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Meeting in Iisalmi in Finland – Savonia University of Applied Sciences

This meeting in Ilesanmi in Finland from 7 till June 9 2022 was all about knowledge sharing about the education vision and strategy of Savonia Univeristy of Applied Sciences and their professionalisation approach.

June 7, 2022

During the fist day of the meeting we are welcomed in Iisalmi at the Savonia university of applied sciences by Petri Kainulainen with a presentation of the university. The university got the award Great Place to Work (2019 – 2023) because 91% of the students found a job after their study at this university. The university itself determines the curriculum. Jobs they train for in the agricultural sector are livestock farmer, herd manager, consultant, project managers, teacher in agro business and agricultural management. The Food Business area focuses on primary production, food processing, catering and gastronomic tourism. The university works a lot with innovative and intersectoral projects, for example a combination of agriculture and technology. This is also their most important strategy to professionalize teachers.

We proceed with a presentation from Hannu Vitala, e-learning expert with the online attendants Jolet Dingen (Terra), Lotte Skjaerbaek (Jordbrugets) en Nadine Pfennings (Yuverta). He pleads for more use of internet resources. He introduced ‘micro-learning’. A sort of appetizers: a slight taste of what the learner can learn when he/she will follow that course/training. These micro-learning units can be used very well in the recruitment of new students, also via podcasts. When asked whether there is an ideal division in your lesson of virtual or physical, Hannu indicates that there is none. However, it is very important that you create an atmosphere that makes the student feel as if he is actually in the classroom. Examples of tools that Hannu uses: Padlet, Peppi and many others. All those tools are ‘single-on’ systems: only a login is required. One needs good pedagogy then you don’t need many tools.

When asked how to get the teachers to use the tools, Hannu gives the following tips: time, money, updates, motivation. Make it easier for your fellow teachers to apply e-learning, help them!

Finalizing the first day Hilda Weges from the Netherlands talkes about the sustainable development goals and the role of teachers and students their competence to realise these goals. She stresses that professionalisation of teachers is important because they are role models: they need to act sustainable and not only present sustainable knowledge to their students. Therefore we have to keep in mind the importance of inner development goals.

June 8, 2022

Hilkka Kamarainen and her colleague Inka start the second day with a presentation of the agro and forestry education in Finland and the competences needed by farmers.

Yiry Wuorisalo (RD advisor, international relations officer, human and climate security at Savonia University in Kuopio) is our next speaker about the new course ‘climate security’ in which teaching and learning for a sustainable future is the main goal. They focus on SDG numbers 2, 7, 16 and 6 in this training.

After a short break, Inka provides a workshop: what are our future challenges? How circular economy and sustainability can help us to adapt the future. In a Padlet exercise, each partner writes down his/her ideas. The ideas are being categorised: blue – attitude, mind set; rose – food, demands of the consumers; yellow – climate changes; purple – soil.

During the discussion it became clear that people are a bit tired by the word sustainability. It would perhaps be better to talk about quality of life instead of sustainability. We need people doing something, not only spectators.

The last part of this day was used for a farm visit where students of Savonia university show us around and Inka learns us a lot about her research regarding soil and the role and function of worms.

June 9, 2022

We leave for Kuopio in the morning to be welcomed at the other location of Savonia University by the head International Projects. The vision of the university: to be the most socially responsible and influential university.

Harri Auvinen tells us about the international HOOP project about bio and circular economy. Cities like Murcia, Almere, Kuopio, joining HOOP, make bio based products from urban bio-waste and wastewater (urban circular bio economy initiatives).

After lunch, an Albanian teacher, also visiting Savonia, tells us about their professionalization of staff. Listen to the podcast on the website. Interesting!

We proceed with discussing the things we have learned during our visit and the professionalization tactics in the different partner countries.

In Finland Students learn mainly from teachers, work based learning, trainers, parents, friends and role models. Teachers teach the basics, create a path, stimulate and motivate the students. Teachers learn mainly from each other, the students, the environment and innovative projects. They attend seminars, lectures to keep themselves updated. They exchange knowledge and experiences with colleagues. They do pair teaching which is easier to do in Higher Education than in VET because of their flexible time tables. They receive feedback from their students and based on this, a development interview is held with the manager.

In Spain, training is being organised by a centre and all teachers can attend the courses they want. But… teachers are not all motivated any longer and don’t show.

