‘Do I Have It in Me to Be an Entrepreneur?’ – Entrepreneurial Coaching for Master Level Students


Entrepreneurship education has been high on the European agenda for many years as an effective mean of embedding an entrepreneurial culture in higher education institutions (HEI). Higher education has not traditionally prepared students for self-employment as HEIs’ primary mission has been to prepare students for employment (Fenton & Barry, 2014). Higher education is facing challenges in the definition of its purpose, role, and scope in society and the economy, and therefore universities have been recommended to expand their entrepreneurship education (OECD, 2012). Entrepreneurship education has evolved considerably in recent decades and it has gained both academic and political credibility (Henry, 2013).

Entrepreneurship education in higher education has shown to have a positive impact on the entrepreneurial mindset of students, their intention towards entrepreneurship, their employability and finally on their role in the society and the economy (European Commission 2012). At the global level entrepreneurship education is portrayed as critical to employment generation, innovation and economic growth and, therefore, it is promoted as a necessary core rather than an optional peripheral aspect of higher education curricula (Henry, 2013). The expectations for entrepreneurship education are high and e.g. Henry (2013) suggests that policy makers’ expectations may even have spiralled beyond what is both realistic and possible.

The entrepreneurial intentions of students at Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) and in secondary education have been studied in a longitudinal research (Joensuu et al. 2014). In that study it was found that the entrepreneurial intentions of UAS students decrease during their studies. One reason for this seems to be that at the beginning of the studies students have more positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship as the time to actually make the decision to start a business after graduation seems to be far in the future. As they near graduation, their opinions towards entrepreneurship become more realistic and cautious. Furthermore, it was found that taking general entrepreneurship studies does not have an effect on entrepreneurial intention. However, entrepreneurial pedagogy requiring active participation of the students has a positive effect on the students’ confidence in their entrepreneurial capabilities and this in turn has a positive effect on entrepreneurial intentions (Joensuu et al. 2014).

A relevant policy-oriented question whether it would make more sense for a certain group of students to take more comprehensive entrepreneurship education rather than all students taking only basic entrepreneurship education has been raised (Søren, 2014). Entrepreneurship-specific education may provide students with an opportunity to accumulate transferable skills that can be employed in any organizational context, not only in business start-ups (Solesvik, Westhead, Matlay & Parsyak, 2013). This view supports the idea of offering entrepreneurship education widely in HEIs. On the other hand, if we think that entrepreneurship education should enhance students’ business start-ups, we should give more specific coaching for those students who already have entrepreneurial intention. As Fenton and Barry (2014) state, it is a fallacy to assume that more entrepreneurship education provision will lead to immediate graduate entrepreneurship as the route to self-employment is influenced by personal circumstances.

Another critical question raised within entrepreneurship education research is what we are really doing when we provide teaching and training in entrepreneurship. According to Fayolle (2015), we should think more critically about the appropriateness, relevance, coherence, social usefulness and efficiency of practices in entrepreneurship education. Entrepreneurship education is at the crossroads of entrepreneurship and education and, therefore, it should have a solid theoretical and conceptual foundation drawing from these both fields.

Keeping these two relevant and critical questions in mind, in this paper’s theoretical background the theoretical foundation behind our decision to concentrate on students with entrepreneurial intention is described firstly. Secondly, the educational foundation for our entrepreneurial coaching model is discussed.

Terms Related to Entrepreneurial Coaching

In research and political reports terms entrepreneurship education, enterprise education and entrepreneurial education seem to be used as related terms. However,  these terms are slightly different and e.g. UK’s Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education QAA (2012) has defined enterprise education as follows: ’Enterprise education aims to produce graduates with the mindset and skills to come up with original ideas in response to identified needs and shortfalls, and the ability to act on them. In short, having an idea and making it happen’. Whereas entrepreneurship education ‘focuses on the development and application of an enterprising mindset and skills in the specific contexts of setting up a new venture, developing and growing an existing business, or designing an entrepreneurial organisation.’ (QAA, 2012, 8). The ultimate goal of enterprise and entrepreneurship education is to develop entrepreneurial effectiveness which can be defined as ‘the ability to behave in enterprising and entrepreneurial ways. This is achieved through the development of enhanced awareness, mindset and capabilities to enable learners to perform effectively in taking up opportunities and achieving desired results’ (QAA, 2012, 10-11).

This study describes one model of entrepreneurship education called entrepreneurial coaching which is offered to master level students at Savonia University of Applied Sciences. In this study the term entrepreneurship education is used when discussing entrepreneurial, enterprise and entrepreneurship education in general, and when discussing the entrepreneurship education model of our university the term entrepreneurial coaching is used. Coaching as a term describes well our model which has a personalized approach focusing not only on the business idea but on the student as an individual. This model creates a context of learning that equips the students to find answers themselves through a creative process. The coach plays the role of a facilitator or catalyst but does not provide ready-made answers (see e.g. Audet & Couteret, 2012; International Coaching Federation, 2016).

Objectives, Approach and Methods

This study describes the foundations, model and methods of entrepreneurial coaching which is offered to the master level students of Savonia University of Applied Sciences. The students’ expectations for the coaching and how they utilize it to develop their business ideas are examined. An earlier version of this paper was presented in the RENT-conference in Zagreb, Croatia in November 2015 (Laukkanen & Iire, 2015).

In this study the students and their views are placed into focus, and it is examined how entrepreneurial coaching may enhance their personal development as entrepreneurs. Our entrepreneurial coaching model is presented as one way to enhance master level students’ capabilities and courage to start and develop their own businesses. The aim of the paper is to strengthen the entrepreneurship education research by analysing openly the educational foundations of our entrepreneurial coaching model. As Jones et al. (2014) state,  in order to promote the development of entrepreneurship education it is important that the educators ‘reflect upon their practice, identify their teaching orientation and question their emphasis upon certain contents, processes and outcomes’ (Jones et al. 2014, 773).

This study adopted a qualitative research approach and a theme-based survey was conducted among 17 students who participated in entrepreneurial coaching. This data was used to describe the expectations of the students and the ways they utilize the coaching to develop their business ideas. We also arranged a kick-off seminar for these students and there we discussed their expectations and challenges concerning entrepreneurship. These discussions gave more depth to the themes which rose from the survey.

Furthermore, a more detailed look was taken into the coaching processes of four students with very different starting points, and short case stories of these students are told. Two of the students develop together a business idea which is based on their new product and service innovation. The third student is already an entrepreneur, but his business lacks all formal business planning, business model and formal strategy. The fourth student has a business idea based on her knowledge and skills which have developed during her long working experience. By these case stories it is depicted how this kind of flexible entrepreneurial coaching model can benefit students in their personal circumstances. These particular students were chosen as they have so different starting points.

Entrepreneurial Coaching Model – to Whom, What, How and Why?

In this chapter two critical perspectives related to whom and how entrepreneurship education should be implemented are discussed. Firstly, the theoretical foundation behind our decision to concentrate on master students with entrepreneurial intention is described. Secondly, the educational foundation of our entrepreneurial coaching model is discussed.

Entrepreneurship Education and Coaching for All or Only for Those with Entrepreneurial Intention

In entrepreneurship education research there is a lot of discussion around the question whether it would make more sense in higher education institutes to offer some students more comprehensive entrepreneurship education rather than some entrepreneurship education for a large group of students or even all students. The view which supports offering entrepreneurship education widely in HEIs states that  entrepreneurship-specific education may provide students with an opportunity to accumulate transferable skills that can be employed in any organizational context, not only in business start-ups (Solesvik et al., 2013). Entrepreneurship-specific education has stated to accumulate the human capital assets required for entrepreneurial careers in new, established, small, large, public and private organizations (Solesvik, Westhead & Matlay, 2014).

Entrepreneurship education is booming worldwide, and entrepreneurship is becoming increasingly popular in business schools, engineering schools, universities and educational institutions (Fayolle, 2015). European Commission has adopted a very wide description of EE in a recent report saying that entrepreneurship education is taken to cover all educational activities that seek to prepare people to be responsible, enterprising individuals who have the skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to prepare themselves to achieve the goals they set for themselves to live a fulfilled life (European Commission, 2015). Offering entrepreneurship education widely in educational institutions has an important role producing skills to future entrepreneurs so that they are capable of thinking, acting and making decisions in a wide range of situations and contexts (Fayolle, 2015).

On the other hand, if we think that entrepreneurship education should enhance students’ business start-ups, it demands more specific education and coaching for those students who already have entrepreneurial intentions. Donellon et al. (2014) argue that while demand for entrepreneurial competence has led to constant growth of entrepreneurship education, few programmes provide robust outcomes such as actual new ventures or entrepreneurial behaviour in real contexts. They emphasize that beyond acquiring knowledge and skills, entrepreneurial learning also involves the development of an entrepreneurial identity (Donellon, Ollila & Williams Middleton, 2014). Furthermore, the route to self-employment is highly influenced by personal circumstances (Fenton & Barry, 2014).

There seems to be a gap between entrepreneurial intention and action (Van Gelderen, Kautonen & Fink, 2015; Gielnik et al., 2014). Many people form intentions to start their own businesses but do little to translate those intentions into action. Acting upon intentions may be postponed or abandoned for several reasons; new constraints emerge, a person’s preferences change, or feelings of fear, doubt or aversion rise. Van Gelderen et al. (2015) show that self-control positively moderates the relationship between intention and action. It seems that supporting only the development of entrepreneurial knowledge does not necessarily lead to action, whereas factors of entrepreneurial goal intentions, positive fantasies, and action planning have combined effects on new venture creation (Gielnik et al. 2014).

At our university entrepreneurship is considered an important thing to promote since we see it as one way to develop the economy and well-being of the region. Therefore, at our business school we offer all students general entrepreneurial skills which are useful in all organizational contexts and may lead to business start-ups in future. All bachelor level business students get general knowledge and skills of entrepreneurship since these issues are taught in academic courses. They all also practice entrepreneurship skills during their first year in a virtual enterprise which they establish in teams of ten students. After this, all business students also at the bachelor’s level have an opportunity to choose entrepreneurial coaching courses if they have a preliminary business idea and/or entrepreneurial intentions.

The master’s level entrepreneurial studies are aimed at those students who already have entrepreneurial intentions. They choose these studies knowing that the goal is to develop their own business ideas and business models. We have named these studies entrepreneurial coaching to separate them from more general entrepreneurship education. In addition, we think that the term ‘coaching’ describes  our model very well as coaching discussions are an essential part of the process. These entrepreneurial coaching studies are offered also to students from other fields than only business. At the master’s level we have had students from the business, tourism, engineering and healthcare sectors. Several previous studies have also emphasized that entrepreneurship education should move beyond the traditional business school context and offer entrepreneurial learning pathways also to students from other faculties or schools (Jones, Matlay and Maritz, 2012; Crayford et al. 2012).

Educational Foundation for Entrepreneurial Coaching

Fayolle (2015) emphasizes that entrepreneurship education should have a strong intellectual and conceptual founding drawing from the fields of entrepreneurship and education. Similarly Jones et al. (2014) call for stronger pedagogical content knowledge for entrepreneurship education. In his article Fayolle (2013) presents a good generic teaching model for entrepreneurship education. In this paper his model is used as a basis to give a comprehensive description of the educational founding for our entrepreneurial coaching (figure 1).

Figure 1. Educational model of entrepreneurial coaching
Figure 1. Educational model of entrepreneurial coaching

The entrepreneurial coaching studies for master’s level students at our university consist of three courses (5 ECTS each). Students can include these studies in their curricula as elective studies, and they can choose one, two or three of these courses. In the following the studies are described in more detail.

For whom?
The students are studying at Savonia University of Applied Sciences in order to get a master’s level degree. They already have a bachelor’s level degree and at least three years of working experience after completing the bachelor’s degree. They have preliminary business ideas, and/or entrepreneurial intentions. The students’ reasons for participating in these studies vary. Some of them already have quite clear business ideas which they want to develop into solid business models. Some students have the entrepreneurial intentions, but not any clear business ideas. Some of them are already entrepreneurs, but they feel that their business ideas and models need to be clarified.

One clear objective for offering these studies is to increase the number of master’s level students’ business start-ups. However, achieving this goal takes time and the actual starting up may happen years after completing the degree. Another important goal is to give master students an opportunity to take time to ponder their entrepreneurial and personal goals and find versatile information about the industry, markets, competition, etc. which helps them to make decisions.

We also tell our students that these studies give them an opportunity to gather information to make the right decision whether to proceed with the business idea towards a start-up, or to postpone or abandon the commercial use of the idea. This is an ethical issue; we should also help the students to make a no-go decision if, after wide and versatile information gathering and analysis, it seems that the business idea has no commercial potential.

In our entrepreneurial coaching model we mix theoretical knowledge and practice-oriented approaches. The theoretical knowledge contains issues such as opportunity recognition, business model generation, business environment analysis and entrepreneurial skills. These issues are discussed in a kick-off workshop and in on-line materials. The students are expected to find more information about these issues focusing on their own business ideas. Otherwise the studies are very practice-oriented as the students work on their own ideas. The students’ information gathering and individual pondering is supported by coaching discussions when needed.

The coaching teachers also have skills that mix theoretical and practical knowledge. There are two ‘main coaches’, one of them has a doctoral degree in entrepreneurship and has been an entrepreneur herself, the other has a master’s degree in administrative sciences and a long and profound experience in developing business models in organizations. In addition, other professionals at our university can be employed as coaches when their special knowledge is needed (for example innovation management or financial management issues).

The entrepreneurial coaching process starts with a kick-off workshop for the whole group. In this workshop the students are offered short lectures on essential entrepreneurship knowledge. After that the students brainstorm and jointly develop the ideas. They also study how to use business model generation tools.

After that the students start to work on their own business ideas independently and the development process is supported during coaching sessions with the teachers. The coaching teachers also provide ideas on how the students should and could develop the needed network. An on-line learning environment is formed to contribute to the learning process. In the learning environment the students find relevant material, links and they can also ask the coaches questions. The students report on their learning by producing written learning assignments.

The studies consist of three separate courses, and a student can choose only one or two, or all three of them. These three courses have different learning objectives. In the first course the students ponder their own entrepreneurial intentions and skills and form the first business model around their business ideas. In this phase the students critically analyse their own entrepreneurial motivation and skills. The students are advised to enhance their self-reflection with tests which measure entrepreneurial intentions and capabilities.

In the second course they choose and justify one specific part of their business model which needs further studying and gather information related to this. And finally in the third course the students should be able to present holistic and profound business models and plans to show how they are going to turn their ideas into business. At this stage the students should form action plans on how their entrepreneurial intentions will translate into action (see e.g. Van Gelderen et al. 2015). At all stages the students are expected to gather versatile theoretical and practical information.

For which results?
The students develop their business ideas and models and they report on the development processes in the learning assignments. These assignments are evaluated and the students get their grades on the basis of the evaluation criteria which include e.g. the following: setting and achieving the goals of the process, use of versatile and profound knowledge base (theoretical and practical), usefulness of the gained information, versatile and professional discussion and reporting and logical conclusions. The students also get feedback which helps them to move forward in the development of their business models.

We assess the entrepreneurship outcomes of the coaching by following the number of students who participate, the start-ups of the students and new business models developed for the existing firms of the students. However, it is difficult to report on these assessments yet since the processes of the students are long and the actual results often come about later.

Students’ Experiences of Entrepreneurial Coaching

As mentioned, master students’ reasons for participating in entrepreneurial studies vary. In a survey among the students their motives to participate were asked, and we also discussed these motives during a kick-off workshop and coaching discussions. Some of the students have strong entrepreneurial intentions and quite clear business ideas, while some have the intention, but the business idea is still very vague. There are also students who have clear business ideas, but they want to take time to ponder how they could match entrepreneurship with their personal circumstances. And finally, there are students who already are entrepreneurs, but whose business ideas and models need to be clarified. Therefore a flexible coaching model is good for master students as it takes into account the students’ personal circumstances. Here are some citations to describe these different motives:

My goal is to explore profoundly if my business idea has real potential and if I have it in me to be a successful entrepreneur.

I want to attain more knowledge about entrepreneurship. On the other hand, these studies ‘force’ me to reflect my entrepreneurial skills and explore the potential of my business idea.

I want to clarify our firm’s business model. We haven’t done what we should have done at the beginning stage of the firm… Now it is a good time to clarify these essential aspects of our business.

We have students from different sectors; business, tourism, engineering and health care. This gives us a challenge as the students have different educational backgrounds. Business and tourism students already have quite strong general business and entrepreneurship knowledge, whereas engineers and students with health care degrees have studied these subjects much less. Therefore, some of the students expected to have more lectures on general business themes such as forms of enterprise and financial issues.

The execution of the studies is good. However, I expected to get more general business information – I mean basic things about issues which entrepreneurs face when they start a business. Having an opportunity for coaching discussions is great.

The participating students have found it important to get the opportunity and support to develop their business ideas as part of their studies. This seems to be one good way to promote the business start-ups of graduates as well as to enhance the chances of success of their businesses. As Fenton and Barry (2014) also found, entrepreneurial coaching at the graduate level provides a welcome ‘breathing space’ to develop students’ business ideas.

I find entrepreneurial coaching very useful for me. It is great that I have this opportunity to explore the potential of my idea as a part of my studies.

It is extremely important to get support for developing my business idea and get more knowledge from entrepreneurship experts.

The best way to describe the versatile motives, situations and processes of the students might be to tell short case stories. Therefore the stories of four students are told here: Helen and Sarah (innovation based idea), John (existing firm with no formal business model), and Mary (knowledge based idea). The names of the students are changed to ensure their anonymity. The processes of these students are still going on, and therefore the final outcomes and decisions which they will make concerning their business ideas cannot yet be told. These stories describe their entrepreneurial processes so far.

Helen and Sarah are master students from two different fields; Sarah is a business student and Helen is a healthcare management student. They met in an innovation knowledge course where they worked in the same study team and developed Helen’s original innovation idea which is a mobile phone application for persons with a certain type of food allergy. During the first course of entrepreneurial coaching they defined the customer segments for their application, analysed competition and formed their first business model draft. Helen and Sarah concluded in their report that they now have a preliminary understanding of the earning logic of their business. However, they now need a more profound market survey, and they need to plan and design the application. They are planning to focus on these aspects in their second and third entrepreneurial coaching courses and utilize the know-how of our university’s other departments (technology and design management).

John’s friends established a new firm in 2012 after recognizing a new import business opportunity. John started working for the company in autumn 2012 and bought his share of stocks in spring 2013. All three key persons had a technical education and background. Due to the strong demand, the business was good and the customers were found quite easily. The whole company adopted a culture of busy doing; there was no role for planning and foreseeing. John began to think about the future in the longer run. He started his master level business studies and soon realised that there is a huge need in their company to both increase efficiency and plan a proper business strategy for long term success. John took the entrepreneurial coaching studies because of the proper opportunity to take time to think about his own skills as an entrepreneur and also plan his business further. He is preparing the business model for their company. He thinks that the support from the tutoring professionals (coaching teachers) and the opportunity to think and plan by himself and reflect the results with the fellow students and tutors are the main reasons to participate in the entrepreneurial coaching studies.

Mary has a profound professional background as a controller, and she had an idea of starting her own business which would offer controlling and financial management services to entrepreneurs who lack these skills (firms which have been established leaning on the entrepreneurs’ professions). She developed the business model through versatile information gathering from both theory and practice. The practical information was gathered from managers in different sectors, and she also offered these services to one small company in the health care sector and tested the service there as a pilot case. During this process Mary found that there would be actual demand for her service business. However, she started to feel that this business would be too similar to the work she had done as an employee for a long time. Her interest started to focus more on the health care sector during her pilot process, and she now looks for new business opportunities in that sector. She also wants to be a part of a team instead of working as a consultant for a one- woman firm.

By telling these three case stories it is shown how different the starting points of students can be. Therefore we cannot offer some kind of one-size-fits-all solutions in entrepreneurial coaching. Instead, we need to appreciate the personal goals of the participants.

Conclusions and Implications

This study provides guiding principles for good practices in entrepreneurial coaching in higher education, and especially in practice-oriented universities such as universities of applied sciences. The findings of this study show that there is a need for a flexible entrepreneurial coaching model for master level students. On the basis of our experiences it can be said that entrepreneurial coaching should be student focused taking personal circumstances into account. Furthermore, the entrepreneurial studies should be compatible with the students’ curricula. This means that the curriculum is flexible enough and these entrepreneurial coaching studies can be included into the students’ personal study plans.

Using versatile learning methods seems to be good for developing entrepreneurial skills. A kick-off workshop where students become familiar with the business model development combined with e-learning environment and on-line material gives basis for the work which the students do independently. The students’ independent learning is supported in coaching discussions.

During this process the students also reflect and develop their own entrepreneurial identity. As Donellon et al. (2014) argue; if the educational objective is learning for the practice of entrepreneurship, then entrepreneurial identity construction is as important a goal as the development of knowledge and skills. The students are encouraged to critically evaluate their own skills and life goals and reflect them to attributes related to successful entrepreneurship. Context is an important contributor to entrepreneurial identity and the students need to confront their own internal dialogue about how the entrepreneurial identity fits with their social groups’ expectations and their own life expectations. We encourage our students to do this kind of reflection as part of their learning assignments.

Through the entrepreneurial coaching process master level students enforce their capabilities to develop their business ideas and business models. The process also enhances their courage to take their first steps (or new direction) as entrepreneurs. The students of our entrepreneurial coaching seem to have gained similar kind of immediate value as Kirkwood et al. (2014) also reported: confidence, entrepreneurship knowledge and skills, a sense of reality and practical solutions (Kirkwood, Dwyer and Gray, 2014). The coaching process forces the students to gather versatile information related to the planned business model. Therefore they will form stronger confidence in their skills. This and the coaching discussions enhance the courage to take the needed steps.

The entrepreneurial coaching process is an important learning experience also for those students who, after profound information gathering, decide to postpone or abandon the commercial use of their ideas. The process has offered them experimental learning opportunity which may in future give them better skills to recognize and analyse potential business opportunities, and gather versatile information to form solid business models.

This study contributes to entrepreneurship education research by presenting one model how entrepreneurial coaching can be organized in higher education. As Fayolle (2015) states, it is important that entrepreneurship education has a solid theoretical and conceptual foundation, drawing from both entrepreneurship and education. Therefore our model’s educational foundations are also clearly opened in this paper.

There are certain limits to this research, as it was undertaken at one university of applied sciences, and in a unique, regional environment. Therefore, it is influenced by policies, priorities and factors of the region and our university. However, by describing our model openly we hope to encourage entrepreneurship education professionals to develop practice-oriented coaching models using blended teaching methods.


