Posted in Stats, trends

Thank you for visiting…

Here is some statistics of visitors and views on this blog since I started it in 2015. I’m not actively writing or updating the blog anymore as my vocational teacher studies ended in 2016, but some visitors have taken a peak on the blog also during 2017 from around the world:

Thank you for visiting! Now I welcome you to visit my English Philology blog!

EDIT: I also welcome you to visit my Ketterän kirjoittajan Lähde in Finnish language.

Posted in Goodbye

Starting English Philology studies

Life-long learning continues for me as I start studies to get a qualification in teaching English language at the humanistic faculty¬†in Oulu. I’m already a qualified Swedish teacher so this qualification is a “natural” and logical addition to that.

I’m continuing blogging, this time it’s more related to my studies in English.¬†The new blog is¬†here. Welcome over!

Posted in essay

Portfolio essay

This is my portfolio presentation learning essay. It’s about my learning and portfolio work related to my vocational teacher education @Edulab, educational product design and teacher studies @OAMK. The whole task includes a presentation, discussion and a written essay. ¬†I had my presentation online and I showed a bitstrip Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 11.22.29during my presentation.

1. My background

I worked for Nokia in a research and development function in user interface software localisation for over 13 years. I had grown used to an international, multicultural working environment where online tools, learning and creating shared knowledge through the use of different digital collaboration tools with people around the globe was a daily routine, the normal state of things. 

Presenting a project plan for a team of colleagues abroad or sharing knowledge about the way-of-working in our team to new colleagues on another site using online tools was not something I called ‚Äúteaching‚ÄĚ but those were the kinds of things I got to do in my everyday work, closest to teaching.¬†I had also trained new colleagues on other

Nokia-sites and sub-contractors abroad to work for the company, often people from different cultures.

When our unit in Oulu was closed I needed to find a new career. I wanted to learn something new. That’s when I started learning to teach.

2. Development in my pedagogical thinking 

My thinking around the vocational pedagogy has developed further through the practical teaching training. Both the online and the lab-model learning environment at OAMK, combined with theory has helped me understand new interactive and guidance techniques.

Blended learning and flipping the classroom are instructional methods that I think work very well for our time. BLENDED

I have also developed my thinking in how different learners can be taken into account when designing learning situations.

I understand the need to follow the curriculum but being able to personalise learning and I have a better understanding of how students often have a preference for different learning styles. 

Creating variation by using different methods of instruction can make the learning experience more engaging, valuable and meaningful for the student.

3. Most significant learning outcome?

I have seen how the lab-model learning environment at EduLab promotes innovation, research & development skills as well as skills in entrepreneurship.

The educational product development lab fosters a culture of learning that A) resembles working life and B) supports and aids students in learning both theoretical and practical skills in entrepreneurship, innovation and product development.

PBL

Students representing 28 different nationalities worked at EduLab to create, innovate and learn together.EduLab_MPF

In my teaching practise period I learnt how skills in collaboration can be taught in cross-disciplinary, multicultural teams in a lab-model-learning environment through mentoring, coaching and tutoring as well as modeling. 

4. Understanding the profession

The role of the 21st century teacher is a role of a facilitator who can improve students performance and help accomplish their goals.  

THE 21st century CONNECTED TEACHER-2

Teachers need to be connected and have working life connections. The profession requires constant updating of knowledge. It’s important to stay up-to-date in the subject you are teaching, the latest teaching methods and learning environments because they develop constantly. 

5. My teaching philosophy

As a teacher and facilitator I like to promote a student and learner centered, collaborative learning environment where students learn from each other, ask questions and dare to share. I hope to be able to inspire to find and solve problems, encourage critical thinking, learn deciding relevancy and challenging things.

ColorpencilConnecting students to experts through videos, social media, video conferencing and using technology for online collaboration are great ways to inspire and connect with students if social interaction and the need for authentic face-to-face meetings is not forgotten. 

 I am an ambassador for promoting connected learning in educational institutions in the digital age but also of lab-model learning environments, where students gain important innovation and entrepreneurship skills needed in working life.

Learning to teach is sometimes hard. Of course learning never stops, but every step on the way is a reward.

Here’s¬†my Animoto video¬†of what the studies were like.