Yuverta in the Netherlands has its own academy to train teachers. Staff with certain knowledge or skills, are invited to share this with their colleagues. They do that digitally or physical during lunch time so everybody is able to attend. When a fellow worker has a question, the academy develops a training about this question.

But, what does professionalization have to do with attracting new students? There is a direct link: innovations are attractive. Teachers should show what they do on social media! Advertise yourself as a teacher!

We close the official part of the meeting.

Thanks to all for a pleasant TPM!

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Meeting at CIFEA de Molina in Spain

Last week the partners of the PROGRESS project met each other again in Molina de Segura in Spain. Juan Carlos García Salvador from CIFEA de Molina de Segura prepared an interesting program. The school environment was the main theme of this meeting. Main question: how do you cooperate with regional partners en how does this effect the development of the school. Juan Carlos presented his school vision and the results of his own research and analysis regarding the trends of the target groups entering the school. The research gave him (and us) some interesting insights. For example woman become more and more important for CIFEA to focus on. Beside these presentation we had a meet up and discussion with students from the environmental program of the school and a meet up with some companies from the school region. The second day was filled with some visits in the region of Murcia. We visited Agricultural school CIFEA de Lorca and a farm with a very modern sustainable hydration system. It was very interesting to hear how the climate effects the technology and measruments they need to take in their farming business. Our colleague from Terra College in The Netherlands is preparing a documentary film about the meeting that will be published at the side soon.
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Meeting at Yuverta College in The Netherlands

After a long time with several meetings online we finally had the chance to meet each other life in the sheep shed in Limburg in The Netherlands. Except Finland, who were not able to come because of COVID school regulations, all partners were present and looking forward to a full program with several presentations, visits and discussions.

Every transnational project meeting has a specific theme regarding the Whole School Approach to Sustainable Development (see homepage): ‘Vision & Strategy’ which will be main part of every meeting and ‘Building & Business processes’ were the themes of this meeting.

Yuverta prepared a very informative and interactive program in which we shared a lot of Good Practises with each other. These Good Practices will all be published at this website during the upcoming weeks.

Hereby an overview as a starter:

  • The WSA to Sustainable Development (already published at the homepage)
  • The Z-Generation and their interests into the green agricultural sector
  • Visit and lunch at Villa Flora in Green Business Park in Venlo
  • Visit pre-vet school Yuverta in Nederweert / Examples of Sustainable Building & Business policy of Yuverta
  • Food, Life and Innovation Program of Terra presented by students
  • Yuverta Sustainable Vision & Strategy presented
  • Visit and presentation by students in Nature Reserve Breidberg in Roermond (outdoor program)
  • Launching of our own podcast series by Green Academy in Denmark (see homepage)
  • Presentation of one example of a good practice by the other parrtners

Next time we meet again in Spain at Centro Integrado de Formación
experiencias Agrarias De Molina de Segura!

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PROGRESS Need Analysis

As one of the first steps in the project partners started to work on a need analysis based on the Whole School Approach to Sustainable Development. A Need Analysis Model, which was developed by our partner INTREEGUE, helped them to start thinking about their needs.   This model can be found here.

The first results of this need analysis was presented and discussed during an online meeting in April. These results will be used as our starting point for collecting Good Practices.

Summary of issues addressed in the need analysis

Students & Characteristics

  • Needs of (new) students:  drives, needs, beliefs, expectations (realistic?) , motives, interests.
  • Needs of specific target groups like migrants, international, older students, ..
  • Focus on how to attract “stronger” students in the future. Decrease of drop outs.
  • Needs and awareness of students to become more sustainable.
  • Students interests and expectations to the school portfolio of degrees.

Communication & Marketing

  • Showing the right picture when recruiting students.
  • Innovative recruiting and marketing methods.
  • Promotion of the VET institutions and companies. VET campaign.
  • Involvement of companies in recruitment.
  • Students as ambassadors.
  • Sharing good stories.
  • Market research to get insight into the drives and needs of students.

Curriculum & Didactics

  • We need proper pedagogical tools and skills for online teaching and web based learning. There should be more interactivity in teaching. We should also find new ways how to teach practical skills online or in a digital way. Also how to facilitate guidance online.
  • Renewal of the curriculum, to develop something unique to attract new students.
  • Future scenario where students support students.
  • Better help for students (mentors, role models etc.).
  • Companies’ active participation in competition open to public (skills).
  • Sustainability is not really integrated in our programmes. Teachers want to incorporate it in social science program.
  • Social inclusion issues.
  • We need more resources and new didactic methodologies.

