By Linda Storey
Finland is no stranger to the higher ranks of the international education tables, and the country’s universities are regarded as global leaders in higher education (HE).
So, how does one of the world’s smaller nations lead the way when it comes to educating and inspiring its young people?
The answer, in part at least, could be rooted in the universities’ willingness to embrace technology such as video and find innovative ways it can be used to enhance the higher education experience for students. Finland’s university sector is gaining a reputation for its trailblazing work using this technology in three key areas:
- Making higher education accessible
Today’s university students come from all walks of life. Some are studying while juggling work and family commitments, others travel long distances to attend lectures and seminars. Finnish universities can be very astute in the way they use technology to open up learning opportunities for students, whatever their circumstances.
Recognising that students need flexibility if they are to achieve their full potential, the University of Turku installed a lecture capture system to give students the option of accessing content from lectures remotely.
This tool enables students to continue with their studies even if they are unable to attend university as Mikko Arasmaa, the university’s IT manager explains. “If a student happens to be sick and misses a lecture, they can still keep up by watching a recording once they have recovered.
“Live streaming is also really popular with our open university students as it means they don’t have to travel from their homes, which can be some distance away.”
Every student learns at their own pace and has their own revision techniques. Being able to access and watch learning material back at home or in the library helps students to solidify their knowledge of a difficult concept. And it’s a resource that most students value, as Mikko has found.
“Students love 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.”
- Focusing on high-quality teaching
It’s not just Finland’s students who are given flexibility in their learning. Teachers are afforded a great deal of freedom in their teaching approaches too.
Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) is a pioneer in cutting-edge teaching methods, and its use of lecture capture technology has opened the doors to new ways of sharing knowledge.
“Sometimes it’s simpler to use video for explaining things rather than producing a lengthy written guide,” says Mika Pulkkinen, educational technology designer at LUT, “So some teachers immediately saw it as a chance to accelerate learning by providing instructional videos for complex computer programmes, for example.”
However, instructors at LUT are given considerable autonomy in deciding how, when and where to use technology in their lectures.
“We offer a number of complex courses so we’re always looking for ways to help students cement their knowledge,” Mika continues. “We don’t want to insist on any single method of teaching, but we do make sure staff feel confident to use technology if they want to.”
- Creating a positive learning environment
Universities need to remain competitive in order to attract and retain students from around the world. That’s why Tampere University of Technology (TUT) considers the student experience to be particularly important.
In a recent international student survey, TUT was ranked as the world’s best for student satisfaction for its facilities and the educational technology it offers its students. In order to get the right balance of provision, the university benchmarks its facilities against the best from around the world.
One example of how TUT has succeeded in enhancing the student experience is the inventive way it uses video for capturing lectures.
Pasi Häkkinen, systems analyst says, “Maths, physics and the construction science departments have all been early adopters. Interestingly, these are subjects that often use more traditional methods of teaching, such as chalkboards and whiteboards, so we use lecturer tracking cameras to capture everything that is written on the boards.”
So by combining innovation with out-of-the-box thinking, and making learning more accessible to students, Finland’s higher education system leads the way in engaging students in their studies and preparing them for the future.
Linda Storey is a director at Echo360. She would be happy to answer your questions on the impact of lecture capture in higher education. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.