Higher education institutes creating digital reality
Tiina Valkendorff, Lecturer, Humak University of Applied Sciences
Markus Söderlund, Lecturer, Humak University of Applied Sciences
Elina Ylikoski, Dr. Sc. (Econ.), Innovation Director, Humak University of Applied Sciences
The rapid digitalisation of society affects higher education institutes in many ways. Firstly, higher education institutes have an important role in forecasting, researching and developing the digital operational, learning and work environments of the future. Secondly, the role of higher education institutes is to renew and produce the kinds of expertise that are required for these changes, including both life-long learners and teaching staff. Thirdly, higher education institutes must be ready to quickly take on board digital tools and operating models in their own operations, which includes all their different learning and service environments.
Now, at the beginning of 2017, Finnish higher education institutes have already tried out, developed and used digital tools, processes, learning environments and solutions in all their operations in numerous ways. Now it is already possible to examine in a multifaceted way what digitalisation means in the higher education environment.
The articles in this themed issue have been produced by authors from different higher education institutes and organisations from around Finland. The texts illuminate broadly how higher education institutes are operating as promoters and beneficiaries of digitalisation, and they also show well how digitalisation affects not only traditional information and communication technologies but also every other discipline, from mining to pedagogy and from social work to tourism.
The articles talk of different experiences with digitalisation and the kinds of information, expertise and learning digitalisation has produced. In addition, they also highlight the different opportunities and benefits of digitalisation that have been observed in higher education institutes. As digitalisation has penetrated different disciplines, new kinds of cooperation and operating models have developed, and also new international networks and business opportunities.
The articles also point out clearly the challenges related to digitalisation. In the higher education sector, just as anywhere else, there are old machines, incompatible systems and outdated working models. A number of authors also highlight the way that the systems and digital learning environments in use in different organisations and higher education institutes are sometimes so different that cooperation is challenging. The internet is placeless, but a digitalised university is still quite firmly fixed to a particular location. A local identity can be a strength, but in a globalised society a digitalised university must be able reach beyond its physical operating environment. The articles also draw out good examples of how different cooperation models have been developed and how much interest higher education institutes have in national and international networking.
A digital university needs appropriate digital tools and environments. In the end, a key role is played by the people that develop and use these tools and environments. The expertise and motivation of students and staff are key factors. People vary significantly in their preparedness for adopting new practices in digital environments. Although there is much talk of digital natives, many young people do not have basic digital skills. Digital exclusion is a real issue. Becoming familiar with new and continually changing operational environments can seem to be a tiring and challenging task which takes up a lot of time. On the other hand, the opportunities offered by open environments can inspire both students and staff to learn and develop new things. Students also can have new skills to offer in this area right from the beginning of their university studies.
In Humak University of Applied Sciences, digitalisation has been selected as a broad development programme covering education, IT operations and joint services. The development work for students and staff will be realised in 2018 as a digital campus which will contain different kinds of learning environments, provision of internet courses, learning support services, services and environments supporting open IT activities, and the university’s own internal work processes. Digital learning environments have been used in a new way in, for example, the open and free MOOC courses (Massive Open Online Course) organised jointly by Humak and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences as part of the digital youth work Distanssi project (Distanssi 2017). In addition, Humak is developing a digital mobile app for visual communication in the recently initiated KUVAKO project. As another example, the Lights on! project (Lights on! 2017) revives cultural sites using mobile games. These kinds of developments, where digitalisation is utilised in new ways and activities are purposefully transferred into digital environments, are most likely an unavoidable reality in other higher education institutes as well.
The most inspiring aspect of digitalisation – both for us at Humak and also elsewhere – is to look beyond one’s own institutional, administrative processes and into the future. What new opportunities, for example, will be opened up by digitalisation for community educators, cultural producers and sign-language interpreters? How will new communities be reached, encounters revitalised or communication barriers removed in virtual environments? What new skills and expertise will be needed to provide digital guidance for young people or to develop participation in digital service environments among the elderly?
The purpose of this themed issue is not only to gather together the development work that has already been carried out but also to stir up curiosity, interest and a critical response to the opportunities brought by digitalisation. The accelerating digitalisation process and its consequences – in work automation, for example – can be seen positively as something that will rescue society from its present ills or negatively as a force that promotes exclusion. Higher education institutes have been given a significant role as creators of the future in this area as well – let us use it wisely.