Virpi Laukkanen, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, Principal Lecturer, Ph.D. (Econ.), Virpi.Laukkanen(at)savonia.fi

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Ahonen, pääkuva

Mission Possible: Student Integration through Involvement


The purpose of the paper is to introduce the experimental Mission Possible pilot project, a student integration through involvement model at Lahti University of Applied Sciences (Lahti UAS). It was carried out in January 2016 by incoming International Trade Degree Programme (KVK) and International Business Degree Programme (IBU) students as their orientation week program. Instead of traditional day-long information lectures lasting for one week, the newbie students were put to work on their first group project already on the third day of the start of their studies. The project involved setting up and running a new venture. The results of this model provide strong support for using it in the future and perhaps with groups of newbie students in other university of applied sciences, too.

Mission Possible – the Idea

The Mission Possible pilot project was implemented to encourage student integration through involvement, in a practical sense. The idea of the project was to have the students to experience actual business operations right from the word go – thus, giving them an opportunity to experience real-life business in practice. The project aimed to help students, coming from two different degree programs and from different countries, to become acquainted with each other, to encourage social networking between the students in order to help them develop a closer connection to each other, and to support the integration of these students into their business studies. In addition, the students would learn team work skills, working in a multicultural environment, and learn the basics of start-up development.

The KVK and IBU students were expected to complete their project so as to be ready for the one-day DuuniExpo Networking and Career Fair, held in Lahti, on January 20, 2016. After preparatory lectures facilitated by the authors of the paper, the students had exactly one week’s time to plan, prepare, and implement their project.

DuuniExpo is a yearly-held fair that gathers students of all faculties at Lahti UAS and recruiters of the Lahti region together. Attendance at the fair differs from one year to the next with average attendance being 5,000 people. DuuniExpo – created, organized, and implemented by Lahti University of Applied Sciences’ students – is open to everyone. (DuuniExpo 2016.)

Mission Possible Practicalities

The project began with the presentation of the Mission Possible pilot project idea and the implementation phases of the project to the students. This was followed by lectures in business model principles (Osterwalder & Pigneur 2013), teamwork and team working and culture-related practices (Hofstede & Hofstede & Minkov 2010, Loughborough University 2016, Tuckman 1965). The sixty-nine students were divided into ten groups of six to eight students per group. Each group had both Finnish and foreign students. This ensured that all students became acquainted with each other as well as with each other’s cultures.

After getting to know each other via group discussion, based on pre-arranged discussion questions, the students then went on to brainstorm what product or service they would create and sell at the DuuniExpo Fair. The product or service could be anything legally approved of – either tangible or intangible. The idea of the chosen product or service was presented to the rest of the class the following day, thus avoiding overlapping of product or service ideas. There were four check points all-in-all ensuring the progression of the project and development of the business ideas. The final check point was the feedback-for-the-project check point.

Each group was given 50 euros as their budget to cover the expenses incurred in the implementation of their product or service. After the DuuniExpo event, the groups were required to pay the 50 euros back. Any profit they attained from their sales they were allowed to keep and divide amongst their group members. Results of each group’s earnings were presented the day after the DuuniExpo Fair. The group earning the most profit was declared the winning team and received their prizes.

The groups, besides working on creating their actual product or service, were also responsible for setting up and clearing their stands at the fair, arranging transportation of their products/equipment to and from the DuuniExpo, managing their cash flow, marketing/advertising their stand/products/service, and arranging the day schedule, time-wise, for each group member.

The ten groups came up with the following products and services: homemade muffins, cake, hot dogs, candy; hot and cold beverages; circulating coffee cart; handmade backpack bags, cell phone covers, candles and postcards; picture-taking booth; discount and offer coupons and raffle tickets.

Ahonen, kuva 2

Even though the prices of the products or services were quite cheap, the students earned, in total, a profit of 1,778 euros. The winning group sold raffle tickets – where each raffle ticket buyer won a prize donated by local businesses. The winning group donated their 468-euro profit to a charity cause.

Students’ Experience

Feedback for the Mission Possible project was collected by the two project facilitators after the DuuniExpo Fair. Feedback was collected with feedback forms. The forms were handed-out to the students and collected after completion at the beginning of the final day of the project, before the winning team/award was announced. Of the 69 students, fifty-five (79.7%) submitted a completed feedback form. The results were analyzed using Excel to find common themes. According to the feedback, all the students were extremely satisfied with the Mission Possible project. Also, they expressed how exciting and educative it was to really learn what the business concept means for real. Furthermore, they emphasized how well they got to know each other throughout the implementation of this project. Completing the project in multicultural groups helped the students acquire skills in team working as well as cultural skills. In addition, the students learned to make good use of the strengths of each team member. Other acquired skills included: leadership, socializing, time-management, entrepreneurship, sales and marketing, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Ahonen, kuva 1

Development suggestions were also given for the Mission Possible project. First, the length of the project, time-wise, was commented on. Some students expressed that they would have needed more time for this project; one student felt that this one week was too long. On the other hand, there were some students who felt that this one week time was a good thing because they had to work more intensively due to the shortage of time. Second, working in a multicultural group seemed to be a bit challenging for some students. The two areas where conflicting situations arose related to differences in the concept of time as well as communication practices. Third, students expressed the need for more information and tips on selling and marketing of products or services. This also included the need for more information on how to price products or services and how to approach customers. Fourth, although great care was given to eliminate duplicate product or service ideas, some students criticized that overlapping of products or services cut their profit. And finally, many students wished for more information about the other companies’ stands at the DuuniExpo Fair as well as information on what these companies were selling.

Development Proposals

More information relating to cultural differences is needed with future Mission Possible projects. The areas of focus should include not only the differences but the similarities as well. This would then equip the students with the needed skills when facing cultural differences in behaviour and practices.

With future Mission Possible groups it is important to have clearer instructions regarding money aspects, i.e., the 50 euro loan – what it is to be used for, are students allowed to use their own money for the project, as well as the risks involved – thus ensuring that all groups play by the same rules.

Selling and marketing need to be focused on more with future Mission Possible group projects. Students need to have information, i.e., tools and methods, on how to create ideas, market their product or service, how to approach Finnish customers, and how to price products or services to be more buyer-and-profit friendly. Students also need to be informed about other companies, products and services at the DuuniExpo – thus helping them create something different. Overlapping of products or services needs to be more strictly controlled.


All-in-all the experimental Mission Possible pilot project can be said to be successful. The students were able to practice, in real-life, what their studies will be teaching them. The execution of the project was interesting for both the students as well as the project facilitators. With the help of the project, the students coming from two different degree programs, acquired skills that are beneficial in their studies as well as the business world. Furthermore, this project helped the students integrate more quickly into their business studies. This type of student integration through involvement model might be worth trying in other universities of applied sciences.


Tarja (Terry) Ahonen, Senior Lecturer, Lahti University of Applied Sciences Ltd, tarja.ahonen(at)lamk.fi
Sami Heikkinen, Senior Lecturer, Lahti University of Applied Sciences Ltd, sami.heikkinen(at)lamk.fi

Hofstede, G. H., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. 2010. Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind: Intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival. 3. revised edition. New York: McGraw Hill.

Loughborough University. 2016. Working in Groups. Referenced 2 October 2016. Available on database: www.lboro.ac.uk/media/wwwlboroacuk/content/library/downloads/advicesheets/groups.pdf.

Osterwalder, A. & Pigneur, Y. 2013. Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Tuckman, B. 1965. Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin 63, 384-399. The article was reprinted in Group Facilitation: A Research and Applications Journal, Number 3, Spring 2001.


No 3 (2016) Abstracts

The culture of experimentation is an art

Riitta Konkola, Managing Director and President, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences

People at universities of applied sciences are enthusiastic about agile experimentation. A good example of this is the current theme issue on the culture of experimentation you are holding right now, not to mention the wide range of related articles from a variety of fields.

During the past 25 years, we have established ourselves as a provider of higher education and a partner in working life. In addition to this, we have also served as an example in improving our own organisational processes. We want to practice what we preach. This is one way to earn the trust of our students, our local community and our partners. Indeed, this magazine contains not only expert articles and reviews on various educational fields, but also–gratifyingly–on pieces related to such topics as security management at universities of applied sciences and the development of work organisation for people doing information work.

Due to complicated cause-effect relationships, the reform of society by means of political decision-making has become more difficult. This is why strengthening the culture of experimentation is one of the key projects of the current Government Programme: first testing solutions intended for national implementation on a smaller scale makes it possible to render decisions on their broader and more permanent implementation. In addition to this, universities of applied sciences that recognise the approaches used in working life have begun to openly apply the principles of a culture of experimentation, conducting the agile testing of new operating approaches for the benefit of society as a whole.

At the core of all agility, it is good to keep in mind that not all conventional development work or projects based on long-term planning should be lumped together within the inspiring concept of a culture of experimentation. Experiments should be openly defined in our organisation and differentiated from from other development methods. It is vital that we always take a moment to think about what the difference is between a project and experimentation. And, there is no reason to think that experimental designs, test cycles and sudden changes in course during a process would meet all development needs. The culture of experimentation is one strong link in a chain of many, but it is not suitable as the linchpin, not even for for universities of applied sciences.

Fortunately, we here in the educational field are very adept at expressing our thoughts on what we are striving for in individual experiments and how to advance from that point toward achieving greater influence in higher education. If we want to assess the real results of experimentation, such as by using a control group, we can obtain more information than by merely using an opinion survey aimed at those participating in a new function. We also need supervisory work related to the culture of experimentation in order to co-ordinate, harmonise and orient experiments toward achieving common goals. Without proper management and common organisational operating models, it will not be possible for even the most promising experiments to be brought to the next, more comprehensive level at universities of applied sciences.

The culture of experimentation is naturally suited to the people working at universities of applied sciences. When reading the articles in this theme issue, we might notice that we are at a very early stage in creating models that promote the development and co-ordination of experimentation methods. On the other hand, what if we looked at this collection of articles as being the first iteration cycle of many, publishing a similar theme issue in, for example, two years? What are all the things we could already do better? What kinds of things would we be proud to say that we had made progress from individual experiments to more comprehensive implementation to social influence?

Developing an experimentation ecosystem: innovation commissions as a bridge

Anu Kurvinen, Senior Lecturer, M.Sc. (Econ), Saimaa University of Applied Sciences
Pasi Juvonen, Senior Lecturer, Team Coach, D.Sc. (Tech), Saimaa University of Applied Sciences

Experimental development is currently a renowned topic but utilising the possibilities of it within organisations is still in its starting phase. At the same time companies are expected to create groundbreaking innovations in fast pace. One way of creating the first steps for an organisational culture that encourages experimental development is cooperation between education and business. Saimaa University of Applied Sciences is involved in several research and development projects using the tools of experimental development. This operating model is a proven way to reach the goals set for the projects. At the same time it also emphasizes the role of universities of applied sciences as business and working life driven regional trainers and influencers. Experimental development can be conducted as a practically oriented innovation work with relatively small resources that is positive news to participating organisations. The development work done may first appear as minor changes but exactly those minor changes can have a drastic effect in the big picture.

Culture of experimentation as a design process working method

Mirja Kälviäinen, Ph.D, Principal Lecturer, docent, Lahti University of Applied Sciences

Design process and design thinking as functionally similar to the culture of experimentation are applied as a process solution to various challenges at the same time as the culture of experimentation has gained influence. Design thinking as a working method is better suited in wicked, multidimensional and uncertain situations than mere logic-systematic thinking styles. The search for multiple alternatives and quick experimentation, the critical observation of the problem space, the possibility for uncertainty and failure represent the explorative inner through process and concrete experimentation. By experimentation it is possible to research and put under doubt the originally set problems and challenges. The solutions are built as a synthesis from the best features that the experimenting research reveals. Especially in the currently typical multidisciplinary work the application of design thinking means that abstract, verbally expressed and multidimensional development ideas are transferred into visual and concrete synthesis. In this way the holes and the solutions in the borderlines of the different disciplines can be observed and it is possible to come to joint conclusions where to lead the development work. The experimentations and prototypes also force to redesign the holes left in the solutions when just discussing about them by words and to define the role and nature of the different parts in the solution. When the design process is producing experimentation and prototypes about different ideas and solutions it is possible to evaluate and test them much easily than verbal plans with the stakeholders and especially with the users of the solution.

OAMK LAB model emphasises boldness, trust and learning

Ulla-Maija Seppänen, M.Sc. (Health Sciences), Senior Lecturer, Oulu University of Applied Sciences
Kari-Pekka Heikkinen, M.Sc. (Eng), Senior Lecturer, Oulu University of Applied Sciences
Jussi Haukkamaa, M.A., Senior Lecturer, Oulu University of Applied Sciences

A new way of teaching does not necessarily start automatically or through force. In this article, key factors of success in a culture of experimentation are described from a teachers’ point of view and defined through the concepts of trust, care, courage and learning. These factors represent the main elements of the LAB Studio Model (hereafter LAB Model) – a new learning model developed at the Oulu University of Applied Sciences (Oamk LABs). These elements can be observed in LAB studies on a daily basis. Currently, Oamk LABs include three separate LAB learning environments each targeting their own industries: Oulu Game LAB, Oulu DevLAB and Oulu EduLAB. It is suggested that the LAB students and staff are enabling a culture of experimentation, which challenges them in a new positive way. By being inspired, we inspire others.

Mission Possible: Student Integration through Involvement

Tarja (Terry) Ahonen, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Business and Hospitality Management, Lahti University of Applied Sciences
Sami Heikkinen, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Business and Hospitality Management, Lahti University of Applied Sciences

The article introduces the student integration through involvement model implemented at Lahti University of Applied Sciences. The case described is a project for new incoming students. The students started it already on the third day of their studies. They were expected to create a new product or service within one week. At the end of the week, they were selling their products at a trade fair held for businesses and business people. The aim was to familiarize the students to their studies and to their classmates. According to the feedback received from the students, the project was seen as a great way to learn new things about business practices. In addition, the students considered this a great way to start their studies at a university of applied sciences.

A culture of experimentation refines media learning environments

Milla Järvipetäjä, M.Soc., Project Manager, Turku University of Applied Sciences
Samuel Raunio, M.A., Lecturer, Turku University of Applied Sciences
Arja Tulonen, M.A., Head of Education and Research, Turku University of Applied Sciences

In the Degree Programme of Film and Media at Turku University of Applied Sciences (TUAS) learning is based on learning environments and our culture of experimentation. There is a growing demand for learning environment experiments, as the field of media is in transition and versatile know-how is needed. Recent studies show that there is a need for more courage and tools at workplaces to adopt new working methods. At TUAS, the framework of guidance enables the students to assign their independent projects and spontaneous work. Students are encouraged to find their limits and courageously try something new. Roles, limits and procedures by the Degree Programme form a structure within which students have the courage to go beyond their limits. An essential part of learning is the evaluation of the action, including the analysis of possible failures. An important part is also the supportive ambience for the culture of experimentation – the adasptive and spontaneous attitude of teachers.

Culture of experimentation brings new expertise to the security management of educational organisations

Soili Martikainen, M.Sc. (Health Sciences), Senior Lecturer, Laurea University of Applied Sciences
Tiina Ranta, KM, Head of Safety and Security, Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Experimental culture was used to produce new information and build new capabilities on safety and security management for the management of the municipal education department located in Southern Finland. Experiment showed that safety and security of municipal educational institutions can be developed by auditing their municipal education department. We strongly recommend that this audit process would be used as a national model to support safety and security management of educational institutions and universities in a more comprehensive and systematic direction.

SERPA: ”Here, everything should really start with youth”

Janne Laitinen, M.A., R&D Specialist, JAMK University of Applied Sciences
Katja Raitio, M.Sc. (Health Sciences), Senior Lecturer, JAMK University of Applied Sciences

How to involve youth? How to support them to find their own pathways? How to make it possible for young people to try different things and learn by experience? “SERPA – experimentation for young people to resolve problems of unemployment by inclusive culture of experimentation” – project is an experiment which aims to involve youth to solve their problems of education and employment by themselves with the support of the group in Central Finland. According to interviews of young project managers, who piloted SERPA-groups, genuine young-oriented action is rewarding but also challenging. Group offers possibilities for peer support, ideas and learning, but at the same time voluntary based participation, lack of courage and youths’ activity and contradiction of own role brought up challenges. Group pilots need to have orientation and support, but at the same time opportunities to work truly by the principles of the culture of experimentation.

Joint simulation – interplay of several actors

Emilia Laapio, Senior Lecturer in Nursing, M.Sc. (Health Sciences), SH (AMK), Saimaa University of Applied Sciences
Päivi Rimpioja, Head of Degree Programme in Nursing, M.Ed., Nursing Education, Nurse, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences

This article describes the experiment of joint simulation education between two universities of applied sciences in Finland. The joint simulation was conducted online. The experiment revealed that timing and the cooperation with the IT-services is crucial in developing web-based education. Time and effort in planning are key points also in quick experiments.

Experimentation as part of experimental research at the Kajaani University of Applied Sciences

Tero Luukkonen, Ph.D, Project Researcher, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences
Kimmo Kemppainen, Eng. (M.Sc, (Eng), Project Manager, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences
Antti Rimpiläinen, M.A., Project worker, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences

A culture of experimentation is a characteristic part of experimental research. At Kajaani University of Applied Sciences, experimentation is implemented for instance in the geopolymer technology research which is related to several fields including building and environmental engineering. Geopolymers are novel materials which can be used for example as water treatment filter media. In practice, the culture of experimentation has been realized as a rapid and low-threshold testing of ideas at laboratory-scale. Furthermore, to maximize the utilization of research results, the working hours of project researchers have been flexibly divided between participating companies, university of applied science and/or science university.

Capacity to absorb and take responsibility – observations on the educational method experiment

Anu Nuutinen, M.Soc., ABM, Senior Lecturer, Saimaa University of Applied Sciences

Is it easier to take one exam that contains all the topics of study module worth 4 credits or would it be easier to divide topics into several small units? Many students thought that the former is an easier option even though results show that the latter gives much better results. What is the level of realism if students claim that it’s unfair that no points are given from the examination for them – and the fact is that those students didn’t even attend the examination.

This experiment of educational method was developed in order to help students with higher risk of failing. Results were different than pursued or expected. Students with good studying skills were able to utilize the given opportunity while others didn’t. Therefore, distribution of grades included mostly excellent or failed ones.

Incremental thesis work: the bogeyman in smaller bits?

Tuula Hopeavuori, Senior Lecturer in Finnish language and Communications, M.A., Oulu University of Applied Sciences
Eero Nousiainen, Team Manager, Senior Lecturer in Software development, M.A., Oulu University of Applied Sciences

Since spring 2015 the ICT Department of Oulu University of Applied Sciences has carried out an experiment where writing a bachelor’s thesis of 15 ECTS credits was divided into three parts, each consisting of 5 ECTS credits. The aim was to find out in practice how dividing a bachelor’s thesis into parts would work with the other courses of the curriculum. For a part of the students, writing the first document of 5 ECTS credits during the second study year was too much and they decided to do a 15-credit thesis later. The first three theses finalized during the experiment showed each in a different way how students’ professional knowledge deepened part by part. Different models will be tested in future, too. The combination of 5 + 10 ECTS credits would give more emphasis on the development task of the final stage of the thesis as well as on the final grade of the thesis. On the other hand, the model of 3 + 3 + 9 ECTS credits, based on well planned objectives, would support other studies of the curriculum in a new way.

It’s always good to experiment! – Language instruction experiments at the Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences

Jaana Oinonen, M.A., Senior Lecturer in Finnish language and Communications, JAMK University of Applied Sciences
Suvi Uotila, M.A., Senior Lecturer in English and Swedish, JAMK University of Applied Sciences
Paula Vuorinen, M.A., Senior Lecturer in English and Swedish, JAMK University of Applied Sciences

JAMK University of Applied Sciences has encouraged pedagogical experiments through its internal development projects to find new teaching and learning methods. JAMK Language Centre has started several experiments following learner-centered approach and the principles of lifelong learning. All the projects focus on working life based communication. The article describes four different experiments in teaching English as a Foreign Language, Communication Skills and Finnish. All four projects have contributed to new working methods used in the courses to date.

Save the world one serving at a time – local food experiment

Hilkka Heikkilä, Lic.Ph, Project Coordinator, JAMK University of Applied Sciences
Leena Pölkki, B.HM, Project Manager, JAMK University of Applied Sciences

Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences pilot project was successful in promoting the use of local food in Jyväskylä city food services. At the same time the business conditions for local fisheries, fish processing, and local food online shopping were improved. Project was able to show the decision makers that the use of local fish in public services is not only possible but also economically significant for the area. This was done with the calculations of pilot product roach production costs and effects on regional economy as well as environment. Project served also as an example in piloting the use of local food and it yielded new recipes and experimental model how to proceed when you want to increase the use of local food in other public food services.

MOOC content using the AgileAMK model

Merja Drake, Principal Lecturer, Ph.D, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences

Working life skill requirements are changing rapidly, and therefore the education organization should provide education to full fill the competence gap. Ten Universities of Applied Sciences co-ordinated by Online University of Applied Sciences Network / TAMK the ESR-funded three-year joint project The New Open Energy will design and test AgileAMK model. The model is based on flexible customization of existing degree education modules to serve the needs of continuing education. The model is intended to ensure the rapid, yet high quality content co-production and get the content as soon as possible for students to use. The core of the model is a powerful multi-professional content production team. The model helps to combine professional expertise from Finnish UASs and industries, as well as to discover any regional and local needs for enhancing skills.
The project partners will produce common content in the two pilot-MOOC: Sustainable energy, the Hållbara energilösningar and Almost zero construction, Närä-nolenergibyggande. MOOC Massive Open Online Course refers to a course that is freely open to anyone and online courses can be studied at the same time up to thousands of students.
The project will test a variety of tools and platforms for content production and distribution. The project will collect feedback from content producers, students and is inclusive of the target groups of the ideas and content development.

Agile work methods experiment in HR work

Sanna Tiihonen, M.Soc., Personnel Coordinator, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences

We need capabilities to react quickly and gracefully when our operational environment changes. Wellbeing at work is greatly influenced by how work is being organised. Splitting large tasks into smaller chunks and making prioritised choices has an impact on how we perceive our workload. Continuous priorisation and alignment of goals requires an ongoing dialogue.

In our Human Resources team, we experimented using a kanban board for managing a few larger tasks and projects. Kanban enables us to react to changes, as the project phases and schedule have not been fixed already in the very beginning. Kanban facilitates a dialogue within the team and gives practical tools for everyone to manage their workload. Agile methods, of which kanban is one example, bring about the ergonomics of the mind: Everyone agrees on a common goal, the responsibilities have been agreed on, workload is sustainable and the ongoing dialogue helps to avoid any feelings of insecurity that might affect the wellbeing at work.

Experiments toward making a cycling capital region – Case: The Design for Everyday Mobility

Aleksandra Meyer, Project Coordinator, M.A., Metropolia University of Applied Sciences

The Design for Everyday Mobility project has been addressing the challenge of sustainable urban transportation through the means of design. The objective has been to create novel service concepts and quick prototypes to spark the public discussion as well as to see the corresponding student handiwork realised in the cityscape. This article presents three cases in which the quick and agile testing of ideas led to successful implementation.

