Education enthusiast Laura Sivula is building a model of challenge-based learning for Aalto

Universities are developing from information repositories to spaces where students can solve complex real-life challenges.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Laura Sivula and I am an education enthusiast involved in many aspects of developing teaching and learning at Aalto. I work as the Project Lead for one of the joint strategic initiatives in teaching and learning, Learning Challenge Aalto, which focuses on promoting challenge-based learning and enhancing students’ work life capabilities. I also work as the Program Manager for the Information Technology Program (ITP) at the Department of Information and Service Management at the School of Business, which is a multidisciplinary summer program focusing on digital businesses, service design, data and analytics and information technologies. On top of that I also teach one of School of Business’ first year Bachelor’s courses in Communications and Project Management, introducing students into the world of agile methods and online collaboration in business development.

What does good teaching entail in your opinion?

Good teaching is a call to action for students to engage with theories and current themes and apply them to the real world. In the best courses and programs students are encouraged to research their topic, brainstorm strategies and concepts, which build up to solutions that address the changing landscape of economy and society. The changing nature of work has set a challenge for universities to make sure that graduates have the necessary skills not only in their discipline but also in work life competencies needed to succeed in the future of work. Universities are developing from information repositories to spaces where students can solve complex real-life challenges.

How have you developed teaching at Aalto?

Currently I am building a model of challenge-based learning for Aalto, which illustrates the landscape of teaching work life capabilities and guides teachers in the process of integrating work life challenges into teaching. Educating game changers is at the heart of teaching at Aalto University. Our global competitiveness lies in the intersection of technology, business, art and design - bringing together students in multidisciplinary ways and with a focus on entrepreneurship. Challenge-based learning is the next big leap for the Aalto community, in order to bridge the skills gap and make sure that our students are those creating value and taking responsibility of the world they build.

According to our vision, we are building a sustainable society driven by innovation and entrepreneurship. How is this visible in your development work of teaching?

Aalto students need to stay competitive in the local and global labour market. We can build the competitiveness with a change of mindset, focused on engaging students in work life during their studies and encouraging them to solving real life challenges. Here at Aalto, we have a fantastic ecosystem of multidisciplinary courses, challenge-based learning, industry partners, the start-up community - but we need to makes sure that all students are engaged with these areas.

Where do you get strength and inspiration for your work as a teaching developer?

The guiding principle in my work encapsulates in a quote from IBM’s former CEO Thomas J. Watson Jr: “Good design is good business.” In essence, design is how products and services function, and quintessentially higher education is both a product and a service. I want to strengthen Aalto’s position as a desirable place to study for students. I truly believe that the future is made today and I want to support the students making it.


Laura Sivula
+358 50 384 7228
[email protected]

 Learning Challenge Aalto is one of Aalto University’s four joint strategic development initiatives in the area of teaching and learning. The goal is to help teaching faculty at Aalto University to create and develop scalable teaching concepts in the form of courses and programs, which have integrated real life challenges involved. The initiative also aims to improve students’ work life capabilities and employability in general.

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