Ahonen, pääkuva

Mission Possible: Student Integration through Involvement

Introduction

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.

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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.

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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.

Conclusion

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.

Kirjoittajat

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.

Monialaisella yhteisopettajuudella hyvä startti verkkotutkinnon suorittamiseen

Laurea-ammattikorkeakoulussa on voinut suorittaa tradenomin perustutkinnon virtuaalisena vuodesta 2011. Virtuaaliopintoihin osallistuvat ovat pääsääntöisesti työssäkäyviä aikuisopiskelijoita. Edellisestä opiskelukokemuksesta on usein vuosia ja virtuaaliympäristössä opiskelu uutta. Myönteisellä opiskelukokemuksella opintojen alussa motivoidaan verkko-opiskeluun.

Lehtoreiden ja informaatikon monialainen verkko-ohjaus tradenomien ensimmäisellä opintojaksolla ’Asiantuntijaksi kehittyminen ja vuorovaikutus’ herättää opiskelutaidot, antaa valmiudet perustyökaluihin (mm. Adobe Connect -konferenssialusta, Office-ohjelmat, kirjaston e-aineistot) ja vahvistaa viestintätaitoja. Yhteisopettajuus toteutuu sekä synkronisesti että asynkronisesti. Synkronisessa istunnossa vuorovaikutustilanteet hyödynnetään tehokkaasti mm. verkko-aktiviteeteilla. Suunnittelussa käytettiin Gilly Salmonin mallia. Muun ohjauksen sulauttaminen opintojakson sisälle on tehokas tapa tavoittaa kaikki opiskelijat ja vahvistaa verkko-opiskelutaitoja. Aktivoivasti toteutettu ohjaus on saadun palautteen perusteella onnistunut luomaan positiivisen orientaation opiskeluun.

Suunnittelun lähtökohtina yhteisopettajuus ja vuorovaikutus

Verkko-opetus yhdistää usein asynkronista ja synkronista oppimista. Asynkronisessa materiaalit löytyvät verkosta ja opiskelija voi edetä oman aikataulunsa mukaisesti. Synkronisessa opetuksessa vertaisryhmä on läsnä reaaliaikaisessa verkkoistunnossa. Oppimisympäristön suunnittelu on molemmissa ydinasia. Ympäristön pitää tukea konstruktivistisen pedagogiikan keskeistä elementtiä eli vuorovaikutusta. Ohjaajalle se merkitsee vuorovaikutusmahdollisuuksien sisällyttämistä verkkoympäristöön tiedonrakentamista varten. (Shepherd 2013, 8-11.)

Gilly Salmon on kehittänyt viiden portaan mallin verkko-opintojen suunnitteluun. Vuorovaikutus ja oppiminen kokemusten kautta ovat keskeisiä. Portaat yksi ja kaksi ovat motivoitumisen, ryhmäytymisen ja verkkoympäristön haltuunoton perusta. Seuraavalla askelmilla oppijat ottavat yhä enemmän vastuuta omasta oppimisestaan ja toimivat vuorovaikutteisesti tietoa luovassa yhteisössä. Viidennellä portaalla reflektoidaan oppimisprosessia sekä osataan integroida opittua omaan työhön. Ohjaajien rooli vaihtelee eri askelmilla. (Salmon 2012, 31–59; Salmon 2014. ) Tämän artikkelin opintokokonaisuudessa korostuvat askelmat yksi ja kaksi.

Model of teaching and learning online
Kuvio 1. Model of teaching and learning online (Salmon 2012, 32).

Ensimmäinen porras liittyy saavutettavuuteen ja motivaatioon. Opiskelijalla on oltava helppo pääsy houkuttelevaan verkkoympäristöön. Hänen tulee tietää kuinka olla aktiivinen toimija ja mitä hyötyä verkkotyökaluista on vuorovaikutuksen välineinä. Opiskelijan on koettava saavansa apua ja ohjausta. Motivoimisessa on tärkeää, että selitetään miksi harjoituksia tehdään, miten ne integroituvat muuhun opiskeluun ja yhteisölliseen verkostoitumiseen. Tärkeintä ensimmäisessä vaiheessa on sitouttaa opiskelija ja varmistaa kyky oppia muiden kanssa verkossa. Erilaiset verkkoaktiviteetit (E-tivities) (Salmon 2013, 24–30) toimivat ohjauksen välineinä.

