Fruitful development year for pedagogy

The year 2022 was the theme year of VAMK’s pedagogical development. The same year was also my first year as the Director of education at VAMK, and director of Teaching and Learning Services – so in many ways an exciting leap into the new.

Naturally, the pedagogical development work does not start or end with the theme year, but at this point it is nice to stop in the form of an annual report to look back and also to celebrate the big and small steps our community has taken to get to this moment.

The new unit, Teaching and learning services, brought together teaching and learning support and development activities, education quality issues, student and admissions services, student welfare and career services, Master School development activities, internationalization services and continuous learning.

Putting students and learning first, we built even more multidisciplinary support and guidance during the year to maintain and promote study ability and well-being, as well as to build the student’s career expertise already during studies.

The support network includes e.g. Career and Recruitment Expert, Talent Coach and Curator working in close cooperation with our Study Counselors and Group Counselors. At the same time, we further strengthen the understanding that everyone is an instructor for us and every encounter with a student – digital or on campus – is also an act of guidance.

Time for developing teaching skills and planning

The teachers’ collegiality and sharing of expertise pay off in everyday teaching and create lasting well-being, which is also transmitted to our students. From these starting points, we set out at the beginning of the year to build a new pedagogical program at VAMK in cooperation with JAMK teacher training college. At the same time, the goal was to promote own teaching and teaching competence development activities with different structures and roles.

The common need of the teaching community was to have time for joint development and planning. The monthly development days, free from teaching, now give rhythm to our academic school year, and during the year, the days have become an important meeting place and space for skill development for many participants. Promoting feedback dialogue, the role of artificial intelligence in higher education, podcast expertise, the development of continuous evaluation and working life orientation are some of the numerous themes we work on together. This valuable shared time is also needed for the development in accordance with the national continuous learning strategy, the promotion of teaching openness, accessibility and Digivisio work, as well as renewal in one’s own work.

Pedagogical management takes place at the university on many levels. We appointed teachers from different fields who are enthusiastic about the development of teaching to the roles of teacher peer support. In the meetings of the mentors, the common challenges of everyday teaching are discussed and the internal development of teaching is promoted. The mentors also organize pedagogical coffee breaks for the teachers, among other things, and guide the teachers forward in many technical and pedagogical issues of teaching.

Concrete pedagogical actions of the year

During the year, we also started the development work of our Master’s Degrees and launched the VAMK Master School. VAMK is now increasingly profiled as a provider of Master’s degrees, which fits well with our strong working life collaboration. It is also wonderful to have dialogue and common structures for the development of Master level degrees.

In the new pedagogical management forum, the management team will have time to focus on the themes of education development better than before and ensure that the work on teaching development is in line with our strategy and values. Good experiences have already been gained from the activities of the multidisciplinary pedagogy, where we take forward our jointly selected teaching development themes. Naturally, the student representation is also included.

The tangible gift of the year is the jointly formulated VAMK pedagogical program, vision and guidelines, on which our entire pedagogical activities are based. Following the guidelines, we boldly implement new creative and innovative working life pedagogy, and we constantly build and develop our expertise and pedagogical leadership to enable students to succeed.

In mid-December, a collection of articles on the future of higher education pedagogy was published. In this collection, VAMK’s various experts open up from their own starting points how many ways we as a working community see, experience and focus on the issues of teaching and learning.

Regarding the digital vision work of Digivisio project, we wrote our change program together and launched many internal development lines to promote an even more diverse and interactive digital pedagogy.

Artificial intelligence and the joy of learning

The end of the year brought e.g. in the form of generative artificial intelligence ChatGPT, to which we react quickly in the teacher community. Teaching in this era is even more directive. We keep the pedagogical choices and the design of learning to ourselves and learn to use the possibilities of artificial intelligence in teaching and studying responsibly. We also make use of digital technology so that there is time for meetings and learning guidance. The pedagogic program gives us common steps to promote teaching skills and teaching quality. The whole community will continue to be involved in the work, teaching is not the sole responsibility of individual teachers.

In this annual report, I wrote about the results of the pedagogical theme year from the point of view of structures, roles and policies. Perhaps it would be more interesting to follow the path of a degree student or a continuous learner upskilling his skillset, and look at the obstacles and enablers of learning and all the expertise and capital that the university path at its best gives. Community, network, self-knowledge, sometimes curves, hills, even dead ends. Hopefully also successes, empowerment and joy of learning.

Sanna Eronen

Director, Education