Use of digitalisation in teaching makes agile teaching methods possible

The student and learning are at the centre of teaching.

Taija Turunen, Assistant Professor of Design Business Management at the School of Business, takes advantage of the Flipped classroom teaching philosophy in her teaching. The philosophy brings the students to the centre of teaching and the teacher is ‘left’ with the role of a facilitator. In traditional teaching methods, the teacher is a disseminator of information, whereas now the teacher gives students ‘a map and a compass’ for guidance as they move actively towards the learning goals – but everyone will still have to reach the goals themselves. The philosophy is demanding for both the students and the teachers, but as the starting point is specifically the student’s personal learning process, it is also a very meaningful way to learn. Digitalisation, in this case especially MyCourses, makes Flipped Classroom possible and the teacher’s email does not get full the way it did before, either.

In the Flipped classroom teaching philosophy, students work on material given to them in advance and the teacher's work also takes place mainly outside the classroom. When they meet, they reflect on things and discuss them. Some of the students still find it slightly difficult to understand the teacher’s role in the arrangement in which the teacher has moved to the background and the students to the centre in the classroom. Some are still wondering what the teacher’s task is and why they could not just turn up for the lecture like they have always done. However, with the help of this philosophy, the teacher is able to monitor much better how and what the students learn. Although the approach is different, there has been very little resistance.

Learning must be fun

‘I started my pedagogical studies fairly early because I have always been interested in learning, the cognitive process taking place inside our heads. I think learning should be fun. I usually think about what is fun in my opinion and the others often seem to feel the same way about it. The time passes faster when students can to some extent manage their learning themselves and have a say on how and what they learn. Because I use gamification in teaching a lot, students easily learn without even realising they do it, as if by accident. I think you should also practice the things you are learning. We have even played business model bingo and I have to admit I was a bit surprised myself at how well bingo helped to achieve the learning goals.’

‘My appointment as a teacher-in-charge made it possible for me to plan teaching even better. Pedagogical competence must be updated from time to time and it is a good idea to do pedagogical courses especially when you can apply their content in practice straight away. Willingness to invest in teaching arises from your own desire to be successful in teaching. You don’t get rewarded very much for bold choices of teaching methods, at least not yet, but perhaps it will change in the future.’

Interaction and reflection important

‘When I started teaching at the School of Business a couple of years ago, I was asked to plan and implement a design management course in which all bachelor students would be allowed to participate. The course had to be in English so that exchange students would be able to participate, too. I was talking about it in passing with a colleague from Aalto ARTS and that person had also been asked to organise a design management course for bachelor students. We therefore suggested to the managements of our schools that we could organise a Design and Creativity in Business course together, and they supported the idea.’

‘My colleague and I have a constant dialogue and reflect on what works and what doesn’t. It has been extremely inspiring when my colleague’s views have sometimes been very different from mine. We have then both justified our views and the outcome has definitely been better than if we had both given a course alone, based just on our own backgrounds. With different backgrounds, you look at things from a different perspective, and respecting and valuing this is the starting point for everything. The culture of experimentation is important and risks can and should be taken. Our way of teaching also challenges the traditional lecture facilities. The auditoriums are not very convenient places for a discussion, so we occasionally go to the lobby or even outside with the students.

‘All my courses are open to everyone in the Aalto community, which has been eye-opening and has broadened both the teacher’s and the students’ views. The needs of a group of students with different backgrounds must be accommodated and therefore, learning really must be brought to the centre. There are of course many techniques for doing this, but for example the students on my master’s course generate a personal mind map in which they visualise what they know about the subject area of the course when the course begins. They work on the map on throughout the course and in the end, we compare the initial and final maps. The mind map reveals very quickly what they have learned. When I assess the students, I take into consideration where we started, where we have been and where we have come to, as the learning process is what matters most. Indeed, I find that digitalisation should definitely not be an aim it itself in teaching, but enhance and enable things that used to be very laborious. In my teaching, it is not digitalisation but interaction and reflection that are at the centre of learning. And the aim to create fun and excitement in the classroom, of course.’

If you would like to share with others how you (or your group) have developed or made use of digitalisation in your teaching, then please do get in touch with Communications Services at [email protected] and let's tell all the people about it. Thank you!

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