Quality of life in a Kathmandu slum

Early in the morning in 9th of May 2012, people living in Thapathali slum community woke up, when bulldozers, protected by riot police forces, started the government program, “Bagmati River Basin Improvement Project”, by demolishing the large and most visible slum built on the river bank of Bagmati River. Few hours later the whole settlement together with its church and school, was a huge heap of sticks, bricks, plywood, sheet metal and pieces of tarpaulin. (Human Rights Watch 2012.)

In the shadows of the Asian urban jungle, slum and squatter settlements are growing in numbers but their existence is on other people’s hands. Living at the margins of society, their inhabitants are often deprived of basic access to education, health care and a decent standard of living. But can life also hold promises of a better future? What does wellbeing actually mean for the inhabitants themselves? This paper presents a joint research and development process by Diaconia University of Applied Sciences (Diak), Turku University of Applied Sciences and the Nepalese St. Xavier’s College, with an aim to describe and analyze the wellbeing of people in the Balkhu riverside slum settlement in Kathmandu, Nepal. We are interested in answering two questions: What do people in a slum think about their everyday life? How satisfied are they with their current life?

Mother and children in Balkhu
Picture 1. Mother and children in Balkhu. PHOTO: Kyösti Voima

The student research team from Diak first established contact with the community and learned basic information through observations and initial discussions. This contact was based on earlier collaboration done by lecturer Kyösti Voima from Diak. Then community leaders, contractors, government personnel and various stakeholders, totaling over 30 persons, were interviewed, and the survey in Balkhu community was conducted. Local key resources were the trusted leader of a community-based organization in the settlement as well as the social development officer and environment and energy officer from the District Development Committee (DDC) in Kathmandu. Two Bachelor’s theses (Khanal 2014 and Rumba 2014) were done in this project.

The Balkhu settlement

Nepal is a poor nation. Estimated per capita Gross Domestic Product per capita PPP was US $ 2265 for the year 2014. At the same time GDP per capita PPP in Finland was US $ 38 569 (Trading Economics 2016). High rate of rural poverty has caused internal displacement and attracted people to settle in urban areas (Acharya 2010, 179-180). Uncontrolled rapid urbanization, low socio-economic growth, inadequate capacity to cope with housing needs and poor imbalanced governance has caused increase of urban poverty (Shakya 2010, 1; see picture 6).

Since the 1950s dozens of settlements have been established alongside the two major rivers, Bagmati and Vishnumati. The Balkhu settlement is located along the holy river Bagmati. The riverside has natural access to water, making it a preferred choice for new dwellers but these rivers are the most polluted ones in the country (Toffin 2010, 157–158; see picture 3). A need for drinkable water is huge and many ways to guarantee clean water are in use (see picture 5). Also sanitation is challenging (see picture 6). An estimated 1650 people reside in 360 households, making Balkhu one of the largest settlements in the valley. Several religious groups are established in the settlement area (Kivelä 2014).

The dumping ground with nearest settlement houses
Picture 2. The dumping ground with nearest settlement houses. PHOTO: Sami Kivelä

Next to Balkhu settlement is the Balkhu Fruit market and opposite are a few industries and warehouses. Balkhu is a strategic location from the economic point of view as it is next to Ring Road which connects with the transport system going away from Kathmandu Valley. There is an open dumping site used by the fruit market to dispose of unwanted market waste, majority of these being bio waste (see picture 2), and another unprotected mixed waste dumping site just on the opposite side of the river, increasing the waste load of the heavily polluted river.

Balkhu riverside environment
Picture 3. Balkhu riverside environment. PHOTO: Anup Khanal & Ramesh Rumba
Balkhu Housing types and alley
Picture 4. Balkhu Housing types and alley. PHOTO: Anup Khanal & Ramesh Rumba
 Water source in Balkhu
Picture 5. Water source in Balkhu. PHOTO: Anup Khanal & Ramesh Rumba
Sanitation in Balkhu
Picture 6. Sanitation in Balkhu. PHOTO: Anup Khanal & Ramesh Rumba

Quality of life in a slum

The concept of quality of life (QOL) has been expressed in different ways. The concept is close to such concepts like Good life, Wellbeing, Satisfaction and Happiness. The earliest well-known Western formulation of good life (quality of life) was expressed by Aristotle in his concept of “eudaimonia”, where the individuals were encouraged to realize their full potential to achieve a “good life.” In the meanwhile, Eastern philosophers brought forward the QOL by equal distribution of resources and restraining from individual desires. (Diener and Suh 1997, 190.) QOL according to the utilitarian theory presented the idea of satisfaction of the individual desires and a good society is defined as the one which provides the maximum satisfaction or positive experiences to its citizens. It is not limited to crude materialism but it also involves generosity and satisfaction from altruistic behavior. (Cobb 2000, 7.)

The quality of life of people in the Balkhu Settlement is presented from a subjective viewpoint as well as by objective observation. Objective observations have been done in participatory observation and interviews and results are documented in this article with photos from Balkhu. The subjective part of wellbeing deals with how satisfied Balkhu residents are with different domains of their life. Domains have been selected based on earlier studies on subjective wellbeing (see Kainulainen 2014). These themes are studied by questioning the following questions:

  • How well do you manage with everyday life on yourself?
  • How satisfied are you with your health, sanitation, present life, housing, neighbors and safety?
  • How do you see your future?

Quality of Life in the Balkhu Slum Settlement

In total 103 households out of recorded 361 were surveyed by four two person teams. The survey had 46 open- and close-ended questions which covered different themes. The themes were personal information, education, economic status, cultural status, health, water and sanitation, social issues, housing and political status.

As an illegal settlement the community is subject to government evacuation or demolition. The houses in Balkhu are also subject to natural calamities and the surrounding environment is not suitable for healthy living. The polluted Bagmati River is a great threat in terms of health and flooding. The settlement is subject to social and economic discrimination and marginalization. Given all these factors the community is considered insecure for living. The survey revealed 57 percent responded they were dissatisfied with safety within the community while only 20 percent of families were satisfied with the safety of the community.

The developing plans of Bagmati River by Kathmandu Municipality increase the peoples fear to be evacuated (see Bagmati action plan 2008). Every fourth responded evacuation as the fearful factor. 40 percent responded natural calamities such as flood and fire to be the other factors. Rest of the respondent mentioned fear of robbery, diseases, sewage and alcoholism to be fearful factors. People have good reason for their fear. The unsuccessful government action in 2012 made the situation of thousands of slum settlers even more vulnerable than before.

balkhun figure 1
Figure 1. Subjective wellbeing of the Balkhu squatter settlement.

Every third (36 %) of the people said they were dissatisfied with their present life while same share of them felt neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. Only one in four were satisfied with their present life. 20 percent of Balkhu people felt their future was worsening while 22 percent felt their future was getting better. More than half of the people have the feeling that future will be the same as today. In regards to health facilities, 53 percent of the residents were not satisfied with their health. The sanitation in Balkhu was also not satisfactory for 65 percent of the people.


The Balkhu settlement is a prime example of urban poverty and very little improvement has been seen in addressing this issue as the number of settlements is growing year after year. According to our findings, neither the objective nor the subjective quality of life can been considered satisfactory in Balkhu. The settlement lacks the basic facilities such as proper shelter, safe drinking water, clean environment and electricity among others. Personal faith can be integral for maintaining hope – whether you are a Hindu, Buddhist, Christian or Muslim – and faith-based organizations have provided crucial practical and spiritual aid. However, care should always be taken that religious adherence does not exclude anyone from getting aid. Full dignity and respect of universal human rights need to be ensured for all.

Subjective wellbeing tells the story of how people feel about and evaluate their objective environment. Objective and subjective indicators tell us that the situation is extremely bad in slums. But subjective indicators also tell us that even in a very dire situation some people don’t give up and people have dreams and hope (see Biswas-Diener & Diener 2001). The facts we have brought up in this article give us as developers of UAS some hints how to strengthen the capacity of people living in slums to overcome the challenges.

Happiness in Balkhu
Picture 7. Happiness in Balkhu. PHOTO: Kyösti Voima

According to our experiences we recommend the following: building a “neutral” community house for community meetings to enable people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds to come together; improving the infrastructure: water, sanitation, waste management; training of preschool teachers to strengthen the children’s school readiness as well as starting a Neighborhood Care Point (NCP) to increase the children’s wellbeing and strengthening the capacity of the community health promotion.


Anup Khanal, Graduate Student, Bachelor of Social Services, Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, droid.anup(at)gmail.com
Sakari Kainulainen, Senior Specialist, Adjunct Professor, Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, sakari.kainulainen(at)diak.fi
Kyösti Voima, Lecturer in International Affairs, MPH Int’l Health, Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, kyosti.voima(at)diak.fi
Sami Kivelä, Lecturer in International Affairs, M. Theol, Diaconia University of Applied Sciences, sami.kivela(at)diak.fi

Acharya, B. R. (2010). Urban Poverty: A Sociological Study of Shankhamul Squatter. Accessed 26.9.2014, www.nepjol.info/index.php/DSAJ/article/view/4519

Biswas-Diener, R. & Diener, E. (2001). Making the Best of a Bad Situation: Satisfaction in the Slums of Calcutta. Social Indicators Research 55(3), 329–352.

Cobb, C. W. (2000). Measurement tools and the quality of life. Accessed 12.10.2014. http://rprogress.org/publications/2000/measure_qol.pdf

Diener, E. & Suh, E. (1997). Measuring Quality of Life: Economic, Social, and Subjective Indicators. Accessed 12.10.2014. http://web.yonsei.ac.kr/suh/file/Measuringpercent20qualitypercent20ofpercent20life_Economic,percent20social,percent20andpercent20subjectivepercent20indicators.pdf

Human Rights Watch. Accessed 2.5.2016. https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/05/10/nepal-halt-evictions-kathmandu

Kainulainen, S. (2014). Mitä uutta kokemuksellisuus tuo hyvinvoinnin käsitteeseen ja käyttöön? Teoksessa A. Nieminen, A. Tarkiainen & E. Vuorio (toim.) Kokemustieto, hyvinvointi ja paikallisuus. Turun ammattikorkeakoulun Raportteja 177. Turku.

Khanal, A. (2014). Living on the Edge – Quality of life in Balkhu Squatter Settlement, Nepal. Bachelor of Social Services final thesis. Diaconia University of Applied Sciences.

Kivelä, S. (2014). Faiths and community in a riverside slum in Nepal. Paper presented at the Diaconia under Pressure conference in Stockholm 18.9.2014. Organized by the International Society for the Research and Study of Diaconia and Christian Social Practice.

Rumba, R. (2014). Balkhu Settlement in Kathmandu: A Poor Neighborhood. Situation Analysis. Bachelor of Social Services final thesis. Diaconia University of Applied Sciences.

Shakya, S. (2005). An extensive study of the urban poverty situation and its environmental implications in the squatter settlements of Kathmandu and Dharan. Accessed 18.10.2014. lib.icimod.org/record/378/files/362.5SHE.pdf

Toffin, G. (2010). Urban fringes: squatter and slum settlements in the Kathmandu Valley. Accessed 26.9.2014. http://himalaya.socanth.cam.ac.uk/collections/journals/contributions/pdf/CNAS_37_02_06.pdf

Trading Economics. Accessed 29.4.2016. www.tradingeconomics.com/finland/gdp-per-capita-ppp

The Future Competences for Working with Older People

The Future Competences for Working with Older People

Population ageing is a common issue around the Europe. The number of older people is growing and by the year 2030 every third person in the EU will be more than 60 years of age. (DART 2012). Ageing affects the entire society and it will also challenge social and health care services. The growing number of the oldest age groups will indicate increasing need for social and health care services in the future. Moreover, at the same time care services and environments are changing and becoming more diverse, there is an obvious need for new kind of social and health care expertise.

European level cooperation in developing competences in active ageing is undeniable. International cooperation in competence development is needed to enhance the quality of services and to improve the attractiveness of older people care. European collaboration related to ageing is also beneficial when aiming to increase the mobility of workforce in social and health care services. Sharing common competences and expertise in active ageing provides more opportunities for future professionals to work in different international environments.

ELLAN unites European higher education institutions

ELLAN (European Later Life Active Network) project connects Higher Education Institutions extensively around the Europe. The consortium includes 26 partners from 25 European countries. ELLAN project (2013–2016) is funded by the EU´s Lifelong Learning Programme and coordinated by Savonia University of Applied Sciences, School of Health Care (Finland).

ELLAN project promotes European collaboration and exchange of good practices related to working with ageing population. ELLAN reconstructs the diverse educational approaches by developing an agreed European Core Competences Framework (ECCF) for working with older people. During the project the educational network is also sharing innovations in teaching and learning as well as identifying factors that may influence students to choose to work with older people in the future.

Developing competencies through research

The development of the ECCF is based upon five studies which were carried out during the 1st and 2nd year of the project: (1) Literature review exploring competences required in working with older people; (2) Qualitative research focusing on older people’s perceptions about required competences of professionals; (3) Quantitative study exploring professionals’ views of competences needed to support older people; (4) Quantitative research of factors influencing health and social care students’ views of older people; (5) Identification of best practice and innovative teaching and learning methods encouraging students to choose to work with older people.

The aim of the literature review was to find out which competences of the social and health care professionals working with older people related to the CanMEDS roles are described in the literature. CanMeds model was chosen to be the basis for the competences of ECCF. CanMEDS framework was originally formulated to describe the abilities physicians have to have in order to meet the health care needs of the people they serve. These abilities are grouped thematically under seven roles. A competent physician seamlessly integrates the competences of all seven CanMEDS roles. The CanMEDS roles are Medical Expert (the integrating role), Communicator, Collaborator, Leader, Health Advocate, Scholar, and Professional. The overarching goal of CanMEDS is to improve patient care. The model has been adapted around the world, both within and outside the health professions (Frank et al. 2014). (Figure 1).

figure 1
Figure 1. CanMEDS roles

A total of 228 studies were found. According to the findings, found competences were in general directed to a particular healthcare worker with a wide variety of competences in the different roles. To get insight in the generic competences, a secondary analysis was conducted in which 38 studies were included. The research question was: which generic competences of health and social professionals related to the CanMEDS roles are described in the literature? The conclusion of the literature was that the care and support of older people is very complex. A multidisciplinary team approach is necessary. Collaboration and communication are essential competences to optimize the team approach but also to respond to the individual needs of older persons. Moreover, collaboration with the older person is important. Sometimes communication with older people requires special skills. The CanMEDS roles offers a framework for the needed competences. However, multicultural competences need to be added, and special attention has to be paid to technological competences and the recognition of older people abuse. (Roodbol & Dijkman 2016.)

Attitudes of health and social care students towards older people and also their perceptions of working with older people were examined in a survey. Undergraduate health and social care students (n=955) from five different European countries completed two widely used questionnaires: Attitudes towards Older People Scale (Kogan 1961) and Student´s Perception of Working with Older People Scale (Nolan et al. 2006). According to the results student´s attitudes were generally very positive towards older people. Those with least experience with older people displayed more negative attitudes. However, high reported experience with older people was not conclusively linked to positive attitudes. The main result of the study pointed out the apparent indecision among students to work with older people or choose careers of working with them in the future. (Coffey et al. 2015.)

Older people’s perceptions about the required competences of professionals working with older people were collected by interviews in six of the partner countries. The partners selected a convenience sample of 16 participants (N=96) and used semi-structured interviews for data collection. A common interview script was followed and data analysis was conducted using thematic analysis (Braun and Clarke, 2006). Four major themes were identified: (1) recognizing older people’s individuality as well as their personal and social background; (2) effective communication and positive relationships between professionals and older people; (3) technical competence and expertise as well as team work; (4) vocation, commitment and ethical recommendations. The development of these competencies has potential to improve the quality of care delivered by health and social care professionals to older people. (Soares 2015.)

International cooperation in competence development is needed to enhance the quality of services and to improve the attractiveness of older people care.

Social and health care professionals’ perspective to the competences related to older people was collected by a questionnaire in six partner countries (N=885). The quantitative method used was based on the modified Caring Nurse – Patient Interactions Scale (CNPI-70). The results showed that professionals perceive that it is important to encourage older people to believe in themselves, to motivate them, to acknowledge their potential, to give hope, help and support when needed. Professionalism in care of the older person was experienced as crucial. Health and social care professionals regard as important collaboration, risk assessment and the encouragement of autonomy. A central theme was accepting aging as a physiological process and not just a disease. (Felsmann & Andruszkiewicz 2015.)

A study to identify innovative good practices in education for gerontology was carried out in order to find learning approaches which could positively contribute students to choose a career in gerontology. A template was developed, based on the criteria for innovation and the Senses Framework as described by Nolan et al. (2002). The template was distributed to Higher Education Institutions providing education in Gerontology in five partner countries. Twenty-three templates were completed and analysed. According to the results, innovative teaching methods that take into account the needs of students were found and structured by Miller’s educational model for competence-based learning. The selected best practices will be disseminated throughout Europe. To conclude the study envisaged that the educational practices identified could positively influence students’ attitudes and decisions about working with older people. (Schoofs 2015.)

European Core Competences Framework (ECCF)

The European Core Competences Framework is based on the view that professionals are working in different roles while working with older people. The framework describes the minimum set of competences that constitutes a common baseline for all professionals in social and health care working with older people. The developed competences are described for the roles of CanMEDS model (Figure 1). The competences are formulated on the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) level 6 (Bachelor) and 7 (Master). The ECCF will be formulated by bringing together the results of the studies described above and verified by using Delphi technique, involving 24 experts from 8 countries in order to find consensus of the developed framework. Following the CanMeds model seven roles will be described: expert, communicator, collaborator, organizer, health and welfare advocate, scholar and professional. (Dijkman & Roodbol 2015.)


The ECCF can be used in developing curricula of social and health care professionals. The desired outcome of this project is improved quality of higher education of social and health care professionals working with older people. The ECCF will be presented at the 23rd Nordic Congress on Gerontology in Tampere, Finland, June 2016, and will be available at the project website after that.


Jukka Aho, Senior Lecturer, MNSc., Savonia University of Applied Sciences, jukka.aho(at)savonia.fi
Marjut Arola, Principal Lecturer, Lic.Soc.Sc., Karelia University of Applied Sciences, marjut.arola(at)karelia.fi
Irma Mikkonen, Principal Lecturer, PhD, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, Irma.mikkonen(at)savonia.fi

Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 3, 77-101.

Coffey, A., Buckley, C., Gaidys, U., Sansoni, J., Arola, M., Deimante-Hartmane, D., Corvo, E., Auer, S., Petersen-Ewert, C., & Tyrrell, M. (2015). Beliefs of students about growing older and perceptions of working in gerontology. Nursing older people. The journal for professionals working in gerontological care 27 (1), 33-37.

DART – Declining, Ageing and Regional Transformation 2012. Final report. http://www.dart-project.eu/fileadmin/OrdnerRedakteure/0103_Achievements/DART_final_report_web.pdf. Accessed 23.2.2016.

Dijkman, B. & Roodbol, P. (2015). European Competence Framework for working with older persons by professional´s health and social care. Report draft.

ELLAN – European Later Life Active Network. Accessed 23.2.2016 http://ellan.savonia.fi/

Felsmann, M. & Andruszkiewicz, A. (2016). The opinions of health and social care professionals on important competencies in caring for older people. Report draft.

Frank, J.R., Snell, L.S. & Sherbino J. (eds.) (2014). Draft CanMEDS 2015 Physician Competency Framework – Series III. Ottawa: The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada; 2014 September. Accessed 6.4.2016 http://www.royalcollege.ca/portal/page/portal/rc/common/documents/canmeds/framework/canmeds2015_framework_series_III_e.pdf

Kogan, N. (1961). Attitudes toward old people: the development of a scale and an examination of correlates. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 63, 44-54.

Nolan, M.R., Brown, J., Davies, S., Nolan, J. & Keady, J. (2006). The Senses Framework: improving care for older people through a relationship-centered approach. Getting research in Practice (GRiP) Report No 2. Accessed 3.4.2016 http://shura.shu.ac.uk/280/

Roodbol, P.F. & Dijkman, B. L. (2016). Generic competences for health and social workers working with older persons. Literature Review: A secondary analysis. Report draft.

Schoofs, G. (2015). Motivating Health and Social Care students to choose a career in Gerontology through innovative education. Report draft.

Soares, C. (2015). Older people’s views on professional competences. Report draft.

abstracts 2/2016

No 2 (2016) Abstracts

Wellbeing 2.0

Petri Raivo, Rector, Karelia University of Applied Sciences

Your personal wellbeing is already following you on your wrist and in your breast pocket. My wristband counts my steps and alarms me if I’ve been sitting in one place for too long. Its running exercises save my time, distance and heart rate data into the cloud, and every day, week and month I receive inspirational feedback on my performance and a bunch of advice for improving my wellbeing. My phone even monitors my sleep. It tells me when I need to go to bed and wakes me up in the morning at the optimal moment for my sleep cycle, even though I’m not always too convinced. My phone also helps me take naps that promote my wellbeing, and reminds me to eat and drink water at regular intervals. This is all fun, of course, the voluntary inquisitiveness of a middle-aged man who is interested in technology, but national and global digital solutions for wellbeing are a lot bigger than that. Digitalisation and the possibilities it presents are an increasing part of our wellbeing. Wellbeing 2.0 is already here.

It’s not just about entertainment or voluntary control, but preventative measures that really promote caring for our health and wellbeing. Wellbeing 2.0 and its innovations also present demands for efficiency and money. Digitalisation is generally seen as enabling a leap in competitiveness for many fields – including the health and wellbeing industry – that, together with increased productivity and new innovations, is the engine that enables new kinds of social and healthcare solutions. In other words, the digitalisation of health and wellbeing is one of the few, if not the only measure that can create significant savings for the economy with its changes. Though in the beginning, it may well be the opposite – expenses increase as the systems are implemented and people are trained to use them.

The digitalisation of health and wellbeing is already an essential part of the multi-disciplinary and phenomena-based focus areas of the universities of applied sciences. The structural development report ”Kohti maailman parasta korkeakoululaitosta” (“Towards the Best Higher Education Institution in the World”) that was completed a while back by the working group appointed by the Rectors’ Conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences presents a clear picture of the focus areas of Finnish universities of applied sciences. These areas include several competence packages with titles such as intelligent solutions, applied technology for wellbeing, and renewed wellbeing services which are oriented towards digital solutions for health and wellbeing. This is proof of an increase in competence related to the field, lively RDI activities, corporate cooperation and the integration of new knowledge with teaching. Even in this, we are at the cutting edge.

