Towards Innovation Pedagogy – A new approach to teaching and learning for universities of applied sciences

Towards Innovation Pedagogy outlines the concept of innovation pedagogy adopted at Turku University of Applied Sciences. The collection consists of theoretical introductions to this pedagogical approach accompanied by texts illustrating its practical applications.

The book is a follow-up to the Finnish-language work Kohti innovaatiopedagogiikkaa (edited by Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen, Heli Kanerva-Lehto & Taru Penttilä), which was published as a part of the same series in 2009. Although some of the articles are heavily based on the corresponding texts from the earlier Finnish version, the bulk of the material is either completely revised or written exclusively for this publication.

The articles are grouped into two sections. The first half comprises items with a more theoretical point of view on innovation pedagogy. The latter part focuses on individual cases, presenting good teaching and learning practices from the Faculty of Technology, Environment and Business.

It is hoped that the publication inspires discussion and generates research for developing innovation pedagogy further. The texts are primarily targeted at the staff members of universities of applied sciences as well as all the planners, developers and decision-makers partaking in activities relating to higher educational institutions.

Towards Innovation Pedagogy (Reports from Turku University of Applied Sciences 100, 2011) is available both as a free electronic book and as a printed version on Loki publication service.


Anttoni Lehto, Liisa Kairisto-Mertanen & Taru Penttilä (eds.)

International R&D at Oulu University of Applied Sciences – practices from Raahe

Historical Retrospective

Computer engineering education in Raahe was established in 1972. Raahe Campus of School of Engineering is the oldest educational institution of such kind in Finland. The School of Engineering is a part of the Oulu University of Applied 2 Sciences (formerly known as Oulu Polytechnic). The university is one of the largest universities of applied sciences in Finland with approximately nine thousand students.

From early days of education in Raahe a practical implementation of graduation work has always been a part of an educational process. Students from Raahe used to work in companies or in educational and research laboratories of Raahe campus and solve real-world problems or develop engineering solutions for the needs of on-going projects. Such practices spread around Finland and now are an essential part of educational processes of any Finnish university of applied sciences.

A history of an international research and development work has started at the same time – as some of the students from Raahe were involved into international projects in those companies, where they did their graduation work. Sometimes students worked abroad in foreign companies. This type of international R&D was not collaborative. Teachers from Raahe campus who supervised students’ graduation work were just able to acquaint themselves with some of the international practices and R&D work of the companies.

When in 1995 Finland joined the European Union, new opportunities for international collaboration opened to all educational institutions in Finland within Socrates Programme activities, such as Erasmus project, and Leonardo da Vinci Programme. Aarno Meskanen, a headmaster of Raahe Engineering School that became to be the Raahe Institute of Computer Engineering in 1999, encouraged students and staff to utilize benefits of exchange programs. A first significant result of a staff exchange was a visit of German research center by Jouko Paaso and Pentti Koskinen and their work at Fraunhofer. Both of them started their dissertations and after a period of time obtained PhD degrees.

A first international R&D project in Raahe started at a beginning of 1998. An idea of the Active Self-Directed Learner (ASL) project was to introduce educational materials explaining a nature of energy, energy sources, and the use and saving of energy. A result of this work ready for distribution was published on a CD in a form of a multimedia content.

Educational institutions from four countries participated to ASL project: Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Finland. The project has also given great opportunities for students – to be involved into an international collaboration. Some of the students were involved for an entire duration of the project – three years.

A significant step towards to development of international R&D in Raahe happened in 2001 when Pehr Brahe Laboratory (PBOL) started its operations. PBOL was founded by three organisations: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, University of Oulu, and Oulu Polytechnic (this is how the Oulu University of Applied Sciences was called by that time). Research professor Jouko Paaso was a Head of PBOL. In a beginning research fields included distributed software engineering methods, intelligent software solutions and technologies, as well as network and software business.

Groups of workers (including students) from every founding organisation shared working environment at PBOL and contributed to joined R&D operations. University of Oulu was in charge of fundamental and theoretical research. VTT was in charge of fundamental and practical research. Raahe Institute of Computer Engineering was in charge of applied research. Such excellent arrangement of PBOL’s operations allowed students from Raahe to be involved into a variety of R&D projects as members of any of the PBOL’s working groups. Students performed development and engineering work together with students of University of Oulu, and research staff of all three organisations.

