25 Feb 2019

The National Portal for Online Studies in the Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences – Some Results

In Finland, we have foreseen the change in the digitalized education and have developed a national portal for all Finnish universities of applied sciences, where the institutions can offer their online courses on the year-round basis for all students. Some results of this work are described in this blog.

This blog explains some of the results of the Finnish eAMK project. The main aim of the project is to meet the challenges to remodel higher education based on the concepts of Economy 4.0. and Education 4.0 (see eg. Puncreobutr, 2016, p. 93).

Learning management has an important role in supporting the development of the future work skills in an innovative society, such as collaboration, creativity, digital literacy, effective communication, emotional intelligence, entrepreneurship, problem- solving skills and teamwork (Puncreobutr s. 94). This predicts the end of the predominance of the lecture (Feldman 2018). Finally, the buzz trend of digitalization is remodeling the educational design radically.

In Finland, we have foreseen the change in the digitalized education and have developed a national portal for all Finnish universities of applied sciences, where the institutions can offer their online courses on the year-round basis for all students.

Designing the CampusOnline.fi -concept

It is not always clear what we mean by online learning. In the project, we have clarified the field of terminology used when talking about online studies. The crucial points are, for example, whether online learning means that the learning takes place only online or partly face-to-face. Does it mean that the learning process is independent or tutored and are the online meetings synchronous or asynchronous? Or, is it totally independent learning without any interaction between the peers or the teacher (Joshi 2018)?

A lot of background work was executed in order to reach the aim. Firstly, a scanning was made about the teachers’ workload and a possible change in the teacher work when the teaching is transferred online (Scheinin, M. 2017). We also studied the student expectations and the prerequisites of a good quality online course (Forss 2017). The master’s degree students need more non-stop courses, where students can hop on and off according to their own timetable and the content must be relevant to the working life context. (Böckelman et al. 2018). The Team also focussed on the profiling of the Finnish universities of applies sciences (Kosonen, R., & Sjöholm, T. 2018).

CampusOnline.fi is launched

The main aim of the project was to develop a portal for the year-round online studies offered by all universities of applied sciences. The technical system was not in focus but rather the visibility of all online courses at one place. Additionally, the aim was also to develop the Quality criteria for online teaching and learning in order to support the teachers in designing good quality online courses. This aim was reached in 2017 (Varonen et al. 2018, eAMK 2017).

In the summer semester portal studies were offered in 2016, 2017 and 2018. The experience and feedback gathered from these summers were of valuable help when designing the portal to function on year-round basis. This aim was reached in the autumn of 2018 as the summer semester was amalgamated to CampusOnline.fi and the year-around offering was reached.

In the autumn of 2018, there were altogether 69 courses. The spring term 2019 offers 380 courses. It is noteworthy that all teachers in the autumn 2018 and spring 2019 were trained to use the quality criteria mentioned above.

What has changed?

Every project should be able to answer the questions: what is the impact of the project and what has changed? In the summer of 2018, 552 courses were offered nationally and over 55 000 credits were gained through cross-institutional studies. This type of national cross-institutional study tray did not exist before this.

According to the student feedback, the students have mainly been very happy about the usability of the portal as well as the study offering. There are several reasons to select studies from other universities of applied sciences: students want to choose courses that are not available in their home university. Online courses also enable studies for those who are in the working life and not able to attend lectures. Also, family commitments may be difficult to combine with studies.

To conclude, the national online course offering has had a recognised impact on the possibility for the students to choose studies from all universities of applied sciences. The students report that online studies have enabled them to flexibly gain missing credits for the graduation. Flexible studies are one focus area in the vision roadmap of the Ministry of Education and Culture. CampusOnline.fi is one good example of developing the means to meet the visions of the ministerial level.

 

Text: Minna Scheinin, Turku University Of Applied Sciences

References:

Böckelman, T., Forsell, M., Komonen, K., Paaso, L., Tuomi, S., & Pilli-Sihvola, M. 2018. Kysely YAMK-opiskelijoille ja -alumneille verkko-opinnoista. Jyväskylä: eAMK. https://www.eamk.fi/fi/digipolytys/kysely-yamk-opiskelijoille-ja--alumneille-verkko-opinnoista/

Feldman, P. (2018). The potential of Education 4.0 is huge – the UK must take the lead, now. https://www.jisc.ac.uk/blog/the-potential-of-education-4-is-huge-the-uk-must-take-the-lead-now-12-sep-2018. Accessed 14 Feb 2019.

Fisk (2017) http://www.thegeniusworks.com/2017/01/future-education-young-everyone-taught-together. Accessed 10 Feb 2019.

Forss, M. 2017. 5 saker studenter behöver i digitala kurser. Jyväskylä: eAMK. https://www.eamk.fi/fi/digipolytys/5-saker/

EAMK 2017. Quality criteria for Online Implementations. https://www.eamk.fi/en/courses-offering/quality-criteria/

Kosonen, R., & Sjoholm, T. 2018. Miten eri ammattikorkeakoulut voisivat profiloitua verkko-opetuksessa? Jyväskylä: eAMK. https://www.eamk.fi/fi/digipolytys/miten-eri-ammattikorkeakoulut-voisivat-profiloitua-verkko-opetuksessa/

Joshi, M. 2018. Verkkotutkintojen termiviidakossa - Riippumatonta opiskelua riippumatossa? Blogi-kirjoitus. https://www.eamk.fi/fi/digipolytys/verkkotutkintojen-termiviidakossa---riippumatonta-opiskelua-riippumatossanew-page. Luettu 30.1.2019.

Puncreobutr, V. 2016. Education 4.0: New Challenge of Learning. St. Teresa Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol. 2. No. 2. Available at: http://www.stic.ac.th/ojs/index.php/sjhs/article/view/Position%20Paper3

Scheinin, M. 2017. Towards year-around studies. Jyväskylä: eAMK. https://www.eamk.fi/fi/digipolytys/towards-year-around-studies/

Varonen, M. 2017. eAMK verkko-opintojen laatukriteerit  Jyväskylä: eAMK. https://youtu.be/5KHgzfLjGiQ

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