Aalto University - a pioneer in digital education
As a pioneer in digital education, Aalto University hosted the global DigiEduHack main event in Finland.
Aalto University has invested a lot in digital education during the last few years. According to Professor Lauri Malmi:
"We are constantly exploring novel online content and pedagogies, such as educational videos, building content based on virtual reality and augmented reality, developing interactive online text books, and using automatic assessment of students’ submissions that include mathematical formulations, or computer programmes. Moreover, games and gamification are used to support learning. During the last three years, we have had more than 150 pilot projects, where courses have been totally or partially revised to include new types of online learning content and new pedagogical solutions."
Introducing new types of online learning content requires skills that most teachers do not have. Therefore, Aalto Online Learning organises several different types of training activities in terms of workshops and clinics where teachers can come to get help.
"We have also managed to create a vibrant teacher network where teachers support each other in various informal ways. We have theme groups in various online content types, which provide a forum for teachers to share experiences and encourage each other. Twice a year, we organise a large university-wide event that is open to all teachers, where novel contributions are presented and various educational development actions are discussed together. New teachers can get inspiring ideas from these events."
Professor Malmi adds that: "We have created online tutorials for many laboratories by using 360 videos with added content and learning tasks, which allow students to get familiarised with the laboratory and essential safety instructions in a realistic setting in web VR or actual VR before they enter the lab and start working there. This also saves a lot of teaching resources on large courses with hundreds of students because staff members do not need to give the safety tutorials manually, but simply check that students have completed the online tutorial and understood the main instructions there."
Aalto is now developing the university's strategy for the next five years and the digital aspects of education play a big role:
"It is highly important that the experiences of current work will be incorporated into the new operation practices of the university. For example, building high quality support functions for creating new types of online content, like high quality videos and VR/AR content, requires expertise that must be among the core competences of the support functions for teachers. It is important to create services that teachers find easy to use and trust", Malmi concludes.