Posted in Team facilitation, Tutoring

Facilitation of a team

Team facilitation sessions are a continuous process at EduLab. I’ve had the privilege to learn about team facilitation in an educational institution together with the Edu-Lab-Master Mr Blair Stevenson. I’ve had the opportunity to see him role model behaviour and take part in the facilitation of one lab-team. Last time we “measured the pulse” of the team I’m participating in coaching, the team seemed to be trending downwards in their self-assessment. Blair suggested that I talk to the project manager of the team and we see if we can help break the negative trend (going the wrong way).

I sat down after our team meeting with the project manager and we talked through some issues on his mind, which helped me get a better understanding of what could be going on in the team and why the team felt they wanted to achieve more than they actually thought they did. After our discussion I offered to come and facilitate a couple of sessions with the team. For our session today I asked the PM to give “homework” to the team. The homework was the creation of “a backlog item” that would rank highest as a todo-item for each individual on the team for the moment.

As the session started I asked the team to see me as an observer and have them go through the backlog items and talk them over like they “usually do”. Of course I have no idea if they do it that way usually, but I made an assumption that they do talk about work coming up next. Then¬†I gave the team a prioritisation matrix and explained shortly how to read the matrix. I asked the team to talk about the work items they had in mind and reflect on them by using the matrix.

It’s interesting how much you see and learn in 45 minutes when you have a team talk about their work! You “see” things that are not spoken: the body language, mimicry and also silence.¬†I didn’t see or hear anyone say a word about deadlines or dates for doing specific things in the meeting, so my assumption is that the team works best that way, for now at least.

I personally need dates to be able to set goals and break those goals into steps to realise them. I didn’t talk so much about setting deadlines (yet) with the team, but it’s up to every team to create values and ways-of-working that work best for them and their culture.

2

Based on the observations I made today we agreed that I’m going to design some activities for the team and¬†we then meet up next week to take onboard a team member who has been away for a while. I promised a team building activity and activities to help facilitate the self organisation of the cross functional team. All this to make them feel they are trying to steer the way into higher temperatures than the last time.

Before I thanked the team for letting me learn from them I talked a little bit about the importance of re-focus and focusing on important issues, especially when the Gate 3 pitching was so close ahead. I also gave the team a load of positive feedback telling them that they have lots of great ideas and talent and that I would love to see them succeeding in the Gate3 pitching with their product demo, and of course make their dreams come true at the same time.

Now I’m planning ahead – to talk briefly with the project manager at the end of the week to ask him to prepare some things for the workshop I will be designing and where they will work on becoming a team of 4 instead of 3.

Posted in Tutoring

Measuring a team temperature

In EduLab there is a need for assessment during the studies and along the way, before a final evaluation. Teachers also follow up on teams, to understand how their learning is going and how teams progress in the project work. Assessment is not only done by listening in on pitches during the two week cycle pitching events. It is also happening in the form of personal tutoring meetings and team tutoring.

Teams meet with their tutors (and vocational teacher student-tutors, if they have one) once every two weeks. I have had the pleasure to participate as a teacher student in the tutoring session of one team. Mr Blair Stevenson is my guiding teacher. I have got the opportunity to shadow him in the tutoring to learn more from him as well as participate in the tutoring and learn to facilitate the tutoring session of the team.

Today was my first day on the task to 1. start the tutoring session and 2. facilitate the discussion of the team. I started out as agreed with Blair, by “taking the team temperature”. For this we use a tool that all EduLab teams/tutors have agreed to use in the team tutoring sessions. It’s a simple scale from 1-10 that is used to understand how teams see themselves on that scale. It’s a tool that is used to help start a discussion between team members on how the team sees their progress and how they are currently doing with regards to the project they work on. It can also be used to compare the team progress and outputs of the week before.

I facilitated the start of the session and after the team gave themselves a score, I went on with some follow-up questions. I had prepared them well and thought them through beforehand, because I have great respect for the team and I wouldn’t want to waste their valuable time coming unprepared.

I had made a padlet for myself, when planning the subject. I called the padlet an “Entrance Ticket” (See picture of it below) as I planned the core questions to use in the team facilitation. The session was a short one and this one lasted only 45 minutes.