Digitalisation also involves robotics, and this too is well represented in the strategic focus areas of some universities of applied sciences. Wellbeing and health robotics is a sector that is accelerating rapidly all around the world, and it has also gained increased exposure in Finland as well thanks to various well-known pilot experiments. Robots that monitor, engage, entertain and nurse us are here to stay. I already own a cleaning robot that tirelessly and carefully hoovers the whole house , sometimes even twice a day, without any complaints. I can certainly say that this provides me with spiritual wellbeing by at least preventing me from experiencing any acute hoovering-related stress. And, as a plus, it’s also preparing me for a future where I will have my own personal nursing robot when I’m old.

Question of changes and multi-party co-operation in social welfare and health care reform

Leena Viinamäki, Principal Lecturer, Degree Programme in Social Services, Dr.Soc.Sc., Lapland University of Applied Sciences
Anneli Pohjola, Professor of Social Work, Dr.Soc.Sc., University of Lapland

The social welfare and health care sector is one of the largest employer in Finland. At the same time, the sector is facing strong conflicting pressures of change, which are also reflected in many ways in the education and competence requirements in the social sector. Furthermore, some citizens require more comprehensive support in their situation in life, which often means multi-party co-operation between various professionals. Clients are entitled to services that are based on the best possible competence. There are many competence areas, and they each require specific, in-depth know-how in addition to general knowledge of the field. Competence needs in the social sector should be analysed more accurately, bearing in mind the viable division of work on the basis of the sector’s educational structure, which is clear in itself. What is also needed is multi-party co-operation that incorporates in-depth substance competence, since the many competence needs in the field cannot be mastered by a single education group. Paradoxically enough, these diverging needs are not always recognised; by contrast, it is assumed that general competence will suffice.

Quality of life in a Kathmandu slum

Anup Khanal, Graduate Student, Bachelor of Social Services, Diaconia University of Applied Sciences
Sakari Kainulainen, Senior Specialist, Adjunct Professor, Diaconia University of Applied Sciences
Kyösti Voima, Lecturer in International Affairs, MPH Int’l Health, Diaconia University of Applied
Sami Kivelä, Lecturer in International Affairs, M. Theol, Diaconia University of Applied Sciences

A case study on quality of life of Balkhu squatter community in Nepal was done in 2013. Diaconia University of Applied Sciences (Diak), Turku University of Applied Sciences and St. Xavier’s College carried out this research project together. Data collection was done by students of Diak and St. Xavier’s College. A community profile was created with the rich data obtained from a survey, participant direct observations, interviews, as well as images and videos. The community profile covers the quality of life in domains such as demography, environment, economy, religion, health, sanitation, and socio-political as well as subjective wellbeing. A case study was organized in a Diak project through participatory approach.

Moderation in everything – even in multitasking

Jutta Laine, nursing student, Turku University of Applied Sciences
Rami Pöyhönen, nursing student, Turku University of Applied Sciences
Camilla Laaksonen, Senior Lecturer, Dr.Sc. (Nutr.) Turku University of Applied Sciences

Multitasking mean performing simultaneous several tasks that each require concentration. Multitasking is part of everyday life and it´s form has changed as different digital equipment have become common. Human brain however poorly manage to perform several simultaneous tasks and multitasking cause burden on cognitive function, concentration and learning, stress management, social relationships and mental health. Present-day societies however demand that individuals manage several tasks synchronously and share the limited brain capacity. From the perspective of health and well-being, one may state that “knowing your limits and keeping it moderate” are good guidelines also regarding multitasking.

Towards a memory-friendly North Karelia

Kaisa Juvonen, Voimala Coordinator, Bachelor of Physiotherapy, Karelia University of Applied Sciences
Arja Jämsén, Regional Manager, M.Soc.Sc., Eastern Finland Social and Welfare Centre of Expertise
Leena Knuuttila, Managing Director, Specialised Nurse, Supervisor, Logotherapist, North Karelian Memory Association
Olli Lehtonen, Specialist, The Alzheimer Society of Finland
Liisa Suhonen, Principal Lecturer, PhD (Education), Lic. Sc. (Health), MSc (physiotherapy), Karelia University of Applied Sciences

The aim of the National Memory Programme is to build memory-friendly Finland. There are 193 000 people with memory diseases in Finland. In a way, almost everyone will be touched by memory diseases, at least via friends, neighbours or family members. North Karelia is being built towards a memory-friendly region. This work is based on strong regional cooperation with North Karelian Memory Association, Karelia University of Applied Sciences and Eastern Social and Welfare Centre of Expertise.

Communal dining of the elderly

Marja-Liisa Laitinen, RDI specialist, Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences
Anne Puntanen, Nurse, Home Care Meal Services, Department of Social Services and Health Care for the Mikkeli region

This article describes the communal dining experiment for the elderly which aimed to assess elderly dining experiences as a social event, but also as a factor for increasing wellbeing on a wider scale. The elderly are a growing population group in Southern Savonia as well, and this challenges teaching and research, development and innovation activities and regional services to try new sorts of openings and experiments. The goal of Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences’ ASKO project (2015) was to design food service models for the elderly, those living at home or customers of home care that could be offered according to the customers’ needs and preferences without ignoring the food services’ cost-effectiveness.

The Future Competences for Working with Older People

Jukka Aho, Senior Lecturer, MNSc., Savonia University of Applied Sciences
Marjut Arola, Principal Lecturer, Lic.Soc.Sc., Karelia University of Applied Sciences
Irma Mikkonen, Principal Lecturer, PhD, Savonia University of Applied Sciences

Population ageing is a common issue around the Europe. The growing number of the oldest age groups will indicate increasing need for social and health care services in the future. While at the same time care services and environments are changing and becoming more diverse, there is an obvious need for new kind of social and health care expertise. Consequently, 26 Higher Education Institutions from 25 different countries are developing together European Core Competences Framework for working with older people, in a project funded by EU LLP-programme for years 2013–2016. The framework will be used in developing curricula in social and health care professionals’ education. In Finland, the utilization of the framework will be done especially in the social and health care education in the universities of Applied Sciences.

Experiences of workplace-oriented teaching in Master’s degrees studies

Liisa Koskinen, Principal Lecturer, Dr.Sc. (Nutr.), Savonia University of Applied Sciences
Mikko Laasanen, RDI specialist, PhD, Savonia University of Applied Sciences
Kalevi Paldanius, Principal Lecturer, PhD (Psychology), Savonia University of Applied Sciences

Inside the “Coworking learning space – TKI 2.0” -project, two 5 ECTS credit point study courses of master studies were implemented by adjusting interprofessional and work-related learning. Courses were “Wellbeing in the work community” and “Successful organization”. In the “Wellbeing in the work community” the end product was a welfare plan or parts of it for the company. In the “Successful organization” the end products were different kinds of development ideas or plans depending on the company’s needs. The results showed that a gap between theory and practice diminished. On the other hand discussions between companies and University of Applied Sciences are needed about the aims and study tasks of work-related learning. This is essential in order to improve the involvement of companies and increase their gains about work-related learning. Also teachers’ role in the process needs clarification.

Flipped teaching in health promotive work

Maria Forss, Degree Programme Director, Principal Lecturer in Health Promotion, RN, PhD, Arcada University of Applied Sciences
Anu Grönlund, Lecturer in Nursing, RN, Master of Health Care, Arcada University of Applied Sciences

The aim of this article is to illuminate and discuss flipped learning as a method in order to increase and stimulate to the common health promotive actions for all nursing professions. We want to present a course design that activates and engages students to independently explore, discuss and evaluate the current topics of the course. Flipped learning is a method where the teaching isn´t done traditionally in the classroom. Students study at home independently or in groups mostly online and come to school to do their homework and have reflective discussions about the given topic.

Patient education by video-control

Teija Franck, Senior Lecturer, MHS, Turku University of Applied Sciences
Anne Mohn, Coordinator, MHS, Hospital District of Southwest Finland
Minna Syrjäläinen-Lindberg, Head of Degree Programme, MHS, Yrkeshögskolan Novia
Tiina Tarr, Teaching Coordinator, MHS, Hospital District of Southwest Finland
Leena Salminen, Senior Lecturer, Dr.Sc. (Nutr.), Associate Professor, University of Turku

Video-control suitability of the teaching method of patient education teaching – a project that studied by video-control teaching and control of the situation suitability of a real-time method of education. Video- control patient education strength evidence-based nursing and its guiding learning and develop research -based education to promote cooperation and student health care organizations skills.

Learning Multiprofessional Co-operation – Health and Life Coaching at Motiivi Wellness Services

Marita Pirkka, Senior Lecturer, MHS, Saimia University of Applied Sciences
Elina Ryhänen, Occupational Physiotherapist, M.Sc., Saimia University of Applied Sciences

Public Health Nursing students fulfilled a part of their internship requirements at Motiivi Wellness Services by implementing a Health and Life Coaching program for a group of staff members at Saimia University of Applied Sciences. The students lead groups as well as private sessions. In addition to guiding behavioral modification, the students got in contact with Physiotherapy students to widen their service palette and to learn multiprofessional co-operation. The co-operation stemmed from the needs of the Health and Life Coaching clients rather than from rigid internship requirements. Students found this type of natural and unforced co-operation fruitful and learned about functioning as professionals in their own field.

Interdisciplinary learning and internationalisation in the Nordic countries

Susanne Jungerstam, Principal Lecturer, PhD, Novia University of Applied Sciences, Finland
Marie Albertsson, Lecturer, Linnaeus University, Sweden
Justin Karlson, Lecturer, University College UCC, Denmark
Henny Kinn Solbjørg, University Lecturer, University of Tromsø, Norway

Today, the so called Nordic welfare model faces many new challenges. In order to meet the challenges, cooperation, internationalization and a multi-professional approach are frequently called for. In three consecutive years, four universities and universities of applied sciences in four Nordic countries have arranged joint intensive courses focusing on professional competences within social education. Participating students have emphasized that they have deepened their knowledge and rendered new insights into intercultural and inter-professional practices in different Nordic societies. Herein, the fact that the welfare systems of the Nordic countries hold comparable structures based on equivalent principles, underpinned by value systems that are largely shared, has contributed to the ease by which knowledge can be transferred and developed. Together, we can broaden our horizons and deepen our intercultural and inter-professional competences in different environments.

How to lead passion?

Johanna Vuori, Principal Lecturer, PHD, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences

Employees’ intrinsic motivation, engagement and passion at work are needed in the transformation of work. Leaders need new skills to lead passion as it places soft values to the hard core of management. Passion at work increases both the profitability of the company as well as employee wellbeing. The Leading Passion project does research on leading passion and develops tools to support it. Our preliminary results show that passion at work can be found in all jobs. We have also found out that intrinsic motivation and passion at work is connected to sense of control and self-directedness. Moreover, our results support the argument that a leader may rapidly destroy passion at work.

Producing art of well-being

Sanna Pekkinen, Senior Lecturer, Lic.Phil., Humak University of Applied Sciences

The welfare effects of arts and culture have been well studied and their importance to people’s overall quality of life, mental alertness and health has been recognized. Anyhow, it has been challenging to get the arts and culture into the social and health sector services. The project of Agency for Cultural Wellbeing has started to develop multi-professional teams new applied art products and services. For artists, cultural managers, and social and health care professionals tailored for continuing education, aims to minimize preconceptions, and to reduce the threshold to work together. The project will create new models for the development of applied arts productions and revenue logic in such a way that the art of well-being expertise would be possible to create a sustainable business. The EU-funded project is managed by Humak and the partners are Saimia and Turku Universities of Applied Sciences, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Turku and Jyväskylä cities.

 The rehabilitation client’s path from the service home to the farm

Johanna Hirvonen, Principal Lecturer, PhD, Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences
Leena Uosukainen, Principal Lecturer, PhD (Education), Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences

Since 2010, Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences has coordinated several RDI projects aimed at developing green care in social, health and welfare services. This article describes mental health clients’ path from gardening works in the garden of a service home to a local farm to do farm works as part of their rehabilitation.

Promoting wellbeing with technology

Sari Merilampi, Leader, Project Manager, Dr.Sc. (Tech.), Well-being Enhancing Technology Research Group, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences
Mirka Leino, Automation Technology Research Group Leader, Principal Lecturer (Research), M.A., Satakunta University of Applied Sciences
Andrew Sirkka, Principal Lecturer, Welfare Technology, PhD (Education), Satakunta University of Applied Sciences
Antti Koivisto, Researcher, M.Sc. (Tech.), Satakunta University of Applied Sciences

Challenges in communication and general lack of knowledge between various actors have emerged bottle necks in welfare technology development and implementation in a variety of projects implemented by Satakunta University of Applied Sciences. HYVÄKSI project was established to meet the above mentioned challenges. The project focuses on building an innovation network for well-being enhancement through personalised and service designed client technology. The established network aims at boosting business opportunities also in the future in terms of supporting innovations and increasing communication and expertise through knowledge transfer between public, private and third sector organisations. The project goal is, through technology development and service designing, to enhance daily well-being and prevent further functional impairments among people with limitations, their family members and care givers. This article discusses the best practices and philosophies attained in the project.

Your decision

Tiina Kirvesniemi, Project Manager, Lic.Ed., Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences
Elise Wass, Upper Secondary Education Psychologist, MA (Psychology), City of Hamina

Your decision – solutions for youth participation by game innovations and service design. The aim of the project is to develop intervention models, by which social participation models in order to support social integration of young adults. The project utilizes service design. The participation of young adults is supported both directly and indirectly during the project: in addition to method development the project offers meaningful activities for young people.

In the project the young people will choose and develop – in cooperation with experts – new intervention models. The designed models will be presented for the partners who will implement the methods in their work. The functionality of interventions will be evaluated in authentic contexts with experienced workers and young people.


The Developers of Digital Health and Welfare Services

Photo: Savonia UAS

The healthcare systems in Europe are facing new challenges such as ageing of the population, increased budgetary pressure and thereby there is a need for cost-efficient solutions. e and mHealth could be one way to tackle these challenges by contributing to a more patient-focused healthcare. (European Commission, 2014,2015a). Eysenbach defines eHealth as follows (2001): “e-health is an emerging field in the intersection of medical informatics, public health and business, referring to health services and information delivered or enhanced through the Internet and related technologies. In a broader sense, the term characterizes not only a technical development, but also a state-of-mind, a way of thinking, an attitude, and a commitment for networked, global thinking, to improve health care locally, regionally, and worldwide by using information and communication technology.”

As the Digital Agenda for Europe states, challenges can be found in insufficient skills and motivation of the health care personnel to take part in the digital world (European Commission, 2015b). Research shows that continuous evaluation of information and competence is needed in health care education. The minimum competence requirements needed for health care professionals in the future are: the informatics knowledge base, informatics tools adoption and nursing and health information integration management. (Rajalahti, 2014)

The project “The Developer of Digital Health and Welfare Services” is a multi-cultural and multi-professional project that aims to create a new curriculum giving future professionals skills in developing improved eHealth and welfare services for citizens. The project is founded by Central Baltic. The partners are from Estonia, Latvia and Finland.

The project starts by evaluating the current curriculums to find the current knowledge about developing eHealth and welfare services.

In the second phase the project creates the new 30 ECTS curriculum. The curriculum is inspired by the recommendations of the International Medical Informatics Association (Mantas et al, 2010, 2011), The TIGER Initiative (2009) and the article Designing a Modern IT Curriculum (Westerlund & Pulkkis, 2015). Also the European Computer Driving License is defining skills all professionals´ already should have on a bachelor lever (EDCL, 2015).

[easy-tweet tweet=”Research shows that continuous evaluation of information and competence is needed in health care education. ” hashtags=”uasjournal, digitalization”]

The content of the new curriculum is based on measured competency and the latest multi-professional knowledge about the needs of the digital society. (eHealth Action Plan 2012, STM 2014, Finnish Nursing Association 2016.) In the study unit, future professionals ( in IT, economics, social- and health care) are developing their current competencies to match the needs of digital health care and welfare, taking into account the professional qualifications defined in EQF levels 5-6 as well as cultural differences in the Central Baltic region (Recommendation of the EU, 2008).

The curriculum will be based on the Learning by Developing (LbD) pedagogical model, developed in Laurea University of Applied Sciences (UAS) (Raij, 2007) In the LbD model, the goal is to bring about real changes in the world and new ways to act (Taatila & Raij,  2012). Combining theoretical and practical knowledge (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995) in the UAS´s projects means having knowledge in practice, of practice and for practice, and generating new innovations (Raij, 2007). Students, teachers, working life professionals and customers work together in real working life related research and development projects. The outcomes are innovations and new partner’s competences with regional actors. (Ahonen, Meristö, Ranta & Tuohimaa, 2014.)

The partners arrange a study unit piloting the curriculum. The students’ eHealth related competency is measured at the beginning and after the pilot. The curriculum, which is built on an e-learning platform, is piloted in Finnish (2), Estonian and Latvian VET/UAS programmes. The students (20×4) in the pilot get excellent competence and skills in designing and creating eHealth services in an international co-operation. Webinars and seminars support the studies. Training periods are also possible. The themes of the development projects are ageing citizens, cross-border workers, young people at risk of becoming excluded and people with chronic diseases.  The Structure of DeDiWe project is described in the figure one.

The Structure of Pilot
The figure 1. The Structure of Pilot.

It is important for the students to learn current core competencies and skills of their vocational subjects, but it is equally important to be a competent innovator and developer.

The new 30 ECTS study module is built around three main themes of 5 ECTS each; the client, the environment and the development of digital activities. These 15 ECTS can then be combined with 15 ECTS thesis or project work with working life partners.

The project not only creates a new curriculum but also gives the students the possibilities to implement development projects that are useful for the citizens. The core curriculum is the same for all students, which allows for a variety of professionals to work together. The level of the learning outcomes, as the starting level in the different modules, partly differ between professionals and to secure the possibility for all to develop the learning assignments are designed considering this. Each partner has its own set of students, but since they work in the same e-learning environment, cooperation is easy, regardless of country or organization.

The knowledge is viewed in three different ways: in, of and for practice. The new curriculum promotes multi-professional studying with the LbD – model, which gives students excellent opportunities to learn in real working life projects – and innovate new services to eHealth and welfare services.


Outi Ahonen, MNSc, Senior Lecturer, Laurea University of Applied Science outi.ahonen(at)laurea.fi
Gun-Britt Lejonqvist, LHSc, Principla lecturer, Arcada University of Applied Sciences, gun-britt.lejonqvist(at)arcada.fi
Baiba Apkalna, Mg.sc.hum., Project expert, Red Cross Medical College of Riga Stradins University, baiba.apkalna(at)rcmc.lv
Kersti Viitkar, MNSc, Coordinator of Nursing and Midwifery Curricula, Tartu Health Care College, kerstiviitkar(at)nooruse.ee

Ahonen, O., Meristö, T., Ranta, L. &. Tuohimaa, H. 2014. Project as a Patchwork Quilt –from Study Units to Regional Development. In K. Raij (Ed.), Learning by Developing Action Model (67-84) Helsinki, Laurea University of Applied Science. Retrieved January 7 2016, from http://ecahe.eu/assets/uploads/2015/06/36-Raij-LbD-Action-Model.pdf

eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020. 2012. Innovative healthcare for the 21st century6.12.2012. COM(2012) 736 final, Brussels. Retrieved January 11 2016 ,  from https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/news/ehealth-action-plan-2012-2020-innovative-healthcare-21st-century

European Commission. 2014. GREEN PAPER on mobile Health (”mHealth”). SWD(2014) 135 Final. Brussels. Retrieved  January 11 2016, from https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/news/green-paper-mobile-health-mhealth

European Commission. 2015a. eHealth. Retrieved January 11 2016, from http://ec.europa.eu/health/ehealth/policy/index_en.htm

European Commission. 2015b. Digital Agenda for Europe A Europe 2020 Initiative. Retrieved January 12 2016, from https://ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/en/digital-europe

EDCL, European Computer Driving License. 2015. Retrieved January 2016 from http://www.ecdl.org/programmes/index.jsp?p=108&n=2927

Eysenbach G. 2001. What is e-health? Journal of  Medical Internet Research , 3(2): e20.  Published online 2001 Jun 18. doi:  10.2196/jmir.3.2.e20. Retrieved  January 12 2016, from http://www.jmir.org/2001/2/e20/

Finnsih Nursing Association. 2016. Strategy for eHealth. Retrieved  January 13  2016, from https://sairaanhoitajat.fi/wpcontent/uploads/2016/01/S%C3%84HK%C3%96ISET_TERVPALV_STRATEGIA.pdf

Mantas, J., Ammenwerth, E.,  Dermis, G., Hasman, A.,  Haux, R.,Hersh, W., Hovenga, E., Lun, KC. Marin, H. Martin-Sanchez, F. ja Wrighr G. 2010. Recommendations of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) on Education in Biomedical and Health Informatics. International Medical Informatics Association, Working Group on Health and Medical Informatics Education. IMIA Educational Recommendations-Revised.

Mantas, J., Ammenwerth, E.,  Dermis, G., Hasman, A.,  Haux, R.,Hersh, W., Hovenga, E., Lun, KC. Marin, H. Martin-Sanchez, F. ja Wrighr G. 2011. Recommendations of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA) on Education in Biomedical and Health Informatics -First Revision. European Journal for Biomedical. Informatics, 7(1), 3-18.

Nonaka, I. & Takeuchi, H. 1995. The knowledge-creating company. How Japanese companies create the dynamics of innovation. New York, Oxford University Press.

Raij, K. 2007. Learning by developing. Laurea Publications A-58. Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

Rajalahti, E. 2014. The development of health educators’ nursing informatics competence. Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies. Dissertations in Social Sciences and Business Studies, no 89. 2014.Publications of the University of Eastern Finland. University of Eastern  Finland, Kuopio. Available from, http://epublications.uef.fi/pub/urn_isbn_978-952-61-1611-2/urn_isbn_978-952-61-1611-2.pdf

Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning, Annex II. 2008. Retrieved  January 12 2016, from http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/hogeronderwijs/bologna/news/EQF_EN.pdf

STM. 2014. TIETO HYVINVOINNIN JA UUDISTUVIEN PALVELUJEN TUKENA. Sote-tieto hyötykäyttöön–strategia. Retrieved  January 12 2016, from http://stm.fi/julkaisu?pubid=10024/125500

Taatila, V. & Raij, K. 2012. Philosophical review of pragmatism as a basis for learning by developing pedagogy. Educational Philosophy and Theory 44(8) .doi: 10.1111/j.1469-5812.2011.00758.x

TIGER Initiative, Technology Informatics Guiding Education Reform 2009: Informatics Competencies for Every Practicing Nurse: Recommendations from the TIGER Collaborative. 2009. Retrieved January 14 2016, from http://www.thetigerinitiative.org/

Westerlund M, Pulkkis G. 2015. Designing a Modern IT Curriculum: Including Information Analytics as a Core Knowledge Area. Paper presented at the 17th Australasian Computing Education Conference (ACE2015), Sydney, Australia, January 2015. Conferences in Research and Practice in Information Technology (CRPIT), Vol. 160. D’Souza,D. &  Falkner,K. (Eds.)