Communal learning supported by technology is meaningful and worthwhile
Merja Männistö, MHS, Lecturer, Oulu University of Applied Sciences
The technology supported collaborative learning can be used to improve information combining and sharing skills in multi-professional healthcare working environment. Collaborative learning refers to coordinated interaction of students with the goal that students acquire understanding of topic by combining information they have shared for themselves in web-based education platform. Technology supported collaborative learning was found to be very useful in healthcare education. By sharing information and experiences about the topic in web-based learning environment, the students will get more comprehensive and deep understanding of the issues since they can discuss collaboratively. That process will engage the students to target based actions and they learn how to reach goals of work together. Size of study group is important. Group members should be selected pedagogically so that each of the members can contribute to the work. Teacher’s role is important to design the topic that students have to share and combine their information. During web-based collaborative learning process, the students should get teacher’s guidance when needed.
Virtual reality provides new learning opportunities
Annikki Arola, Occupational therapist, M.Sc., doctoral student, Lecturer in occupational therapy, Arcada,
Jeglinsky-Kankainen, Physiotherapist, Ph.D., Senior Physician in rehabilitation, Arcada
Jonas Tana, R.N, M.A., Post-graduate student, researcher, Arcada
In recent years, virtual reality (VR) has experienced a significant growth in popularity, with new opportunities for the use of VR technology born almost daily. An area where virtual reality can be effectively utilized is the simulation of vision impairment. People living with visual impairments perceive the world in a different way, which for people without visual impairment can be difficult to fully understand. Virtual reality provides a unique opportunity for students to experience visual impairment and the problems it causes in daily life. This article presents Arcada VR Eyesight Simulator (AVES), a virtual reality application that gives students a visual representation of how the visually impaired perceive the surrounding environment around them. For students working with patients suffering from visual impairments, it is essential to understand the problems and obstacles that visually impaired people experience in everyday situations.
Challenges of digital information sources and flows
Hannu Hyyppä, Professor, D.Sc. (Eng), Head of the Institute, Aalto University, Humak University of Applied Sciences
Marika Ahlavuo, Science Producer, Coordinator, Cultural Pruducer, Aalto University, Humak University of Applied Sciences
The results of a burgeoning educational institution depend increasingly on how it utilizes and produces different types of digital information. By observing and guiding internal and external knowledge flows, we can improve our digital competencies and information transmission. Teachers and students need the latest best-practices and most recent research information to support their digital lifelong learning. Thanks to the internet, students are accustomed to up-to-date and visually high-quality information. The challenge we face is how educational organizations should respond to the students’ increased level of digital expertise. Almost every traditional sector requires digital technology, which leads to these fields becoming closer to one another. Cultural management and construction are prominent examples of this phenomenon. We present solutions we created that have been applied in engineering fields for collecting, refining, and coordinating digital outputs and knowledge flows. Our aim is to also apply these solutions in the cultural sector.
3D and photography studios as digital learning environments
Matti Kurkela, Studio Manager, Lic.Tech., M.A., Aalto University
Marika Ahlavuo, Science Producer, Coordinator, Cultural Pruducer, Aalto University, Humak University of Applied Sciences
Hannu Hyyppä, Professor of Measuring and Modeling, D.Sc., Head of the Institute, Aalto University, Humak University of Applied Sciences
Juho-Pekka Virtanen, Doctoral Student, M.A., Aalto University
Matti Vaaja, Postdoctoral Researcher, D.Sc., Aalto University
Petri Rönnholm, Senior University Lecturer, D.Sc., Aalto University
Antero Kukko, Research Manager, D.Sc., Finnish Geospatial Research Institute
Arttu Julin, Doctoral Student, M.Sc., Aalto University
Matias Hyyppä, Student of Technology, Aalto University
Henrik Haggrén, Professor of Photogrammetry, D.Sc., Aalto University
The 3D and photography studios of the Aalto University and Finnish Geospatial Research Institute operate as a digital learning environment, reaching many universities, universities of applied sciences, companies and communities. 3D studio was founded to demonstrate the achievements of multi-disciplinary co-operation, it functions as a virtual co-operation centre for new experiments and learning. For students, the studios are a great source of inspiration, workspace, and a centre for networking. The hardware and software of the learning environment are utilized in both exercises and theses. Numerous partners such as the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences and the Humak University of Applied Sciences make use of the 3D studio in cultural and civil engineering studies.