Padlet_Tutoring_Stuf_Entrance_ticket

It seemed the team had been able to accomplish some things, but was not giving themselves more than a 6 on a scale from 1-10. We talked about the need for communication and planning, learning to formalise meetings at some level to make work more disciplined and structured. I suggested starting to use a product backlog, using definitions of done for items the team decides to start to work on and also trying out daily planning meetings – at least for a while.¬†I think they also need to learn how to¬†split¬†tasks into smaller¬†tasks. Blair facilitated discussion on how each individual valued each member on the team with a special scale and after that we talked in general about how the team could improve their work and finally I got to see a sneak peak of what their demo looked like. Since we were in a bit of hurry I didn’t have time to give a lot of feedback, but I think it looked cool.

As an afterthought I think Kanban as a method could be helpful in their learning and working process, so I posted a short YouTube video in EduLab FB-learning group. If the Kanban method was not familiar to some people in the team, now they have some clue and other teams learned about it as well.

Kanban is one of the simplest, most useful methods that I see can be truly helpful. It can be used for structuring work, help visualising and communicating both inside and outside the team. I hope the team I am tutoring at least tries the method for a couple of days. I will be checking in on them some time this week to ask how they are doing and see if they want some additional tips on how to be more productive in team work.

Posted in Assessment, Curriculum, development, education, EDULAB, Edupreneurship

Challenges in entrepreneurship education

Challenges and strategic points

New knowledge can be obtained through self-directed learning in the problem-based-learning projects of EduLab Рso one challenge for the teacher is to continuously stay up-to-date and understand how the curriculum and the learning of the students is in sync.

Teachers need to assess the development of their students and have ways to examine how well the students have learnt. The teachers are central in the role of operationalizing entrepreneurship education, like Ikävalko, Ruskovaara, Seikkula-Leino state in their paper REDISCOVERING TEACHER’S ROLE IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION from Lappeenranta University for Technology.

So if there are no tests and no “papers” as such, how can teachers then assess the development of the students in a lab-model learning environment?

In EduLab a two week learning cycle has been in use for the last fortnight and students participated in The EduLab Cycle Pitching event on Friday the 15th. From a student perspective this meant that you needed to give a 5 minute pitch telling the whole group

  • what your team decided
  • what you built/tested
  • what you learned

This process resembles an agile software development sprint with some modification for an educational institution.

From a teachers perspective I think this kind of an event helps understanding and assessing the learning of the students during the two week cycle and it helps also to build understanding about possible problems or special development needs in any of the teams.

One of the trends for entrepreneurship education in 2016 that Venture Well  writes about is Makerspaces as the new normal. The idea is to create educational spaces where students have access to tools, materials, training and everything they need to create something new. Venture Well is very well pointing out how the focus in the coming year will be in figuring out what make spaces effective in building community, sparking learning and becoming part of the fabric of the institutions.

Challenges and maybe even key strategic points to think about for EduLab-masters like VentureWell wrote about it too:

  • Understanding what works for learning and what does not
  • Looking for insights & ready -to-use models for learning spaces
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of learning spaces

The Two Week Cycle Pitching is one way to gauge the effectiveness and understand the lab-model as a learning space and Makerspace.

 

 

 

Posted in EDULAB, vocational pedagogy, Working life interaction

Working life interaction in – action!

Connected learning in practise

In the 21st century ideal of learning, learning is connected. In OAMK EduLab experts of different speciality areas have been brought in to share, connect and inspire students. 

2

After almost a three-month period of EduLab there has so far been a possibility for students to connect with experts, start-up entrepreneurs and representatives of the education administration in Oulu as well as representatives for (education) incubator and accelerator programmes.

It is valuable to be able to get experts to come in person to inspire students. Those who have not had the possibility to join in person join through Skype and online conferencing platforms and social media.

The problem based learning experience

2As students participate in a problem-based learning project they also connect with a company or organisation. These companies can be both finnish or international and they may be the source of the original problem to be solved but they could also be a future (possibly) customer of the project. If the project is successful and students are able to build  a working demo or a solution they may be able to even start-up companies around these projects.