Education Technology Transfer to Developing Countries

Education Technology Transfer to Developing Countries

Education Technology Transfer to Developing Countries


Many companies and educational organisations in Finland are interested in the possibilities of exporting education to new countries. The Finnish school system has a good reputation all over the world. In this article, we will concentrate on India, as one of the authors is originally from India and he is currently working in the education sector. Professor Adaikalam represents the Loyola College Chennai, faculty of social work, and he addresses the topic from the Indian culture’s point of view.

India has rapidly become a major player in world economics. Nowadays, it is one of the largest economies in the world, and over the past two decades it has seen millions of people rise to higher socioeconomic classes. Development steps have also been taken, especially in the health and well-being sectors. India is a developing economy. Two-thirds of the population still live in rural areas, which poses challenges especially for vulnerable groups, regarding people’s access to services.

India has put a lot of effort into developing its school system. The entire school system in India is under a digitalization process, which means that schools of all levels need new kinds of technology and tools, but also an understanding of new needs of learning. It is possible that digital education technologies will eventually revolutionize the way we learn and teach. The problem in India is that best educational practices haven’t been scaled nationally, or the scaling is happening too slowly. One example of this is the fact that 1/5 of Indian children in fifth grade are not able to read simple words. Despite massive investments in developing the education system, learning results have not improved. Pritchett talks about the learning crisis, which he sees as a barrier to economic growth in developing countries (Pritchett 2013).


The population of India has grown quickly, and India has a large amount of young people. India is considered to be one of the world’s fastest growing Internet markets, and it will reach over 300 million Internet users by 2017.  Today, there are more households in developing countries with a mobile phone than with access to clean water. One year ago, the Indian government launched a program to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledgeable economy. The purpose of the government’s Digital India initiative is to make government services better available to citizens electronically by improving the online infrastructure and increasing Internet connectivity. At the same time, western countries are exporting their business such as digital learning platforms to the Indian markets. The country’s growing GDP and business opportunities especially in the healthcare and wellbeing markets attract many Finnish companies.

The effects of technology and its productivity expansion for the poor and the middle class, as well as the spreading of accountable governance, have so far been less than expected. Inequality is increasing, as better educated, well connected and more capable people have received most of the benefits. It has been noticed that the utilization of ICT-related products, services and research results from high-income environments entails challenges, especially in remote and low-income communities. An example of this is a project implemented in Peru, where all students of rural schools received computing equipment, but this did not bring any evidence of increasing learning skills in maths or languages. Hardware-centric educational technology projects planned and implemented in highly developed environments for use in developing countries without paying sufficient attention to local contexts are difficult to execute successfully. (World Bank group 2016.)

[easy-tweet tweet=”There are more households in developing countries with a mobile phone than with access to clean water. ” hashtags=”uasjournal, digitalization”]

The worst scenario regarding the export of education would be that citizens in developing countries become disappointed with the education system. At present, people already feel that education wastes their time and lecturers do not offer them access to working life. Another challenge is the quality of studies – there might be a lack of good pedagogical methods or not enough interest in investing teaching. Degree studies take time, and this is time that students could spend working and earning money for the family.

It is extremely important to carefully plan the digital transfer related to learning environments and education. The Indian school system consists of schools of different levels: At one level, schools are completely managed by government agencies. Another level is funded by the government but managed by foundations in a non-profit way. The third level consists of schools both funded and run by foundations on their own. Evidence shows that the mushroomed economic growth in India has concentrated on private schools and colleges and certain regions in an urban-centric way. The quality of education is the top priority, especially in remote areas and among the socially disadvantaged. Technology penetration is particularly crucial in these areas, and western countries have to take responsibility for exporting products in a sustainable way.


Digital tools and platforms in education could offer benefits for developing countries. The Indian government and the states of India have ranked education as one of their priorities and the education system has expanded a lot. Investments in the education sector need to be made to guarantee a skilled and professional workforce. The Government has launched programmes and initiatives to reduce gender inequality, promote girls’ schooling and improve the standard of education. The Indian education sector consists of a number of actors representing the central government, state and regional bodies, as well as private-sector operators.

Indians are well aware of Finland’s high performance in the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) survey, and this offers good opportunities for cooperation in the education sector. Cooperation between educational organizations and businesses opens up prospects for companies to cooperate with each other. Especially digital learning solutions have great potential in Indian markets. When it comes to exporting education, the most important aspect to take into consideration is to understand that products need to be transformed in a suitable way to the specific society and culture.

A good way of exporting the digital education system to developing countries would be to use existing technology, which is available in the local environment and familiar for the local people. In addition to the successful export of digital education and ICT tools, it would be important to motivate and guide teachers and other key persons to use the exported technology in beneficial ways in the future. Supporting teachers and paying attention to pedagogical methods and curriculum material would offer a framework and understanding for the importance and possibilities of new technology. (World Bank Group 2016.) As Finland is boosting its educational export and many companies are planning to expand their business to developing countries, the authors of this article would like to emphasise the importance of paying attention to local environments and local citizens’ ways of living and behaving in those environments. Conducting user-centric surveys before expanding a business idea is not always enough, but extensive research implemented in collaboration with local people would support digital exports, even though it takes extra time, because this enables large-scale business transactions that benefit local people as well.


Education export should be based on understanding the needs of India’s ecosystems. A holistic perspective might be a good approach for looking at these ecosystems. A holistic approach to humans and societal development consists of essential elements such as the participation, agency and empowerment of people and enterprises, and these elements could help with the exploitation of digital tools. According to the OECD’s approach, holistic wellbeing includes physical, mental, emotional and social factors, as well as happiness and life satisfaction (OECD 2015). Without these elements, any digital products exported to developing countries will not scale and be implemented in practice successfully.


Sanna Juvonen, Senior Lecturer, RDI, M.Sc. (Education), Laurea University of Applied Sciences, sanna.juvonen(at)laurea.fi
Päivi Marjanen, Principal Lecturer, RDI, Ph.D. (Education), Laurea University of Applied Sciences, paivi.marjanen(at)laurea.fi
Francis Adaikalam, Assistant Professor, M.Phil. Social Medicine and Community Health, Loyola College Chennai, India, francis(at)loyolacollege.edu

Annual Reports from Ministry of Finance, Govt. Of India. (9th February 2016) http://finmin.nic.in/reports/annualreport.asp

Annual Economic Survey. (9th February 2016) http://www.indiabudget.nic.in/survey.asp

Asian Development Bank. (9th February 2016) http://www.adb.org/countries/india/economy

Education.(8th February 2016) http://www.thehinducentre.com/resources/article7378345.ece

Finland´s India Action plan. Publication of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs 5/2013. Team Finland. Kopijyvä Oy, Jyväskylä.

Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs. (8th February 2016). http://censusindia.gov.in/

India in Business Ministry of External Affairs, Govt, of India Investment and Technology Promotion Division (9th February 2016) http://indiainbusiness.nic.in/newdesign/index.php?param=economy

Indian Budget. (9th February 2016) http://www.indiabudget.nic.in/vol1_survey.asp.

Kokonaiskonsepteilla vauhtia koulutusvientiin. (29th February 2016) http://www.tekes.fi/nyt/uutiset-2014/kokonaiskonsepteilla-vauhtia-koulutusvientiin/.

NFHS reports on access to health services, NSSO data & Education (9th. February 2016) http://www.thehinducentre.com/resources/article7378345.ece

NFHS reports on access to health services, NSSO data health. (8th February 2016). http://www.thehinducentre.com/resources/article7378862.ece

NSSO – Key Indicators of Social Consumption in India: Education. (8th. February 2016). http://www.thehinducentre.com/resources/article7378345.ece

OECD. 2015, How’s Life? Measuring Well-being. Paris: OECD Publishing.

Pritchett, L. 2013, The Rebirth of Education: Schooling Ain’t Learning. Washington D.C.: Center for Global Development.

Refer Census India 2011 on Socio economic profile. (8th. February 2016) http://www.thehinducentre.com/resources/article7386321.ece

School education in India. (8th February 2016) http://www.dise.in/Downloads/Publications/Documents/U-DISE-SchoolEducationInIndia-2014-15.pdf

Wikipedia Digital India. (9th February 2016) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_India

With 3rd largest smartphone market in the world, India to reach 314 million mobile internet users by 2017. (8th February 2016) http://yourstory.com/2015/07/mobile-internet-report-2015/

World Bank Group. 2016. World development report – Digital Dividends. Washington D.C. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Aunimo-Alamäki artikkelikuva

Designing and Prototyping Digital B2B Sales Tools with Students


ICT professionals are nowadays expected to understand customer needs and to communicate and work in multidisciplinary teams in order to reach overall business goals. As a result, the Finnish universities of applied sciences are answering to this demand by offering project based learning experiences where real-world problems are solved in teams consisting of students, teachers and representatives from companies. This prepares the students with the necessary competences on the highly competitive job market. This paper describes two case examples of how the development goals of a research and development (R&D) project and the needs of partner companies can be integrated into teaching. The ultimate goal is to develop pedagogical approaches where students solve real problems given by companies in an authentic environment.

This paper describes the development of new B2B sales tool prototypes in the software development and innovation project courses of Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences (UAS). The projects are a part of a TEKES-funded R&D project called DIVA. The tool prototypes are developed for the companies participating in the project. Close cooperation with the companies during the projects ensure that the results are useful and realistic, and that students learn software design and development competencies in an authentic environment.

Project-based learning in Information Technology Education

Haaga-Helia UAS has a relatively long tradition in conducting company-driven software development and innovation projects as a mandatory part of the curriculum of the Business Information Technology Programme. The process is depicted in Figure 1. As shown in the figure, the first step is a preparative meeting with the representatives of the company and with the staff concerned from Haaga-Helia UAS. In this preparative meeting issues such as immaterial rights to the end product, schedule of the project and a sketch concerning the technology and software architecture to be used, are agreed upon. The next step is the kick-off meeting with the students. In this meeting the company describes the task at hand and tells about the domain and business area in general.  These presentations are usually followed by a vivid discussion. The project itself is executed using a SCRUM-like agile software development process. The materials collected in the kick-off meeting serve as a starting point for creating the initial version of the product backlog. There are three sprints. In the middle of the project, the intermediate results are presented to the company in the form of a functioning prototype. The company typically gives comments on this prototype. The comments have an effect on the contents and priorities of the product backlog. In the final meeting with the company, the finished version of the software is presented and delivered to the company. This last session also involves an evaluation on the successfulness of the project and some ideas for future development. In the next section we will describe two concrete projects which were implemented using this model.


course project process at Haaga-Helia UAS
Figure 1. The course project process at Haaga-Helia UAS from the point of view of the university and from the point of view of the participating company.

Prototyping of a Sales Robot

The students of Haaga-Helia UAS developed a prototype of a sales robot in the fall term of 2015. The project was done in a software project course with approximately 30 students and two teachers. The project started in August with a kick-off presentation by the company. In this kick-off event the representatives of the company presented the product that was the target of sales in this first version of the sales robot. The presentation was followed by an interesting discussion concerning the features of the new product as well as issues in automating transaction selling in a b2b context. By transaction selling we mean here a rather straightforward selling process that is typically applied when selling large volumes of a relatively unexpensive product.

After the kick-off event, the students organized themselves into three groups with separate areas of responsibility. As a Scrum-like process was the chosen model of software development, each team chose a Scrum Master among its members. Other roles in the teams were such as: database expert, security expert, integration expert, user interface expert, content/ domain expert etc. One of the students was left outside the teams and he was appointed as the project manager of the project. The teachers’ role was to coach the students through the project. One researcher from the DIVA project acted as the product owner in the project.

Close cooperation with the companies during the projects ensure that the results are useful and realistic, and that students learn software design and development competencies in an authentic environment.

The software development project was implemented in three sprints. In the beginning of the first sprint, one domain expert from each team and the product owner visited the company and interviewed three salesmen. This interview gave important insight into the environment where the sales robot would be used as well as important knowledge concerning the domain of sales of telecommunication products. This information as well as the product information concerning the product to be sold was used to create the sales dialogues for the robot.

In the mid phase of the project, the company commented on the first prototype as well as on the remaining product backlog items, their descriptions and their priorities. Work was eagerly continued after the feedback from the customer. The final prototype was delivered in December, and the project was ready for the next phase: piloting and UX testing. Figure 2 illustrates the dialogue of the sales robot.

dialogue in the sales robot tool
Figure 2. One example of a dialogue in the sales robot tool. The box below appears only after a choice in the first phase has been made. The software robot works on the web pages of the product to be sold on the company’s WWW-site.

Prototyping of Sales Lead Tools

The need for sales lead tools was recognized in the pre-study of partner companies in the DIVA-research project. The sales should not only be the task of sales and marketing functions as most employees who are directly working with customers are able to collect new needs and problems, in other words new sales leads. The sales lead is defined as a signal of potential customer’s business need or problem. The goal of this company-driven development project was to find out how to digitalize the process of sales lead collection among project managers.

Eight ICT-students in two groups started to work for this business challenge in the Haaga-Helia’s Innovation Project course in the fall of 2015. The development method was the user centered design. The roles of students in the development teams were defined according to their skills and strengths. The learning and development project started with the kick off meeting of a partner software company. The focus of development was narrowed to the software solution, which helps and motivates project managers to collect sales leads. A special emphasizes was put on the user experience and easiness of software solution. In the first phase, the student groups benchmarked digital sales tools and interviewed five project managers for learning of their opinion, needs and experiences. Based on the interview, the process model, use cases and requirements were defined and the first MVPs (Minimum Viable Product) were created for starting the learning of user expectations. The students also got familiar with sales techniques, such as how to have a discourse with a customer on their potential business needs or problems what have they met in their work. The process models and first user interface prototypes were presented to the representatives of a partner company, and the feedback was collected.

The both student groups designed and developed the prototypes which help project managers to insert sales leads electronically to the system where sales and marketing people can classify, evaluate and manage new sales leads. The final prototypes were presented to the representatives of partner companies in December. The students also created the written reports concerning to the project phases, such as how and why they ended up to various solutions, how the project proceeded and what they actually designed, created and programmed.


The ability to understand the viewpoint of end users and to work and communicate with customers is a critical skill for many ICT professionals. The digitalization of societies, organizations and every day activities set new user-centered requirements for the designers of digital services. There is an increasing demand for continuous learning and collaboration not only with customers but also within multi-disciplinary development teams. These changes in the practices of digital service design should be included in the ICT education programs in higher education institutes. However, it should be kept in mind that students can learn these critical capabilities best by involvement in real-world customer projects where they communicate directly with end users and customers in all development phases. This pedagogical approach sets new requirements also with regard to skills and attitudes of teachers.

The two learning and teaching cases presented in this paper are concrete examples of projects where we are acquiring new pedagogical insight on how to link R&D projects and companies in courses. In addition, during the projects, the companies learned from the fresh thinking and innovativeness of young students. A third accomplishment of the two case projects was that the R&D project behind them received new resources in order to figure out and test new ideas concerning novel tools for digital sales.


Lili Aunimo, Principal Lecturer, PhD, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, lili.aunimo(at)haaga-helia.fi
Ari Alamäki, Principal Lecturer, PhD, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, ari.alamaki(at)haaga-helia.fi

No 1 (2016) Abstracts

Digitalization challenges Universities of Applied Sciences in multiple ways

Anu Pruikkonen, Head of Services, M.Ed., Lapland University of Applied Sciences

Universities of Applied Sciences form an interesting context to examine digitalization phenomena because those should be able to utilize the possibibilities of digitalizaion development in multiple ways and arena. Digitalization should be applied to teaching and learning, sector-wise R&D&I development as well as UASorganisation’s own working and management practices. As w whole, digitalization is more about changing the working practices and culture than technology. The strenght of UAS could be cross-sectoral collaboration and working practices which would also support the understanding of digitalization phenomena and further creation of innovations. Digitalization is multi-faceted phenomena and it would be wise to recruit the whole UAS-community to work for taking full advantage of it.

Designing and Prototyping Digital B2B Sales Tools with Students

Lili Aunimo, Principal Lecturer, PhD, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences
Ari Alamäki, Principal Lecturer, PhD, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences

This paper describes two case examples of how the development goals of a research and development (R&D) project and the needs of partner companies can be integrated into teaching. The ultimate goal is to develop pedagogical approaches where students solve real problems given by companies. The two case projects presented describe the development of new B2B sales tool prototypes in the software development and innovation project courses of Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences (UAS). Close cooperation with the companies during the projects ensure that the results are useful and realistic, and that students learn software design and development as well as user-centered design competencies in an authentic environment.

Education Technology Transfer to Developing Countries

Sanna Juvonen, Senior Lecturer, RDI, M.Sc. (Education), Laurea University of Applied Sciences
Päivi Marjanen, Principal Lecturer, RDI, Ph.D. (Education), Laurea University of Applied Sciences
Francis Adaikalam, Assistant Professor, M.Phil. Social Medicine and Community Health, Loyola College Chennai, India

This paper consists of a reflection on digital business possibilities in developing countries, especially with regard to digital business linked to education technology transfer. The focus is on the possibilities and challenges related to business, but there is also some critical reflection on the transfer of education technology to developing countries. The aim is to provide an understanding from both partners’ perspectives, because this kind of cooperation includes plenty of dilemmas, which often disappear behind business scenarios when talking about new digital market areas, as well as privacy issues.

Review: The World’s Biggest Education Technology Event

Jaana Kullaslahti, Principal Lecturer (Research), PhD, Solution-Focused Coach, Häme University of Applied Sciences
Irma Mänty, Development Manager, M.Ed., Laurea University of Applied Sciences

This review is describing what the BETT Show 2016 was offering in it´s exhibitions and sessions. BETT is a place where the latest education technology is demonstrated in exhibitions and research findings and learning experiments are presented in sessions. The hundreds of Finnish teachers and developers of education are visiting BETT every year. Common themes this year where e.g. cloud services, Bring your own device (BYOD) policy and coding.

Simulations Are Challenging Learning Skills

Marianne Teräs, Senior Lecturer, PhD, Associate Professor, Stockholm University
Sari Kiias, Bachelor of Education, University of Helsinki
Jorma Jokela, Principal Lecturer, PhD, Associate Professor, Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Simulations are learning situations which imitate various work situations. This article explores how do simulations differ from other studying methods and what kinds of studying practices are needed in simulations. We approach this with authentic activities and simulation process. Simulations differ from other methods by emphasizing practice-based orientation and doings. Simulations require that students, among other things, accept unnatural situation and suspend their disbelief, outline whole situation, take different roles and accept complex and fuzzy tasks with diverse solutions. Studying in simulations also demands that students collect new information, cross boundaries, work in groups and reflect their learning. These studying practices and skills are important to make visible and practice before participating in simulations.

Digitalization Provides a Sound Basis for Study Paths

Kati Komulainen, Director, Dr.Sc. (Nutr.), Laurea University of Applied Sciences
Tuija Eloranta, Teacher of Social Services and Health Care, Vocational Special Teacher, Porvoo Vocational College, Amisto

Digitalization will change Education in Finland. At the same time, we have to speed up and streamline study paths from vocational education to higher education. In this article we introduce one digital study path pilot in co-operation with Porvoo Vocational College, Amisto. Furthermore, in this article we discuss what benefits Study paths might produce for all participants including students and the personnel of the vocational college and higher education.

Whirls of Digital learning environment

Titta Pohjanmäki, Principal Lecturer, Lic.Ed., Humak University of Applied Sciences
Päivi Timonen, Senior Lecturer, Digital Pedagogist, Community Educator, Master’s degree, Humak University of Applied Sciences

The coaching pedagogical thinking of Humak University of Applied Sciences is based on the integrative model of pedagogy (Tynjälä 2010). Along with coaching pedagogical thinking also the roles of the lecturer and the student have changed. According to possibilities, the studies will be integrated from the beginning of the project studies into the project activities of the institution and its stakeholders, as well as into other workplace cooperation. Digitalization challenges teachers’ expertise and requires a new kind of expertise, as opposed to traditional teaching happening in the same place at the same time. The diversity of digital learning environments will pose new challenges and put the coach’s expertise to a test. In her article Titta Pohjanmäki examines what is required from the digi-coach.

University of Applied Sciences Humak’s goal is to open Digital Campus 2018. The aim is that digital coaching pedagogy can be supported by digital learning technologies. To obtain this goal Päivi Timonen writes in the article about four different dimensions of digital learning environments. Learning in the different or the same digital learning environment and learning online or offline so different time or at the same time. These four e-learning dimensions are:

  1. Different digital learning environment – and learning at the same time
  2. Different digital learning environment – learning at different time
  3. Same digital learning environment – learning at the same time
  4. Same digital learning environment – learning at different time.

Multidisciplinary Co-teaching Provides a Good Basis for Online Degrees

Eeva Haikonen, Senior Lecturer, M.A., Laurea University of Applied Sciences
Kaisa Puttonen, Information Specialist, M.A., M.Soc.Sc., Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Students might find it difficult to commit to online studies. To meet these challenges, Laurea University of Applied Sciences has implemented a multidisciplinary approach with activities to online guidance. The described course, ’Information management and communication’ is the first one the distance learning students attend as they complete their Bachelor’s degree online. The overall aim is to ensure that students achieve basic computer, information literacy and communication skills for further studies. However, just as important is to build confidence to studying online and enhance online socialization. The presented course’s framework is based on Gilly Salmon’s five stage model for online learning. According to feedback, the image of studying alone changes to learning and interacting as a group. The interactive online lessons are experienced as a meaningful way to study. The positive attitude reflects also to motivation.

The lecturers experience guiding together and collaborating as a way to develop know-how in online pedagogy and gain professional growth through shared expertise.

Student-oriented Planning of Online Courses in Higher Education Institutions

Tuija Marstio, Senior Lecturer, M.Sc. (Econ.), Laurea University of Applied Sciences
Eija Lipasti, Senior Lecturer, M.Sc. (Econ.), Laurea University of Applied Sciences

In this article online learning is examined from the perspective of student experience. A student often chooses an online course because of the flexibility it offers. On the other hand, students encounter challenges in online courses deriving from their weak motivation and engagement in online learning. A study carried out in Laurea in spring 2015 regarding students’ opinions and experiences of online courses shows similar results to international research. The writers of the article present a holistic model for planning an online course, taking into consideration creation of the overview of issues to be learnt, engaging students, interaction and learning activities.

Care Services Companies Are Taking a Digital Leap

Hannele Niiniö, Project Manager, Nursing Teacher, M.Ed., Laurea University of Applied Sciences
Soili Vento, Senior Lecturer, M.Pol.Sc., M.Sc. (Econ.), Laurea University of Applied Sciences

The main goal of Digital in Care Services Project (DCS), funded by ESF, is to promote SME’s to digitalize their services both in client data systems and in safety and rehabilitation. Case
Enterprises and Mentor enterprises are part of open network. Also other actors, like digital and eHealth enterprises have been invited to DCS -network. Networking increases possibilities of innovation by trust and commitment to co-operation which promote co-creation and strengthens new knowledge to move to actions (Järvensivu & Kallio & Pyykkönen 2014, 6).

