Introduction

Due to the ongoing changes in the world of work, some traditional jobs will disappear while news jobs will emerge. Also, the description of many of the remaining jobs will change. In the future labour market, critical thinking, problem solving skills and creativity will be increasingly important assets which are developed through pedagogical choices in cooperation with organisations and companies.

The key strategic dimensions at Xamk are future-oriented learning, international cooperation and RDI activities (The Strategy of South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences 2018-2030.)   This pedagogical development programme describes the conception of learning and pedagogical principles (future-oriented learning) adapted by Xamk and presents the measures taken in 2018-2020 to develop teaching and learning at Xamk.

The pedagogical development programme was made in cooperation between Xamk staff and students. The main focus is on future-oriented learning. That is, the students must learn skills that help them as individuals to flexibly meet the life-long challenges of constantly changing labour market requirements and job descriptions.

The pedagogical development programme is based on a specified conception of learning, learning environments and an administrative and financing framework.

Occupational and workplace skills are developed on the basis of pedagogical choices and by being attentive not only to the result but also the process of learning.  Xamk wants to provide students with content that prepares them for and supports the job search in the future. Course contents are based on the current needs of and anticipated changes in the world of work as well as expected competence requirements to provide the students with the skills, know-how and attitude that are and will be in high demand. Rather than deliver information, the role of the teacher is to guide the student’s learning process.  By their own performance, teachers set an example for the students on how to operate in the modern world of work.  (Toikka 2017.)

 

The pedagogical development programme has benefited from contributions made separately and in cooperation by students and staff. It is based on a survey among the students and staff on the Xamk’s three strategical dimensions, various campus development user materials (e.g. Kampus2020; Xampus), pedagogical teacher surveys in degree programmes, student feedback and studies on the modes of learning in the future.

The main focus of the pedagogical development programme is on future-oriented learning. That is, the students must learn skills that help them as individuals to flexibly meet the life-long challenges of constantly changing labour market requirements and job descriptions. Social, physical and digital learning environments are created to support learning by enabling interaction and information sharing in multi-disciplinary networks.    The concept of future-oriented learning is founded on student- and competence-centered models of education.

A student-centered model places the student in the center of the learning process, and when instruction is provided, attention is paid to individual know-how, interests and learning styles. The student must be committed to promoting her/his own learning. A competence-centered model emphasises the importance of making the content of studies meet the demands of the world of work. This requires 1) flexible modes of learning and teaching in close cooperation with the world of work, 2) integration of teaching and RDI, 3) collective activities, interaction and communication that support learning, 4) systematic guidance to promote students’ professional growth, 5) efficient services to promote students’ wellbeing.  (The Strategy of South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences 2018-2030.)

Conception of learning at Xamk

Xamk is an institute of higher education that primarily puts focus on students’ learning and the development of their occupational and workplace skills. Learning is facilitated through interaction in various environments and collectives, but also independent study is required. At Xamk, the student is an active operator responsible for making progress in developing her/his competence. The role of the teacher is to facilitate and support learning. Additional assistance along the learning path is provided by other staff and operators from the world of work.

Xamk encourages students to pioneer methods and solutions and aims to inspire curiosity as a means of learning and studying.  New learning technologies enable studying irrespective of time and place. Xamk applies diverse learning methods based on the specific requirements of different degree programmes and general demands of the world of work.

 

Learning environments at Xamk

The learning environments at Xamk comprise physical campus facilities as well as social, digital, RDI, and work placement environments. The social learning environment consists of various components, such as learning atmosphere, interaction between students and interest groups (teachers, other university staff, representatives of organisations and companies), and students’ commitment to learning collectives.

The physical campus facilities allow groups of students to be physically together and at the same time maintain contact with students of other campuses.   Physical and digital environments are developed to support changes and experiments in pedagogical approaches by constantly improving and encouraging collaboration and interaction between various operators.

 

Future-oriented learning requires comfortable environments that can be adjusted to meet the needs of various learning collectives.  The availability of reliable digital platforms is an integral part of daily operations.  Xamk provides support for using and updating wireless devices. The principle of BYOD is taken into consideration in the design of learning spaces e.g. by ensuring a sufficient number of charge points and WiFi amplifiers.  In physical spaces, good ergonomics and general comfort are important factors. The aim is to make these spaces attractive to encourage students and staff to sit down and get to know each other or discuss the content and objectives of studies.

Digital environments are increasingly developed from the perspective of interactive and collective knowledge building.  Professional competence is also enhanced by constantly updated simulation environments and remote learning platforms. RDI projects and contacts with the world of work are increasingly intergrated in the content of courses. Participation in various projects allow students to gain experience in solving real-life problems in multi-professional teams.

Administrative and financing framework to support pedagogy

In order to renew the pedagogical approach, the organisation of the administrative and financing framework must be revised. The objective is to promote the planning of work so that new teaching methods can be applied in practice. The economically viable implementation of cross-disciplinary pedagogical methods requires a re-organisation of budgeting and resourcing structures. Based on teachers’ individual self-development plans, resources are allocated to the development of professional competence. The image below illustrates the essential themes and pedagogical development points of a future-oriented learning model.

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