multiple lenses considering an uncertain and volatile world. The publication ’The Future of Education and Skills 2030’ (OECD 2018) offers a shared vision on the advice as need for new solutions in a rapidly changing world; need for broader education goals with individual and collective well-being; learner agency – navigating through a complex and uncertain world – ; need for a broad set of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values in action; competencies to transform our society and shape our future; and design principles for moving toward an eco-systemic change. Giglio (2014) identifies five dimensions of educational and institutional creativity and innovation:

  • the purpose of the change as a challenge to the future,
  • the reaction to change by actors,
  • the creative action to improve the roles and skills of the actors,
  • the social interaction between individuals and partnerships, and
  • the forms of contribution to the future.

In this international context the contributions of this EAPRIL – UAS Journal Special Issue address practice-based research as a form of inquiry, to share visions, ideas and solutions that inspire the presence and future of education, while acknowledging historical-cultural backgrounds. In fact, different contributions and discussions organised at the EAPRIL 2017 Conference illustrate how our professional experiences and research are situated in this evolutional world. Step by step, we face new opportunities for human advancement in the future of education. Creating and following-up on these opportunities entail uncertain and unpredicted creativity and innovation of education and learning. However, current research can help to understand, reflect and anticipate some of these problems and/or to provide some tools and methods to improve learning. Looking back at the past years, we can sense the speediness of change experienced today. How can we consider this in the future of education and learning? How can we utilise current practitioner research as a doorway to the future? The universities of applied science have definitely a crucial role to serve in educational research. However, which designs, methods, tools and ideas are pivotal? What are (or should be) the roles of educators, developers and employees in evolutionary forms of thinking and acting of students and employees in a continued evolution of technologies?

Knowledge, working, research, teaching, and learning are never exhaustive and always evolutionary. Consequently, a future vision on education and learning cannot be but a part of the current and professional thinking and acting of educational practitioners and researchers.

This EAPRIL – UAS Journal Special Issue hopes to contribute to the development of education, curiosity, imagination, creativity and innovation by presenting ideas, perspectives and values of our contributors. Both ‘study cases’ and ‘research results’ are presented in this Special Issue, matching our aim to bridge practice and research. Both will demonstrate the important role of practice-based research as a form of inquiry, of creating and sharing visions, dreams, new ideas and innovative solutions, all with the aim to inspire both contemporary and future educational developments, while acknowledging historical-cultural backgrounds.

It was a pleasure to edit the articles of this Special Issue, which invited us to reflect and to (re)think our own understanding of education, today and tomorrow, generating new ideas on living, working, learning, teaching and research. We hope these articles can plant some seeds for new educational developments, covering our foremost aim of improving learning for the future.

Authors

Marcelo Giglio, HEP-BEJUNE, Switzerland & University of Neuchâtel
Mauri Kantola, Turku University of Applied Sciences, Finland
Mervi Friman, Häme University of Applied Sciences, Finland
Inneke Berghmans, University of Leuven/EAPRIL Project manager, Belgium
Manuel Peixoto, EAPRIL Board, Portugal


Ahola, S., & Hoffman, D. M. (2012). Higher education research in Finland – Emerging structures and contemporary issues. Jyväskylä: Jyväskylä University Press. Referred 21 May 2018: https://ktl.jyu.fi/julkaisut/julkaisuluettelo/julkaisut/2012/d103

Delors, J., Al Mufti, I., Amagi, I., Carneiro, R., Chung, F., Geremek, B., Gorham, W., Kornhauser, A., Manley, M., Padron Quero, M., Savane, M.-A., Singh, K., Stavenhagen, R., Won Suhr, M. & Nanzhao, Z. (1996). The treasure within. Report to UNESCO of the international commission on education for the twenty first century. UNESCO Publishing. Referred 25 June 2018: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0010/001095/109590eo.pdf

Faure, E., Herrera, F., Kaddoura, A.-R., Lopes, H., Petrovsky, A. V., Rahnema, M. & Champion Ward, F. (1972). Learning to be. The world of education today and tomorrow. UNESCO. Referred 25 June 2018: http://www.unesco.org/education/pdf/15_60.pdf

Giglio, M. (2014). Five dimensions to study teacher education change for improving musical creative learning. Journal for Educators, Teachers, & Trainers 5 (1), 80–89. Referred 21 May 2018: http://jett.labosfor.com/index.php/jett/article/view/172

OECD, (2018). The Future of Education and Skills 2030. Referred 25 June 2018: http://www.oecd.org/education/2030/E2030%20Position%20Paper%20(05.04.2018).pdf

Teichler, U. (1996). Comparative higher education studies: Potentials and limits. Higher Education 32 (4), 431–465. Referred 21 May 2018: http://euroac.ffri.hr/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Teichler1996-1.pdf

Teichler, U. (2000). Higher education research and its institutional basis. In S. Schwarz and U. Teichler (eds.), The institutional basis of higher education research – Experiences and perspectives. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 13–24.