One of the first international R&D activities at PBOL was the ITEA VHEMiddleware Project. The project was about interoperability between future Home Networks belonging to several distributed Smart Homes with a purpose of establishing of one Virtual Home Environment. It is also important to mention internationally-acknowledged works of Yrjö Hiltunen in such research area as the Artificial Intelligence (AI), particularly – on applying of Self-organising Maps (SOM) in a variety of applied cases.

In 2004, when Aarno Meskanen retired from his post as the director of the Raahe Insitute of Technology and Business, Timo Pieskä was elected to this position. A new director also understood well an importance of an international collaboration. Staff exchange and mutual visits with foreign universities continued. During the past years collaborative agreements with several foreign universities, including some from Russia and Ukraine, were concluded. This brought a wide geography for a student exchange. A very effective collaboration was established with UBO, University of Western Brittany, Brest, France.

Recent Practices

Currently the Oulu University of Applied Sciences is reorganising own organisational structure and educational resources. The biggest changes are happening in Raahe. First, an early engineering full-time education of the Raahe Campus of School of Engineering (how it is called now) will gradually be transferred to Oulu, while a share of professional and adult education is planned to be increased in Raahe. Second, an increase of R&D activities is planned in Raahe. This will also include an international collaboration.

This year PBOL celebrated its 10-th anniversary. It is now called the Pehr Brahe Center for Industrial and Services ICT. Now PBOL operates under an agreement between Oulu University of Applied Sciences, University of Oulu, VTT and the Town of Raahe. A nature of collaboration between research groups changed in accordance to new agreement, but an idea of joined research remained.

A group from OUAS is the biggest at PBOL. It is completely formed by people from the Raahe Campus, but has a well-established cooperation with people from the Oulu Campus. The group is led by Markku Korhonen, who is at the same time a Head of R&D activities in OUAS Raahe.

Research areas are the following:

  • Semantic Web and Technologies
  • Artificial Intelligence, Software Agents
  • System Interoperability, SOA
  • Ubiquitous Computing
  • Social Networks
  • Mobile Services and Applications
  • Emerging Web Development Technologies
  • Ubiquitous Web Access
  • Device Recognition and Content Adaptation
  • Mobile Devices and Technologies
  • Home Automation Networks and Technologies
  • Consumer Electronics Devices and Technologies

These research areas are very large and it is quite difficult to maintain a high level of expertise in all of them inside a group. This is where research collaboration may help. It is essential to acquire expertise and resources from own university, or from one of the partner organisations. In addition to that in Raahe strong cross-border collaboration with certain universities was established.

For example, exchange students may be employed to real development work during their project work courses. With UBO University from France, a practice of sending students for a practical training was acknowledged. Almost every year a group of three students from that university comes to Finland for a practical training at PBOL. As for expertise exchange with the same university, videoconferences and brainstorms are organised few times a year. During those, joint research project opportunities, educational and organisational moments as well as concrete research problems are discussed.

Researchers from PBOL used to attend to high-level international conferences, workshops, and organisational events. It helps to maintain a level of knowledge and develop an international appearance. Reading research papers and watching presentations online will never replace a pleasure and a usefulness of a live conversation with an expert. By answering a proper formulated question, the expert may be able to save hours if not days of work. During such live conversations there may be an opportunity for clarification or refinement of information or even for a short brainstorm in a group of other people involved into a conversation.

Regular attending to international events of similar kind will allow knowing more people of that community and being known by them. Active participation to discussions and sharing knowledge and experience may help to maintain a positive image and cause an interest to own work of a participant. Thus there may occur an opportunity to discuss of research collaboration including joint applications for project funding (e.g. Seventh Framework Programme, Advanced Research & Technology for EMbedded Intelligence and Systems, Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme, etc.).

One more way to maintain a level of knowledge and develop an international appearance is to be active in online activities relevant to a research domain. This includes a membership in selected associations, unions, forums, and boards; activities at public calls for reviewing documents (e.g. standards or specifications); evaluation of a work; or just attending to online discussions of important issues. It also includes activities in online professional networks (such as groups at LinkedIn).

