Finnish learning on a high note
Linda Storey, director at Echo360, finds that the widespread adoption of edtech is a key factor in Finland's higher education success
Posted by Julian Owen | August 31, 2018 | International
university-of-turku, lappeenranta-university-of-technology, tampere-university-of-technology, echo360, finnish, finland, linda-storey, technology, higher-education, video, survey, lecture-capture

Despite its small size, Finland has a reputation for punching above its weight in education. So it should come as no surprise that the country's universities have recently been ranked among the global high performers.

In my experience, Finland’s university professionals are very open to new ways of working and have an appetite for technologies that enhance their students’ learning. These factors may go some way towards explaining the nation's strengths in the higher education arena.

One element that helps contribute to this is its open approach to using technology, particularly when it comes to capturing lectures on video.

Flexible learning

In Finland, technology is increasingly regarded as a valuable tool to not only bring learning to life for students inside a lecture theatre, but also support progress outside the university.

This is key, bearing in mind that, in higher education, students’ circumstances can vary widely. Some are solely focused on their studies, others combine work with their degree course or live some distance away from their institution.

More and more students want flexibility in the way they learn. One Finnish institution, the University of Turku, has introduced the Echo360 lecture capture solution as a way to address this, and staff are using it in creative ways to meet students’ needs.

Mikko Arasmaa, IT manager at the university, explains: “Some tutors use the software to make short presentations for their students and some deliver whole lectures in a recorded format, allowing students to view them at their own pace. Others offer a flipped classroom experience so that students can watch in advance and come to class fully prepped and ready to delve deeper into the topic being taught.”

Students appreciate that the university caters for how each individual wants to learn, and this improves engagement. They love being on campus, connecting and studying with other students, whilst having the option to view lectures online and review important learning points at their leisure. “It offers another route to excellent learning, which is exactly what we want to provide,” says Mikko.

Diverse teaching styles

While students in Finland benefit from the flexibility to learn in the way that suits them best, institutions also strive to put firm foundations in place for good teaching.

Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) is a small university where lecture recording technology is helping to support innovative teaching.

“We offer a number of complex courses so we’re always looking for ways to help students cement their knowledge,” explains Mika Pulkkinen, educational technology designer at LUT.

“Sometimes it’s simpler for teachers to use video for explaining things such as complex computer programmes, rather than producing a lengthy written guide.”

Short videos are also combined with quiz breaks to boost the learning that takes place in lessons. This interactive approach to teaching helps to supplement students’ education.

“Being able to review topics, revisit seminars, revise before an exam, or simply catch up if they had missed a lecture, helps our students to graduate with the best possible grades,” says Mika.

"Finland’s university professionals are very open to new ways of working and have an appetite for technologies that enhance their students’ learning."

Positive student experience

The quality of student experience is another factor that contributes to HE excellence in Finland. This is taken very seriously at Tampere University of Technology (TUT).

TUT was recently ranked in an international student survey as the world’s best for student satisfaction in relation to its facilities and the education technology on offer. By benchmarking its facilities against the best from around the world, TUT has chosen solutions ensuring its students get the most from their higher education experience.

However, new technology can work hand-in-hand with some of the more tried and tested teaching methods too, as Pasi Häkkinen, systems analyst, discovered when the university introduced a video recording solution.

“Maths, physics and the construction science departments have all been early adopters,” says Pasi. “Interestingly, these are subjects that often use more traditional methods of teaching, such as chalk boards and white boards, so we use lecturer tracking cameras to capture everything that is written on the boards.”

Lecturers at TUT are also finding new ways to use the technology. “We envisage even more short learning videos in the future, recorded without an audience,” says Pasi. “These snippets are the most modern way to learn now. Some students learn better watching something rather than reading about it, and we want to provide content in the form students learn best.”

Innovation is at the heart of Finland’s enviable reputation in higher education. By understanding students’ need for flexibility and tapping into their passion for learning, Finnish universities continue to position themselves as the destination of choice for students across the world.

Linda is happy to answer questions on the impact of lecture capture in higher education. Contact her via lstorey@echo360.com.

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