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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