Teichler, U. (2003). The future of higher education and the future of higher education research. Tertiary Education and Management, 9, 171–185.

Bridging the Imaginary Research and Practice Gap by Responsive Learning

EAPRIL and UAS-journal

This special issue is initiated by EAPRIL (The European Association for Practitioner Research on Improving Learning). EAPRIL is a platform for practitioner and practice-based research. This year it will hold its 11th annual conference for practitioner research on improving learning in education and professional practice https://eaprilconference.org . EAPRIL was initiated 11 years ago by the well-known ‘European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction’ (EARLI). EARLI wanted to support practitioner research through establishing  a platform where practitioners and researchers conducting practice-based research can meet and exchange research results  in a highly interactive way.  Nowadays, EAPRIL and EARLI collaborate as independent research associations.

EAPRIL research conference presentations are reflected in the articles in this special international issue of the UAS journal and address practice-based research as a form of inquiry that can be used and implemented to support life long workplace learning for a variety of professionals and occupations (EAPRIL conference proceedings, 2014, 2015 https://eaprilconference.org/proceedings/ ).

The broad interpretations of ‘practitioner research’, and practice-based research require a clear epistemological basis demonstrating the relationship between research and practice. According to Heikkinen, de Jong and Vanderlinde  (2016) such clarification goes back to Aristotelian  philosophy which explored the ways that knowledge is obtained, what purpose it serves, and how practitioner research differs from academic research. This yields  theoretical knowledge as well as  two kinds of practical knowledge. Although all three are relevant, the so called ‘practitioner knowledge’ (the phronesis and the techne), need more attention in judging the merit of practitioner research. Heikkinen, et al. (2016) stated that good practitioner research needs its own methodological principles. De Jong, Beus, Richardson and Ruijters (2013) emphasized that practitioner research is more than just the old way of doing research in its search for the truth. It also has to do with enhancing co-creation and wisdom of practitioners and their praxis. It might even have a total different epistemic underpinning.

After EAPRIL’s first special issue ‘Studies in Vocational and Professional Education’ (April 2016, Journal Vocations and Learning) EAPRIL and UAS journal were talking about a collaboration for the next special issue. This resulted in the current issue with eleven wonderful insights, from five different European countries.. Some contributions even cover many other European countries. You will find articles about activities in UAS by UAS teacher-researchers, inquiry-innovators writing about educational innovations which reflect their passion to improve the education offered in UAS; to support the development of their students; and to offer them learning experiences in enhancing the collaboration and interaction between education and practice. The focus is on improving the activity system of practice, as well as students’ development and research by trying to make UAS education more responsive to students, responsive to practice and responsive to society.

From the Finnish viewpoint this UAS Journal (est. 2011) special issue in collaboration with EAPRIL organization is important in many ways. Firstly, it includes interesting articles and shows that the problems and challenges in European higher education are rather similar. This issue, as itself, is bridging researchers and practitioners from different European countries.

Secondly, this issue is a reflection on the history of the UAS Journal. The roots of UAS eJournal are in KeVer network (2000-2009) and KeVer eJournal which was published as one part of networking activities. The purpose of Kever was to develop and strengthen pedagogical, methodological and RDI actions in UAS education, which began in Finland in 1991. The method of working in KeVer was to combine research and practice, researchers and practitioners. The backgrounds of the network members were  researchers working in the universities and research institutions and teachers, as well as researchers and developers working in universities of applied sciences. When KeVer network activities finished,  the ejournal transformed from a research-based journal  to a magazine format. So,this special issue  after some years, makes visible the research linked to UASs.

Finally, this issue is hopefully a beginning for a fruitful collaboration among Europeans who share an interest in combining research and practice as a method of developing teaching and learning. Complexity and uncertainty in the world demands strong networks and communities, feelings of shared interests and goals. EAPRIL and UAS-journal wants to support such networks as being places to exchange and build insights together in  the development of praxis.