School Environment & Cooperation

Cooperation with other schools

  • Cooperation with other school levels to increase the inflow of students.
  • What can we learn from the strategies of higher education and universities?
  • Increase the cooperation with primary schools e.g. use VET teachers in primary school, making more projects together, making open courses (for example about biodiversity) and inviting pupils from local primary schools to take the course together with our basic course students (boundary crossing). We should involve the companies in this context as well.
  • More cooperation and coordination, also within our own school.

Cooperation with companies

  • How to follow the changes in the society and work life.
  • Improving cooperation with companies.
  • Far more involvement of the companies in the different offers/courses that we provide to the elementary schools.
  • Limited skills and knowledge exchange among teachers/companies/advisers. Teachers should visit companies more often.
  • Until what point is sustainability a reality of society? The labor market are at the starting point of this future society.

Professional development

  • Courses for the teachers about new technologies in Education.
  • Teacher´s participation in innovative projects.
  • Teachers should be more open minded to a broader view of their profession and teaching methods (crossover project).
  • Some of our personnel is not really into sustainability. They are not driven by it.
  • Professional development of teachers towards a more open minded attitude.
  • Training of new didactic methodologies.

Overall Conclusions Need Analysis

By looking at this summary we can abstract some overall conclusions that can guide us in our search for Good Practices and will help us to define the focus of the Good Practices we want to collect as inspiration for attracting more students and new target groups through the development and innovation of the school towards more sustainable schools.  

  1. It is remarkable that business operations doesn’t seem to be a big issue for the partners although this is an important factor if you take into account that schools need “to practice what they preach”. Otherwise they will not be very credible for new students. For example when a school is incorporating all kinds of sustainable or innovative principals and skills in their programs like circular skills it is also important that the school is incorporating these kind of principles in their own business operations related to for example food and  raw materials.  The same should be taking into account related to renewal of energy supplies, water supplies, mobility, biodiversity etc…
  2. All partners have questions about the drives and interests of their students and potential target groups. Their seems to be a great need for Good practices of research to get more insight into the needs of of students (both for initial programs, lifelong learning programs and international programs).
  3. Partners are also interested in new marketing and recruiting methods to reach out for new target groups on national and international level.
  4. All partners are working on the renewal of their school programs to fit the actual needs of the job market and society and new target groups and are searching for inspirational examples of other schools to help them with this renewal. Good practices are needed related to both the new skills and content as the resources for the programs and innovative didactic an pedagogic methods and tools.
  5. All partners are also aware of the need to strengthen their relationship with companies and educational institutes in their school environment. This is important for the schools to adapt their school programs and methodologies and to attract more students that will not drop out.  
  6. Professional development is also an issue, but is directly connected with renewal the program and cooperation with the school environment. Developing towards a more open minded and outward facing flexible attitude and mindset seems to be a major starting point for this professional development of teachers.
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Project started

As a result of COVID we couldn’t meet each other face-to-face. Therefor the project started during the first week of december with an online meeting of the partners in which they presented themselves. Every partner presented their institute, their main goals considering the project and a project they are very proud off .

This was a good way to meet each other and start the exchange of innovative practices, while this is one of the main actvities of the project. During the project we will discuss and exchange these good practises in more detail to obtain the main goals of the project: to attract more students and other target groups by renewal of the curriculum considering the Sustainable Development Goals.

The following projects were presented:

  • Terra – Netherlands – Regional learning and Food Council of Young People
  • Green Academy – Denmark – European Platform Urban Greening
  • CITAVERDE – Netherlands -Marketing automation software
  • SAVONIA – Finland -ERDI Empowering Regional Development and Innovations and MultiPro Module for Future Professionals
  • CIFEA – Spain – International Development Cooperation and Sustainable Food Production and consumption
  • INTREEGUE – Netherlands -Cooperative benchmark SustsainaBul VET

Main Instutional goals :

  • Renewed vision and strategy of our institute for more studente, opportunities and perspective
  • To reach new target groups and broaden the type of students
  • To attract more learners
  • Exchange of innovative practices
  • To get inspired and bring inspriation to the partners
  • To become a sustainable organization in more than one way
  • To meet new people and partnes