Aalto Thesis

Co-creating the future of teaching and learning

The urgency for new approaches in teaching and learning has been identified at Aalto University. Teaching Lab – a platform and a concept for designing teaching and learning – has been developed to meet the needs of the future of work. The platform, which is still taking shape, will provide Aalto community with the needed resources, materials, and tools. The facilitation of actual confluences between Aalto people was created during the inaugural Teaching Lab Studio Week, held from the 14th until the 18th of January, establishing a space for multidisciplinary knowledge-sharing and networking.
Teaching Lab Studio Week
Studio Week brought Aalto people together for developing future-proof teaching and learning / Photo: Jere Savolainen

A holistic approach to developing work-life oriented teaching and learning

The Teaching Lab platform on the new Aalto website was initially launched in November 2018. Concepting the Teaching Lab initiative as a novel approach to designing work-life oriented, design-centric, and future-proof teaching and learning had already been in a mental think tank since late 2017, being developed and idealized by Program Director Laura Sivula and Program Manager Heini-Maari Kemppainen. They both have a long history at Aalto in teaching students about business, design, and technological perspectives in the changing work landscape.

Teaching Lab: An incubator for change

Despite the young age of the initiative, Teaching Lab has expeditiously started to take form as well as a foothold in the Aalto community. Although Niina Pitkänen, the Coordinator of the initiative since December 2018, is new to Aalto and to Teaching Lab itself, she has already taken great responsibility in ensuring that Teaching Lab will be able to provide hands-on tools, workshops, resources, knowledge, and most importantly a space for innovative ideas related to the future of work. “At Aalto, it is our liability to equip students with skills that will help them to survive prospective changes in work-life, simultaneously being able to be mindful of global and personal well-being”, she explains.  

Laura Sivula, the other founder of the initiative, agrees. Teaching Lab has the potential to be an incubator for change, but it can’t be done alone: “There is a need for more ad-hoc and open access services for practitioners to remove the assumption that planning teaching is something to be done in solitude”, Sivula explains and indeed that is exactly what Teaching Lab is about: “We want to invite the whole Aalto community to join us in co-creating the future of teaching and learning”.

A week full of experimentation, networking, and designing learning concepts

With the idea of co-creation in mind, the first Teaching Lab Studio Week was held in Väre, Otaniemi in order to bring the important topics at Aalto to everyone’s disposal. Various sessions and workshops were held by the best practitioners, introducing resources and ideas on how to develop teaching to better meet the needs of the future. A total of nearly 50 participants from different schools, disciplines, and levels joined the event, and as quoted from one of the participants, the week was about “experimentation, trying out new tools, networking, and learning about trends in teaching”.

New tools introduced were, for example, the Teaching Lab Design Kit, fully developed and tested by the Teaching Lab team. Various design methods were also utilized to challenge the usual concepts of teaching and learning: “The first day of the Studio Week was very inspiring! My key takeaway was the Learning Design Canvas, which I am planning on applying to new learning concepts”, Digital Business Manager Jarkko Jussila comments. Mid-week sessions included important timely topics such as “The Future of Work”, “Design in Teaching and Learning”, and “Blended learning".

The need for developing education has been identified

Teaching Lab Studio Week event has also been praised for its experimental angle: such a holistic approach to developing teaching and learning has not been seen at Aalto before. Therefore, although Teaching Lab is still a “work in progress”, it has been identified to be absolutely needed and necessary for the Aalto community. The Teaching Lab format enables learning about new perspectives and possibilities which teachers can use in their own work and in the transmission of skills and knowledge to students. “I could sense that teachers at Aalto identify the need to take developing and evaluating education to the next level, but more networks, methods, perspectives, proper practices, and support systems are needed. These are the exact elements we want to offer at Teaching Lab, and thus we will continue to develop them and make sure that everyone at Aalto can benefit from them in the future”, Niina concludes.

Text by: Claudia Kokko

Photo: Jere Savolainen

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10+1 excellent but challenging questions

We collected the questions from various sessions and workshops during the week in order to broaden your view when educating the real Game Changers.

Teaching Lab Design Kit / Hackathons

Design Kit

How to get started with experimenting and creating new forms of teaching and learning?

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