Introduction

Reading the articles in this issue, you will notice that the responsivity to students and practice is seen as a crucial element of the UAS education as a means for students’ development into competent professionals for their future working life and contribution to society. In some more conceptual oriented articles, for instance, from Meijer and Kuijpers (in this issue) this education-practice relationship is seen as a gap that has to be bridged. According to others like Van den Berg (in this issue) it is more a matter of crossing borders, which requires certain abilities. Kukokonen (in this issue) integrates this dilemma in five key elements of good student experiences, such as authenticity and collaboration.

The articles show that in general the core issue in being responsive to students’ learning on the one hand and professional practice on the other hand, seems to enhance interaction, collaborative learning, co-creation of knowledge in the efforts to support and improve the relationship between research, education and working life (practice) as a responsive educational activity system. An activity system in which students develop abilities, skills and knowledge that anticipate the (future) needs of working practice, society and personal life. Such activity systems and the diverse educational examples illustrated in this issue, should be considered regarding  the different perspectives and emphasis of the learning processes described: for example cooperative, collaborative and knowledge creation and  derivative pedogagical methods. This means that emphasis on transfer of knowledge is based on a totally different epistemic basis from the co-creation of knowledge. In addition, cooperation does not always mean that students are engaged in a mutual learning process, or that collaborative learning might be a collective group learning but that it differs from collective knowledge creation in order to contribute to the idea development of the community.

Moreover, it is sometimes important to reflect on generally accepted theories of learning from a different perspective. For example De Jong (2015) approaches learning not as matter of knowledge transfer or acquisition, but as a semiotic, meaning-constructing process to combine incoming information with already held personal and community cognitive concepts and ideas. Even the stimulus-response learning is a process of giving meaning to a stimulus in relation to an action.

Table 1: Different manifestations of learning as a semiotic, meaning building process and the impact on change, the thinking that is learned and relatedness to practice (world 1), school knowledge (world 2) and knowledge creating Popper’s world 3.

Table 1: Different manifestations of learning as a semiotic, meaning building process and the impact on change, the thinking that is learned and relatedness to practice (world 1), school knowledge (world 2) and knowledge creating Popper’s world 3.
Table 1: Different manifestations of learning as a semiotic, meaning building process and the impact on change, the thinking that is learned and relatedness to practice (world 1), school knowledge (world 2) and knowledge creating Popper’s world 3.

A process in which ‘the other’ might be at a very distant or might be very close to the interaction of the process of meaning construction. This semiotic process manifests itself in learning in three ways:

  • Zero learning and Learning 1) e.g. natural biological learning in daily practice;
    You can think of habituation, sentization, stimulus-response learning
  • Learning 2) cognitive learning in schools, courses, trainings; and
    You can think of Piagetian cognitive constructivism; accumulative and  accommodative learning.
  • Learning 3) social interactive learning in groups, teams, communities.
    You can think of cooperative, collaborative learning and knowledge building/creation.

These levels differ in what leads to change; what kind of thinking is learned and if the impact goes beyond current practice and habits, current knowledge and thinking or becoming familiar with and enculturate in the world of building knowledge and understanding (see table 1). In relation to the articles in this issue the level of social interactive learning is seems to be very relevant because it is mentioned almost in all of them. To provide you as reader a lens to reflect on the articles in this special issue we will elaborate more in depth about this level and its consequences in the next paragraphs[1].

Social interaction and Cooperative learning

Let’s take a look at cooperative learning settings such as: Learning Together & Alone; Teams-Games-Tournaments (TGT); Group Investigation; Constructive Controversy; Jigsaw Procedure; Student Teams Achievement Divisions (STAD); Complex Instruction; Team Accelerated Instruction (TAI); Cooperative Learning Structures; Cooperative Integrated Reading & Composition (CIRC) (Johnson, Johnson, & Stanne, 2000; Loeser, 2008).