Learning data: from administrative database to educational cornerstone
Anne Rautanen, M.A., Key Account Manager, Caleidon oy
Jari-Pekka Kaleva, M.A., Senior Policy Analyst, Neogames Finland ry
Society, where data is collected from everything, is getting closer day by day. Even today cellphones follow their owners’ steps, items bought from stores are registered into the databases of loyalty programs, and planning a holiday means that web advertisements are targeted according to travel plans. Universities of applied sciences or education in general are not insulated areas from this development. Institutions already have parts of the necessary raw data, what remains to be done is to find ethically sound ways of utilising that data into evolving the education system into a better one. Data can – and should – be used for supporting learning, for guiding the students, and for administration, so that Finnish higher education can be seen also in the future as an attractive answer. Especially when compared to the top global digital learning environments that are improving year by year. On the other hand, the risks of unlimited data collecting must be acknowledged, and common rules for how to utilise that said data must be established.
Digitalised reality invites us to develop new teaching methods
Jonna Kalermo-Poranen, M.Sc. (Econ.), Project Manager, Kajaani University of Applied Sciences
Milla Hirvaskari, Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management, Tourism (YAMK), Project Manager, Lapland University of Applied Sciences
Kajaani University of Applied Sciences and Lapland University of Applied Sciences are collaboratively developing a virtual learning environment with the aim of bringing new teaching methods for mining education. Virtual reality and game technologies provide the technological platform to develop interactive educational content, which is expected to stimulate learning. Exercises for mining safety training have already been developed and tested with the students. Students can now study safety risks and defects by observing the mine site with virtual reality by using virtual reality headset. The project results will be integrated into the teaching of the Kajaani and Lapland universities of applied sciences, who also have a shared education for mining studies called RoKK Academy. This enables exploring the opportunities of the virtual learning environment for the development of educational activities.
The digital transformation of social work
Katariina Kohonen, Social worker YTM & student of specialist social work, HUH Psychiatry
Miina Arajärvi, Social worker YTM & social work post-graduate student, HUH Psychiatry
The Finnish public sector is undergoing major digitalization projects as part of the Health, Social Services and Regional Government Reform. The aim is to create better coordinated and custom-oriented services. However the biggest challenges in digitalization of social services is not in technology. The major challenges are modernizing working methods, cost-efficiency, leadership and courage to look to the future. It is crucial to focus on customer-oriented services and modernizing information and operations management systems. In digitalizing social services it is necessary to focus on management skills, using research as a tool in systematic development, give room for innovations and courage to challenge the current ways of doing.
4YAMK network’s experiences of organising online teaching
Katja Raitio, MHS, Lecturer, JAMK University of Applied Sciences
Heikki Ellilä, Dr.Sc. (Nutr.), Principal Lecturer, Turku University of Applied Sciences
Eija Tuliniemi, MHS, Lecturer, Satakunta University of Applied Sciences
Nina Kilkku, Dr.Sc. (Nutr.), Principal Lecturer, Tampere University of Applied Sciences
Expertise in the future demands new digital and network based methods of work within health and social sector. Four universities of Applied Sciences have organized together Master´s level mental health and substance abuse care studies. Studies highlight the importance of network and e-learning. Eliademy – learning platform was piloted with the students, who started their studies at 2015. Students´ and teachers´ experiences are positive and encourage to continue the use of Eliademy. Possibilities of interaction and co-operation within eLearning must be further developed.
Perspectives on e-leadership of pedagogical working teams
Iris Wiitakorpi, PhD (Education), Director of Virtual Learning, Laurea University of Applied Sciences
In the world of rapid and crucial technological changes, leaders are facing new challenges in leading teacher teams in Universities of Applied Sciences. More and more studies are put online. The work and role of a teacher is changing from classroom to virtual spaces: working geographically in various places and flexible hours. The physical contact in working teams is reduced or lacking which means that collaboration is enabled by computer based communication. This means new ways to organize work and lead the team members. What is the specific characters of e-leadership in teacher teams? This article aims to give some perspective to daily work in this new situation of leading pedagogical working teams.