One has to be aware though that online activities and a process of maintaining of collaborative connections by correspondence consume highly such an important resource as time.

A very important requirement for a successful international collaboration is an availability of a concrete result of a work in an area of an expertise. Generally saying, the best result of any work is if someone (e.g. a company) will use it. A good result should be demonstrated and described. A demonstration depends on a nature of the work: it can be a series of graphs, or a working prototype. A description of work is often a weak point in case of universities of applied sciences. The best description of work is a research paper or an article. But sometimes due to resource constraints it is even difficult to produce a proper documentation for the work. This may limit collaboration opportunities.

One of the practices adopted in Raahe is organising demonstrations and collaboration-discussion meetings with visitors and exchange staff from foreign universities. Sometimes visitors are also able to demonstrate results of their work. Research staff and teachers interested in those may be invited to attend to such demonstrations. In case of mutual interest on certain work results, a further information exchange is following. This is where a lack of work description may have a negative impact.

When having a variety of research areas, it is easier to achieve success by refining a research for a smaller research domain. The OUAS group at PBOL was involved into research projects of different domains: mobile services, mobile marketing, enterprise information systems, industrial and business solutions, and home solutions. The last domain became to be a main scope of the most recent projects, such as UbiAtHome, SPIN, and Ryhti. During past projects, UbiAtHome and SPIN, practical solutions for a notion referred as Ubiquitous Home Environment (UHE) were developed.

UHE is a user-centric system – through which users can interact with their living environment and outside world – that is a part of global ubiquitous environment which is physically limited to a living area and surroundings. Home Environment is considered to be a main research domain of the OUAS group in an on-going project Ryhti. Knowledge and experience obtained in a given research domain by the group at PBOL, allowed OUAS to become to be a member of several international consortiums. One of those consortiums formed a project that was granted funding under the EU Ambient Assisted Living Joint Programme.

Important Achievement

From a spring of 2010 the OUAS group began international activities relevant to the Ambient Assisted Living. The group started from a poster presentation at AALIANCE conference in Malaga, Spain. One of a consequential activity was attending to the AAL Forum 2010 in Odence, Denmark. There was a chance to see presentations of big EU initiative as for a development of universal open platform and reference specification for Ambient Assisted Living (universAAL) – and to discuss with people from that project.

Finland was not involved into the project. As a result of discussions, OUAS was invited to collaborate with the universAAL consortium. From that time the OUAS group at PBOL started an evaluation of an opportunity for a similar R&D project in Finland. As a result a new initiative was 8 publicly announced 03.05.11 at the EU networking workshop organized by VTT. The initiative is called the Finnish Reference Platform for Home Environment.

Finnish Reference Platform for Home Environment – is a national-wide platform that could serve as a basis for home solutions and can be built by a joined consolidated effort of all the stakeholders. Thus an idea is to adopt the best from a variety of EU and Finnish R&D initiatives and commercial solutions and consolidate them into one approach. The approach will result in a reference architecture for home environment solutions and services that will bring considerable benefits to end-users, businesses, and academia. Such initiative will allow Finland to be at the edge of an international R&D in a domain of home solutions.

The initiative was presented to and discussed with the universAAL project consortium during the Open Day event in Pisa, Italy, 05.05.11. Collaboration schemas are agreed.

Updated description including technical and organisational details, a list of interested stakeholders and useful information about the Finnish Reference Platform for Home Environment will be available at the following URL:


Vadym Kramar, project Officer (R&D), vadym.kramar(a), Oulu University of Applied Sciences

Current Status of Waste-to-Energy Utilisation in some parts of Baltic Sea Region

1. Introduction

This paper presents preliminary results of the REMOWE project. The overall objective of the project is, on regional levels, to contribute to a decreased negative effect on the environment by reduction of carbon dioxide emission by creating a balance between energy consumption and sustainable use of renewable energy sources. Reduction of carbon dioxide emissions and use of renewable energy sources are broad areas and this project will focus on energy resources from waste and actions to facilitate implementation of energy efficient technology in the Baltic Sea region within the waste-to-energy area. The focus is to utilize waste from cities, farming and industry for energy purposes in an efficient way. The project seeks to facilitate the implementation of sustainable systems for waste-to-energy in the Baltic Sea region and specifically, in a first step, in the project partner regions. The project’s operation time is 12/2009- 12/2012.