Cooperative learning involves students working together to accomplish shared learning goals. (Johnson et al., 2000; Johnson & Johnson, 1999). Each student can achieve his or her learning goal if – and only if – the other group members achieve theirs (Deutsch 1962, as cited in Johnson et. al., 2000). Review studies show, that cooperative learning significantly increases students’ achievement in comparison with competitive, individual learning situations. It does not mean that all operationalizations are effective in the same way (Johnson & Johnson, 2009; Slavin, 1980). From the above mentioned studies ‘Learning together’ seems to be the most effective (David W Johnson et al., 2000). The five most basic pillars of cooperative learning are: individual accountability, positive interdependence, face-to-face promotive interaction, group processing, and interpersonal and small group skills. Students feel that they cannot work without the participation of one or more group members. The central principle of cooperative learning is that students learn through interaction and dialogue with others, mostly in small groups, around a topic of study to achieve a common goal according to David Johnson and Robert Slavin[2] .

Another view

‘Learning with others’ enables social interaction as a kind of ”cognitive apprenticeship to learn the school learning material and enhance the individual learning” (Hartmann, Angersbach, & Rummel, 2015). Social interdependence enables  individual motivation and cognitive learning (Slavin, 1980, 1996). What we see is that information, complex codes, models and scientific theory are interpreted and reconstructed by labour division in a group (Dillenbourg, 1999). It is the cumulative collection of interpretations of a group, not yet the group cognition (Stahl, 2006) of collective knowing. Or as Hartmann et al., (2015) interprets this, as an endogenous form of constructivism: the source of knowledge construction is the individual processes. No new artefacts are created collectively. You can regard it as a kind of individual cognitive learning. Cognitive learning on a group level where the social interaction scaffolds the individual interpretation of information. So reading a book with others gives you access to interpretations of information by others that helps you to reconstruct the knowledge represented in school textbook. This is because you see things you did not notice or others together contribute more foreknowledge than your own. Communication then becomes learning. It focuses on what is known already and the subjective learning in the mind of (Popper’s world 2 (refered by Bereiter, 2002) school books and standard tests. It is effective in an improved study achievement (David W Johnson et al., 2000).

What epistemologically develops is an awareness that people think differently and interpret differently and you can learn from each other. Social interactive process skills are learnt together with dialogue to understand content.

Collaborative learning

The difference between cooperative and collaborative learning is roughly described by Dillenbourg: “(…)in cooperation, partners split work, solve subtasks individually and then assemble the partial results in the final output. In collaboration, partners do the work “together” (Dillenbourg, 1999, p. 8). This doing together is according to Dillenbourg a process by which individuals negotiate and share meanings. The difference lies in the fact that, in collaborative learning, the knowledge construction is not an assembly of individual understandings, such as in cooperative learning, but collaborative, group interactions such as negotiations and sharing of meanings (Stahl, Koschmann, & Suthers, 2006, 2014).

According to Beers, Boshuizen, Kirschner, & Gijselaers, (2005; 2008) collaborative learning can be characterized as social interaction focusing on the development of a common ground and shared knowledge. The two are formed through negotiation and knowledge exchange. This may be in a dialectic conversation of agreeing and disagreeing with messages, making your position known to group members, posting rejections to messages that are unintelligible or objectively incorrect in the eyes of someone else. A process from unshared knowledge externalisation to knowledge construction integration takes place (Beers et al., 2005, see fig. 1). Despite this formalism of the process, their studies show different effects concerning, for instance, reaching a common ground (Beers et al., 2005).

However, the main point is that groups are seen as a major source of knowledge construction with a social and interactive dimension (Miyake & Kirschner, 2014). This social dimension involves aspects such as interdependence, social and task cohesion, group potency and psychological safety. Often these social aspects are underestimated in (Computer Supported) Collaborative learning (CSCL) in contrast to co-construction and constructive conflict in the sharing and meaning making group process (Kreijns & Kirschner, 2003). In this social process learning ability in the sense of (co-)regulating content and community processes is vital for people to become used to share knowledge, deepening their own and common understanding and creating further insights (De Laat, De Jong, & Ter Huurne, 2000).

paakirjoitus_fig1
Figure 1: Collaborative learning has divers phases starting form unshared knowledge to constructed knowledge (Beers et al., 2005).

Stahl (2006, 2010) emphasises much more  group cognition and collaborative knowledge building as the character of collaborative learning. One could call this kind of knowledge building  ‘co-creation’ of knowledge. Stahl describes that this happens in an ecology where teachers act as facilitators and less as instructors or in the case of CS computer environment act to “supports the interactions among the students themselves” (Stahl, 2006, p. 3). According to Stahl, collaborative knowledge building is effective when the group is engaged in high level cognitions of “thinking together about a problem or task and produce knowledge artefacts like verbal problem clarification, a textual solution proposal, or a more developed theoretical inscription that integrates their different perspectives on the topic and represents a shared group result that they have negotiated” (Stahl, 2006, p 3).

