Digital Business Master Class jump-starts entirely online

Intense deep-dive to challenge-based learning is more popular than ever, all online for the first time. Students will spend their summer having an international exchange experience virtually.
Students sitting in a light-colored building, face-to-face with laptops in colourful chairs
Instead of the bright Otaniemi campus, students find their online study seats where they please this summer. Photo: Unto Rautio

This June, 60 students from 21 universities have started their Digital Business Master Class held entirely online. Having surfaced as an intense on-site experience in the Finnish summer, the course has been a forerunner in Aalto Summer School’s transition to online learning. After the spring edition transformed into a virtual learning experience mid-course at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, increased demand for this summer allowed for doubling the number of participants in an all-online setting.

‘We received praise from our students for the ability to move the lectures and assignments online quickly in a challenging situation. This summer we’ve had time to prepare and improve upon our experiences, and raise the bar. We’re happy to see that challenge-based learning in international teams continues to be an attractive way to spend the summer even online,’ Program Manager Laura Kitinoja explains.

Laura Kitinoja is the Programme Manager responsible for the Digital Business Master Class

Collaboration with companies is at the core of the Master Class learning experience even online.

Laura Kitinoja, Program Manager

Challenge-based learning thrives online

Digital Business Master Class maintains challenge-based learning at the core of its curriculum. Using virtual collaboration tools, the student teams come up with relevant solutions to client needs. Even if crossing time-zones and finding the appropriate slots where all participants are available may sound difficult, it is the reality for many professionals.

‘Synchronous online lectures allow for engaging discussions between our visiting lecturers and students and help facilitate the international experience. During the course, students will combine the knowledge they gain from individual prework and the insights from the range of lectures to dive into international project management in their teamwork,’ Laura Kitinoja describes.

Throughout the course, the students immerse themselves in challenges that are not only relevant for students, but also partnering companies. This year CGI, Hartwall, and Helen spar the multidisciplinary teams’ thinking in areas related to digital business. Topics include digitalization management from a corporate culture standpoint, digital marketing solutions to novel products, and the effects of digital transformation following COVID-19.

‘Collaboration with companies is at the core of the Master Class learning experience. We are once again lucky to be working with a great lineup of organisations who have provided interesting and timely challenges for the student teams. Working on real business problems is very motivating’, Kitinoja elaborates.

Cultural exchange is at the heart of Aalto Summer School

There is value in organizing independent courses for masses to complete, but Digital Business Master Class is not one of those. In addition to working on the challenges, the online edition has been planned with the international exchange experience in mind. Many of the students come from international partner universities of Aalto University School of Business. Therefore, Finnish culture is an essential part of Aalto Summer School curricula. 

‘We produced a series of podcasts ranging from history to the flexible work culture and non-hierarchical organizations in Finland. Getting together in the Finnish summer offers unique experiences to our students. Whilst we are always looking forward to welcoming students on our Otaniemi campus, this summer we work hard to enable them to experience something similar online,’ Head of Summer School Laura Sivula describes.

At the time of writing this article, students are posting their introduction videos from their respective study spaces. From videos filmed in small urban bedrooms to clips shot on sunny beaches, students and staff are starting to learn about their coursemates. Digital Business Master Class continues through August, with new editions being scheduled for 2021.

Laura Kitinoja

Laura Kitinoja

E790 School Common, BIZ
Laura Sivula

Laura Sivula


Learn more about Aalto Summer School

You can follow us on Instagram or find us on Facebook for more meaningful moments on our courses as well as our insights on challenge-based learning. All available course are listed on the Aalto Summer School website.

Students in front of Väre building of Aalto University campus

Aalto University Summer School

Aalto University Summer School offers high quality academic summer courses and programs at Aalto University.

Students riding bikes in front of the Aalto University Väre building, photo by Unto Rautio

Digital Business Master Class

Digital Business Master Class is a challenge-based course with a focus on digital technologies as tools for building businesses.

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