The project partnership consists of the Mälardalen University, with the School of Sustainable Development of Society and Technology coordinating the project, and The County Administrative Board of Västmanland in Sweden, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for North Savo, and University of Eastern Finland (UEF) in Finland, Marshal Office of Lower Silesia in Poland, Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences, Fachhochschule Braunschweig / Wolfenbüttel in Germany, Klaipeda University in Lithuania, and Estonian Regional and Local Development Agency (ERKAS) in Estonia.

2. Milestones of the REMOWE project

As the first task, partner regions investigate the current status, the bottle-necks and the needs for development and innovation. Partnering regions will then jointly study possible future status and approaches to be followed, taking into consideration the characteristics of each region. Here, tailored innovation processes will be organized in five project regions. These innovation processes will result in action plans for supporting SMEs as well as recommendations for improving regulations and strategies in the regions. Possibilities to build a regional model of the waste-to-energy utilisation will be piloted in the project, with North Savo in Finland as a target region. This model could be a decisionsupport system for policy-making and investments.

The project activities are divided into 5 work packages. Work Package 1 concerns project management and Work Package 2 contains the project communication and information activities. In Work Package 3 the current status of the partner regions are explored, in Work Package 4 the possible future status is investigated and in Work Package 5 modelling of a sustainable regional waste-to-energy production will be studied.

The work presented in this report is part of the work in Work Package 3. The aim of this Work Package is to investigate the current status in the whole chain of waste- to-energy utilisation in each partner region. The results from this work package are important background information for the activities in Work Package 4 and 5. The first step in development of action plans and strategies is to investigate the current conditions and systems from which the development has to start. By describing the current status in the different partner regions it will also be possible to learn from each other and find best practices that can be transferred to other regions. The aim is also to gather basic information needed for modelling of possible future systems and their environmental impacts in Work Packages 4 and 5. Data is being gathered concerning:

  • Waste generation in farming, cities, industry
  • Energy use and infrastructure • Organic wastes composition and properties
  • Biogas potential of different waste substrates
  • Existing systems and technology used for sorting, utilisation and use of residues for/in waste-to-energy systems including economic profitability and system performance
  • Relevant governing rules, legislation, regional interpretations and current development ideas • SMEs interests in the waste-to-energy area and current development ideas
  • Regional current situation in waste advisory services

The current status in the different partner regions will then be compared and best practices that can be transferred to other regions will be identified. This will be done within a workshop with all partners.

3. Characteristics of the project regions

Five regions of the Baltic Sea region, representing various administrative units, participate in the REMOWE project (Figure 1):

  • Eesti (Estonia) – the whole country,
  • Województwo Dolnośląskie (Lower Silesia) – one of the 16 regions of Poland,
  • Klaipedos, Telsiu, Siauliu, Taurages apskritis (Western Lithuania) – 4 counties of Lithuania,
  • Pohjois-Savo (North Savo Region) – a province in Eastern Finland,
  • Västmanlands län (the County of Västmanland) – one of 21 counties in Sweden.

Germany is also represented in the project, however, as opposed to all the other participants they act as experts without any specific region.

Figure 1. REMOWE project partners
Figure 1. REMOWE project partners

Tab. 1 shows the general characteristics of each region and the entire project area. The total area is 113,195 km2 and its population amounts to 5.75 million. Lower Silesia is the largest region in terms of population – 2.9 million, while the populations of the smallest regions (in Sweden and Finland) amount to approximately 250 thousand residents.

Table 1. General characteristics of the regions
Table 1. General characteristics of the regions

4. Status of renewable energy utilisation in the representative countries

Fig. 2 presents country average shares of renewable energy in final energy consumption in 2005 along with respective targets for 2020. Sweden is leading with 39.8% of renewable energy in 2005 and the target of 49% in 2020, followed by Finland, Estonia and Lithuania. Poland had clearly the lowest share of renewables (7,2%) in 2005 and also relatively lowest target of 15% in 2020.