Another view

The eco-semiotic process in collaborative learning can be seen as a dialectical negotiating in small groups (Hartmann et al., 2015) about the difference in signs, information, consisting of the different individual opinions, perspectives formed from individual eco-semiotic process based on their own experience (world 1) and information of schoolbooks (world 2), perhaps also scientific information (world 3) and the perspectives of others in the collaborative group. The sharing of the perspectives and the negotiation, debate, discussion is the process of finding common ground for the co-construction of a group knowledge perspective.

 The interactions with others reveals the difference in individual perspectives, which form a source of knowledge. Hartmann et al., (2015) indicate this in the context of collaborative learning as a dialectical process. So a social interaction where the difference is synthesized in a process of thesis and anti-thesis becomes a group cognition. Others are important in (CS)CL in getting to know the difference between the various interpretations of individuals as a source to understand by negotiating them in group dialogue, debate, discussion and arriving at a consensus or perspectives of what a phenomenon, theory is about or what a creative solution is for a problem or question in the context of a learning or work task.

In the social interaction the personal practical experience (world 1) and the ideas of the personal subjective mind (world 2) become part of the collective conversation and knowledge construction process. This thinking the past may reveal different modes of thinking, old ways of looking at particular phenomena. In the first place this is in the ecology of ideas of the subjective mind (world 2). Students develop an epistemic awareness of the common ground and subjectivity, the man-made character of knowledge artefacts.

From a transition viewpoint, where multidisciplinary approaches are desirable, collaborative learning has, for example,  high potential because of the negotiability of knowledge and the interdependent process of finding a common ground and cohesion in something such as group cognition (whatever this epistemological means). Learning becomes knowledge construction and is no longer a solitary individual process, but also a group process.

Knowledge creation/building

Knowledge building (Bereiter, 2002; Bereiter & Scardamalia, 2006a)(Bereiter, 2002; Bereiter & Scardamalia, 2006a) or knowledge creation (Nonaka, 2006; Nonaka & Toyama, 2003; Nonaka, 1994) concerns the same processes, although knowledge building is more education related and encompasses a greater range of concerns (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2014). Both certainly consist of the social and group dynamic processes as is the case in collaborative learning. However, the latter does not always include the systematic, methodological, empathic and hermeneutic process of knowledge creation (see also Kukkonen this issue). In knowledge building the social interactions are also an enculturation in world 3 of scientific knowledge, the world of conceptual artefacts.

Despite the formulated collaborative learning formalizations such as scripts (Dillenbourg & Hong, 2008), roles (Strijbos, 2004) or orchestrating graphs and workflows (Dillenbourg, 2015), they don’t support such an enculturation, but they do support the group process in CL. Tools in knowledge building environments support the development of ideas, theories, conceptual thinking and artefacts and enculturation in World 3. It refers to a set of social practices that advance the state of knowledge within a community over time (Paavola et al. 2004). The knowledge building principles are guidelines for idea improvement; they are not scripts, not linear steps to follow. The knowledge building principles “serve multiple purposes like pedagogical guides, technology design specifications, and evaluating ’existing’ practices” (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2010, p. 9).

An example of this collaborative learning and knowledge building is described by Willemse, Boei and Pillen (2016) reporting on communities in which secondary teacher educators  with a variety of educational background (eg. History, fysics, geography) collaboratively conducted research into  shared problems identified from practice, thus supporting the process of collaborative learning and improving practice. This process contributed to shared languages, knowledge creation and improved practices.

According to Van Aalst, (2009, p. 260) knowledge creation involves more than the creation of a new idea; it requires discourse (talk, writing, and other actions) to determine the limits of knowledge in the community, set goals, investigate problems, promote the impact of new ideas, and evaluate whether the state of knowledge in the community is advancing. Van Aalst distinguishes three modes of discourse—knowledge sharing, knowledge construction, and knowledge creation.

Knowledge sharing refers to the transmission of information between people. According to Van Aalst, knowledge construction refers to the processes by which students solve problems and construct understanding of concepts, phenomena, and situations by making ideas meaningful in relating to prior knowledge and the problem situation mediated by social interactions within a group and technologies. Knowledge construction, with its emphasis on building on students’ prior ideas, concepts and explanations, and their metacognition, produces deeper knowledge in complex domains than does knowledge sharing (Bransford et al. 1999; Hmelo-Silver et al. 2007). Van Aalst connects knowledge creation to expertise of the situations, and the requirement of environments (companies, organizations, academic disciplines) where ideas are needed to sustain innovation in order to survive as an organization, being an organic system in a big relational world.

