April 30, 2017 | Sunday

Could University studies be Fun and Motivating?

Practical University studies in Finland and maybe in Kosovo in the future.

Successful education model of Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK).

By: Annti Isoviita  – HAMK University of Applied Science

The only stable thing is continuous change. In the change too often the good old systems and best practices will be forgotten. Learning could and should be fun and motivating. Small children learn e.g. their mother tongue – not by reading grammar but – using the method – listening and imitating and asking questions. Very often learning is based on Trial and Error – learning-by-Doing and Learning-by-Doing Mistakes.

How did you learn to use Chinese Chopsticks? Not by reading books but Learning-by-Doing and trying. And most often it was interesting and motivating and even fun – especially when your Chinese friends helped you by showing the right way and gave positive feedback.

How did you learn to ride a bike or to cook or to use computer or mobile phone? – Learning-by- Doing and trying. That is the best method, if your aim is to learn skills and competences needed in the world of work – especially at universities of applied sciences.  Sometimes it is better to check something from books and theory – when studying very complicated issues.

Government of China has decided to make the biggest educational change in the whole world ever. There will be transformation of 600 Newly Established Chinese Universities to Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) in six years – 2014-2020. Reason behind this huge change is that graduates need in the future – not only theoretical knowledge but – practical skills and competencies.

These Chinese Newly Established Universities will focus on Applied Sciences. There is need for new model of education in China – improvement of the quality of graduates – New Curricula and content as well as learning based on company needs. Graduates must have skills and competences needed in Business life.

In China the whole Education system is in a huge change – from academic oriented to skills and competences oriented – based on needs in industry. That includes that teachers must have both academic and industry qualification. Chinese Government is utilizing the experiences of the Finnish UAS education which started at HAMK Valkeakoski Campus 25 years ago – January 1992. HAMK is the only University in Finland which has received the SAFEA (State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs) certificate from the Ministry of Education in China.

HAMK mission is to provide professional higher education geared to support students’ professional development, the requirements of the world of work, and to carry out R&D important to the region. HAMK has been awarded nationally for regional effectiveness. HAMK follows the principles of Project-based-Learning. Each course and module include projects with companies. Students conduct several surveys and developing cases for companies – working as assistants. Each student has 5-month company internship, and write final thesis for a company.

When students start their studies, they have to find a company with which they will cooperate during studies and do their study projects for. This increases the business orientation of the students and education, and it also gives the companies an opportunity to be involved in educating future professionals. cSchool is a study model where students study entirely in company based projects (6-8 weeks).

One of the learning spaces is Amazing Business TrainTM, which is aiming to provide a very concrete and intensive learning experience on entrepreneurship. The students search and develop new business ideas or develop business-life challenges, model them into business actions and create new networks for implementing these ideas.  

The best practices of HAMK – Market Entry Project, work shadowing, culture coaching, mentoring, Model Canvas, cSchool & Amazing Business TrainTM – could be implemented in Kosovo to improve the employability of students as well as increasing company cooperation. Ministry of Education in Kosovo could send students and teachers to Finland to study the Finnish successful education model. After the study and learning period in Finland teachers’ focus will not be teaching but learning outcomes of the students.

Learning is Fun. Less Theory – more learning. Practice makes you Perfect.