Figure 2. Share of renewable energy in 2005 and targets for 2020 (adapted from Olivier et al. 2008)
Figure 2. Share of renewable energy in 2005 and targets for 2020 (adapted from Olivier et al. 2008)

5. Potential waste to energy sources

The following waste and by-products have been specified as renewable energy sources:

  • municipal waste,
  • industrial waste,
  • municipal sewage sludge,
  • products, by-products and waste from agriculture and forestry.

In the following sections a comparison of main data concerning waste management and energy recovery from municipal waste, sewage sludge and biomass from agriculture and forestry is given. The comparison is limited to two regions: Lower Silesia (the most populated region) and Västmanland (the smallest region). These regions represent, respectively, the least and the most advanced countries in terms of renewable energy utilisation.

5.1 Municipal waste

Waste management in the two regions differs significantly, both in terms of quantity of waste generated as well as its treatment (see Fig 3.). Specific waste generation amounted to 691 kg/inhabitant in Västmanland while in Lower Silesia only to approximately 330 kg/inhabitant in 2008. In Lower Silesia 86.5% of the generated waste is deposited onto landfills, while in Västmanland only 8% of waste is landfilled. In the latter region 50% of waste is incinerated with energy recovery and 41% of waste undergoes recycling. In Finland in 2008, municipal waste amounted to 520 kg/inhabitant, from which 51% was landfilled, 17% incinerated with energy recovery and 32% recycled [4].

Figure 3. Municipal waste management in Lower Silesia, Västmanland and Finland
Figure 3. Municipal waste management in Lower Silesia, Västmanland and Finland

5.2 Municipal sewage sludge

Lower Silesia and Västmanland also differ with regard to the number of waste water treatment plants and the level of biological treatment of sewage sludge in these plants. Six waste water treatment plants located in Västmanland are equipped with enclosed fermentation chambers and utilise energy from biogas. Total production of biogas amounts to 2,165 million m3 /year. In Lower Silesia there are 203 waste water treatment plants, of which:

  • seven plants collect biogas and use it for electricity and heat generation (co-generation),
  • four plants collect biogas and use it for heat generation only,
  • ten plants generate biogas without collecting it (open fermentation chambers).

Currently in Lower Silesia 8.6 million m3 /year of biogas is collected in the fermentation chambers of waste water treatment plants. In Västmanland the respective figure is 2.2 million m3 /year.

In North Savo, there are 35 municipal waste water treatment plants, of which one plant digests waste water sludge and collects biogas for electricity and heat generation. In 2008, 1.1 million m3 /year of biogas was produced in this plant, of which was converted 2090 MWh electricity and 4222 MWh heat. Only 8000 t sludge is used in biogas production out of total 47000 t that is produced annually [5] [6].

Energy generation potential from biogas from municipal sewage sludge is estimated to 130 GWh/year in Lower Silesia,19 GWh/year in Västmanland and 18 GWh/year In North Savo.

5.3 Products, by-products and waste from agriculture and forestry

Manures for soil fertilisation, are not classified as waste, but as organic fertilisers. Faeces intended for fermentation do acquire the status of waste and are subject to waste management legislation. In the case of plant biomass, some of it may be treated as by-products, some other part as waste. Also, agricultural products can be used to produce energy in e.g. fermentation technology, together with animal manure.

The total energy potential of manure in North Savo is estimated to 198 GWh/a, which is based on the number of domestic animals, estimated manure generation, statistical properties of manures and batch reactor experiments [7] [8] [9] [10].

Tab. 2 provides a comparison of the energy potential of animal manures generated in both regions. In both cases the total quantities are significant. In the case of Lower Silesia it is equivalent to the yearly energy production by a plant with a capacity of about 17 MW.

Table 2. Energy potential of biogas from animal waste digestion (GWh/year)
Table 2. Energy potential of biogas from animal waste digestion (GWh/year)

6. Infrastructure for waste treatment and energy recovery

Waste management infrastructure in the two regions differs significantly. In the case of Västmanland, a significant portion of the waste is processed outside the region. It concerns in particular, the incineration of municipal waste in large regional installations. In the region there are 15 recycling stations under operation as well as one methane co-fermentation plant, which treats separately collected biowaste and two landfill sites accepting pretreated waste (landfilling of untreated waste is forbidden). In Lower Silesia, almost all municipal waste is processed in the region, in 18 plants. There are also 42 active landfills receiving municipal wastes.

