The entire school community helps create a new kind of learning environment in Espoo

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2015-11-13 14:56

The users are key players when Espoo develops a new learning environment. The aim is that Espoo will have access to flexible learning facilities on the Aalto University campus, starting at the beginning of the 2016 autumn term. The facilities will be adaptable and the users can design and modify them to meet their needs. 

The key idea is that a school is seen as a comprehensive service that supports learning, rather than the school being seen just as a school building. Another starting point is acquiring learning and experience for resolving situations when temporary school facilities are needed.

It is a trial that offers an opportunity to organise school services in a brand new way. Education will be provided using Otaniemi campus facilities, taking advantage of other resources and services, and the opportunities offered by digitalisation will be implemented effectively. 

Another aim is to create the experience of making things and developing ourselves together and to give all stakeholders the sense of being parties in learning.

Utilizing digitalisation in learning reduces the need for fixed facilities

Suitable facilities are being sought among the available premises at Aalto University. The aim is for the school to have a recognisable central building as a meeting place. The space needs and functions of the school will be supplemented using the facilities and other resources and competences in the immediate surroundings. The facilities are also located near metro stations; the metro will start operating next August.

The co-operation with Aalto University in particular will offer new opportunities and create added value. The close co-operation with Aalto University will offer the chance to introduce the latest technology in learning environments and instruction, and explore the opportunities this provides.

The virtual learning environment and cloud services support renewable learning, tie the elements of the service package together and support the construction of the school’s harmonious identity.

New solutions accelerate learning

Pedagogy has been at a turning point for some time now as the focus of activities has shifted from teaching to learning. Conventional school facilities do not support the learning of digital natives in an optimal manner. Learning can take place anywhere and all the time. In a school community, everyone can be a learner and a teacher. The aim is to promote learning and increase the joy of learning. As the school uses resources it shares with others, it becomes part of a larger entity and opens its doors to working together and networking.

The idea of temporary facilities that support renewable learning was created in the ‘Joustavat oppimisen tilat’ (JOT, ‘flexible learning facilities’) project, which seeks flexible and cost-efficient solutions that encourage diverse work methods for situations where schools need temporary facilities.

The research and development partnership with Aalto University and the University of Helsinki that began with the JOT project will continue in this new project. Other parties interested in similar development, such as businesses, will also be invited to participate on a wide scale.

The West Metro development zone will bring approximately 70,000 new residents to Espoo and increase the need for school services. This trial will be used to gain experience and model a concept that can be used for the service facilities needs of the West Metro development zone and Education and Cultural Services in the future.

Today, two or three new schools are already built each year, and existing schools are renovated. This autumn, 10 schools with approximately 3,500 pupils and students are studying in temporary facilities. New solutions are necessary to keep the costs under control. The operating model is aimed at significant cost reductions. The new operating concept may also provide a long-term solution for Espoo schools that need to move to temporary facilities.

The metro will make Otaniemi campus easily accessible

One of the Espoo schools needing temporary facilities will get to be the first one to try the new operating model.   There have been preliminary discussions about having Haukilahti Upper Secondary School to be the first to try out the new model. The chance to develop and modify facilities that inspire learning is an unique opportunity for the whole school community.

The plan was provisionally presented at the August meeting of the Education and Early Education Committee. The committee will decide which school will participate in the trial. Representatives of the school community will play a key role in the implementation.

For more information, please contact:
Project Manager of the JOT project, Director of Development Kristiina Erkkilä, kristiina.erkkila@espoo.fi