 

In the demo phase students work together with the company or organisation and learn how to interact with that customer, collaborate around the problem to be solved and get a look into working life and business.

This happens as a part of the demo building phase.

An example of a problem-based learning collaboration in action

In EduLab I participated in a student group’s meeting with a sales representative of an american ed-tech company. The sales rep came from the United States to meet up with the team in Finland and to catch up with the school lab master on the latest developments in the lab.

The team had a day with the ed-tech company’s¬†sales representative where he explained the ed-tech company’s business and products in detail and described some of the challenges they were facing. He also gave the team an insight and background information on the problem they had provided to the lab. The team was already working on solving these problems but some members joined the team later and needed an update.

The intention is for the team to solve the problem and to be able to build a demo and provide a solution that could be useful for the company. The ideal solution could also be offered to other similar companies who have the same education technology needs. This was like a real business meeting but also an example of what modern¬†student company “visits” are like.

The team and the visiting ed-tech industry sales representative used part of the visit to

  • hold a meeting through Skype with other members of the team in USA
  • discuss following sprints for developing the demo solution
  • review mock-ups
  • discuss the¬†way to go forward

This is an example how a practical problem based approach to learning  @Edulab OAMK is used to simulate working life conditions. Students learn and get to prepare for job-experience or will be able to even use the experience in building a company of their own.

In EduLab there are also lectures, or “keynotes”, but the essence of the learning is in the problem-based project work. It ‘s a way of “deeper learning”, developing problem solving skills and critical thinking in order for students to learn to apply their knowledge in a realistic way.

 

Posted in development, education, Lab model

Team tutoring and path-goal theory in leadership

Background of tutoring in EduLab

In EduLab students are participating in tutoring sessions as a team¬†now that they’re starting to plan and build demo’s in the Demo Path.¬†EduLab¬†is a place for entrepreneurship-education in OAMK and in this setting the teachers¬†are the leaders responsible for motivating, inspiring and supporting students in their work and studies.

Teachers support and motivate the students mainly to

  • help improve their performance¬†
  • become productive in the demo-building

 

Path-Goal Theory

Robert House developed a Path-Goal Theory on leadership in 1971. House advocates for servant leadership. In this theory leadership is not a position of power but leaders are seen as servants who coach and facilitate their subordinates. I see the role of an EduLab LabMaster (or teacher) in a similar way. The teacher is mainly there to facilitate learning of his/her students. The success of the tutor is depending on how effective he/she is in assisting their students in their goal definition and helping their students in accomplishing those goals in an efficient and effective manner.

Robert House divides Leadership styles into four categories .

  • Directive
  • provides guidelines
  • lets subordinates know what is expected of them
  • sets performance standards
  • controls behavior when performance standards are not met
  • rewards and disciplinary action
  • the style is the same as task-oriented one
  • Supportive
  • ¬†friendly towards subordinates
  • displays personal concern for their needs, welfare, and well-being
  • people-oriented leadership
  • Participative
  • the leader believes in group decision-making
  • shares information with subordinates
  • consults subordinates on work, task goals, and paths to resolve goals
  • Achievement-oriented
  • the leader sets challenging goals
  • encourages employees to reach their peak performance
  • believes that employees are responsible to accomplish challenging goals
  • this is the same as goal-setting theory

Of course leaders are capable of selecting different kinds of leadership styles and accommodate it according to a particular situation. Houses theory states that each style can be effective in a certain situation but not in another. Factors such as employees needs, experience, perceived ability, satisfaction, willingness to leave the organisation and anxiety as well as the characteristics of a work environment affect the efficiency of a leadership stye. Also things such as task structure and team dynamics that are outside of the control of the employee can affect the efficiency of different leadership styles.

Lab-model learning environment and leadership

In a lab- model learning environment students are expected to act more like entrepreneurs than students, so leading the students in their learning process and development of their skills calls for a facilitator/tutor who is able to accommodate the leadership style well according to each situation and phase in the lab. 

In the first team tutoring where I observed the session as a vocational teacher trainee, I noted that the lab-master who facilitated the meeting

  • gave guidelines on how the future sessions will be run
  • explained what is expected of the students
  • showed friendliness and personal concern of the wellbeing of students
  • set challenging goals
  • encouraged students to accomplish those goals

I believe this was a successful example of using more than one leadership style in the tutoring session. I think my own preferred style is a mix of achievement oriented /participatory leadership, spiced with support and a direction if they are needed.