7. Conclusions

Waste management in the Lower Silesia region is significantly less developed than waste management in the County of Västmanland in Sweden. This applies to both the levels of separate collection and recycling, as well as biological and thermal treatment. In 2008, the portion of municipal waste which is landfilled in Lower Silesia amounts to approximately 86.5%, while in Västmanland the respective portion is only 8%. In Finland, 51% of the municipal waste was landfilled in 2008.

Municipal waste, sewage sludge, industrial waste, and waste and by-products from agriculture are a significant source of energy with majority thereof being renewable energy.

This article is based on results of analyses conducted during the project cofinanced by the European Union under the Baltic Sea Regional Programme (Project No. #034, REMOWE). The content of the article contains only opinions of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Union.


Emilia den Boer (1), Ryszard Szpadt (1), Eva Thorin (2) , Ari Jääskeläinen (3) , Laura Malo (3,4), Tuomas Huopana (5)

1 Institute of Environment Protection Engineering, Wrocław University of Technology Wybrzeże Wyspiańskiego 27, 50-370 Wrocław, Poland
2 Mälardalen University, P.O. Box 883, SE-721-23 Västerås, Sweden
3 Environmental Engineering, Teaching and Research, Savonia University of Applied Sciences, Microkatu 1 C, P.O. Box 6, FI-70201 Kuopio, Finland
4 Center for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for North Savo, Sepänkatu 2 B, P.O. Box 1049, FI-70100 Kuopio, Finland
5 The Department of Environmental Science, The University of Eastern Finland, Yliopistonranta 1, P.O. Box 1627, FI-70211 Kuopio, Finland

[1] den Boer, E., Szpadt, R., den Boer, J., Ciesielski, S., Pasiecznik, I and Wojtczuk, O. Current status of the waste-to-energy chain in Lower Silesia, Urząd Marszałkowski Województwa Dolnośląskiego i Politechnika Wrocławska, Wrocław, 2011.

[2] Thorin E., et al. Current status of the waste-to-energy chain in the County of Västmanland, Sweden. Mälardalen University, Västerås, 2011.

[3] Olivier, J.G.J., Tuinstra, W., Elzenga, H.E., van den Wijngaart, R.A., Bosch, P.R., Eickhout, R., Visser, M. Consequences of the European Policy Package on Climate and Energy Initial assessment of the consequences for the Netherlands and other Member States, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency,2008

[4] Tilastokeskus. Jätetilasto 2008. Retrieved 8.6.2011 from:

[5] Vahti, The waste data base, data from 2006 to 2009. Additional information available from:

[6] Malo, L., Koponen, L., Jääskeläinen, A. Current status of the waste-toenergy chain in the county of North Savo, Finland. Center for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment for North Savo and Savonia University of Applied Sciences, Kuopio 2011. Will be available from:

[7] Tike, The statistics of Finnish agriculture and food chain, 2010, Retieved 20.5.2011 from:

[8] Viljavuuspalvelu Oy, Manure statistics from 200 to 2004, Mikkeli, Retrieved 20.5.2011 from:

[9] Huopana T., Energy efficient model for biogas production in farm scale, Master’s Thesis, Renewable Energy Programme, The University of Jyväskylä, 2011, Retrieved 20.5.2011 from: 201103211905

[10] Huopana T., and co. Becoming article about Regional biogas production in North Savo area, The University of Eastern Finland.

Notes on the Developing R&D Integrated Learning in Regional Knowledge Production

Authors: Ilkka Väänänen and Sirpa Laitinen-Väänänen


In order to facilitate the flow of knowledge, ideas and learning, communities should adopt the principles of knowledge creation and continuous learning; they must turn into “learning regions” (Florida 1995). In “learning regions”, individual and collective expertise and aspects emphasising communality are joined together (Tynjälä 2006). In striving toward a knowledge-building culture, Bereiter (2002) emphasises the close collaboration between researchers and teachers. In higher education this refers to the tighter collaboration between teachers, students and researchers. The demand that teaching and research and development (R&D) should be more firmly drawn together is a response to the number of changes in the modern knowledge society, including changes in the mission and in the funding of higher education and in the nature of knowledge and learning.