In DCS Project there will be used two methods developed in previous projects of Laurea UAS (HoivaRekry and Active for Life Fi). When digitalizing services there will be used sc. Profile tool to
Allocate human resources in service processes. Active role of employees when digitalizing services strengthens commitment and readiness to develop their own work. Occupational Health model of Encounter Art developed in Active for Life Fi Project will be applied as creative and experience based way of working in network meetings and training sessions.

Does Virtual Thesis Supervision Facilitate the Thesis Process?

Johanna Heinonen, Senior Lecturer, M.Sc. (Econ.), M.A., Laurea University of Applied Sciences

Virtuality has become an essential part of modern day teaching. However, thesis supervision has been considered to be an intimate dialogue between the teacher and the student. The virtual summer thesis supervision in Laurea has moved the intimate dialogue online and shared supervision with several teachers, something that could be considered even radical. This article discusses the possibilities of virtual thesis supervision and the issues that affect its success, i.e. planning, guidance, engagement and shared supervision. Virtual summer thesis in Laurea has clearly contributed the thesis process as whole by giving a new flexible way and also by revealing places for further development.

Virtual Learning Environments and Digitalisation of Teaching

Mari Virtanen, D-Specialist, MHS, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences

Rapid technological development and the digitalization has challenged also universities to develop new and innovative learning environments and teaching methods. Learning environments which enables studying and learning in all times and in all places has allowed flexible learning opportunities and a stronger individual support. Virtual learning environments, developed in Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, supports the students in health and nursing degrees as biomedical laboratory science, radiography, oral healthcare and midwifery. Virtual learning environments are based on authentic 360-panorama image from the selected destination where students can study and learn in their own pace.

All required study material is attached to learning environment in text, image or video format. Through virtual learning environment students can follow video lectures or demonstrations, write together, do tasks, assessments and examinations and read electronic books. Development of environments has started in 2013. During this period systematic research has performed from usability, satisfaction and learning effectiveness perspectives with good results.

The Developers of Digital Health and Welfare Services

Outi Ahonen, MNSc, Senior Lecturer, Laurea University of Applied Science
Gun-Britt Lejonqvist, LHSc, Principla lecturer, Arcada University of Applied Sciences
Baiba Apkalna Mg.sc.hum. Project expert, Red Cross Medical College of Riga Stradins University
Kersti Viitkar MNSc, Coordinator of Nursing and Midwifery Curricula, Tartu Health Care College

The project “The Developer of Digital Health and Welfare Services” is a multi-cultural and multi-professional project that aims to create a new 30 ECTS curriculum giving future professionals in IT, economics, social- and health care current competencies to match the needs of developing improved eHealth and welfare services for citizens. The project is funded by Central Baltic. The partners are from Estonia, Latvia and Finland.

Big Data Analytics, a research project in the complex digital era


The security and stability in the digital economy has to be ascertained to ensure a competitive future for the Finnish business environment, using (Big) data and facts. The goal of this project is to make the “digital Finland” safe and to help decision makers to make good calls based on solid facts in order to safeguard the success in Finnish organizations. This project answers the call for relevant and top-level research efforts. The project aims at solving problems in several focus areas of the current challenges in Finland and the European Union. Project partners are Arcada University of Applied Sciences, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, Novia University of Applied Sciences.

Main Activities

There have been two parallel tracks of activities, both supporting each other and the common goal, i.e. teaching businesses and master students to make fact based decisions (topic 1) and Improving stability and security in the digital economy of Finland (topic 2). Whereas the first topic is very much focused on improving the relevance in education in Big Data and creating the foundation for understanding Big Data in real life as well as collaboration between industry partners and academia, the second topic is focusing on solving research problems and establishing a solid academic network.

In the first topic, workshops have been held between several companies and the academic partners. Also a popular seminar was held in the beginning of May 2014 in Haaga-Helia. The potential of Big data applications has been studied in three focused sectors: in the retail, financial and industrial sector. Knowledge transfer has been done (not only through workshops and seminars) but also through direct placement of a teacher in one of the partner companies; the focus has been put on ensuring relevance in the project through proper industrial collaboration.

In the second topic, there has been plenty of activities, i.e. a network with Goethe University has been established (with a visiting researcher there from Arcada). Also the collaboration with Open University (England) has continued as planned. The main outcome of financial stability research is found in the use of analytical techniques in systemic risk measurement, as well as a deeper understanding of the mechanisms behind financial instability, and finally in overall extension of analytical techniques in high level publication outlets (e.g. Quantitative Finance, Knowledge and Information Systems, Information Visualization, Quality & Quantity, Ecological Informatics etc).

The response have been positive also from the practitioners side from the project and a further understanding of the financial crises as well as a set of additional tools have been very welcomed. In addition, Arcada has hosted a conference in Systemic Risk Analytics, in cooperation with the Bank of Finland and the ESRB (European Systemic Risk Board) during the fall 2015 (for more info see http://risklab.fi/events/sra2015/). In our work concerning information security, the results has been in the form of new Hadoop implementations in intrusion detection applications as well as basic methods in machine learning aiding in information security efforts. The progress in text summarization research has been interesting, and the use of term weighting and text analysis methods in social media content analysis for image labeling has been explored. We have proposed a new approach of web content classification that combines topic extraction with sentiment analysis methods, and developed different classification models. In addition, we developed several versions of text analysis and feature extraction tools for the applications.


In Arcada, the outcome of the project (still not finished) has been contributions to a large number of publications (38) of which approx. half are in JUFO (Julkaisufoorumi) ranked forums (for more info see http://www.arcada.fi/sv/forskning/forskningsprojekt/big-data-analytics). Additional research projects have been obtained in conjunction to this project. The impact of these results may be found in better understanding of financial stability processes, big data potential in information security issues and the potential of big data applications in the retail sector, industrial sector and financial sector. Also novel methods in the field of Machine learning have been obtained, on which future application in the industrial sector can be created.

Closing remark

This project has definitely helped research in Big Data Analytics to be placed not only in the traditional universities, but also in universities of applied sciences. The research activities in this area have, through the project, gained visibility and a solid network of academic and industrial partners. In the research field, we have obtained many results already in terms of publications and projects and we foresee no problem in achieving the desired research results from this project by the beginning of 2016.


Kaj-Mikael Björk, Head of Department, Dr. Econ, Dr.Tech, Arcada University of Applied Sciences, Department of Business Management and Analytics, bjorkpau@arcada.fi

Cooperation and long term partnership between Karlsruhe, Laurea and Saimaa University of Applied Sciences based on business simulation joint course


Cooperation and partnership between other universities in different countries is encouraged in strategy papers of many universities. Many student and staff mobility programs already exist as well as cooperation in R&D contexts. However, joint courses offered by several universities together and implemented in curricula are not common. This paper focuses on long term cooperation and partnership between Karlsruhe, Laurea and Saimaa universities of applied sciences to offer a joint international business course based on business simulation.

EU-level framework

European commission defines growing internationalization and international mobility of students, researchers and staff as some of the key factors in the communication of an agenda for the modernization of Europe’s higher education systems. One of the main benefit of the internationalization is the dissemination of the ideas and best practices as well as the professional development of the people working on education. Virtual mobility is recognized as one, many times under exploited option. In general, creation of virtual learning platforms and utilization of variety of ICT solutions is seen as an opportunity to take up innovative practices in education, improve the level of learning and enrich the learning experiences. (European commission, 2011)

Another suggested field of improvement for higher education is the recognition of the transversal skills along with the specific professional skills. Transversal skills are understood to be working life skills that are important in many occupations. Examples of this type of competencies are language and cultural skills, teamwork skills or IT skills. The good level of transversal skills is proposed significantly improve the employability of the person, especially in the international sphere.

Simulations as an environment to practice business and transversal skills in an international cooperation

Business simulations can be used as practical learning tools in modern business education. In the business studies context the students can practice their business skills in an as close to realistic situation as it is possible to simulate. The students apply their knowledge on various business areas in running a virtual company via a business simulation game. The aim of the business simulation course is that the students gain comprehensive understanding on how strategic business decisions are made in teams in areas like marketing, pricing, and investments and they can be used in various sectors such as manufacturing industry, international trade and hotel and hospitality industry. Competing against other teams makes the learning experience motivating and real-like.

When business simulations are offered jointly and internationally in cooperation between several universities, the students don’t know each other in the beginning. Yet, they are expected to work in virtual, international, and intercultural teams. This way they learn capabilities needed in their future professional careers. (European commission 2011; ec.europa.eu, 2015)

Aligning course set-up to suit different curricula

At the starting point of co-operation simulations were part of the business studies curriculum in each of the three universities. However, there was no continuous international cooperation with other universities although some experiments had been carried out with other international partners. Karlsruhe, Laurea and Saimia shared the same vision: Long term partnership and implementation of mixed international teams formed of students from all partnering universities.

When students from different universities participate in the same course together, the course set-up has to be the same for all. Therefore course schedules had to be adjusted to suit all the universities. Learning platform issues and communication with the students were surprisingly difficult to unify as all the universities had different systems and security standards in place. Pedagogical choices required adjustments as well due to different learning objectives, learning activities and assessment practices in each university.

Teacher level experiences

Although simulations were part of the business studies curriculum in each of the three universities, there was no continuous international cooperation. Best practices and new knowledge was created at many levels in international surrounding. Teacher’s experiences about arranging a joint course on a continuous basis have been gathered throughout the planning, realization, assessment and reflection process of each course.

Learning to be flexible in planning a joint course was found to be the most important issue. Teachers from different countries learnt about each other’s pedagogical methods, were able to align learning objectives and activities to be the same for the participants from the three universities, chose a common online learning platform and gained experience from using several digital virtual team-working tools some previously familiar only to one (Adobe Connect, Skype, Google tools, Webex, etc.). This way the jointly offered international course was improved from the original domestic ones.

Many skills were enhanced at the teachers’ level. There was the need to use the language and cultural skills and virtual team work skills. The sharing of knowledge and new ideas was not limited to learning to use the new digital tools. Also the pedagogic knowledge was enhanced through the common creation of learning activities and reflective discussions after each course. The point of these discussions was to think together what we learnt as teachers, what was good about the course and where we had the room for improvement.

Student level learning experiences

Student feedback about their learning was collected immediately after the last assignment of the simulation by an open question in an electronic feedback form “What were your learnings from participating in the simulation?” Out of 31 students 15 participated in giving their feedback.

Student’s answers were analyzed by content analysis technique. Based on that three areas of learning were found in the answers, namely international teamwork, virtual teamwork and decision-making in businesses. In the following, learnings in these three themes is summarized.

International teamwork: Most of the students had worked in international teams during their studies at their own campuses. This experience was different because team members came from different universities in different countries with different back-grounds and previous studies. Students had realized how they can learn from each other and benefit from other team member’s different knowledge base, experience and perspectives on international business.

Virtual teamwork: Although before the simulation the students reported they had experience in virtual tools, working virtually with strangers was more difficult for them than they had expected. Lack of motivation of some team members in some teams was reported to be the reason for poorly functioning teamwork. Teams experiencing poor teamwork also spent less time together online and they sensed that they really didn’t know much about their team members. Students commonly used communication tools for teamwork were Skype and Facebook and other social media tools.

Decision-making in a company: As already concluded, this simulation was about making informed decisions when leading a company based on analysis on the present competitive situation in the simulated environment. The students realized the complexity of management decisions and how different activities and decisions in a company are intertwined. Past results are important and guide decisions for the future and before making final decisions it is important to analyze the possible outcomes. In decision-making it was important to focus on strategic big decisions.

According to the student feedback the joint course with foreign partners was motivating, it enhanced learning and they got a real experience of the challenges they might face while working in international companies and teams.

As one of the students put it: “business simulation games are really beneficial for students who have an attitude for learning. It challenges students and also enhances some abilities needed in a working life such as teamwork and leadership skills. I can also think of other advantages: simulation games shape innovativeness and creativity and increase the ability to make decisions. Students will learn to set goals and become more determined to achieve these goals. They also increase risk awareness, and help understand market rules.


Based on these learnings and experiences it is suggested that when creating a joint course with international partners a systematic way to approach the planning is needed. In this case Bloom’s taxonomy was found to be a good model to guide thinking towards a jointly accepted set of learning objectives, contents and learning tasks and activities.

The implementation of joint simulation enhanced the transversal skills such as language and cultural skills, teamwork skills or digital and social media skills both on teacher and student level. Additionally, teachers have been able to develop their pedagogical skills in an international setting throughout the courses.

Learning objectives were well reached when using jointly arranged simulation. To support students’ motivation and belonging to the team it is proposed that learning activities are designed to increase team members’ knowledge about each other. Once team members know each other, they can better trust each other and that way build mutual commitment to do their best for the benefit of themselves and each other.

The next experiment in this co-operation is to arrange a face to face week for the students before the actual game rounds. The purpose is to help the students to get to know each other before starting the virtual teamwork. The students from all three universities kick off the next joint course at Laurea Tikkurila campus in the end of October 2015. In the medium term the intention is to expand the partner network. Some discussions with potential universities have been held already.


Ville Lehto, Senior Lecturer, M.Sc., Saimaa University of Applied Sciences, ville.lehto@saimia.fi

Eija Lipasti, Senior Lecturer, M.Sc., Laurea University of Applied Sciences, eija.lipasti@laurea.fi

Manfred R. Schorb, Professor, Dr., Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, manfred.schorb@hs-karlsruhe.de

Vladimira Schulz, Academic Assistant, MBA, Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, vladimira.schulz@hs-karlsruhe.de

Jukka Sirkiä, Senior Lecturer, M.Sc., Saimaa University of Applied Sciences, jukka.sirkia@saimia.fi

European Commission 2011. Communication from the commission to the European parliament, the council, the European economic and social committee and the committee of the regions. COM(2011) 567. Brussels 20.9.2011
https://ec.europa.eu/esco/escopedia/-/escopedia/Cross-sector_skills_and_competences, accessed 19.8.2015

Brazilian VET teachers´ strategies to transfer their learning in a Finnish-Brazilian teacher education programme


The VET Teachers for the Future® – Professional Development Certificate is a pilot teacher development programme for vocational and higher education teachers (VET) designed to meet the strategic goals of the Ministry of Education in Brazil and the needs of Brazilian Federal Institutes. The tacit targets of the programme are ambitious – the participants are expected to learn a considerable personal lesson, build professional networks, transfer pedagogical strategies and implement them in Brazil in their learning and working environments. On the other hand, HAMK has set the strategic targets to enlarge educational cooperation with Brazil already in the year 2000 and has advanced this with several measures, step-by-step. One of the steps is the teacher education and combined research process described in this article.

The programme is research-based and this article is part of its development process. For the coordinator, Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK), it is important to conduct research on the programme. Based on that, we can carefully meet the learning needs of the participants as well as the strategic aims of the Brazilian partners and stakeholders. The data is based on interviews carried out with the two study groups in HAMK. In this article, the researchers´ interest is on developing the programmme´s ability to facilitate the intended educational and strategic development in the students´ home institutions in Brazil.

According to Sahlberg (2011), the Finnish educational success depends on several factors, one of them being a high level of teacher competences and strong teacher professionalism. There are also several other reasons and success rationales based on the level of Finnish society and culture. However, we lack the scientific knowledge of how to transfer the successful models and learning communities into other contexts (Kurtti, 2012). This is the careful analysis of the context and means of transfer are suggested as future research challenges.

Successful educational change includes a strategy process. According to Mantere (2003), people position themselves as either champions, citizens or cynics in the strategy process and the balanced share of different position holders defines the success of strategy in a community. A certain amount of champions is definitely needed with citizens to implement and cynics to give the necessary criticism for the strategy process.

Context and methodology

The program is coordinated by HAMK and contributed to by its partners Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) and HAAGA-HELIA. The pilot programme was conducted over nine months, five months in Finland and four months in the Federal Institutes in Brazil using digital learning environments and giving regular support and guidance from Finland. The scope of the programme is 30 ECTS.

The first pilot group consisted of 27 participants in 2014–2015, and 30 in the second and still ongoing cohort in 2015–2016. The contents of the programme were formulated to train and prepare the teachers to design a competence-based curriculum with the emphasis on active learning, and skills to collaborate with the region, business and industries. The participants were divided into two study groups, in HAMK and TAMK Universities of Applied Sciences.

The feedback has been actively collected from the students to acquire better customer insight and understanding, and to further design the program for future needs. For example, several other individual and group interviews were made and videoed and both qualitative and quantitative surveys were presented to the participants.

In this article, we concentrate on the participants´ strategies and intentions to spread their learning experiences in their learning and working environments, just at that critical moment when the Finnish section of the programme had ended. There were 14 students in the first pilot group and 16 in the second, ongoing course. Altogether, 29 interviews (one declined) were videotaped, transcribed and analysed with a qualitative approach using qualitative data analysis software N-Vivo8 (Richards & Richards, 1995). The interviews were narrative-based (Polkinghorne, 1995; Czarniawska, 1998) and the interviewer took advantage of his well documented in-depth knowledge and available material based on teaching and following the interviewed participants along the programme. Thus he could grasp the moment.

Figure 1. Interviewing VET Teachers for the Future® -programme’s students’ experiences and future plans. (Photo: Brian Joyce)


The primary way to enhance strategic development was said to be collaboration with peers, both the participants of the programme as well as the other active peers in their home Federal institutions.

”..so we are kind of dynamic team so I really believe that after I start to spread this experience with our colleagues we are do a kind of revolution, we are start to implement a lot of new ways to teach and get better results then we have done until now. So. I really believe that they are, they will be my, on my side when I start to run this kind of new ways.”

Their own managers were regarded as an important audience to hear about newly learned lessons in Finland. Their attitude and support were regarded as critical.

The participants positioned themselves on two levels. Most of the participants positioned themselves as strategic actors, champions using the definition of Mantere (2003). The champions were planning to use concrete techniques like workshops, developing learning environments and engaging learning projects, using communication tools like media and storytelling. Some saw themselves at their best in the classroom using their new competences, even allowing the students to spread the good word of mouth and acting as citizens (Mantere, 2003) in the strategy process of pedagogical change. All intended to use the pedagogical competences learned although some of the participants had originally been expecting more emphasis on research in the own area of expertise than pedagogical content.

The participants were aware of the slow pace of pedagogical change and realized that the basic requirement was putting trust in its possibility; having faith:

” I think I would like to let them know that it’s possible to do new things, meaningful and not so difficult things in education…”

What was new to our research team was the importance of understanding emotions and their importance in enhancing strategic, pedagogical change. Both tears and joy were present in the interviews. Just as the Finnish have a proverb – ”If you learn without joy, you will forget without sorrow”. The Brazilians say:

”…it’s not because we only like parties, it’s because our behaviour and our feelings are linked with…”


The VET teachers for the Future -programme® can be described as a growth environment of new teacher identities and roles. During the five months in Finland, the narratives of participants can be described simply by the development from an individual teacher participant in the initial cultural shock in Finland towards a group of networked, collaborative strategic champions returning enthusiastically to Brazil. The participants positioned themselves as actors at the level of peers, in their own department and institution and even the Federal Institutions network, not only in their own classroom.

The practical conclusion for the programme development can also be drawn – both the participant selection as well as the programme have succeeded well in reaching the strategic targets. To reach its full potential, the process needs to continue with support both during the on-the-job learning period back in the Brazilian reality and after the programme ends. Understanding the different strategic roles adopted by participants can help their return.

Figure 2. VET Teachers for the Future® -programme’s students and teachers closing Finnish study section in seminar 15.6. 2015 at Tampere. The Brazilian section is about the start.  (Photo: Giselda Costa)


Seija Mahlamäki-Kultanen, Director, Ph.D., Häme University of Applied Sciences, seija.mahlamaki-kultanen@hamk.fi

Brian Joyce, Senior Lecturer, M.A., Häme University of Applied Sciences, brian.joyce@hamk.fi

Essi Ryymin, Principal Lecturer, Ph.D., Häme University of Applied Sciences, essi.ryymin@hamk.fi

Maaret Viskari, Manager, Global Education, M.A., Häme University of Applied Sciences, maaret.viskari@hamk.fi

Lasse Heikkilä, Research Assistant, Häme University of Applied Sciences, heikkila.lasse@gmail.com

Czarniawska, B. 1998. A narrative approach to organization studies. Sage Publications Qualitative Research Methods Series 43.

Kurtti, J. 2012. Hiljainen tieto ja työssä oppiminen. Edellytysten luominen hiljaisen tiedon hyödyntämiselle röntgenhoitajien työyhteisössä. Acta Universitatis Tamperensis 1722. Tampereen yliopisto.

Mantere, S. 2003. Champion, citizen, cynic. Social positions in the strategy process. Helsinki University of Technology. Industrial Management and Work and Organizational Psychology. Dissertation series 5. Espoo. Monikko oy.

Polkinghorne, D. E. 1989. Phenomenological research methods. In R. S. Valle &S. Halling (Eds.), Existential-phenomenological perspectives in psychology (pp. 41–60). New York: Plenum.

Richards T. & Richards L. 1995. Using Hierarchical Categories in Qualitative Data Analysis. In U. Kelle (ed.) Computer-Aided Qualitative Data Analysis. Theory, Methods and Practice. Sage Publications inc. Printed in Great Britain by biddles LTD, Guilford, Surrey, 80–95.

Sahlberg, P. 2011. The professsional educator. Lessons from Finland. American Educator. Summer 2011, 34–38.

Developing Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in an International Project


Today, it no longer makes sense to learn the same things twice. Therefore recognition of prior learning (RPL) is beneficial. It will help individuals to assess their skills, to facilitate the continuation of studies and provide with information on learning-promotion. The identification and validation of prior learning makes room for other studies and, ultimately, the students learn more. This in turn improves the quality and the employment of graduates and employers get people to work as quickly as possible. Furthermore, universities get motivated students and a well-functioning RPL enhances the education system.

There are lots of students who have earlier education and thus could gain from the RPL evaluation. RPL procedures have started well at Finnish universities of applied sciences, but there is not a unified way for validation of prior learning and the evaluation can be context-sensitive. Educators, students or employers do not always have the same understanding about the RPL concepts and thereby it may seem difficult or its benefits questionable. At Finnish universities there is a need to clarify RPL, in which the fluency and equity of the process are confirmed. It is also necessary to diversify the recognition methods.

Savonia University of Applied Sciences (SUAS) participates in an international Recognition of Prior Learning (RELATE) project, the participants of which are three universities and three vocational colleges in Germany, Estonia and Finland. The project aims to develop the RPL process and practices. This article describes SUAS intensification of both the vocational college and international co-operation of developing RPL practices.

International co-operation fostering RPL customs

Universities have the autonomy and are responsible for their degrees and also the quality of the accreditation of prior learning. Students and teachers have to know the methods and criteria of the RPL. It is also important to counsel students to describe their competence (Airola 2012, 107) to help them creating personal learning pathways (Muhonen 2012, 93–94, 95). The process also requires time and willingness for counselling (Venhovaara 2012, 63–64).