The big difference with cooperative and collaborative learning is that knowledge building takes you directly into the process of knowledge creation as the basis of education. It is “acquiring competence in knowledge creation by actually doing it” (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2014, p. 399). It is enculturating students in their role as collaborative knowledge creators in the sense of improving ideas. Knowledge building is much more an idea improvement centred process by means of collaboration in advancement of a community.

According to Scardamlia and Bereiter (2014; Bereiter, 2002) knowledge building derives from a Popperian epistemology e.g. Popper’s ”three world” ontology. Here world 3 consists of an objective knowledge world created by the human mind. It is knowledge in the form of conceptual artefacts which can be acted on as an object. So you can work with knowledge because you can grasp it, build on it, modify it and develop it further. This is different from co-constructing knowledge as in Collaborative learning.

In relation to education, Scardamalia and Bereiter (2014) put forward 5 of the 12 principles as vital themes. 1) Community knowledge advancement. Knowledge is not a proposition of a person, but of a culture and community and it contributes to the wisdom of the community and its members. 2) Idea improvement. There is not such a thing as a final truth, perfect theory, technology or living together. It can always be improved. All ideas can be improved and in this sense all ideas are valuable. 3) knowledge building discourse as a creative role instead of a critical role and a collaborative process. 4) constructive use of authoritative information. This means all kinds of information, first-hand experience, secondary sources, etc, that has value in the knowledge building process in a constructive transliteracy practicing. 5) Understanding as collaborative explanation building: producing principled practical knowledge by connecting concrete experiences to more generalizable knowledge. Knowledge building is innovation, based on ‘principle practical knowledge’ and theoretical concepts in a coherent explanation for practical use (know-how combined with know-why).

The process of knowledge building and co-creating as responsive learning

The Popperian ontological world 3 underlies the semiotic process in knowledge building. This world makes understanding knowledge possible because we can grasp the knowledge in its form as a conceptual artefact. A concept that can be dealt with as an object, that you can work with, build on, modify and improve.

Indeed, the conceptual artefact as such form an independent entity, but not the codes, signs, language of the mind’s thinking embedded in it. That is why a student might not receive and understand the whole insight, understanding of Jeroen (Jheronimus)Bosch’s world, given by him to the community when looking at his painting Last Judgment triptych (fig. 2).

paakirjoitus_fig2
Figure 2: Hieronymus (Jheronimus) Bosch: The Garden of Earthly Delights

To arrive at a responsivity for the embedded codes, symbol, and signs, the artefact has to come into the mind again so that you can build on it. You have to stand in front of a Rothko painting, according to his instructions as closely as possible, to become immersed in the life, the thought, the understanding of his world embedded in the artefact to experience the change in time, space and experience resonations of a reality. In this way you can experience the redefinition of essence, and perception of scale and matter looking at Anish Kapoor creatures (fig. 3).  Going into the artefact and the artefact getting into our minds is a process of transformation of our frame of reference. This process is a starting point for opening up our mind to perceive signs, codes and information as they manifest themselves in our problem, question, complexity. It is the process of noticing difference and potentials that we never perceived and understood before.

Figure 3: Sculptures by Anish Kapoor. On the lef:t ‘Anish Kapoor in the Pont, Tilburg, The Netherlands, November 2012; on the right: “Cloud Gate’ Chicago, Ilinois, USA, April 2015. (photos private collection).
Figure 3: Sculptures by Anish Kapoor. On the lef:t ‘Anish Kapoor in the Pont, Tilburg, The Netherlands, November 2012; on the right: “Cloud Gate’ Chicago, Ilinois, USA, April 2015. (photos private collection).

Looking at a theory is like looking at any other conceptual artefact. One has to become engaged and has to explore the thinking of theory. It is these kinds of knowledge building conversations with the others in the artefact, and with others about the artefact in which relations, e.g. differences come into language in the conversation. Not as an individual property of the interlocutors. ‘What is’, is ‘laid down in the middle’ as a ‘rising above’ in collective, in community, as a common language of collective understanding (a hermeneutic ‘collective Verstehen’). The process is a rising above by a grounded language of understanding in which the ‘old thinking’ is revealed in its inclusive principles. Higher problem formulations and new syntheses are build. Partners, knowledge builders, in the conversation, ”transcend trivialities, oversimplifications and move beyond current (best) practice” (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2010, p. 10; Scardamalia, 2002, p. 79).