Traditionally, universities and universities of applied sciences (UAS) have offered separate learning environments for theoretical and practical studies. Today’s challenge has been to bridge this gap and enhance the interface between universities and workplaces. Study modules like internship (LaitinenVäänänen et al. 2007) and project works (Helle et al. 2006) have been seen as forums for this kind of encounter. When learning in classrooms can be fictive and theoretical, the participation in the R&D activities offers students a chance to step outside and into real life to meet potential employers and clients. At its best, students have the chance to participate in R&D –projects so they may integrate theoretical and practical knowledge, test ideas, work together on specific problems and contribute to the mode-2 type labeled knowledge production (Gibbons et al. 1994) in multidisciplinary teams, which has been considered illustrative for UAS (Surakka 2008).

In mode-2 type of knowledge production, the traditional distinction between R&D and learning/teaching tends to break down. Distinguished from traditional mode-1 type of knowledge production, which is investigator-initiated and discipline based, the mode-2 type is problem-focused and multidisciplinary. Though individual interests exist, the goal of knowledge production is shared and mutual.

Furthermore, the state policy in an individual country, like in Finland, can challenge the UAS to contribute to regional development by carrying out R&D and by organising higher education studies and promoting the lifelong learning (Act of University of Applied Science 351/2003, 5§). In addition, the UAS have been expected to promote and diffuse innovations by working together with local partners, like public organizations and especially small and medium size enterprises.

The aim of this article is to examine and reveal basic elements that occur during the R&D integrated learning process. The observations were made by reflecting on the procedure and the feedback of implemented learning and “Good Ageing in Lahti Region” (GOAL) -research and development project. Finally, different models of integrating learning and R&D were discussed and conceptualised.

“Good Ageing in Lahti Region” (GOAL) -research and development

The bachelor students (n=134) from social and health care degree programs (nursing, physiotherapy, social services) in Lahti UAS participated as research assistants in the large, ten year “Good Ageing in Lahti Region” – research project (GOAL), who’s unique network combined one university, one UAS, one research institution, one public health care organisation and 15 municipalities. The assignment of the students was to organise the follow-up measurements in collaboration with lecturers (n=3) and other research actors e.g. project steering committee (n=12) during winter 2008. The integration of the GOAL research project into the professional studies of students was designed by faculty lecturers and the research coordinator. In order to analyse the learning outcomes of the participants, the feedback/reflection meeting was organised at the end of process. The data from students, lecturers, researchers and examinees (n=2817) was collected by interviews, students’ learning diaries, observation notes, and a 360°- feedback questionnaire.

According to the feedback, students were very active and the working atmosphere was mostly positive. The students found rehearsing practical skills prior to fieldwork important and necessary. In the beginning of the fieldwork, they felt afraid and tense, but afterwards the experience turned positive. The work in the R&D project was brisk compared to the theoretical studies and they appreciated the research-centered approach. Furthermore, the R&D project offered the students the change to integrate different professional competencies.

The examinees found students friendly and customer-oriented, although some mistakes and errors in measuring and in results occurred.

The participating researchers and project steering committee found students’ contribution challenging, but very important and helpful. The integration of students’ work into data collection decreased the expenses and the whole data collection would not have been possible without the students’ collaboration.

Lecturers were mostly motivated and satisfied with the process. They appreciated the researchers’ participation. They felt that this kind of studying emphasises the importance of integrating new content knowledge into practice. However, they wished for smaller student groups and for a longer fieldwork period. Furthermore, the co-operation between degree programs was inflexible and they did not succeeded in integrating the practical fieldwork into the theoretical studies well enough. In addition, the faculty was not informed well enough about all the learning possibilities the project served. For example, only one thesis was integrated into the GOAL-project.

In the following chapter, the conceptualised R&D integrated learning model is represented. The model was constructed by analysing the procedure and the feedback of the GOAL–project.