The RPL process is technically logical, but in practice it can cause confusion in all European countries. Thus it is effective to develop RPL by both national and international co-operation. The project aim of RELATE is to promote permeability into higher education programs within three European countries, Germany, Estonia and Finland, and to create a model of agreement between vocational education and training (VET) and higher education (HE) institution for simplified RPL (Figure 1).

Figure 1. RELATE project step by step.

Universities of applied sciences in Finland have a strategy partnership with each other. It is also necessary to have strategy partnership with vocational education and training institutions. In the project SUAS and Savo Vocational College (SAKKY) are working as a national pair with international partners from Germany and Estonia to foster practical co-operation and strategy partnership in RPL development. The main task in the project of SUAS and SAKKY is to develop new methods for RPL in health care education for practical nurses to registered nurse or paramedic education. The aim is also to adapt the process model for co-operation between VET and HE institutions and get ideas for the local co-operation in curricula development.

RELATE project proceeding in Finland

The RELATE project proceeded from gathering the best practices of student counselling, collection of data from students’ RPL experiences, comparing VET and He education and pilot testing practical RPL methods.

At first the RELATE project collected data about the national methods and legislation of RPL. Also the used practices of student counselling and RPL instructions were described. It was found that the RPL as a process is very similar in all the participating organizations. There is a common need to clarify the RPL process and foster more the understanding, that competence, not studying, as the base for the recognition. Diversities were found in the counselling process and the methods used in recognition. Estonia and Finland have a systematic counselling at the beginning of the university studies and the electronic student interface for initiating the RPL process. In Germany the portfolio is well-developed and widely used as a method for applying for RPL.

The second phase of the project was to get the students´ viewpoint of the RPL. Twenty university students were interviewed in Germany, Estonia and Finland either in individual or group focused sessions. The participants were both women and men and their age varied from 20 to 50 years. The results of students´ experiences about their RPL processes were grouped in three themes (Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Students´ experiences about RPL process.

Given guidance during the RPL process

The orientation course for studies was a starting point for the RPL. Suitable information was also found on the university internet and student counselling net system. The tutoring teachers ensured that the students knew the curriculum of their study program by having both individual and group counselling. Often the helper was also the teacher of the particular course, counsellor or IT-teacher. From fellow students, who had applied for RPL, could give good tips as well.

The methods used in recognizing the prior competence

Students found out that competence acquired before the degree studies could be credited as a part of the new studies from prior work experience or by the credit transfer of the earlier studies. The most common way was to apply for recognition of the practice periods and foreign languages.
Recognition was either applied by the e-learning program or by discussion with a tutoring teacher. The time spent in the process depended on how well the student focused on the task. Sometimes it was difficult for a student to understand that the competence was not a list of skills or tasks they mastered.

The most common method for RPL was a written description. Students had verified their competences by describing in-debt customer case-situations, reflected on the work they had done or wrote self-assessment. In any of the participating organizations simulations or other practical tests were not used in RPL.

The needed development in the RPL as a learning process

Mainly the RPL had given plenty of advantages e.g. possibility to work and earn money, to take time with family, to shorten studies by taking extra courses and to concentrate on personally challenging study areas. However, because of the difficult terminology, it took some time to understand the RPL as a practical tool for planning studies. Students suggested that teachers had uniform requirements and equal instructions for justifications of RPL instead of coincidence. There was a need for personal help with the documents, more help for arranging opportunities to do the studies faster and also different options for applying RPL; simulation, skills demonstration, possibility to show competence at the beginning of the placement period.

Third task for Finnish participants was to make a comparison between VET and HE health care education and find out the common competences. The aim was to create practices/methods that help the student know-how to become more effectively integrated into the new degree. For a closer inspection and piloting were selected two 5 credit-first-semester-nursing-education courses. Also the VET/HE educational co-operation were inspected step by step (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Process of co-operation between VET and HE in Finland.

For VET graduates, who started studies in SUAS nurse or paramedic programs, it was developed practical pilot tests for RPL. Skill labs, simulations and case studies were used as test methods. Successful completion of the competence test entitled to receive a part of the course/ the whole course accredited.

How the project experiences are put into strategy

The RELATE project fostered the participants’ understanding about the importance of the RPL process from the strategical viewpoint. The benefits of RPL, with the study time shortening and enhancing the motivation of the student, have both humane and financial implications for universities of applied sciences strategic outcomes and international partnerships. Therefore this development is needed to continue both at the international and national level.

Based on the results of the RELATE project, the RPL guidelines in SUAS are already clarified, suggestions for counselling system in HE are planned and VET and HE co-operation in RPL has started. The criteria of good RPL practices have also been identified in Scotland and similarly found, that students should have enough information of the RPL process and guidance in the reflection process. Staff should also have clear guidelines of the RPL and procedures of monitoring the process. (Shapira 2012, 48.)

The international project co-operation of VET and HE organization produced strategical knowledge about planning fluent continuum of studies. It also widened understanding about the produced competencies in VET and HE institutions and thus help participants better to develop curriculums in co-operation. Practically it produced new methods for RPL and at this moment developing simulation competence tests is one common national and international development target. Supporting the co-operation of VET and HE institutions e.g. by this way, it will become more formal and standardized and thus widens students possibilities for RPL. Also other co-operative ways e.g. open access summer and multiprofessional studies and co-operation in working life should be developed. The results such as good practices for co-operation of HE and VET institutions and developing new competence test methods fostered overall the strategy partnership of project partners.


Marja Silén-Lipponen, Senior lecturer, PhD, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, marja.silen-lipponen@savonia.fi

Annikki Jauhiainen, Principal lecturer, PhD, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, annikki.jauhiainen@savonia.fi

Airola, A. 2012. Kokemuksia osaamisen tunnustamisesta Pohjois-Karjalan ammattikorkeakoulussa. Teoksessa Airola, A. & Hirvonen, H. (toim.) Osaaminen näkyväksi. Kokemuksia osaamisen tunnistamisesta Itä-Suomen korkeakouluissa. Publications of the University of Eastern Finland. General Series No 8, 130–138.

Muhonen, P. 2012. Osaamisen arvioinnin hyviä käytänteitä Pohjois-Karjalan ammattikorkea-koulussa. Teoksessa Airola, A. & Hirvonen, H. (toim.) Osaaminen näkyväksi. Kokemuksia osaamisen tunnistamisesta Itä-Suomen korkeakouluissa. Publications of the University of Eastern Finland. General Series No 8, 93–100.

Relate Project. Retrieved June 25, 2015, http://www.relate-project.eu/index.php/project-content.html

Shapira, M. 2012. Recognition of Prior Learning in Scotland. Report for project ”University Recognition of Prior Learning Centres – Bridging Higher Education with Vocational Education and Training” Employment Research Institute, Edinburg Napier University. Retrieved July 22, 2015, http://www.adam-europe.eu/prj/9626/prj/Report-Recognition%20of%20Prior%20Learning%20in%20Scotland.pdf

Venhovaara, P. 2012. Savonian AHOT-toimintamalli osana opiskelijan ohjauksen kokonaisuutta. Teoksessa Airola, A. & Hirvonen, H. (toim.) Osaaminen näkyväksi. Kokemuksia osaamisen tunnistamisesta Itä-Suomen korkeakouluissa. Publications of the University of Eastern Finland. General Series No 8, 57–72.

Business with impact through strategic co-operation and research work in Namibia – SAMK and Polytechnic of Namibia heading for urban development in Africa

MOU between SAMK and Polytechnic of Namibia

Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) has entered into a co-operation agreement with Polytechnic of Namibia (PON) on issues relating to land and sea since 2012. The co-operation has been especially on R/V Mirabilis and maritime education (Keinänen-Toivola et al. 2014). The three-year project “Improving the maritime education in Namibia 2013–2015 (MARIBIA)” is financed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. MARIBIA project is a partnership between Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) the Polytechnic of Namibia and Namibia Maritime and Fisheries Institute (NAMFI) on maritime education in Namibia.

This co-operation was taken to the next level in May 2015 in Rauma, when SAMK and Polytechnic of Namibia signed the memorandum of understanding (MOU) (Fig. 1). Prof. Tjama Tjivikua, Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia and Associate Professor Samuel John Dean of School of Engineering also visited SAMK’s Faculties both in Rauma and Pori. PON is planning to establish centers of excellence similar to those of SAMK’s centers of excellences, such as on water and solar energy (Fig. 2).

Figure 1. Managing Director Juha Kämäri and President of SAMK and Prof. Tjama Tjivikua, Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia signed the memorandum of understanding in Rauma, Finland in May 2015. Ambassador of Namibia to Finland, H.E. Bonny Haufiku and Ambassador of Finland to Namibia, H.E. Anne Saloranta were witnessing the occasion. (Photo: Minna Keinänen-Toivola)
Figure 2. Chief Project Manager Martti Latva presenting the world widely unique water system of the Sytytin Technology Center in Rauma, Finland to Prof. Tjama Tjivikua, Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia , Associate Professor and Dean of School of Engineering Samuel John and Meri-Maija Marva from SAMK. (Photo: Heikki Koivisto)

PON is a Higher Education Institution established by an Act of Parliament (Act No. 33 of 1994) in Namibia and commenced operations in 1995. The Polytechnic was established to offer career oriented programmes to meet the scarce skills challenging the country. The institution is dynamic and fast growing with a strong focus on science, engineering, technology and mathematics. About 55% of the 13000 students are female. The Polytechnic emphasizes on innovation and strives to improve the living conditions of people through the pursuit of applied and problem-solving research. PON is enrolled in six Schools: School of computing and informatics, School of engineering, School of human sciences, School of natural resources and spatial sciences and School of business sciences.

The Polytechnic is also home to several centres of excellence and institutes, from which participants are drawn for the NAMURBAN project. These are the Namibian-German centre for logistic, centre for open and life-long learning, centre for enterprise development, Namibian business innovation institute and the Namibia energy institute. There is also the Harold Pupkewitz Graduate School of Business. In December 2012, the Cabinet of the Republic of Namibia approved the long-standing request for the Polytechnic to transform into the Namibia University of Science and Technology. Hence, the institution is in a change process which will be finalized in 2015.

NAMURBAN – Urban Resource Efficiency in Developing Countries -pilot study of Walvis Bay, Namibia

SAMK and PON have commenced a research project titled NAMURBAN, which stands for Namibia Urban (Fig. 3). NAMURBAN widens the co-operation between SAMK and PON from education to research and development work. The research is aimed at developing a framework for urban resource efficiency utilization in developing countries using Namibia as a pilot country. NAMURBAN is part of Tekes and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Finland’s BEAM – Business with Impact -programme for innovations meeting the needs of developing countries and providing Finnish companies with new business opportunities in the growing markets of such countries. The innovations in question can involve technology, service, business or social innovations (Tekes, 2015). A very important part of the NAMURBAN research is the part funding from nine Finnish companies partly, and by implication also actively participating in the research.

Figure 3. NAMURBAN project application meeting at the Polytechnic of Namibia in February 2015. From left going clockwise: Bas Rijnen, Samuel John, Grafton Whyte, Zivayi Chiguvare, Angelica Bergmann and Minna Keinänen-Toivola. (Photo: Minna Keinänen-Toivola)

The specific solutions of NAMURBAN are based on the analysis of the current situation and needs for urban technology and systems in Namibia (Fig. 4 and 5). Namibia’s vision 2030 states that by 2030, Namibia will be a prosperous and industrialized country, developed by its human resources, enjoying peace, harmony and political stability. Namibia’s National Development plan (NDP4) is increased income equality, employment creation, and high and sustained economic growth. The economic priority areas are logistics, tourism, manufacturing and agriculture. This research will be the first to study and develop a sustainable technological concept on urban environments in developing counties using a pilot sites coastal city Walvis Bay in Namibia.

In Namibia, the urban development balance is very fragile as the population is growing at the rate of 2.5 % per year, and in some cities even 4 % per year. Namibia has a peculiar challenge, in terms of urban development due to informal settlements, extreme water scarcity, and dependency on imported energy combined with one of the world’s highly skewed income distribution situation. The social challenges are therefore unequal income distributions, huge unemployment of young people, and low education level, and lack of sufficient skilled people in most sector of the economy. There is an existing and growing population of under-educated young people, who enter the job-market without skills, resulting in the high unemployment rate of over 30%.

Figure 4. Etosha National Park in Northern Namibia is one of the few places in Namibia with several fresh groundwater ponds. (Photo: Minna Keinänen-Toivola)
Figure 5. In Namibia and many other African countries solar energy has huge potential, as a renewable energy source. (Photo: Minna Keinänen-Toivola)

Demand for urban solutions in Africa

In the next ten years, population in Africa is expected to grow by 25% and it is forecasted that 70% of the growing population will be living in slums mushrooming around the megacities. Global megatrends (urbanization, megacities, slumming, clean water, CO2 free energy production, digitalization and food production) are realities in Africa already. At the moment the ongoing infrastructure projects (housing, traffic, energy, water) corresponds to 378 billion USD markets in the sub-Saharan area and 1190 billion USD market in the whole continent. By the year 2020 the number of mobile connections is expected to grow near market saturation point and the number of internet connections will increase 60% from the 2010 level. Furthermore, the discretionary income will grow over 50% compared to present level, creating a 1.4 billion USD mega consumption market.

Big scale urbanization and hugely growing markets require extensive investments to infrastructure (including ICT- and mobile), water, energy, and food production processes also in the future. In several developing countries, lack of pure water and sanitation systems and self-sufficient energy production, are barriers for further development. For example, in Namibia 60% of the consumed energy is imported from outside the country.

Market growth happening in sub-Saharan Africa creates vast possibilities for the Finnish companies for long term business development and expansion (Fig. 6). Finland is a country with extreme conditions and long distances, and Finnish companies have strong knowhow and competence in those areas, which create largest challenges in Africa’s development and growth, namely affordable and energy efficient construction, energy production and water processes as well as ICT-solution development. Resource efficiency in urban development is the key for success for economic and social development while ensuring the minimization of the negative effects to the environment.

Figure 6. Namibia provides a short cut to business with impact in Sub-Saharan markets. (Photo: Minna Keinänen-Toivola)


Dr. Minna Keinänen-Toivola, Project Manager, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, minna.keinanen-toivola@samk.fi

Dr. Samuel John, Associate Professor, Dean of School of Engineering, Polytechnic of Namibia, sjohn@polytechnic.edu.na

Dr. Anna Matros-Goreses, Director of the Project Services Centre, Polytechnic of Namibia, a.matros-goreses@polytechnic.edu.na

Captain Heikki Koivisto, Project Manager, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, heikki.koivisto@samk.fi

Dr. Suvi Karirinne, Team leader, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, suvi.karirinne@samk.fi

Keinänen-Toivola, M., Koivisto, H., Marva, M.-M. & Latva M. 2014. SAMK having co-operation on land and sea in Namibia. AMK-lehti // Journal of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences, No 3 (2014). http://uasjournal.fi/index.php/uasj/article/view/1606/1530(available online 17.9.2015).

Tekes 2015. http://www.tekes.fi/en/programmes-and-services/tekes-programmes/beam–business-with-impact/ (available online 17.9.2015).

Multicultural competence in higher education and labor market – Improving foreign student’s guidance in practical placements

Problem: How to promote European student mobility for practical placements?

Majority of higher education (HE) students in the field of education, rehabilitation, social and health care do their exchange mobility in a practical setting. It is indicated that multicultural competence of the working life mentors and teachers is inadequate and the quality of foreign students’ guidance varies extensively. Traditionally internationalization has not been developed alongside with the other working life competences. This may lead to the challenges facing the quality of guidance in practical placements. (Edgecombe et al. 2013.)

However, the guidance skills of mentors play a major role in the success of the learning experience (Dale et al. 2013). Guidance given by mentors during practice has a significant effect on the integration of foreign students into local working life and community. This can lead to willingness to stay and work in the country of study after graduation. (Mattila et al. 2010; Pitkäjärvi et al. 2012). Furthermore, the development of the pedagogy in placements has not been linked to the curriculum development. Therefore, mutual trust and effective communication between the HE and working life institutions should be strengthened by bringing the teachers and mentors together to improve their multicultural competence. Being elementary parts of social capital, mutual trust and communication should be built in a structured manner between the parties.

One of the responses to the needs described is the EU funded project “SOULBUS – Building Social Capital by Improving Multicultural Competence in Higher Education and Labour Market”) 2014–2016 implemented in cooperation with five EU countries: Finland, Netherlands, Estonia, Slovenia and Croatia. Overall 13 partners participated in the Soulbus project. Six of them being HE institutions and the other six working life partners such as hospitals and NGOs. The third country partner is the School of Social Work, San José State University, USA. The consortium was put together initially by a coordinator who looked for higher education institutions which have a strong relationship with their labour market partners, and also need to improve multicultural skills of mentors and teachers. Another way of selecting suitable partners for the consortium was to ensure that a partner organization has a strong emphasis on internationalization, and has a strategic plan incorporating vision, mission and goals of how to increase a number of exchange students particularly in practical placements. Some partners had have cooperation with mutual projects and curriculum activities with each other’s but most of the partners were unknown to each other.

Project’s outcomes are divided into the three parts: 1) to improve teachers’ and mentors’ multicultural competence to increase the volume of placements available to foreign students and to harmonize the quality of placement. The objective is achieved by offering the target group possibility to attend the Soulbus E-Coach program which is designed and piloted in the project, 2) to improve attractiveness and accessibility of the practical placements for the foreign exchange and degree students as a part of the higher education institutions’ curricular activities, and 3) to support systematic, long-term collaboration between higher education institutions and working life partners.

Considering building social capital between the HE institutions and working life partners, two practices and main outcomes developed in the Soulbus project, are presented as follows:

PRACTICE 1: More experienced partner-countries share their expertise with less experienced ones

The Netherlands and Finland have been members of Erasmus programme for a long time and both countries run a number of English-taught degree programmes in the fields of education, rehabilitation, social and health care. Additionally, both countries have described the internationalization competence, and internationalization and practical training abroad has been part of the curricula for years. Slovenia, Estonia and Croatia have, on the other hand, only a few foreign exchange students annually and thus, not enough practical placements are available for the foreign students. However, they are strongly motivated to internationalize their curricula, set up English-taught degree programmes and most of all, offer practical placements with good quality of guidance. From the beginning of the project it was aimed that the less experienced partners learn from the more experienced ones when hosting foreign students and carrying out their guidance. This promotes transference and dissemination of knowledge and skills and enhances creativity and innovations between partner organizations. The consortium started with an analysis of the present situation of guidance and pedagogical practices of foreign students in each partner country. Each partner country conducted a focus group interview where data was collected from the students’, teachers’’ and mentors’ perspectives. As a result, a Case Study Repository, is now available for all the participants to be shared and learned from.

Secondly, as an experienced partner Saxion UAS in the Netherlands planned and piloted the Soulbus-e-Coach online programme to enhance multicultural competence. The programme will be beneficial for the practice placement mentors in guiding foreign students and support teachers when guiding incoming and outgoing students. An online programme it is profitable for all mentors and teachers working in the European HE Area.

PRACTICE 1: Strengthening trust and increasing mutual understanding between mentors and teachers

The Soulbus consortium expected that every HE institution and working life partner work mutually to improve their multicultural competence and guidance practices. The aim was that the partners shared experiences and expertise of multiculturalism and pedagogy. Multicultural approach means enhancing the quality of guidance and increasing the volume of placements. To achieve this goal, the partner pairs have had continuous co-operation from the beginning of the project e.g. by organizing the focus groups together. All the HE partners and their counterpart from the working life have participated in numerous face-to-face seminars during the project. Furthermore, HE institutions have continuously been in touch with their working life partner to ensure their active role and to consider their specific needs to develop trust and share the learning processes.

To strengthen trust and increasing mutual understanding in the guidance of foreign student, mentors and teachers of the Soulbus E-Coach program worked through two pilot phases.  This will help to implement the European Qualifications Framework for practical placements in order to enhance competence-based training in the education, rehabilitation and social & health care sectors. One task of the programme was to produce and pilot tailored actions in each partner country and to use peer-learning in sharing pilot experiences. The pilots aim at exploiting innovations and creative solutions which can be incorporated into the national curricular activities. Every partner pair planned and performed national actions concerning their specific needs of foreign student’s guidance in practical placement. National actions were peer-reviewed in order to share good practices, learn from each other and, above all, utilize counterpart’s experience and expertise in mutual challenges.

Lessons learned: Building social capital in international partnership

The Soulbus project is currently at the end and it is time to summarize the lessons learned:

  • It is evident that active collaboration between the mentors and teachers develops attitudes and practices. Based on our experience, one of the best ways to reduce prejudice is when professionals work together to promote genuine appreciation of diversity. During the collaboration the whole consortium has learned different working styles, pedagogical views and practices of practical training. This will result foreign students receiving better guidance and the increased volume of placements.
  • Practical methods for guidance such as ways to overcome language barriers, have been shared among partners. Participants have also exchanged experiences of useful tools, practices and methods in guidance. These can be implemented and disseminated within the universities and work places.
  • Close collaboration creates innovative ways to link curricular development to practical placements practices following the National Qualification Framework. As a result of the project, a cooperation agreement was made between two partner high education institutions. This means that students, teachers and other staff members have a possibility to take part in the exchange programmes of the institutions.
  • Working life partners are not so familiar with the Bologna Process and the aims of the European HE Area. This may cause challenges in the collaboration. To overcome these challenges, the project has encouraged open and constructive communication between partner pairs. This has turned out to be an important way to communicate views and working methods. One result of the project was that the working life partners from non-governmental organizations (NGO) clearly benefited from a close collaboration between each other’s, and now they are searching for possibilities of extending the cooperation in the field of guidance of foreign students.
  • Working together in Soulbus project has built knowledge, trust and willingness to co-operate with the proven consortium and new project initiatives in the future as well.

The Soulbus project has offered a fruitful arena for partners to develop their knowledge and skills on multicultural competence in relation to foreign students’ practical training. Overall, this cooperation has served as valuable first steps towards creating a strong learning community. The aim of the consortium is to continue collaboration between partners, to develop international mobility HE and related multicultural competence.


Hanna Hopia, Principal lecturer, PhD, JAMK University of Applied Sciences, hanna.hopia@jamk.fi

Johanna Tarvainen, International Relations Coordinator, M.Soc. Services, Lahti University of Applied Sciences, johanna.tarvainen@lamk.fi

Tuula Hyppönen, Senior lecturer, MSSc., Lahti University of Applied Sciences, tuula.hypponen@lamk.fi

Sanna Sihvonen, Principal lecturer, PhD, JAMK University of Applied Sciences, sanna.sihvonen@jamk.fi

Dale, B., Leland, A. & Dale, J. G. 2013. What factors facilitate good learning experiences in clinical studies in nursing: Bachelor students’ perceptions. International Scholarly Research Notices, volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 628679. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/628679

Edgecombe, K., Jennings, M. & Bowden, M. 2013. International nursing students and what impacts their clinical learning: literature review. Nurse Education Today, 33(2), 138–142. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2012.07.015.

