Why and What?
The University of Eastern Finland has identified the development on online and blended learning pedagogy as one of its goals. The coronavirus pandemic in 2020 suddenly forced most of us to become online teachers and students, and we learned many new things about online teaching.
The exceptional situation speeded up higher education institutions’ digital leap in an unprecedented manner. Indeed, persistent development of the Digivision 2030, a joint effort of Finnish higher education institutions, is now more important than ever. This is a topic of much discussion throughout Finland and, for example, the University of Turku has just founded a new, multidisciplinary Centre for University Pedagogy and Research. There, too, the goal is to support teachers’ pedagogical skills and to make better use of digitalisation.
The Facilitators’ activities are geared towards supporting the dissemination of good tools and best practices, and developing them further. This will diversify and deepen teachers’ pedagogical skills and expertise throughout the university. We are also responding to students’ wishes for studying flexibly from anywhere. In the process, we are also learning new remote work skills, which play an increasingly central role in today’s world of work.
According to one definition (by Karlöf & Lövingsson, 2004), a Facilitator is someone who:
- steers the process
- is a partner in conversation
- poses questions
- looks for new concepts
- assures quality.
The Facilitators are experienced teachers who share their expertise and test new solutions together with their fellow colleagues. The idea is not to reinvent the wheel, but rather to build on the wonderful work already undertaken at the university to develop online teaching.
We all have our own ways of doing online teaching and implementing different practices. Some of us are real innovators, while others are still taking their very first steps in online teaching. Different fields also have different requirements. Yet, we can all be innovators when it comes to developing own work: we can take small steps that feel comfortable to us, and that are suitable for our field.
Whatever your challenge, a Facilitator will work with you to solve it.