The principle is the ‘knowledge building conversation’ which distinguishes itself from interpersonal dialectical dialogue, debate and discussion. The knowledge building conversation is not an adjusting to each other as partners in the conversation. Partners become engaged in the artefact, coming to the truth of the matter or praxis, under the resonation of understanding reality: a resonance of organic connectedness and dependency of our being as part of others and nature. Resonations that partners in the knowledge building conversation combine in a new common ground. In the ‘knowledge-building-conversation’ it is not merely against each other and putting your own positions forward, but a transformation into the common, into the collective. A transformation in which one does not remain who one was. (Gadamer, 1975, p. 360)[3].

The epistemic development being involved in such a process consists of the experience that language and knowledge building conversation are a medium for individuals to understand by collective understanding. It is the development of a language of understanding the difference that makes a difference for theorie and practice. To learn thinking in organic systemic connectedness in which ‘the’ difference is a source for the interdependency of what we are and what is. Understanding that nothing is an isolated, stand-alone object, a fact, a problem, a situation, a person as such, but all of this is what it is because of the organic ever changing connectedness. So not only the facts but the relationships are important to understand as well. A knowledge building conversation discourse is what Kegan indicates as an epistemic development in not only ‘what’ we know but also of ‘our way of knowing’ (Kegan, 2009). The restructuring of the frame of receiving an artefact of reality, making it possible to question facts, consider perspectives, biases and historical roots of thinking of who created the artefact. In the knowledge building conversation discourse you experience the cross boundary reconceptualization of object, motive and history of an activity of possible expansive transformations in an activity system by exploring the cognitive and emotional connectedness (Engeström, 2009; S. Paavola et al., 2004).

Conclusion and principles

The experience of a gap or boundaries like in many articles in this issue, is actually is the lack of responsive learning in education.  Bringing together research (e.g. an inquiry attitude and ability) practice and schools should be much stronger learning activities in supporting lstudents’ development. It is therefore important in developing learning environments in order to bridge imaginary gaps of crossing imaginary boundaries to be fully aware of what kind of learning is supported, and question yourself if responsive learning has space and is adequately covered and supported. Four guidelines can be taking in consideration in designing for responsive learning:

  1. Agency: more control for students of their mental activity (Bruner, 1996; De Jong, 1992) and improving students’ own ideas (epistemic agency; (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 2006a; De Jong, 2006; Scardamlia & Bereiter, 2014):
    Students have ownership of their learning and ideas
  1. Culture: ‘coming into language’ of how the way we live and think and construct thought are embedded in the knowledge we claim as ‘reality’ and how our mind set perceives and interprets signs in the ecology we are part of (Bateson, 1987; ’reflection; knowledge is justified belief’, Bruner, 1996; ’rethinking assumptions’, Sterling, 2009):
    Students question presumptions and ’realities’ of what they learn.
  1. Learning together: creating meaningful connections between individual and society by ‘coming into presence’ into an intersubjective space (Stroobants, & Wildemeersch, 2001; Wildemeersch & Stroobants, 2009). The sharing and negotiation of meanings to construct shared conceptions (Charmaz, 2014; Dillenbourg, 1999; Stahl et al., 2014); explanatory coherent practical knowledge, combining ‘know-how and know-why’ aiming at solving problems, guiding practice. Understanding through collaborative explanation (Bereiter, 2014; Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2014).
    Students build new meaning together for solutions. 
  1. Knowledge building: not simple ‘learning in the raw” (Bruner, 1996), ‘rote learning’, reproducing or solving a well-known problem, but a semiotic process of entering into a collective understanding, grounded in the consequences of the system of relations that makes a difference for life. (’community knowledge advancement’; conceptual understanding, enculturation in the world of creating knowledge; Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2014; Bereiter, 2002; De Jong, 2006; cultural artfacts, Stahl, 2006).
    Students learn together and go beyond what is known and done.

How do these crucial ideas enter language in teachers’ interests, their passion for teaching, their questions, their drive to improve their teaching and education? The research presented in this issue may give us some insight in the state of art and which steps are still needed.