Mallin toisessa vaiheessa ryhmäydytään ja rakennetaan oppimiskulttuuria. Opiskelijat navigoivat verkkoympäristössä ja tutustuvat toisiinsa erilaisten työkalujen avulla. Salmon (2014) kuvaa ohjaajaa juhlien emäntänä, joka varmistaa, että vieraat tutustuvat toisiinsa ja tuntevat olonsa kotoisaksi.

Laureassa tutkittiin opiskelijoiden kokemuksia verkko-opetuksesta. Valtaosa osallistuneista (72 %) koki itsensä tarkkaileviksi seuraajiksi. He olivat tiedostaneet digitalisaation merkityksen työelämässä ja sen tulon opintoihin. Mielikuva vuorovaikutuksen vähentymisestä verkko-opinnoissa aiheutti huolta. (Marstio & Kivelä, 2015.) Opintojen alussa voi vaikuttaa mielikuvaan verkko-opetuksesta ja näin tukea opiskelijaa aktiiviseksi verkkotoimijaksi.

Monialainen yhteisopettajuus sopii verkkoon yhtä hyvin kuin perinteiseen luokkaopetukseen. Lahtinen (2014, 5–7) esittelee tutkimuksia yhteisopettajuudesta. Tutkimusten mukaan yhteisopettajuus parantaa oppimiskokemuksia, koska se tarjoaa erilaisia näkökulmia ja edistää yhteisöllisiä oppimistaitoja sekä osallistumista. Yhteisopettajuus aktivoi oppimistilannetta ja madaltaa kynnystä keskusteluun. Parhaimmillaan opetus rikastuttaa oppimista yhteisen pohdinnan kautta, huonoimmillaan näyttäytyy opiskelijoille epäselvänä vastuunjakona ohjaajien välillä. Ohjaajien keskinäinen luottamus toisen osaamiseen on onnistumisen edellytys.

Aktivointia ja ohjausta yhdessä

Tradenomien ensimmäisen opintojakson toteutuksessa yhteisopettajina on eri alojen asiantuntijoita: tietotekniikan ja viestinnän lehtorit sekä informaatikko. Virtuaaliopiskelijoiden opinnot alkavat perehdyttävänä lähipäivänä. Tutustuminen muihin ”livenä” myötävaikuttaa ryhmäytymiseen verkossa ja ohjaajat saavat yleiskuvan ryhmästä.

Lähipäivän jälkeen testataan AC-ympäristön toimivuus kotoa käsin ensimmäistä reaaliaikaista vuorovaikutteista istuntoa varten. Ennakkotestauksen tavoitteena on madaltaa kynnystä osallistua uudessa toimintaympäristössä. Toinen tehtävä on tallentaa lyhyt esittelyvideo oppimisalustalle. Ohjaajat ovat tehneet vastaavat. Tehtävät liittyvät Salmonin ensimmäiseen vaiheeseen: tutustutaan välineisiin, löydetään tiedot opiskelusta ja houkutellaan käymään verkkoympäristöissä. Opiskelijat ovat lähipäivän jälkeen innostuneita opiskelun aloittamisesta, joten tunne on hyödynnettävä verkkoympäristöön sitouttamisessa.