Mattila, L-R., Pitkäjärvi, M. & Eriksson, E. 2010. International student nurses’ experiences of clinical practice in the Finnish health care system. Nurse Education in Practice 3, 153–157. doi: 10.1016/j.nepr.2009.05.009.

Pitkäjärvi, M., Eriksson, E., Kekki, P. & Pitkälä, K. 2012. Culturally diverse nursing students in Finland: Some experiences. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship 1, 1–16. doi: 10.1515/1548-923X.2356.

Soulbus project’s website. http://www.jamk.fi/en/Research-and-Development/RDI-Projects/Soulbus/Etusivu/ (23.8.2015).

Finnish-Chinese cooperation development – International cooperation development project


Laurea UAS began a two-year CIMO project in January 2015. The purpose of the project is to improve strategic partnership activities and, by means of an international development project, the cooperation between universities in Finland and China.

Increasing cooperation activities in the global market environment not only benefits organisations that provide higher education but also aims at sharing knowledge and education in a more active manner. The goal is to improve cooperation between Finnish and Chinese companies and organisations in the future and to eliminate barriers that prevent international cooperation and partnerships between micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

The project time line is divided into four parts over a two-year period. In Finland, Laurea’s Uusimaa units P2P in Hyvinkää and Business Lab in Lohja serve as the coordinating bodies. Thus, they are responsible for project funding and matters related to operational planning. In accordance with the partnership activities, Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK) is the project partner for cooperation schools in Finland and China.

The participation of project partner institutions operating in China – Xiamen University Software School, Jiangxi Science and Technology Normal University and Beijing Technology and Business University – adds an international dimension to the project. There has not been similar cooperation between the Finnish and Chinese schools before this project. Thus we are hoping to accomplish lasting relationships between the schools and make it easier for companies to cooperate.

The universities operating in China and universities of applied sciences in Finland each have their own contact with which project parts are implemented and divided into ”action points” for each period. Business Lab and P2P are in contact with the international coordinator responsible for Xiamen University Software School and with student, working together on actions that are specified for each period of the project and maintaining contact in weekly virtual meetings. HAMK is a project partner with Jiangxi Science and Technology Normal University and Beijing Technology and Business University, which operate in China. This paper concentrates in the cooperation between Laurea UAS and Xiamen University Software School.

Partnership activities in this project culminate in regional, inter-organisational and international differences between the educational lines and students. Thus, the students, organisations and the actual project all benefit from international cooperation and the viewpoints of experts and students from several different fields. Partnership activities and international cooperation makes it possible to utilise elements from China and Finland and their own unique market characteristics in project implementation and planning.

The beginning of the project

For Laurea, the first phase in the project, in January 2015 involved creating a foundation and strategy process for the different phases of the project. During this phase, Finnish students would travel to China and present the project targets and a description of the Finnish market situation. However, the most important aim of the trip was to establish a strong foundation for the strategy process. At the same time, the practical arrangements concerning communication and measures were agreed. The first major part of the project was then to build the cooperation process and develop the communication between students and faculty in these higher education institutions.

The P2P project team began its part of the project by creating a comprehensive analysis of the Finnish market. The purpose was to survey how factors affecting the market environment impact on market functioning, and to provide the project team operating in China with information about the operation and current state of the Finnish market.

The Business Lab project team started to develop a module that would ease international cooperation between Finnish and Chinese micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the future. This team began its work by collecting background information on the problems encountered by Finnish small and micro enterprises when cooperating with Chinese companies and organisations. The background research was completed in the form of benchmarking and qualitative interviews.

The background research made it possible to identify the biggest problem areas with regard to launching international cooperation. Many small companies cannot hire a consultant to handle or assist with starting international cooperation or trade relations. There is demand for products ordered from China, but the challenges to establishing trade relations can be huge for small and medium-sized or micro enterprises. The second challenge to launching cooperation between Chinese and Finnish companies is language and differences in virtual communications channels.

Trip to Xiamen, China

In March 2015, a project team of students and teachers from Laurea made a visit to Xiamen in China. During this trip, we learned more about our cooperation institute Xiamen University Software School and local culture. At Xiamen University, we met a group of Chinese students who will be involved in the project for the next two years. The P2P project team presented its analysis and showed the Chinese students how to produce a similar analysis for China. The analysis lays a foundation for the project by increasing understanding of the other culture and thus facilitating cooperation. The Business Lab project team presented a raw version of a module that it developed. At this stage of the project, we were aware of the challenges on the Finnish side, and during the trip we addressed the challenges that Chinese companies encounter when working with Finnish companies. The aim was to survey the challenges that Chinese companies face when initiating cooperation, and to find solutions to the challenges that Finnish companies have encountered.

Figure 1. Visit to Xiamen University Software School in March 2015 (Laurea’s students and staff together with Xiamen University students and staff)

After returning to Finland, the teams continued to work on their own, meeting weekly in virtual format. The weekly meetings ensured that everyone moved in the same direction in terms of project implementation.

Lessons learned in this project

Working on an international project differs from project work with a Finnish team. In Finland, we are accustomed to a disciplined work style and are relatively reserved in terms of body language. The Chinese body language, customs and etiquette are very different than that of Finns. Another challenge was how to communicate and hold project meetings when the project team is separated by a few time zones and no one is operating in their native language.

In addition, cultural differences and technology factors have an impact on project work. For example, women in China have a very different position in the university world than their counterparts in Finland. Behavioural etiquette in lectures and meetings also differs significantly from prevailing practices in western countries. Community spirit in China is on a completely different level than in, for example, in Finland. People in China almost always consider their own job or educational institute to be the best in the field, which means that anyone seeking neutral feedback or a recommendation should begin by interviewing people from outside the organisation.

Image and reputation have great importance in China. This affects negotiations and brainstorming sessions held with the Chinese. During the spring, we learned that critical arguments or development proposals should be presented in a roundabout manner as questions rather than direct comments. This avoids situations in which a Chinese student is embarrassed by being the target of ”criticism”. The opportunity to work in an international team also provided valuable knowledge for the world of work. If we get the chance to work in a multicultural team later in our careers, we will be better prepared to handle the potential challenges.

Project work cannot be compared to traditional campus studies, because the learning that occurs in projects is completely different from lecture-style learning. The experiences are much more beneficial than theoretical studies. Project work has become more prevalent at workplaces, which makes participation in such a large project very useful. Studying in projects has developed our skills in social interaction, the English language and project work. Applying knowledge in practice and implementing a project brings a practical aspect to learning and teaches people how to deal with problems and situations that do not come up in lectures.

The future

This article depicts only the first part of the project that set the foundation for the future actions. During this project the students in Finnish project team will change but Chinese team stays the same for the whole two-year project. This change in personnel has a lot to do with the formation of the studies in both countries. Finnish students use project management system to manage the project and share the documents. The teachers for both Hyvinkää and Lohja students stay the same for the whole project. The first teams planned the process and now new students are taking those into action.

The goal for the second part of the project is to take these proposed plans to action. We are now contacting interested businesses in both countries and building the contacts for them. The idea is that by the coming spring, we would have the first actual contacts for the international projects. It is also in the plans that in the spring 2016 the students and faculty from Xiamen University Software School will come to Finland to meet the new Finnish students and also to get acquainted with Finnish culture and businesses connected with the project.


Janika Kyttä, Coordinator, M.Ed., Laurea University of Applied Sciences, janika.kytta@laurea.fi

Daniela Frisk, Bachelor Student, Business & Administration, Laurea University of Applied Sciences, daniela.frisk@student.laurea.fi

Jenna Kuusimäki, Bachelor Student, Business & Administration, Laurea University of Applied Sciences, jenna.kuusimaki@student.laurea.fi

Networking to Bridge the European Regional Innovation Systems – The Case of METNET Knowledge-Based Innovation Network

Globalised Market Trends and Regional Innovation System

Current trends in the globalised markets of the twenty-first century include increased interdependency and inter-organisational networking between organisations from different societies. A number of researchers who are involved in the field of innovation clusters and networks have explored positive outcomes that arise from the sustainable networking of actors with complementary resources and competencies (e.g. Porter, 1998, Asheim & Isaksen, 2000; Ferreira et al., 2012).

Following these trends, non-profit sector organisations in the fields of education and academic research have also become engaged in a variety of academic partnerships, exchange programmes and industry cooperation projects.

At the heart of these developments, the completion of the European Research Area (ERA) by 2014 was at the top of the political and legislative agenda of the European Union (EU), as it would be an area of free movement and exchange of research, scientific knowledge and technology (Chou, 2014).
Regional Innovation Systems (RIS) have been raised to the position of being the most critical tools for enhancing research and innovation capacities throughout Europe and ensuring their optimal use. Lundvall (1985) initiated the term of Innovation System (IS). A few years later, the idea of the Regional Innovation System (RIS) was introduced (Cooke, 1992; Isaksen, 2001; Iammarino, 2005). There are different approaches used by scholars to define RIS. According to Cooke (1992), the concept of RIS is the prelude to an extended discussion on the importance of financial capacity, institutionalised learning and productive culture to systemic innovation.

The complete regional innovation system consists of (1) firms representing a region’s main industrial clusters, including their support industries, (2) ‘supporting’ knowledge organisations, and (3) the active interaction between these actors. Thus, it involves cooperation in innovation activities between firms and knowledge creating and diffusing organisations, such as universities, colleges, R&D institutes, business associations etc. (Isaksen, 2001) Some researchers consider RIS as an interactive, dynamic structure made up of partners in the regional production (Lambooy, 2002) or even as a kind of complex adaptive system (Cooke, 2013).

Table 1. A hierarchy of three related concepts (Isaksen, 2001)

Concepts Definitions and differences
Regional cluster A concentration of ‘independent’ firms within the same or adjacent industrial sectors in a small geographical area
Regional innovation network Increasingly organised cooperation (agreements) between firms, stimulated by trust, norms and conventions
Regional innovation system Cooperation between firms and different organisations for knowledge development and diffusion
Learning regions Increasingly organised cooperation with a broader set of civil organisations and public authorities that are embedded in social and regional structures

Isaksen (2001) emphasises that the change from a cluster to an innovation system requires strengthening the region’s institutional infrastructure through enlarging the involvement of knowledge organisations (both regional and national) in innovation cooperation. Organisations cooperate closely on an institutional level with the aim to develop and implement regional innovation strategies (Boekema et al., 2000) in order to develop the local economy.

The case of the METNET knowledge-based innovation network

Recognising the strength and power of networks in creating regional innovation system and fostering economic growth, the knowledge-based innovation network (METNET) was established on the basis of the regional cluster InnoSteel, which was founded by the Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK) in cooperation with Rautaruukki Oyj (currently SSAB Ab). Establishing the METNET knowledge-based innovation network was a first step towards building a regional innovation system (RIS) in the Häme region.

The aims of the METNET network were:

  1. to consolidate the expertise and efforts of the regional steel construction and technology industries in research and development, and
  2. to share knowledge and technology services as well as new production-related solutions and operating models among the industry players.

Recognising the strength of international cooperation networks in contributing to regional innovation systems, the METNET knowledge-based network was formally founded by signing an agreement between eight foundation members in Berlin on 2 November 2006.

The METNET knowledge-based network is based on voluntary cooperation and equality of rights for its members. The purpose of the network is to bring together European educational and R&D organisations engaged in research and development in the steel construction and technology industry to support their cooperation.

The specific objectives of the METNET knowledge-based network are as follows:

  • to build and maintain a large scale international innovation environment for the network members and their regions,
  • to promote the exchange of information and best practices through the network to increase the know-how of companies and organisations operating in the European steel construction and technology industry,
  • to support innovative processes aimed at developing new products, services and business processes by sharing capabilities, expertise and resources among network members,
  • to prepare and launch joint international projects of common interest financed by companies, European Union, World Bank etc.,
  • to hold international seminars, workshops, training programmes, and consultation and to seek funding for these activities.

Currently, the METNET network has over 40 members from 17 countries all over Europe including non-member states of the European Union such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Turkey. These members are universities, higher education, as well as research institutions and enterprises who represent their regional innovation networks. Each regional innovation network has its own priorities and strengths (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. METNET knowledge-based innovation network.

HAMK has been the leading member of the METNET network acting as the main coordinator of most activities for the entire period since network’s foundation. As a leader, HAMK has been responsible for organising annual conferences, workshops and other forms of cooperation within the network. The METNET annual conferences and workshops have taken place in different countries and been organised in cooperation with the regional network members. The Tenth METNET International Conference will be hosted by the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME) in Budapest in October 2015.

Network members fund their own participation in METNET activities themselves through their own financing arrangements and/or projects. Among the most active Finnish sponsors are the City of Hämeenlinna, Rautaruukki Oyj (currently SSAB Ab), HAMK and other university members. In the case of METNET international events, the regional sponsors have been local businesses, universities and city organisations.

Planning, preparing and managing joint international projects are the most important and most demanding activities of the METNET network. The network members have prepared and submitted several project applications for the EU funding. There is an international project, named Ruoste (financed by the Research Fund of Coal and Steel RFCS) currently running. Currently, another project in the same technical area is under preparation. Additionally, METNET members have participated in several Finnish national projects managed by HAMK.


The METNET network has significant implications for the development potential, research and innovation capacities of the Häme regional innovation system (RIS) and wider communities of Europe represented by the network members. METNET provides an international innovation environment for its members and the possibility to expand their regional innovation networks internationally.

International networking facilitates learning that promotes innovation. Through the channels of the METNET network, network members are able to use more of the information available in their research and development work. Importantly, enterprises are able to acquire new knowledge, new development and business opportunities and access to resources outside their regions.
Interpersonal relationships are of particular importance in the exchange of information between the network members. The achieved long-term trustful relationships stimulate interactive learning and inspire joint development work. In turn, joint projects developed by the members of the network maintain the METNET cooperation.

Finally, the cumulative effects of utilising the possibilities of an international cooperation network, instead of the regional innovation network only, will produce significant increases in the economic value added of enterprises. (Tenhunen, 2007)


Marina Weck, Development Manager, M.Sc. (Eng.), MBA, Häme University of Applied Sciences, marina.weck@hamk.fi

Lauri Tenhunen, Dr. of Science, Adjunct Professor, Häme University of Applied Sciences, lauri.tenhunen@hamk.fi

Asheim, B., & Isaksen, A. 2000. Localised knowledge, interactive learning and innovation: between regional networks and global corporations. In E. Vatne, & M. Taylor (Eds.), The Networked Firm in a Global World. Small Firms in New Environments (pp.163-198). Ashgate: Aldershot.

Boekema,F., Morgan, K., Bakkers, S. & Rutten, R. 2000. Introduction to Learning Regions: A New Issue for Analysis? In F. Boekema, K. Morgan, S. Bakkers, & R. Rutten (Eds.), Knowledge, Innovation and Economic Growth. The Theory and Practice of Learning Regions. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Chou, M.H. 2014. The evolution of the European research area as an idea in European integration. In Building the knowledge economy in Europe: New constellations in European research and higher education governance (pp. 27-50)Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Cooke, P. 1992. Regional innovation systems: competitive regulation in the new Europe. Geoforum, 23(3), 365-382.

Cooke P. 2013. Complex adaptive innovation systems: Relatedness and transversality in the evolving region. New York, NY: Routledge.

Ferreira, J., Garrido Azevedo, S., & Raposo, M.L. 2012. Specialization of regional clusters and innovative behavior: A case study. Competitiveness Review: An International Business Journal, 22(2), 147-169.

Iammarino, S. 2005. An evolutionary integrated view of regional systems of innovation: concepts, measures and historical perspectives. European Planning Studies, 13, 497-519.

Isaksen, A. 2001. Building regional innovation systems: is endogenous industrial development possible in the global economy? Canadian Journal of Regional Science, 24(1), 101-120.

Lambooy. 2002. Knowledge and urban economic development: An evolutionary perspective. Urban Studies, 39 (5–6), 1019-1035.

Lundvall, B.Å. 1985. Product innovation and user-producer interaction. Aalborg: Aalborg University Press.

Porter, M. 1998. Clusters and the new economics of competition. Harvard Business Review. November-December, 77-90.

Tenhunen, L. 2007. How international collaboration benefits companies – Evaluation of the scale effects of an expanding innovation environment. Cases InnoSteel and Metnet. In T. Similä-Lehtinen (Ed.), InnoSteel – True Stories Made Out of Steel. HAMK Publications, 10.

CARPE – The European strategic network in higher education


The agreement between the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and the higher education institutions for the period 2013–2016 contains a section of internationalisation to ensure high quality. According to the agreement, higher education institutions should create international strategic partnerships to strengthen their focal areas. In addition, the joint supply of education including joint and double degrees and the collaboration in research and development are essential elements in international collaboration.

The creation of the strategic network

Higher education institutions typically have a large number of international agreements, which create insufficient collaboration and unnecessary bureaucracy among partners. To avoid these difficulties, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht searched the best partner and found Turku University of Applied Sciences in 2008. The top management of these institutions prepared the plans to create the strategic network, defined the required features of the potential higher education institutions and began to search suitable partners for the network.

The partnership criteria included that the institutions should be universities of applied sciences, which have applied research and development that serve professional education and support regional development. The institutions should have similar fields of education to enable student and staff exchange, joint educational programmes and collaboration in research and development. The promotion of innovations also had an important role in emphasising the external impact of the institutions.

International trade was an important motivation for the geographical coverage of the network. Europe is an important market for the export companies of the countries where the institutions of the strategic network are located. For example, the share of the export of the Finnish gross domestic product is nearly 40% and the share of Europe of the export is about 55%. The universities of applied sciences want to support international trade and other international activities. Another motivation for the European partnership was the funding from European Union for student and staff exchange and research and development projects. Based on these factors, the strategic network supports the European economic and social cohesion in the common market.

The strategic network provides a trustworthy learning environment for students who want to strengthen their international competences (Kettunen, 2015a). Trust was considered an important factor in the strategic network because it lowers the unnecessary transaction costs (Kettunen, 2015b). It was agreed in the first discussions that the network should not be too large to support trustworthy collaboration and create benefits for the members of the network. Trust is important when the members prepare the bids of research and development projects, carry out projects and disseminate results. Institutional trust was promoted by the general agreement between members. The formal association was established according to the Dutch legislation.

The European strategic network

The general agreement of CARPE was signed by four European universities of applied sciences at the first CARPE Conference in November 2011. Manchester Metropolitan University joined the network next year, soon after the Conference. The CARPE network includes the following members:

  • HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht
  • Turku University of Applied Sciences
  • Polytechnic University of Valencia
  • Hamburg University of Applied Sciences
  • Manchester Metropolitan University.

CARPE is not a closed network restricted only to activities between members. It is not reasonable to limit the collaboration between the predetermined partners, because the development needs of customers may require partners outside the network. Therefore the network welcomes other partners for research and development projects whenever it is reasonable for the aims of the projects. Similarly, the member institutions of CARPE have student and staff exchange with other institutions outside the strategic network whenever it is considered valuable.

Figure 1 describes the geographical coverage of the CARPE network on the European map. The network has spread over Western Europe and it is biased in this respect. There are plans to extend the coverage to Eastern Europe. The Steering Committee of CARPE accepted the University of Debrecen as an associate member in November 2014 and it has a good possibility to become a full member if it can maintain the high activity level in the network.

Figure 1. The geographical coverage of the CARPE network.

The governance of the network

The governance of the CARPE network is stipulated in the CARPE Statutes so that there are full members and associate members. The first five institutions are full members. The new members can be considered for associate members if they have enough activities including staff and student exchange and research and development projects. If the activity level remains high or increases, the associate members can be considered for full members. The convergence criteria have been planned to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and maintain the high level of trust between the partners.

Figure 2 describes the Steering Committee of CARPE in 2014. It is the highest decision making body of the network. It is represented by the heads of the institutions and supported by the support group which prepares the agenda of the meetings. The steering committee meets twice a year. The spring meeting is held in Brussels and autumn meeting in one of the member institutions. The Steering Committee evaluates the progress made and takes new steps for improvement of activities. It has also set various groups to prepare further development.

Figure 2. The Steering Committee meeting of CARPE in Brussels in April 2014. From left Dr Jacqueline Otten, Dr Juha Kettunen, Mr Ralf Behrens, Ms Geri Bonhof, Dr Sharon Handley, Ms Kirsti Virtanen, Dr Juan-Miguel Martinez Rubio, Dr Christopher Fox and Ms Marlies Ngouateu-Bussemaker.

Objectives and results of the network

The objectives of the CARPE network were aligned with the motivation to establish the network. Higher education institutions support the economic and social development in Europe. The objectives of the network are the following:

  • Exchange and collaboration in European research programmes
  • Development of joint study programmes
  • Exchange of students and staff
  • Establishment of a strong European reputation.

The CARPE network has increased the activity of the partner institutions in the European research programmes. The web site of the CARPE network (www.carpenetwork.org) includes a large number of research and educational projects. The general principle is that the CARPE partners first contact the other CARPE partners when they prepare new project bids. That is not always possible, because the workloads of the teachers and other staff at the partner institutions are full. Then other partners outside CARPE can be sought for the projects.

The development of joint study programmes has taken its first steps. The objectives of the degree programmes at the home and host institutions have to be evaluated before the agreement of joint degrees. Additional challenges are the pedagogical regulations and structures of education, which are different in the countries of CARPE partners. Networking emphasises the need of the flexible structures of curricula.

The exchange of students and staff has been active. The Turku University of Applied Sciences arranged the third biennale CARPE Conference in Turku in May 2015. The theme of the conference was Towards Successful European Societies: The Social and Economic Significance of Universities of Applied Sciences. Altogether 225 members from the partner institutions participated in the conference.

CARPE has achieved the strong European reputation, because it is the first strategic network of its kind among the universities of applied sciences. The activities and results of CARPE network have been presented in international conferences. The reputation has reached Brussels, because CARPE Steering Committee has its spring meeting is in Brussels, where its meets the experts of European Commission.

CARPE has connected education and research and provided services to small and medium-sized enterprises and other organisations. The strategic network has promoted economic and social progress through the strengthening of economic and social cohesion of Europe. The institutions of the network strengthen the capabilities that are needed in the European common market.


Juha Kettunen, Chancellor, DSc(Econ), PhD, DSc(Tech), Turku University of Applied Sciences, juha.kettunen@turkuamk.fi

Kettunen, J. 2015a. Learning and teaching in the European strategic network, The Online Journal of Quality in Higher Education, 2(2), 57-64. http://www.tojqih.net/pdf/v02i02/v02i02-06.pdf.

Kettunen, J. 2015b. The strategic network of higher education institutions, Business Education & Accreditation, 7(1), 87-95. http://www.theibfr.com/beasample.htm.