Reading guide

The next three articles are more conceptually oriented studies based on practice based research. Meijer and Kuijpers approach the relationship of educational researchers and practitioners in mode 2 research as a gap to be bridged. They come up with design principles rooted in different learning and instructional paradigms. Van den Berg approached the collaboration between researchers and practitioners not as a gap to bridge but as a crossing boundaries activity that requires particular abilities from both professional sides to get into a mutual learning mode and developing a transdisciplinary ability as teacher-researcher, especially in in case the educational issue is of a complex and persisting nature. Kukkonen actually jumps into what kind of learning experience that could be especially from a perspective of students. He comes up with five specific elements of good student learning experience, which in our opinion are not limited to first year UAS students. These three articles are a good conceptual base to read and go into the other articles and make up your own ideas how UAS education and practice (and research) could become more of an effective activity system in which students develop their competence and abilities.

The next three articles actually concern practices in which gaps between education and practice within professional fields are experienced and activities are undertaken  to cross the boundaries. Heldal developed a process steering instrument to enhance systematic communication between stakeholders and students’ industrial doctoral research projects. Boehm et al. is an example in which the boundaries crossed between the disciplines of arts and social care with multi professional teamwork as a bridge. In the study of Cors and Robin a science education laboratory is the support to let students cross the boundaries of science in order to develop their ideas of the world of science. Like the other articles, also this study is interesting to read from the perspective of the collaboration and boundary crossing of researchers and educational practitioners.

The last five articles concern even more innovative UAS educational practices aiming  to bridge or to cross the boundaries with practice. Helminen takes a progressive position by stating models, the issue of mentoring and being credited for developing nursing competence by learning in and from daily (paid) work. Alvaikko brings students, teachers and institutional partners together in living lab in which real life problems, acting in a real ecosystem and active user-involvement contributes to the knowledge creation. An arena in which teachers mediate between wishes of partnering organizations and curriculum requirements. Karjalainen et al. also use the idea of LABs for bridging education and working life to develop students’ 21th century skills by providing students a learning experience of creating new solutions and innovations across disciplines for a more ecological and sustainable responsible economy. Laukkanen bridges the gap between education and practice by the approach of entrepreneurial coaching leading from ideas, intention to concrete business actions. Besides a good description of the educational model of entrepreneurial coaching the article also goes into the expectations and experiences of students. The last article from Koponen gives insight in the importance of good dialogical feedback, an educational instrument which is relevant for all educational settings.

This special issue by EAPRIL and UAS-journal gives voice toUAS-research practitioners who are engaged and passionate in their work to make UASs  an even better learning environment for students and professionals than they are already for developing relevant knowledge, skills, competence for their future work activities,  for their personal and societal lives. Our wish is that more international issues will follow to exchange and share the work that is done internationally and to enhance the responsivity of education to the developments and needs in working life and society.

We like to thank authors, reviewers, Editor-in-chief Ilkka Väänänen, and UAS Journal editorial staff.

[1] These paragraphs are based on De Jong 2015.

[2] https://youtu.be/OPc2mYftBDA (retrieved October 2015).

[3] “Die Verständigung über die Sache, die im Gespräch zustande kommen soll, bedeutet daher notwendigerweise, dab im Gespräch eine gemeinsame Sprache erst erarbeitet wird. Das ist nicht ein äuberer Vorgang der Adjustierung von Werkzeugen, ja es ist nicht einmal richtig zu sagen, Dab sich die Partner aneinander anpassen. Vielmehr geraten sie beide im gelingenden Gespräch unter die Wahrheit der Sache, die sich zu einer neuen Gemeinsamkeit verbindet. Verständigung im Gespräch ist nicht ein blobes Sich-ausspielen und Durchsetzen des eigenen Standpunktes, sondern eine Verwandlung ins Gemeinsame hin, in der man nicht bleibt, was man war. “

Photo (spiderweb): Minna Scheinin

Authors

Frank de Jong, Aeres UAS, Wageningen the Netherlands
Martijn Willemse, Windesheim UAS, Zwolle, the Netherlands
Mauri Kantola, Turku UAS, Finland
Mervi Friman, HÄME UAS, Finland
Margaux de Vos, EAPRIL, Leuven, Belgium

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Beers, P. J., Boshuizen, H. P. A., Kirschner, P. A., & Gijselaers, W. H. (2005). Computer support for knowledge construction in collaborative learning environments. Computers in Human Behavior, 21(4), 623–643. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2004.10.036

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