21.9.2017

Towards year-around studies

What the management and teachers should consider when designing and offering year-around online studies.

Text and picture: Minna Scheinin, Turku University of Applied Sciences

One of the main aims of the eAMK project is to develop the year-around online studies for all universities of applied sciences in Finland. What should we take into consideration in such work and how do we see that the teachers’ workload changes in this process?

In order to find out some answers we carried out a limited study on these topics. A questionnaire was sent to six universities of applied sciences. These were chosen as the coordinating team was aware of the summer studies of these universities and we considered that their experiences would be valuable to know about and to share. The results of the study are presented shortly below.

According to the study the attitude towards teaching has been positive in all universities, which participated in the study. However, the number of teachers offering courses during the summer is mainly rather limited and no teacher is obliged to teach during the summer time. Some teachers understand that the summer semester is a good way to lighten the winter’s workload. At the same time it is possible to organize the teaching smoothly so that the teachers can have their 8-week holiday period, as contact lessons can be carried out in May-June and August. There has been no need to discuss the teacher contract and no contradictions with regard to it has evolved.

We were also interested in whether the summer semester I considered as a regular part of the curriculum design and the periods. The answer was yes and no. Some universities have offered summer studies up to 18 years. In such case, the summer semester is obviously part of the curriculum timetable. For some universities, the summer semester is not systematically designed and the courses offered are chosen on the basis of teachers’ interest rather than the demand from the students or filling the gaps of other parts of the academic year. The systematic summer semester tray is in its development process.

What else did we find out? The summer semester is well organized and considered valuable for the students. Language studies could be more widely offered. The concern was raised in the answers that the tutoring is of lower quality during the summer courses than during the rest of the year.

A few conclusions can be drawn from this small-scale study. Even if the attitude to carry out summer courses is positive, only a minor part of the academic staff offers summer courses. The challenge is, then, to support a vaster amount of the staff to act during the summer. This certainly means that the teachers need more support as well as training in online learning and online pedagogy. This is important, as we aim at offering high quality courses, which are pedagogically designed for the best support in student learning. 

Presentation material from September 14 seminar (in Finnish) 

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