Higher education and the future of learning


Yesterday I participated a panel organized by our Ministry of Education and Culture in Oulu university headquarters. All the key representatives of Finnish  higher education system were present.  Discussion was lively and not without political tensions particularly as it regards the relationship between universities and other third-level educational institutes, polytechnics (ammattikorkeakoulut). One of my key points was that the whole concept of learning is changing and this is happening particularly because of the demand that comes from student side. Simply put: more self-generating insight, more teamwork, more truly dialogical interaction between students and teachers, more true co-creation.  My points created a lot of positive response among audience. Typical for these sorts of panel, no student representative was present.

The way teaching is done has a direct connection to student motivation. Thus, one of the current key concern, the amount of the years it takes for students to complete their studies, should be treated in this context. With right pedagogy, we can keep our students much more motivated as they proceed with their studies.

In a way, I believe our whole university system is loosing its grip as a gatekeeper for higher knowledge and wisdom. This current "church of reason" is for many parts simply outdated. In the future it will be much more network-like structure with far more intensive cooperation with other societal entities: companies, NGO's, other public organisations and so forth.

The question is, who is capable  - here in Finland - of showing what the university of the future will look like. In one of my previous blogs I talked about some of my experience elsewhere . I hope will see a vanguard here in Finland, too.