As a note to myself as a future teacher I will keep in mind that the long term success of a leader and his/her leadership style will become visible only after some time. Since success can only be evaluated in how well one is able to assist students in their goal definition and helping students in accomplishing goals in an effective manner, it takes time to see the actual efficiency of the leader/s also in a lab-environment. If the leader is successful students will be motivated, satisfied and acceptive of the leader.

LeadershipMSA

References:

House, R.J. (1971). A Path-Goal Theory of Leader Effectiveness. Administrative Science Quarterly. 16, 321-328

http://managementstudyguide.com/houses-path-goal-theory.htm

Posted in Curriculum, development, education

EduLab Demo Path curriculum, some theory and practise

 

As a vocational teacher student I have been observing the Edulab learning model at OAMK from close for more than 2 months. I feel that the teacher’s role in education is in a disruptive phase.

Ivan¬†Illich wrote about institutionalised education in the 1970s. His book Deschooling society¬†critiqued education practised in modern societies. Already at that time (1971) Illich wrote about “learning webs”. I think he was well ahead of his time. According to him the goal for educators should be to create¬†educational¬†webs¬†which heighten the opportunity for everyone to¬†transform each moment of ones life into one of learning, sharing, and caring. ¬†Illich wrote about how a good educational system should have 3 purposes:

  • it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives
  • empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them
  • furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known

Now there is the challenge I’d ¬†like to tackle as a teacher¬†in the future. How do you create a learning environment like that?

Having a double role in the EduLab Demo Path phase, I have sometimes in the role of a student felt frustration. We, as vocational teacher students, were taught to teach in a new and more collaborative way. Yes, you could almost say we were warned about the old school (boring) lecturing. I think most people also agree on, how with the modern connected world, teachers have lost their role as gatekeepers to information. (Exceptions exist related to scientists and researchers who actually have groundbreaking information or knowledge that is not yet published).

Seeing the so called real world in the OAMK EduLab I’m arguing that some teachers still use the old school “lectures and powerpoint” – method too much. I would also argue that some teachers haven’t done their homework properly. I would expect at least asking to oneself in their mind before entering a teaching situation:

  • Who is my target audience
  • What do they expect to learn
  • Why would this interest my students

If a teacher comes in and shows a set of slides that have absolutely zero relevance for me as student,¬†I’m asking how much it has¬†to do with the institutionalised role of the education system? Illich¬†critiqued modern schools for teaching¬†only¬†what teachers know how to teach. In that system¬†a students role becomes only to learn to guess what answers the teacher’s expect.¬†

Informal learning outside the classrooms isn’t a new thing. People can learn all the time and have easier access to all sorts of information through the web. I argue that students of today also learn to question the monopoly the school as an institution has on learning and education. Students are becoming more aware of themselves as consumers of education. As an adult learner I personally react on being fed irrelevant information or having to sit through a lecture that I estimate has no educational value for me. I may not say it out loud out of politeness/not wanting to offend anyone. Afterwards I¬†may go and¬†find better information sources available to me through modern learning networks and see what I can learn elsewhere.

When comparing with the ideas and the educational utopia that Illich described I think there is a lot of good in the EduLab learning model as an idea.

The EduLAB curriculum consists of two 30 ECTS credit course packages: Demo Path and Product Path. According to the EduLab curriculum the Demo Path lasts 4-5 months. The first month of the Demo Path focuses on rapid concept design and learning the basics of the Ed Tech industry, from design to business. After the first month in EduLab Demo Phase teams should move to prototype development and students should start refining skills in a chosen role in the team. The goal is that each team creates a workable Ed Tech demo. Prototypes could be educational games, apps for learning or learning management systems to name a few. 

EduLabGreyscale

I think this is a model where it is possible to provide students with networks and give access to learning resources, it is possible to start sharing with peers and specialists and teachers are available for facilitation and tutoring with care. As an idea this model of learning-by-doing could be very close to the ideal learning/educational model that also Illich envisioned.