Reaaliaikaisten viikkoistuntojen aiheina ovat mm. oppimistyylit, tiedonhakutaidot, kirjallinen ja suullinen raportointi, asiakirja-asettelu. Nauhoitteet tukevat itsenäistä opiskelua istuntojen välillä. Reaaliaikaiset istunnot, tehtävät ja taustamateriaali toteuttavat monialaisuutta. Esim. PowerPoint tehtävässä reflektoidaan omia tiedonhakutaitoja informaatikon taustamateriaalin perusteella tai plagiointia käsitellään viestinnän lehtorin ja informaatikon nauhoitetussa lavastetussa ohjaustilanteessa.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Monialainen yhteisopettajuus sopii verkkoon yhtä hyvin kuin perinteiseen luokkaopetukseen. ” hashtags=”uasjournal, digitalisaatio”]

Reaaliaikaisissa istunnoissa on kaksi ohjaajaa paikalla, jolloin asiaan tulee vuoropuhelussa luontevasti eri näkökulmia: esimerkiksi viestinnän lehtorin esitellessä kirjallista raportointia ja lähteiden merkitsemistä, muistuttaa työvälinelehtori asettelusta. Tai informaatikon esitellessä e-aineistoja, kysyy viestinnän lehtori miten kirjallisen tehtävän keskeinen taustamateriaali löytyy. Ohjaajien vuoropuhelun rento ilmapiiri kannustaa opiskelijoita mukaan keskusteluun ja helpottaa vuorovaikutteista ryhmäohjausta. Tämä puolestaan vaikuttaa oppimiskulttuuriin. Tallennetut vuorovaikutteiset ohjaustilanteet tavoittavat myös poissaolijat. Vaikka jälkikäteen seurattavassa tallenteessa ei voi osallistua vuorovaikutukseen, ohjaajien välistä dialogia voi seurata ja olla yhteydessä myöhemmin.

Ohjaajat pitävät istunnoissa opiskelijoiden mielenkiintoa yllä säännöllisesti erilaisilla aktiviteeteilla, mikä lisää Salmonin toisen portaan mukaista verkkovuorovaikutusta. Kun opiskelijoiden lähtötaso kartoitetaan istunnon alussa monivalintakysymyksellä (kuvio 2) ja jakauma on heti nähtävillä, opiskelijoille konkretisoituu ryhmän mietteet asiasta.

Opiskelijoiden lähtötilanne
Kuvio 2. Opiskelijoiden lähtötilanne käsiteltävästä asiasta.

Monivalintakysymyksiä voi käyttää myös ohjauksen tukena. Samalla kun opiskelijat saavat tietoa muiden tilanteesta, ohjaajat näkevät tehtävän edistymisen (kuvio 3). Molempien esimerkkien etuna on, että ohjaaja voi antaa sanallisessa vuorovaikutuksessa välitöntä palautetta ja kannustusta. Näin vahvistetaan myös ryhmän oppimiskulttuuria.

 Opintojen tilanne
Kuvio 3. Opintojen tilanteen tarkastus.

Kahden ohjaajan läsnäolo helpottaa chat-viestittelyä. Toteutuksissa opiskelijat ovat aktiivisesti jakaneet linkkejä, esittäneet kysymyksiä ja kommentteja. Tämä viestittely ei katko luentoa, koska äänessä olevan ohjaajan ei tarvitse niihin reagoida. Tarvittaessa toinen ohjaaja tuo asian yhteiseen keskusteluun. Chat myös aktivoi: välillä esitetään väittämä tai kysymys, johon reagoidaan Kyllä/Ei -toiminnolla. Joskus jakaudutaan 3-5 opiskelijan pienryhmiin ns. ali-istunnoissa, joissa ohjaajat vierailevat.

On tärkeää, että opiskelijat oppivat monipuolisen ja luontevan verkkokokousjärjestelmän käytön. Opiskelijat luovat nopeasti omia virtuaalisia huoneita ja kokoontuvat tekemään oppimistehtäviä omalla ajalla. Näkyväksi tuleminen toinen toisilleen edistää ryhmäytymistä, mikä puolestaan edistää opintojen suorittamista.