R&D integrated learning model

The basic elements in the R&D integrated learning model, represented in Figure 1, are based on the vision and the mission of the higher education institution and on the challenges of the region and the discipline faced today and in the future. It is a systematic increasing of knowledge. The model of R&D integrated learning combines knowledge, skills and attitudes. After setting the aims, the working and study methods are selected, followed by the different outcomes, which represent the increased know-how of the region.

R&D-integrated learning facilitates working life orientation and studentcenteredness in curricula. Therefore, it is highly challenging and motivating at the same time. This kind of new studying and learning model implies a transfer from teaching to learning. The guiding principle in teaching and learning is competence-driven. In addition, learning environments, like R&D projects, which facilitate students’ participation, are encouraged. Furthermore, the R&D-integrated learning model challenges lecturers’ to develop their R&D project skills and skills to supervise students in conducting the projects.

Figure 1. The basic elements in the R&D-integrated learning model
Figure 1. The basic elements in the R&D-integrated learning model

Network and Innovation Integrated Learning –model (NIIL)

Regarding the increase of regional knowledge and know-how, other contributors besides higher education institution are involved. The Finnish innovation system consists of the producers and users of the knowledge and the various interactive relations between them. Central elements in the innovation system are education and training, R&D, and knowledge-intense business. New knowledge is produced by universities, research institutions, and business, among others.

In the next section of this article, we present the “Network and Innovation Integrated Learning –model (NIIL), where knowledge is a process of construction. In NIIL, partners negotiate meanings and build knowledge within a social context together (Figure 2).

During the traditional student- and learning task-centric teaching model (Figure 2), the student is in focus. At worst, she or he stays as a passive object, where as in student-driven NIIL-model, students work as an equal partner in an innovative eco-system, where diverse partners–e.g. higher education institutions, businesses, the public sector–work and innovate together. This kind of rewarding community of knowledge production includes more creativity, flow and spontaneous buzz than rules, order and liner processes. Innovation competence is mentioned as one of the generic competences of UAS graduates in Finland (Rectors’ Conference of Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences ARENE ry. 2010). Description of the competence in bachelor level is described as following: “is able to conduct research, development and innovation projects applying the existing knowledge and methods of the field, is able to work in projects, is capable of creative problem solving and development of working methods and is able to find customer oriented, sustainable and profitable solutions”.

Figure 2. The traditional “Student and Learning task -centric” (left) and the new “Network and Innovation Integrated Learning” (right) -models
Figure 2. The traditional “Student and Learning task -centric” (left) and the new “Network and Innovation Integrated Learning” (right) -models

There are two existing examples of the NIIL-model from Lahti University of Applied Sciences which can be mentioned: The Pocket School
( and the “Rock your body” – learning module. In the Pocket School, students use smart phones to capture service-design
significant moments and real world situations. They can then save and share the video clips via social media. The key concepts in the Pocket School are prosumer (professional–consumer, producer–consumer), service design, crowd sourcing, foresight, smart phones, brand, tele-education, video clips and social media. The “Rock your body” – learning module integrates theory and practice into the scientific research study (Väänänen 2003). The “Rock your body” idea was initiated by a private furniture company. The learning model has produced an innovative fitness training program for elderly people, a new rocking chair prototype, and several scientific research papers (Väänänen 2004; Väänänen 2006a; Väänänen 2006b; Väänänen 2006c; Niemelä et al. 2007; Niemelä et al. 2008; Niemelä et al. 2010)

These two presented R&D learning models illustrate the basic elements in the interface of R&D and learning. They both need further assessment and practical testing in order to validate them. The models can be used in conceptualising the teaching practices and in visualising the role of the diverse partners in knowledge production.


We wish to thank Mrs. Reetta Jänis, Mrs. Anne Vuori and Mr. Sami Makkula for their kind help with this article.


Ilkka Väänänen, PhD, is a research director at the Innovation Centre in the
multidisciplinary Lahti University of Applied Science in Finland and is a member
of the Good Ageing in Lahti Region – project steering group.

Sirpa Laitinen-Väänänen, PhD, is a principal lecturer at the Teacher Education
College in Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences. Previously she
worked as a principal lecturer at the Faculty of Social and Health Care in Lahti
University of Applied Science and as a member of the research group in the
Good Ageing in Lahti Region – project.

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