Jokaisen toteutukseen jälkeen on kerätty palautetta (Puttonen 2014). Sen perusteella toimintaa on kehitetty. Esimerkkejä palautteesta:

  • Kaikki opinnoissa heti tarvittava tieto on tullut tiivistetyssä muodossa ja tarpeeksi nopeasti.
  • Erityisesti olen pitänyt erillisistä nauhoitteista asioiden oppimisen tukena. Vaikka nauhoitteet ovat hyviä, AC-luennot ovat silti tuiki tarpeellisia.
  • Asiayhteyksien yhdistely eli teknisen osaamisen mittaaminen ja sisällön tuotto omilla mittareilla, on ollut positiivinen asia.
  • Eri osa-alueet on linkitetty onnistuneesti toisiinsa, tekee kurssin suorittamisen mielekkääksi.
  • Tiimiini tutustuminen heti opintojen alussa plussaa!
  • Pienryhmäkeskusteluita olisi mukavaa olla lisää, sillä niiden avulla oppisimme AC:n käyttöä. Oli tosi mukavaa keskustella luokkalaisten kanssa.

Yhdessä tekemisen vahvuus

Tradenomin opinnot saavat aktivoivan yhteisopettajuuden kautta hyvän startin. Mielikuva itsenäisestä, yksin tekemiseen painottuvasta opiskelusta muuttuu ja vuorovaikutteiset verkkoistunnot tuntuvat positiiviselta työtavalta. Myönteinen asenne verkko-opiskeluun heijastuu opiskelumotivaatioon. Lisäksi opittu luonteva toiminta verkkoympäristöissä on tärkeä taito työelämässä, jossa yhteisöllinen verkkotyöskentely on arkipäivää. Ohjaajilla yhdessä tekeminen kehittää verkkopedagogista osaamista ja tukee ammatillista kasvua jaetun asiantuntijuuden kautta. Verkkoaktiviteetteja sisältävää toteutusta voidaan parantaa kerta kerralta, kun ohjaajat käsittelevät palautteita ja ideoivat yhdessä. Salmonin malli sopii suunnittelun pohjaksi.

Kirjoittajat

Eeva Haikonen, lehtori, FM, Laurea-ammattikorkeakoulu, eeva.haikonen(at)laurea.fi
Kaisa Puttonen, informaatikko, FM, YTM, Laurea-ammattikorkeakoulu, kaisa.puttonen(at)laurea.fi

Lahtinen, J. 2014. Jaetun opettajuuden haasteet: kirjaston, opetuksen ja työelämän yhteistyö hoitoalan koulutuksen hankkeessa. Informaatiotutkimus 4, 1-17.  Luettu 11.1.2016. http://ojs.tsv.fi/index.php/inf/article/view/48431

Marstio, T. & Kivelä, S. 2015. Ammattikorkeakoulun opiskelijoiden monenlaiset kokemukset verkko-oppimisesta. SeOppi, 2, 18. Luettu 15.1.2016. http://www.eoppimiskeskus.fi/images/stories/SeOppi/lehdet/SeOppi-2015-2.pdf

Puttonen, K. 2014. Information Specialist and ICT lecturer Co-teach an Online Course: A New Way and What Students Think About It. Nordic Journal of Information Literacy in Higher Education 1, 52-64. Luettu 15.1.2016 https://noril.uib.no/index.php/noril/article/view/217/41

Salmon, G. 2012. E-Moderating: the key to online teaching and learning. Florence: Taylor and Francis.

Salmon, G. 2013. E-tivities: the key to active online learning. New York: Routledge.

Salmon, G. 2014. Scaffolding for learning. Swinburne University of Technology, Learning Transformations Unit. Australia. Katsottu 10.1.2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pKsZ6dVhlI

Shepherd, C. 2013. So What is eLearning? Teoksessa R. Hubbard (Ed.) The Really Useful eLearning Instruction Manual. Hoboken: Wiley, 9-23.

Education Technology Transfer to Developing Countries

Education Technology Transfer to Developing Countries

Education Technology Transfer to Developing Countries

Introduction

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).

Challenges

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.

Possibilities

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.

Conclusion

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.

Writers

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

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